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European Car Magazine - GTV6 Project


Part 11 - A summary of what's worked well, and what hasn't.

European Car Magazine - August 1996

Author - Paul Mitchell
Photos by Les Bidrawn


During the last two years, EC has presented a series of articles covering the Alfa Romeo GTV-6. The goal. To keep this unique car performing well on the road. Much of the information presented in the series was gained through no small amount of pain and hard-won experience-my own and those consulted in the articles, such as Rex Chalmers and Stewart Sandeman. More than 30,000 miles have been put on the Project GTV-6 since it began, yielding a wealth of information as to the viability and long-term reliability of the chosen parts and modifications. The updated parts and modifications used to increase reliability and ease of maintenance have performed admirably, giving no trouble whatsoever. In fact, all the factory-made or supplied parts have performed flawlessly. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of some of the performance aftermarket parts-while the majority of those parts have done just that (performed), a few have failed miserably, causing some downtime, consternation and expense (read grief).

This is by no means the end of the series; I will continue to bring you new updates and performance increases as they're applied to the GTV-6. Slated for future articles: Paint and stereo, half-shafts and CV joints, and a transaxle rebuild. And, in the pursuit of additional horsepower, discussions are underway with a well-known supercharger manufacturer to arrange a GTV-6 fitment. At this point, however, the supercharger manufacturer is still developing its small displacement unit. If this idea does not come to pass, a 3-liter V6 from a Milano Verde donor car will be installed. In many ways this seems a more natural modification and what the factory would have done if the GTV-6 had remained in production. Either way, there's a lot to look forward to in the Project GTV-6's future-be sure not to miss it. Outlined here are the GTV-6s current modifications along with reports on each part's and procedure's performance. Normal maintenance procedures involving standard factory parts are not included in this list as their reliability is well known.


Engine (Part 1, January 1995)

  • 164 S timing belt detensioner: A cure for one of the most failure-prone items on the GTV-6. Not only performs better than the hydraulic type, but has a longer service life, too. Every GTV-6 should have one.
  • Sperry Stage II Heads: These have performed well, but for one instance: A stuck exhaust cam follower was found during the first scheduled valve adjustment (see Sperry Cams below). The cam follower was hung-up on a burr in its bore-for how long we don’t know. Probably a freak occurrence, as Sperry’s work has a good reputation. The heads have provided a small, but noticeable, increase-especially at higher rpm.
  • Sperry Cams: After only about 9,000 miles, these reground cams failed-they lost their surface hardening, which began chipping off, leaving large pits. Luckily, this was caught before they could ruin the followers and incur additional expense. Is this a unique instance? Did we get the only bad set? Or does it happen often? I don’t know, but I can't imagine Mike Sperry putting up with this for very long, so it's probably not a common problem. Before the cams went away, they screamed above 4,800 rpm like a scalded cat, but had virtually no torque at low revolutions. In addition, the cams wouldn't pass a California emissions test due to the amount of valve overlap; as a result, they were replaced with 164 S cams.
  • Alfa 164 S cams (November 1996): After the premature passing of the Sperry Cams, the idea of reground cams left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I decided to stay away from such ilk. The factory cams that come on the 164 S filled several needs - they were factory parts and, hence, of high quality; they provided substantially higher performance than the original GTV-6 cams; and they passed California emissions tests, barely. Giving outstanding performance in all circumstances, including low revs, any GTV-6s seeking performance for the street would benefit from these cams.
  • Omega Motor Sports external oiling for heads: By installing this kit while the heads were off, another annoying GTV-6 fault was eliminated-the o-rings in the head gaskets, which tend to leak oil into the coolant. Similar to the Shankle SureSeal kit, but with braided steel lines and AN fittings for peace of mind. Install it and forget about head gaskets for a long time.
  • Alfa Heaven "Fast Cats" dual catalytic converters: An abject failure when installed on the car; they lasted two weeks. The idea is a good one-lowering exhaust back-pressure by increasing the volumeand capacity of the catalytic converter, but the design of the Fast Cats was lacking in several respects. Squeezing two large-sized cats into the limited underside space of the GTV-6 meant that they hung down lower than any other part of the body work-3 inches lower. On a stock-height GTV-6 the cats scrape on every driveway and speed bump, and on the slightly lower car, they made contact with the slightest of irregularities on level roads. The cats fell off the car after being bashed for 500 miles. I went back to the stock cat after testing - it flows as well as all the aftermarket cats I looked at; it fits well and it is long-lived; and it's made by the same company that makes the factory applications for other performance manufacturers.
  • Alfa Heaven "Pandoras Box" modified L-jetronic ECU: Seems to work well with the 164 S cams, and I appreciate the lack of a rev limiter.


