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Supreme Sounds: 1986 Alfa Romeo GTV6

1986 Alfa Romeo GTV6

I suspect it is safe to say that for any of us who describe ourselves as brand aficionados, there’s always that one car or marque that temps us to leave our familiar and friendly automotive allegiances. Although I love vintage BMWs, an Alfa Romeo like this 1986 GTV6 survivor is my ultimate weakness. While the BMWs may do a lot of things better, nothing sounds quite like an Alfa at full song. To learn more, check out this listing here on craigslist in Central Ohio for $6,500.

Alfa GTV6 Engine

These wedge-shaped hatches truly do sound glorious. When powered by the lusty Busso V6, it emits a noise not unlike other cars Italy is known for. And while maintenance bills are never cheap on Italian thoroughbreds, keeping a GTV6 on the road is far more realistic for the average gearhead provided rust doesn’t have its way with the car. This one looks very straight and corrosion-free despite residing in the Rust Belt and has only 102,000 miles – but little is said about its maintenance history beyond a new fuel pump and spark plugs.

Alfa GTV6 Interior

If this car were local, I might give it a serious look, as I know the whereabouts of a great parts car in a local scrapyard. The junker was surprisingly complete, down to the gorgeous factory Recaro style seats with headrest netting and sport-style wooden steering wheel. I thought about hoarding some parts for Alfa enthusiasts who might need them down the road, but due to the yard owner’s ambitious pricing, I couldn’t make it work. That’s one aspect of why owning an Alfetta or GTV6 is a bit of a labor of love: the cost to restore and maintain properly can race ahead of its perceived value in the marketplace, aside from special models like the Callaway Twin-Turbo that command a premium.

Alfa Romeo GTV6

When shopping 1980s GTs, hobbyists might be drawn to the more established Porsche 944 or classic BWM 6-Series, but the Alfetta slots nicely in between as a sporting car with road manners that make it perfectly suited as a Sunday cruiser or corner carver. It marches to the beat of a slightly different drummer, yet still has established credentials for longevity if the body around the mechanicals evades the Tin Worm. For more insights on living with a 1980’s Alfa, I recommend reading the fantastic BlythBros.’ blog that chronicles owning a Milano Verde sedan. Am I alone in being swooned by the Alfa’s memorable engine note, or are some of you tempted by this GTV-6 as much as I am? Leave your thoughts below.


  1. Paul

    Another of my brother’s cars. I got to drive this for much of a year while in grad school. This and my 510.

    Kind of a weak, balky transmission, but that Engine was something wonderful.

    It’s a kryptonite car for me.

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  2. Dolphin Member

    Jeff is right, these are terrific cars to drive, especially the sound of that great V6 engine. I own one exactly like this car, same color, earlier year. Being an ’86 this one is the last year built and the best year to buy.

    The only thing that detracts is the rear mounted transaxle. Most cars have some difficulty shifting, especially 1st to 2nd, but if you take it slow and pause between gears they are usually OK. The upside is that a rear mounted transaxle gives the car almost perfect 50-50 weight balance.

    Another issue can be the driveshaft, which is 2-piece and runs at engine speed all the time since the clutch is at the rear. They can be imbalanced and less than smooth but that’s almost always due to a worn Guibo (rubber flex joint).

    The unrusty body on this car looks really good. It must have been stored winters, otherwise it would probably have holes in it. But check around the lower areas for filler with a magnet in a piece of cloth.

    These are usually offered cheaper than this car, but it does look good and if you want a great car to drive that also sounds great $6500 isn’t unreasonable. But it will likely sell for less. There are parts sources for these in the US, one in Charlottesville, VA.

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  3. Dickie F

    I’ve never owned an Alfa, but I did spend a couple of hours with a few of the earlier and more recent models. I regarded the 1970s Berlina 1750 as the ultimate unmodified performance car, before the VW GTi s arrived. I would seriously consider buying a good Berlina today. But I digress.

    There was an Alfa in my life, a 1980s GTV 2.5L V6, like this one.

    It was my company car, that I had for 100 000 km (62500 miles). I spent 3 days every week doing 8 hour road trips to country projects. It was the most fun I had while working.

    Mountainous country roads, early mornings racing the sunrise and later the sunset. She was a temperamental old girl thou, each trip was different, the car was not the same everyday, almost as if the ghosts of Alfas passed, each had an opportunity to do one last road trip, and they all choose this same chassis.

    I could never understand why the auxiliaries were not powered through the ignition. So as you exited the car the wipers will continue working along with the indicators and bumble bee, the radio, would still be crying for Argentina.

    The Alfa was traded in on a Porsche 944, which was less exciting, but at least it wasn’t haunted.

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    • Dickie F

      oops sorry guys, that picture of Steve was suppose to be of the Alfa, my apologies – could you kindly remove it ?

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      • Don Andreina

        No, I must insist that it stays. It’s a bit off-topic but what a great pic.

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  4. jimbosidecar

    No, no, no. Don’t remove the king of speed’s picture!

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  5. JW454

    One has to ask… If it’s been for sale for two months, is there an issue with the car, its paperwork, no market, or is the price too high. Hummmm…….

    A good car with no problems, good paperwork, desirable, and fairly priced don’t hang around for two months. Just sayin’

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      The same thought crossed my mind, but he may just be waiting out the tire kickers.

