They say a true petrolhead should own an Alfa Romeo at least once. When a bargain one came up for sale once restrictions were eased last summer temptation got the better of me. It felt great to buy the car with knowledge of its history from Joe Miller who donated a significant amount of the proceeds to charity. I don’t regret it one bit either, as it turns out I rather like Alfas.
This Alfa GTV Twin Spark, which I imaginatively dubbed ‘Alf’, was a great induction into what that Italian ‘style’ and ‘passion’ is all about. It really does make you feel rather special to be behind the wheel of one, even if they’re not perfect machines. It was a great way to get around, particularly on a memorable trip across the coastal roads of North Norfolk. It was interesting to work on too - such a well engineered car in many ways, dare I say it perhaps even overengineered in some.
In terms of the driving experience in my view the GTV falls into a similar category as the Porsche 944, a car I’ve test driven but have never owned. Today, both are ‘budget’ tin-top sports cars that give you an excellent feeling of control behind the wheel. But being front wheel drive and more modern the GTV is easier to live with and currently far cheaper. Find a good one now and you’ve got a sure fire classic that will only appreciate in value given time.
However I’d been on the hunt for something a little older for a while and found it in my new MK2 Polo. It made sense to part ways with the Alfa as it’s a costly car to keep on the road if you’re not going to be using it much. I had just finished touching up the paintwork to the best of my ability. But there were still signs of the high mileage and it would have required continued care and attention.
The car was a great proposition for someone looking to dip their toes in Alfa Romeo ownership like I did without investing too much in it. Also creating more space on the driveway was welcome, as was a bit of cash in my back pocket.
On that note the car sold at Anglia Car Auctions for a small loss on the original purchase price I paid. I’m not too disappointed as Joe and I raised some funds for charity with the original purchase and I never intended on making money from it. The GTV managed to scratch my itch for another sports car, and I’m sure it will for the new owner too.
This is my second time selling a car at ACA’s classic car auctions, and everything went smoothly again. That is aside from a concerning voicemail I received a week before the auction telling me that the Alfa GT Blackline I just dropped off had oil pressure issues and warning lights ablaze. A quick call back established they had made a mistake and the GTV was fine. They were very apologetic. I’m just thankful it wasn’t my car they might have had to sell as a non-runner, and it gave me a story to tell here too so I can’t complain!
I enjoyed the short-term ownership experience of having this car. I bought it unseen and without any set expectations. After about six months I started to feel it wasn’t a keeper. I decided to continue enjoying it and improve it a little, but also try to stick to a budget. In the short space of time I owned the Alfa I think I did manage to breath a lot more life into the car, most notably fixing a very tired rear suspension setup and an electronic idling fault.
It also helped me to learn to be a bit more creative. For example with the high cost of Alfa Romeo parts I managed to save money by selling parts I took off the car or trading them for parts I needed.
Despite the extra space required regularly having a short-term project car on the go is an appealing idea. I like the challenge of taking something a little tired and making it a bit better with limited resources. It’s a great way to try out a vehicle that’s new to you, particularly if it’s one that has bottomed out in value and is on the way up. For now I can’t say I’m going to rush to do it again, but who knows, maybe one day... It might even be another Alfa.
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For a full long term review of the Alfa 916 GTV Twin Spark go here.