Suspension, Brakes, Wheels and Tires

(Part 2: March 1995; Part 3, April1995; Part 4, May 1995)

  • Shankle SuperSport sway-bars and reinforcement plates: These really make a big difference, but be sure to use the reinforcement plates in the front and make sure theyre welded on properly.
  • Shankle SuperSport rear springs: The SuperSport springs work extremely well with the GTV-6 chassis. I chose to use only the rear springs without the matching front torsion bars, as I wanted to bias the handling-which, though neutral, has a slight tendency to understeer-towards more oversteer. What I ended up with is a car in which both ends break loose at the same time in a predictable manner when pushed hard.
  • Koni low-pressure gas shocks: One of the oldest names in the business and for good reason; they work very well and have a long service life. The three adjustment settings can be used to either compensate for wear or increase dampening for fine-tuning. The middle setting was used and fine-tuning was accomplished with spring selection and tire pressure-the GTV-6 is well balanced to begin with.
  • Camber modification: On an unmodified car it's not necessary, but if you've lowered yours, 1 recommend performing this easy modification to regain lost camber adjustment.
  • Shankle braided stainless steel brake lines: They fit well, they work well, and the brake pedal feels as solid as a block of concrete.
  • Repco MetalMaster semi-metallic brakes pads: Another old name in the industry with a well-proven product that has performed as advertised.
  • Etoile three-piece wheels, 15x7: Finding quality wheels for V6 Alfas is difficult enough; finding wheels that look good and are period correct is an even tougher task. I was very grateful that Etoile has products that can take the abuse that I put them through, and that the company has such excellent customer support.
  • BFGoodrich Z-rated T/A III, 205-50ZRI5: For the price, you’d be hard pressed to find a better tire. The lap times with these tires, when new, are within a second of the times with shaved racing tires all else being equal. I was very impressed.


Shift linkage and Clutch (Part 7, February 1996; Part 8, March 1996)

  • Shankle "SureShift" shift linkage: Shortens the throws and takes some of the play out of the linkage, though a stock linkage in decent repair is almost as good.
  • 3.0 Milano clutch: The best alternative to the expensive and hard-to-find GTV-6 twin-disc clutch. Pedal effort is slightly less, but you get used to it quickly. Performs flawlessly, and long-lived. Comes as a assembly with the flywheel and pressure plate, balanced by the factory.


Headlights and other electrics (Part 6, July 1995)

  • Hella H4 headlights and relays: A change that I really enjoy and appreciate. Be sure to use the relays or else you'll end up frying the headlight switch-it's no fun to replace, when it's even available.
  • Hella triple airhorns: Wake those who are apparently dozing off in front of you. Guaranteed to get their attention, if not make them really angry.






  • Omega Motorsports
    High-performance service and parts
    3822 Clarington Ave.
    Culver City, CA 90232
    (310) 836-3160


  • APC
    Maintenance and service
    22692 Granite Way
    Laguna Hills 92653
    (714) 588-0500


  • AR Ricambi
    Factory and Shankle performance parts
    6644 San Fernando Rd.
    Glendale, CA 91201
    (818) 956-7933
    (800) 225-2532


  • Alfa Parts Exchange
    Alfa Romeo dismantler
    2436 Whipple Road, #2
    Hayward, CA 94544
    (510) 471-7132


  • Kinesis Motorsports
    Etoile Wheels
    (619) 930-9800
    (800) 888-6754


  • The Tire Rack
    Wheels and Tires
    771 W. Chippewa Ave.
    South Bend, IN 46614
    (800) 428-8355


  • Sperry Valve Works
    Performance Alfa Heads, fuel Injection, and cams
    2829 Gundry Ave
    Signal Hill, CA 90806
    (310) 988-5960


  • Alfa Heaven
    Performance and factory parts
    111 Zagato Ln.
    Aniwa, WI 54408
    (715) 449-2141


  • Koni, a Division of ITTAutomotive
    Shock Absorbers
    8085 Production Ave.
    Florence, KY 41042
    (606) 727-5028


  • Automotive Performance Systems
    Hella products
    3300 Corte Malpaso
    Camarillo, CA 93012
    (800) 423-3623