Alfa has enjoyed a brilliant return to form recently. We run the PH rule over the history books…
By PH Staff / Monday, April 5, 2021 / Loading comments
The temptation of a cheap Alfa Romeo never seems far away. Way too many imperfect yet lovable cars have been made over the years for it to be any other way. Whether saloon, coupe or drop-top, there are plenty of great looking cars available for not much money – some of which are especially alluring as the weather turns nice…
But there’s more to an Alfa Romeo than just good looks, and that’s what this list aims to celebrate. Because while there are plenty of great looking Alfas that were a bit shonky, there were just as many that didn’t look much cop but drove very nicely indeed. Only if you get very lucky are there Alfas as good to look at as they are to drive, and we’ve made sure to include those as well.
Furthermore, this isn’t just a list of ‘aren’t classic cars great?’ The list here covers nine cars and five decades, with everything from £5k first classics to lotto win supercars. There might even be an Alfa or two you’d forgotten about in here. So, without further ado…
Up to £5,000…
- GTV (Type 916)
Once upon a time it seemed that cheap Type 916 Alfa GTVs and Spiders were common as muck; you only need to look back on the dozens of Sheds for proof of that. But that could only last so long, especially with rust having claimed a good few – and many others surely stuffed away needing work. At the most recent count, there were just 155 Twin Spark GTVs registered on our roads, little more than 10 per cent of the 2010 figure. Which would explain the price rise…
A good GTV or Spider remains worth seeking out, though. Despite humble underpinnings the Type 916 was received well, winning a host of awards at launch and beguiling many with its good looks and fine engines. Though the V6 holds the obvious appeal, the four-cylinder shouldn’t be discounted either as it saves a chunk of weight from the front end. And by the standards of modern four-cylinder engines, the zesty and effervescent Twin Spark ought to be a breath of fresh air.
This late GTV on a 54-plate looks about as good as a £5k version gets in 2021, especially when you consider that some are being offered at £15k and upwards. It’s a low mileage Twin Spark that’s crying out to be enjoyed again, having only covered 1,000 miles in the past four years. As a reminder of how joyful a great powertrain in a great looking car can be, look no further. The red ones are fastest, too…
Up to £10,000…
- 156 GTA
No list of Alfa Romeos would be complete without either 156 or 147 GTA; they were special cars when new, stunning to look at and blessed with one of the great V6s, and in 2021 both are highly covetable.
Especially now some choice tweaks have made the GTAs into the cars they should have been. Even by the standards of the early 2000s neither 147 nor 156 were anything less than unruly, with rather too much lusty performance from the Busso engine than their respective platforms could handle. But a car like this one – with uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, the Q2 diff and bigger brakes – should represent a significant improvement.
Back when cars like the 156 were new, it was old Alfas like the 75 that were being crowed about as those that we wouldn’t see again – now it’s the turn of the GTA. Engines like these matched to manual gearboxes deserve to be treasured; that it comes in such a handsome body is almost just a bonus. Many will baulk at the prospect of £10k for a 150,000-mile Alfa Romeo, but then this isn’t just any old Alfa Romeo. And you aren’t any old car buyer, either.
Up to £15,000…
- GT Coupe
Another Alfa Romeo that’s improved with time. Like the 156, a lot of the GT’s renewed appeal 15 years after production ended is thanks to the glorious engine, a privilege denied to the Brera also available at the same time (which was stuck with the 3.2 JTS). Back then, the GT didn’t quite set the world alight in a halcyon time for coupes – think 350Z, RX-8, Monaro, Cayman – but now it presents a very attractive modern classic Alfa option.
That’s because, beyond the undeniable appeal of its mega engine, most GTs on offer nowadays have been subtly tinkered (and improved) by specialists. This particular one is largely standard, though does have the Q2 limited-slip diff fitted that should have been standard – and will have a marked effect on cornering precision and traction.