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    • Dolphin Member

      GTV6s come up for sale often because they made a lot of them, and the asking prices are usually pretty low. I paid half what this seller is asking when I bought mine not long ago and its a rust free SO CAL car with fewer miles than this one. People can be choosy, and when it comes to old Alfas they usually are. Then there’s the fact that these were not the most wanted cars in the Midwest, where this car is listed locally.

      If the car has no rust (easy to see in the engine bay, trunk, and by getting a quick look underneath), if it starts easily and runs with good power, if there are no driveline vibrations, and if it shifts well, I think it’s worth what this seller is asking. But like I said, I expect that this car will probably sell for less than the asking. That would make it a great buy IMHO.

      I think this car would sell fairly quickly if it was listed on the Alfa Romeo discussion groups because people there know what a bargain they are for a great driving car. You’re not likely to get a lot of responses by listing it in the Midwest locally on CL. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad car, just that there isn’t much demand in the local area.

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      • Jeff Lavery Staff

        I had the same thought that where he’s selling it likely is not a hot-bed of Alfa enthusiast activity. the Alfa BB site is a great resource.

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    • james g

      he says survivor but if it had the original silver paint even if its been garage kept it would fade out to a dull silver 102,000 miles odometers had a tendency to stop working and get replaced the car would probably be sold by know if he was in a big city also no pictures of the right side only left THE CAM BELT if it breaks that will cost a hole valve job when one breaks around 30k miles to have it replaced if one has been sitting a while it needs to be replaced
      also copy and pasted the phone number and came across this ad it said that it looks to be sold

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      • erioshi

        Wow .. quite the post and some strong opinions.

        Don’t be so quick to dismiss the paint, in snow states, it’s not uncommon for our “play car” to live inside a heated garage unless we’re driving it, showing it or weekending it. I’m familiar with quite a few cars with a good bit of mileage on them and mostly original paint (front stone chip repairs are common) that look as good or better than this car.

        The decent interior also seems to point to a garaged existence, with the lack of sun damage.

        The car already being sold is a self resolving issue.

        I am a former owner, and used to tear around Northern Virgina near Quantico in one. As everyone else who has owned one has said, it was a wonderful experience. I think having owned an Alfa is much like raising a child. There would be no way to justify ownership from any practical perspective, but if asked, most would argue that from an emotional perspective the experience was worth it. And after ownership, many would never want to repeat the experience. These cars demand love, passion, lots of attention, and a parent’s willingness to forgive their faults.

        I do miss mine, but instead of buying another I’ve enjoyed several other automotive adventures. The cars that I have found that I need to be in my garage are a Porsche 928 and a mid-engined Lotus. Both are car choices I could never fully explain to someone who hasn’t driven them the way they were intended. Much like the Alfa above, both offer a transcendent driving experience on their own terms.

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  6. james g

    buy some euro grand prix bumpers look real nice a lot better than the american heavy rubber coated steel bumpers

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  7. james g

    thinking about survivors i should send some photos of my dads 69 berlina two spots of bubble rust on a door resprayed 20+ years ago some Volvo gold color ewww was originally british racing green they had to spray the door jams and engine bay gold! interior replaced once but it is an absolute solid car no rust and no rust repair bought it out of california several years ago 87k miles 1 dash crack needs headliner early 69

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  8. Eli

    2nd gear synchro tends to be problematic as well as an awkward seating position that the Italians seem to like. Too close to the steering wheel or too far away from the pedals. One of the Alfas that happens to be affordable and there is not much of a following. The early GTVs from the late 60s to early 70s? That’s another story and highly sought after.

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  9. cliffyc

    Great car with that fantastic six pot motor…and you get to sit on leather Recaros!. Magnifico!

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I still think about the one in the junkyard…I almost want to grab the Recaros just to use as desk chairs. They looked amazing.

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  10. Tirefirar

    I have owned 9 Alfas, the most recent being the 69 Spider 1750. With an exception of a brief stint with a 164, the rest were 2L Nord powered 105/115 spiders and sedans. I am glad to hear praises for the Berlinas – I owned 2 1969 1750 (with a 2L SPICA engines) – perhaps the most fun I ever had, especially in the canyons of Malibu.

    The key to whether this car is worth the asking price is maintenance. While the Nord engine can be rebuild almost infinitely due to its floating cylinders and can be done by an average enthusiast for not a lot of $$, the Buso V6 has its limitations and if rebuilt is done by an AR specialist it can run into $3k and up. I would check the windshield base and the lift gate for rust. While the rust around the rear glass on the lift gate is not too bad to fix, the cowl rust will require removal of the windshield and possibly the dash. Many complain about the guibos in these cars, but my 1968 1600 had one too and it did wear out – it is not a big deal. Another PIA on these cars are the rear brakes which are located in-board and have a much more limited access than the traditional at the wheel brakes. Gear shift linkage can be vague but if dialed in the owners will swear by it. A great alternative to this model would be the Alfetta GT coupes with the Nord engine. The 4 cylinder is lighter thus less weight at the front end and great handlind in the twisties. Its also mechanically much less complex and has a timing chain instead of the belt, among other benefits.

    There are some red flags here – exterior pics are not detailed, pretty general. There are no pictures of the passanger side, no undercarriage or other detailed shots or a clear description of the car. The wording of the ad makes it feel like it was bought to be fixed up and flipped…I would recommend a thorough PPI.

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