Sprint Veloce Turbo
By Brian Berger

  

Prologue

The car began life as a 1978 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. Brown metallic with a tan velour interior. I found the car in Hemmings Motor News. While I no longer have the original advertisement, it read something like this; 1978 Sprint Veloce, 12,000 miles, brown over tan, completely stock $6500.00. After some pictures were mailed, telephone negotiations started and we agreed on a price. I flew to Philadelphia and drove the car back to Ohio. No muss no fuss.

Seeing the car in person I was amazed how original it was. This car was and is completely rust free. Ziebarted from new. The front end was three feet off the ground and still had the plastic clips on the cam cover holding the emissions crossover pipe in place and the front spoilers!  I felt a little guilty for I knew I was going to take a perfectly good original car and completely change it. The second owner was selling the car. The original owner was the Alfa dealer in Jersey. He owned it about a year, the second owner had it since.

Once I got the car home, modifications started almost immediately. First the suspension was changed for the Shankle (read: Alfa Ricambi) sport suspension and Koni sport shocks. I drove the car for about a month while the body shop made room. Just prior to the car going to the body shop the engine was removed. The engine was taken to Dayton, where Jim Stick of AutoComponenti would soon begin to breathe new life into the trusted Alfa 2.0-liter.

 

The Body Shop

My goals here were to make the car look more like the 1976 Andretti edition GTV I had sometime earlier. The Sprint’s were adorned with ugly body side molding (my opinion), were spoiler-less and had unattractive vent covers. Along with this the metallic brown paint just had to go. Here is a bulleted list of major work done by the body shop.

  • Every component and piece of trim removed. Windshield (to check for rust) to headliner (to be replaced). This was going to be a complete color change and I was able to afford having it done correctly.
  • Body side molding removed and the attachment holes welded closed
  • Two minor dings repaired.
  • Painted Ferrari red, the color code I think is 104 from a 1980 Ferrari 308.

 

 

AutoComponenti

Jim disassembled the engine and checked to see what did and what did not need replacing. Fortunately all of the expensive parts were in good condition. Jim has built a turbo-charged 2.0-liter for himself and is quite a master machinist. If you have ever seen any of his work I know you agree.

The engine work was by far the most involved.

  • Crankshaft was bored for better oil flow, then balanced.
  • Custom windage tray fabricated.
  • The oil pump was improved by enlarging the body of the pump and installing VW oil pump gears.
  • The block had water restrictors’ custom fabricated and installed to force more water to the head.
  • Mahle 7.8:1 pistons, ceramic coated.
  • Custom intake and exhaust porting
  • Custom ground camshafts (the specifications are secret!)
  • Oil lines were tapped to provide a stream of oil to the underside of the piston on the exhaust side for improved cooling.
  • Water to air inter-cooler fabricated.
  • Three-core radiator.
  • Electromotive electronic engine management system installed.
  • Custom header fabricated to accept the turbo charger.
  • Dash adjustable waste-gate control.
  • High output lightweight alternator.
  • GM compressor for the air-conditioning, yes it blows very cold now!

Jim also worked his magic on the suspension and gearbox.

  • A 3.0-liter limited slip transaxle was installed.
  • 13-inch vented and cross-drilled rotors in the front with Willwood calipers.
  • The rear rotors we also custom fabricated and are vented and cross-drilled. The stock calipers were widened to accept the new rotors; adjustable brake bias valve installed.
  • Shift linkage modified (does not feel like a transaxle any longer!)
  • Hubs converted to GTV-6 5 bolt, front and rear.
  • GTV-6 drive line and half-shafts. (The front flywheel housing had to be modified to accept the larger driveline.

 

Leather and Wool

While all this was taking place I acquired a pair of Recaro sport seats. They did not offer the color I wanted so I got them in black cloth. The new seats along with the rest of the interior pieces were sent to a local trim shop. Tan leather was used for the seats, door panels and trim. I had them copy the original Alfa pattern on the seats with the center sections of the seats being perforated. Same for the door panels save for the embossed "Alfa Romeo" in block letters on the lowest section of the doors. The headliner was replaced with a matching lightweight vinyl. The carpet was re-done in black Wilton wool. All the silver plastic interior inserts on the trim were replaced with real carbon fiber pieces, as was the wood on the dash replaced with carbon fiber. Additionally a Momo steering wheel replaced the original.

Miscellaneous bits and pieces

The car rides on 8 X 16 Momo Star wheels with 225/45/16 Dunlop SP8000’s. Yes, they fit just fine. Anything with a sidewall of 45 or smaller will work. Dunlop now offers the SP8000 in 225/40/16 for $100.00 a piece if any of you V-6’ers out there are interested.

The car is a blast to drive. I had the car put on a dyno and we got 301 BHP at the flywheel with 15 pounds of boost. Water injection would allow boost pressures as high as 25 pounds. Hello 400 horsepower! Turbo lag is noticeable but not bad. On the street I surprise quite a few people. One trick Jim taught me is to go about 10-15 MPH, put your foot on the brake while increasing throttle with your other foot. Boost will build enough to break the rear tires loose. Gets your attention!

Currently the car is being worked on again (February 1999). Yes, again. It is winter, what else can I do! This time I had a new set of T-4 stainless steel headers fabricated. They are equal length and feed 4 into 2 into a new split turbo housing. They are huge! This will decrease turbo lag and improve airflow. The air intake and inter-cooler have been moved to a "cold" location. Computer estimates show yield could be up 25-35 horsepower with maximum power being reached at a lower RPM. A larger diameter exhaust is also being made.

 

Why?

Reason #1

Alfa quit updating performance after 1974. I loved the way these Alfetta’s look and wanted to see what could be done to bring the car more modern. What if Alfa continued with the GTV (105 and 116) as Porsche did with the 911? Maybe this is what they would have, then again, maybe not.

 

Reason #2

What, would you have me drive a Corvette! I shudder at the thought.
If anyone is interested or has questions, feel free to email me: bberger@columbus.rr.com

PS I also own a 1986 Graduate with 32K and it is completely stock, really!

 



New Pictures - July 1999

New header Brian had fabricated for the turbo.  Equal length 4 in to 2 to a new split housing turbo.


New Video - July 1999

Two files, both in AVI format that show dyno runs that were performed on Brian's car a few years ago.  They are quite large, but worth it just to hear the sound this turbo makes!

You will need appropriate software to play these files - an example is the Real Audio Player -
get_rp5.gif (7891 bytes)

3rd gear base line.avi   (1.198 Kb)

Dyno Run mpeg4.avi (1,978 Kb)


Brian has established his own site - please see the Sprint Veloce Turbo Website.