Add into that the fact the GT gets better looking with each passing year, and is now exceptionally rare – fewer than 250 are believed to be on the roads – and it’s not hard to be tempted. Sure, it may not have the purity of a rear-drive sports car, but the GT’s collectability now looks assured.
Up to £20,000…
- Giulia Super 1600S
Where better to begin an appreciation of the classics than with the original Type 105 Giulia? The recipe wasn’t complicated, but such was Alfa’s nous in the execution that the Giulia was a huge success. Naturally the Sprint GTs hogged the limelight on road and track, but the four-door was no inferior substitute; in fact, it might be seen as the foundation of the modern sports saloon. And we all know it from The Italian Job…
Sadly, though so many Type 105s in all its various configurations were made in the 60s and 70s, precious few have survived into the 2020s. Rust is the biggest enemy. Still, it means that those Giulias that have survived half a century should be good ones, spared from the worst ravages of oxidisation.
This Super 1600S looks a gem. Essentially a reintroduction of the Giulia TI and made only between 1968 and 1970, the 1600S made almost 100hp thanks to a twin Weber’d version of the Alfa twin cam. This one has somehow only covered a little more than 30,000 miles in more than half a century, but with plenty spent on maintenance recently it should be on the button and ready to enjoy. In fact, the only way it might be possibly be improved is if the roof came off…
Up to £30,000…
Despite the name having been in use for generations, there’s only one car that comes to mind for most when ‘Alfa Spider’ is mentioned – and it’s this one. Not the later Series 3 and Series 4 versions of the original, either, but those very pretty original Spiders and the ever-so-slightly less lovely S2s. The Graduate era and a bit later, basically.
The Alfa Spider set the template for the European sports car as the Giulia did for the saloon; there were twin cam engines in the front, a manual gearbox in the middle and drive to the rear in a small, simple, sweet roadster. Of course, this was the salad days of the svelte sports car, long before the hot hatch was on the scene, and the Alfa wasn’t without rivals – but then not many others stayed in production for 30 years, either.
This one is prime Spider, a 1975 Series 2 Veloce in red. Described by its current owner as “loved” in their ownership, it’s been treated to a whole host of new parts in recent years. They reckon there’s “excellent investment potential” in the Spider, too, even at £27,000. Appreciation is a hard thing to be certain of, but one thing is for sure: the Alfa Romeo Spider is a certified sports car legend.
Up to £40,000…
Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The 4C was meant to be a slice of Italian exotica for the average buyer, boasting supercar technology with a price to rival the Lotus Elise. There was a carbon tub, dual-clutch transmission, stunning looks and hand-built allure, performance to rival a 911 for Cayman money.
But the 4C didn’t quite come together as a package, delivering a fidgety ride, a whole lotta turbo lag and imperfect steering. The Alfa Romeo sports car we were all desperate for just didn’t materialise in the real world. So, what’s it doing here?
Well, not only did the 4C Spider improve on the coupe, the aftermarket bettered things again (noticing a theme here?), with minor tweaks throughout the car having a significant influence on the drive. This car, with almost £20k off the new price after just 6,000 miles, should be the 4C that goes someway to realising its considerable potential. It has both an ECU and suspension upgrade from highly rated specialist Alfa Works, which sound little short of transformative given the reviews. With spring having sprung at last, it isn’t hard to see the appeal of a 4C once more – especially one that drives as good as it looks.
Up to £50,000…
- Giulia Quadrifoglio
Hopes (if not expectations) were high for the launch of the Giulia Quadrifoglio in 2015. All the right ingredients were there – a new rear-wheel drive platform, a 510hp Ferrari-derived V6, a low kerbweight – but there were reservations about whether Alfa could really pull off a sports saloon to match the segment’s best. The 4C hadn’t quite hit the spot with a similarly encouraging spec sheet, and there hadn’t been a rear drive four-door out of Milan since the 75.
We needn’t have worried – the Giulia was (and still is) superb. The Quadrifoglio didn’t just match the class best from BMW and AMG, it beat them in key areas as well. Combine that with the emotional pull of the badge and the suave good looks and, at last, there was a competitive Alfa sports saloon for the 21st century. So competitive, in fact, that when it came to the recent facelift there wasn’t much changed beyond the interior – because it didn’t really need much else.
