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Alfa Spider & amp; GTV (918): Capricious wedges or affordable hits?

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H arte times were that for Alfisti. In 1987 the last GTV Coupé said goodbye, in 1993 the fourth generation Spider was phased out and a love affair with it that lasted 27 years. It began with graceful openness with the Duetto from 1966, which the Alfa workers had given the name Osso di Sepia because of its stern - back of the squid. With Dustin Hoffman, the charming two-seater passed his high school diploma a year later and made Alfa known in the USA. And now, 1993: No more. There was no longer an open Alfa to buy.

The successor was only presented at the end of 1994, together with the new Alfa Romeo GTV. That something had to happen formally, that things could no longer go on as before, was clear to all decision-makers up to the board of directors and also to the customers. But what Alfa Romeo designers Walter de Silva and Enrico Fumia had come up with at Partner Pininfarina was very progressive and initially disturbing. The new Spider and the new GTV were extremely wedge-shaped, and a massive bead ran from the fenders through the doors to the sloping rear end. The Spider, with its well-insulated hood, which was later also electrically operated and durable for a surcharge of 3,000 marks, had a ruff.

So everything was new, including under the sheet metal that was not at all at the front: bonnet, fenders and front At the end of the day, the Alfa Romeo 916 series are made of plastic, which on the one hand saves weight and on the other offers protection against corrosion. Stone chips are only a cosmetic problem and will not rust if the owner is not careful. All endangered sheets are also galvanized, so that edge rust on the underbody can become a problem if it is allowed to rage in secret for too long.

Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV with front-wheel drive

The short and Flat hood, which stretches over the headlights and thus becomes an important design element, was of course only possible because a lot happened underneath. Instead of installing the engines lengthways as before, the four and six-cylinder units were now seated transversely between the front wheels. And because they were rearranging, the technicians also saved the cardan shaft to the rear. Phew, transverse engine, front-wheel drive - in the package with the design swivel, that sounded like revolution instead of evolution for many, but the first driving reports and tests of the new Alfa RomeoFor the market launch in 1995 they gave the all-clear.

The four-cylinder engines, new designs with two overhead camshafts and two spark plugs and ignition coils per cylinder (hence the addition of the name Twin Spark), for example, like the previous DOHC four-cylinder, enjoy sound and good pulling power , Revving and smooth running. Initially there was only the two-liter TS with 150 hp, which in the Alfa Romeo Spider is good for a top speed of 210 km /h and enables an acceleration of 8.5 seconds to 100 km /h (factory information).

Later, in 1998, there is also an entry-level version with 1.8 liters and 144 hp for the Spider, while the two-liter model year 1999 will even have 155 Cavalli with improved exhaust quality in accordance with Euro 3. For the 2003 facelift, the four-cylinder with the 2.0 JTS, a direct injection engine, reached its peak of performance at 166 hp. With its modern mixture preparation, this engine does not provide reasons to disdain the classic intake manifold injectors, neither in terms of running smoothness nor in terms of power delivery. The conventional two-liter also exudes the subjective feeling of being very well motorized. Only the 1.8 TS is a little lacking in emphasis, which is why it was not ordered very often and is therefore rarely on the market today.

Of course, the Arese V6 two-valve engines can do everything a little better Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV had different uses: The Spider started in 1995 with 192 hp from a three-liter displacement, while the GTV offered a two-liter turbo with 202 hp. In the 1998 Coupé it made way for a three-liter V6 24V with 220 hp, while this engine did not replace the 3.0 12V in the Spider until autumn 2000. When in autumn 2003 the second major facelift after 1998 brought a newly modeled bow with a larger Scudetto including chrome-plated cross struts, a green instead of red night design for the instruments and switches and a lowering of the seats that were raised in 1998, the final expansion stage of the V6 in Alfa took place Romeo Spider and Coupé: the 3.2 liter four-valve engine with six-speed gearbox from the 156 and 147 GTA, which was throttled here from 250 to 240 hp.

Direct steering and high-traction handling

Phew, quite a bit of engine history up to this point. And there is still a lot to say about the chassis. Because what the testers discovered in the 1990s is also noticed by used car buyers at the wheel of the 916 models, which have not been built for around ten years. They drive, following their very direct steering, so ambitiously around corners that only drift-obsessed experts weep a tear after the rear-wheel drive.

Responsible for this highly traction-strong handling are a carefully designed McPherson front axle and a multi-link axle attached to a subframe in the rearhas its place. This expansive axis is also the reason for the ridiculously low storage volume of the two beautiful Italians. A mere 110 liters fit into the trunk, which is also very angled because of the spare wheel placed in it. On longer journeys, some of the luggage has to go into the interior.

This means that the two jump seats of the Alfa Romeo GTV fulfill their real purpose, because they are hardly suitable for transporting passengers given the limited space available. In the Spider, Alfa Romeo showed itself to be more consistent, dispensed with the seats and created a lockable shelf. Today the Spider and Coupé of the 916 series are offered at attractive prices. However, the range of the prices called up is enormous and takes into account the fact that the condition of used cars is usually more important than the digits on the odometer of the speedometer.

When viewing and taking a test drive, one should be skeptical Go to work and don't be fooled by glossy paint. If a four-cylinder with AT engine is offered, this is anything but a disadvantage. Because these engines initially suffered from problems with the timing belt tensioning pulleys and connecting rods tearing off. This resulted in engine damage.

If you hear a slight nailing sound like a diesel engine when idling, the phaser on the intake camshaft is defective and needs to be replaced. With an otherwise decent car, it is easy to negotiate a price discount, as can a timing belt change that is due soon. Alfa Romeo does mention change intervals of 120,000 kilometers, but with a maximum of 80,000 km or an age of the belt of five years you are on the safe side and minimize the risk of expensive engine damage.

Poor performance or poor throttle response are mostly on one defective air mass meter. You are there for around 500 euros. The four-cylinder only need new spark plugs every 100,000 kilometers. But the change is in the money because the platinum-coated plugs are more expensive than standard candles and despite four cylinders just eight candles are required.

Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV with short-lived clutch

The V6 - Engines are at least as durable as the four-cylinder, but have higher maintenance requirements. The clutch is not infrequently worn after 30,000 kilometers, and with the three-liter two-valve engine the valve clearance has to be adjusted every 40,000 km and the camshafts have to be removed for this. A toothed belt change is also required here every 80,000 km, which, including a new hydraulic tensioner and a new water pump (which often becomes incontinent in old age), can easily cost over 1,000 euros.

If you buy one of the four-valve V6s offered later can save maintenance costs because these engines have, for example, hydraulic valve clearance compensation. Is the object of desire a two-liter turbo and isA loud whistling can be heard on the way, this does not necessarily mean a turbo defect. This can also come from a manifold seal or a loose screw connection between the loader and manifold: A check in the workshop brings security.

Otherwise nobody has to fear buying an Italian diva with a well-maintained Alfa Romeo Spider or GTV. Oil mist on the valve cover or cylinder head gaskets of the V6 is almost normal and uncritical if it is kept within limits, landing gear rumbling and indifferent driving behavior suggest worn wishbones and /or bushings - the repair is fun and costs several hundred euros, as is the replacement The flexible pipes in the area of ​​the catalytic converters: They are the weak point of the otherwise hardly rusting exhaust systems.

If the tires show a sawtooth profile, the chassis, which can be adjusted in the camber on the front and rear axles, needs to be readjusted. Water ingress is often caused by incorrectly adjusted side windows or collapsed roof seals. The entertaining handling of the technically solid Type 916 can come at a price. But when the curves are calling and the engine is cheering, the jerk is forgotten. Simply wedge.

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