The update has served to make those originals look even more appealing. It’s possible to pay £35k for a well-used car, and there are decent ones around £40k; the bulk remain between there and £50k, however. A 2018 Quadrifoglio like this one is £46,990, with two owners and less than 20,000 miles; its newness means some warranty and service plan are still valid, too. Not only is the Giulia the best Alfa Romeo to buy at this money, it’s one of the best cars full stop. Believe the hype.
Up to £75,000…
Fascinating car, the Montreal. As a concept in 1967, it used an evolution of the Giulia’s platform with the 1.6-litre twin-cam, which made it nice enough. But when it launched as a production car in 1970, the Montreal was a decidedly more serious proposition: out went the four-cylinder, to be replaced by a dry-sumped 2.6-litre V8 evolved from that used in the 33 Stradale. It was a proper screamer, too, with a stroke of just 64.5mm (against a bore of 80mm), and peak power of 200hp made at 6,500rpm.
However, an expensive purchase price when new meant the Montreal struggled to sell; don’t forget this was the time of the Ferrari 308 GT4 and GTB, Lamborghini Urraco and Maserati Bora as well, so the Alfa wasn’t short of competition. There was the Porsche 911 and Jaguar E-Type, too. It’s believed that fewer than 4,000 were made in total, and considerably fewer than that will have made it to 2021.
In the classifieds there are just two Montreals to be found, both in the Netherlands; this Yellow Ochre car must be as good the Montreal gets, with a four-figure mileage and impeccable condition thanks to spending its life in California. Yes, it’s for sale at more than £70k, but try finding any comparable Italian icon for less.
Up to £100,000…
- Restomod GT
You may have noticed a common theme running through these entries: cars that maybe weren’t quite the ticket when new were subsequently improved considerably by specialists. It’s become so popular, in fact, that a sizeable restomod scene has emerged around classic Alfas. With cars so responsive to tuning and demand most certainly there, why on earth not?
Of course, that scene reaches its zenith with the cars that roll out of Alfaholics workshop, but you don’t need a quarter of a million to experience the joy of modernised Alfa. You’ll still need a lot, admittedly, as this car shows, but its asking price is about one third of an Alfaholics build.
Once a 1974 Type 105 2000 GT Veloce, it was turned into a GTAm homage quite early in its life, but a 2017 restoration saw the Alfa really reach its best. As proof of just how good a classic can really be as a road and track car, what on earth could be better? There’s traditional style with the ability of something far newer, which is probably why the niche is enjoying such incredible popularity. If new cars are short of character and old ones lacking as driving devices, then a restomod should strike the perfect balance. From here, that’s exactly what the Alfa Romeo looks to be doing.
Sky’s the limit…
- 8C Competizione
Amazingly, the 2007 8C announced Alfa’s return to rear-wheel drive after a decade away; the last car similarly configured was the Spider, which had gone out of production in 1994. Quite some way to return!
And even if the 450hp 8C wasn’t a perfectly honed rear-drive sports car, that seemed immaterial. Because it looked how it looked and sounded how it sounded – that was all most people needed to know about both Coupe and Spider. Limited production helped its cause, too, as Alfa was inundated with many more orders than it had available build slots.
Which has helped the 8C achieve something like modern classic status – it has simply never been anything less than a six-figure supercar, despite now being more than a decade old. Never mind that a lot was shared with the Maserati GranTurismo; limited production, the badge and, of course, the styling, ensured the Alfa was always on another planet entirely.
There are two for sale currently on PH, both at more than £200k. This Coupe has had an owner for every 1,000 miles it’s been driven but, given the choice, we’d have a Spider. With an engine like that V8, why not have more access to it? This 2010 car isn’t much more than run in, with only 3,000 miles recorded. Perfect thing for the summer. Perfect thing, full stop.
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