1600 Rebuild - Stock or Modified? - Page 2 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 09:09 AM
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Keep it Stock.
Now that I'm firmly in the second half of my car-guy life, actuarially speaking, I am coming down harder every day on the side of originality. My rationale is pretty simple: it seems to me that the ultimate goal of any connoisseur is to develop an epicurean appreciation for a 'artist's' best work within his historical period, and relative to his peers. I view your Guilia as a kind of time machine that transports you back to what was state of the art in the mid sixties. You can align your perceptions with the journalist reviews, race results, styling comparables of the day, and it teaches you about the car's place in history from the perspective of taste, performance, engineering/manufacturing standards, and, really, automotive anthropology (how driving enthusiasts 'encountered' the car in that timeframe). The moment you begin to 'modernize,' 'update,' 'improve' the car, you deny yourself that opportunity. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy the car, of course you can, and it will be wonderful, but it won't be a connoisseur's experience of the maker's art.

We live in a time where my wife's diesel Mercedes sedan can outperform all but the most elite sportscars of the sixties, and get 45mpg, 65F cabin temps, and Mozart playing through upteen speakers while doing it. I don't get the point of hot rodding a 50 year old brilliant design to make it marginally 'better,' and I'm not sure what 'better' even means in that context.

So I'm firmly in the 'originality' camp. And +1 on the tires; perhaps the biggest single variable in the vintage vs. modern experience. We are so lucky to be able to buy Michelin XAS or Pirelli CN36s that were available in period, why in the world bolt up Bridgestone Potenzas?

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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 11:12 AM
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"So I'm firmly in the 'originality' camp. And +1 on the tires; perhaps the biggest single variable in the vintage vs. modern experience. We are so lucky to be able to buy Michelin XAS or Pirelli CN36s that were available in period, why in the world bolt up Bridgestone Potenzas? "

Maybe not so firmly in the camp.....

CN36 Pirelli tires were never installed by the factory on a 105 series car and were only available thru 1973 as a 185/70-15 tire for the Porsche 911. My '67 GTV came with 155-15 Pirelli Cinturato tires from new.
Michelin tires in the mid-'60s would probably have been their X model. XAS series was made for cars with a higher top speed.

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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by 101/105guy View Post
"So I'm firmly in the 'originality' camp. And +1 on the tires; perhaps the biggest single variable in the vintage vs. modern experience. We are so lucky to be able to buy Michelin XAS or Pirelli CN36s that were available in period, why in the world bolt up Bridgestone Potenzas? "

Maybe not so firmly in the camp.....

CN36 Pirelli tires were never installed by the factory on a 105 series car and were only available thru 1973 as a 185/70-15 tire for the Porsche 911. My '67 GTV came with 155-15 Pirelli Cinturato tires from new.
Michelin tires in the mid-'60s would probably have been their X model. XAS series was made for cars with a higher top speed.
Then of course there is all the fun over debating what is 'original!' I am not an alfa expert so happy for correction. My example may have inappropriately extrapolated from a GTA datapoint; the GTAj wore 165-14. My particular car is one of those crazy extended production GTAj that Alfa kept making until '75, and since the CN36 replaced the Cinturato, it is reasonable to assume that by '75 the GTAJ shipped that way. So few Stradales survived as street cars that it is tough to confirm. I doubt alfa would've fitted Dunlops.
The XAS, on OTOH, was definitely spec'd by the factory, see attached from my GTA junior tech specs manual which is original to the car, specifies XAS as an alternative. This manual dates from 1968 I believe, and was unchanged through '75.

So despite the factual error, I stand by the broader point that to experience a mid sixties Guilia as a contemporary buyer would've, I'd prefer correct period tires.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ersatzs2
We live in a time where my wife's diesel Mercedes sedan can outperform all but the most elite sportscars of the sixties, and get 45mpg, 65F cabin temps, and Mozart playing through upteen speakers while doing it. I don't get the point of hot rodding a 50 year old brilliant design to make it marginally 'better,' and I'm not sure what 'better' even means in that context.
We live in a time of highly boring, very similar looking cars with different badges but not different engineering background. Cars of today are machines and computers on wheels, but don't have any soul or any own character.

If performance would be enthusiast's only choice, we all should drive F1 cars or Superbikes. Your wife's Benz has not even 5℅ of emotional potential of an 105 series Alfa. And ANY car isn't original any more as soon as you change oil, fill up petrol or check tyre pressure for the very first time after PDI. And a Diesel engine should only sit under a truck bonnet, nowhere else. It's a rough running, not high revving machine but not what is called "motore".

Bad cars you can't improve by changing anything - only brillant cars can be improved by modifying. Cars without any soul, without any appearance are simply boring nevertheless how fast they are.

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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 02:05 PM
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Like the OP, I have an original 1600 and I've considered these same things when it needs to come out someday.

I agree with the idea of originality expressed here, and agree with the concept that the car should remain "as designed."

HOWEVER....let me throw out some ideas to discuss amongst yourselves -

1. The factory had a budget - cars had to be made with some compromises to fit that budget. When you're mass producing something, a handful of bucks for 1" wider wheels or more machining adds up quickly.

2. The cars were designed in the context of the period - they were designed for rough Italian mountain roads with crappy or no paving. Lots of wheel travel, enough clearance. They were designed for the current economy, reasonable (expected) fuel mileage, and Italian tax laws of the time.

3. When they could, they built "specials" and race cars and GTAs - to go fast, to have fun with, to compete. Less compromises.

4. If the engineers could have gotten another 20 to 30 hp out of the 1600 with a few reasonably economical tweaks, don't you think they would have done it? With the fuels of the time, the metallurgy of the time, the max compression you would even consider for the street, the tire technology, and above all costs? They would love to have sent out 140 hp or 150 hp GTs and Duettos.

5. Designers always have a certain "look" and feel they want for new cars. The way they sit, the width, the "stance." You see it in car show concept cars and prototypes. These invariably get compromised by those same constraints - real world tire / wheel combination, suspension travel, and fender clearance. Assuming they had smoother roads and better tires, maybe they would have come out looking and handling slightly differently.

My ideal 105 would be slightly lower, with slightly wider wheels and stock dog dish caps. Easily reversible for Pebble Beach. The 1600 would have some internal tweaks to up the breathing and get into the mid-150 hp range, with more torque for everyday mountain driving. It would have way better lights - Cibie or vintage Marchal driving lights. It would sound better - exhaust system easily reversible for when I'm invited to exhibit on the greens! (ha!)

I feel like a certain number of examples of every great car should be preserved and archived in the museum exactly as built for posterity and historical accuracy. After they're all tweaked, how can one see an original example to see how it was done? Would we want to see a lowered and modified 8C 2900 with newer wheels in the factory museum? Of course not.

But a daily or fun car that the factory might have put out if they weren't held back by bean counters or the reality of the times, a car with modifications that can be un-done, would be a lot of fun, and we see them every day. Example: the sweet Giulia sedan that Our Man had featured on Petrolicious. Is that car wrong? I don't think so. Can it be reversed when it's the last one left? I think so.

Maybe it's an originalist vs old car guy vs hotrodder sort of argument. The factory clearly had some skilled hotrodders on staff or available - Enzo Ferrari being a fine example.
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Last edited by Vivace; 08-22-2016 at 02:16 PM.
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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-30-2016, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Some interesting comments, thanks for the thought that everyone has put into this thus far. We're most likely just going to do a stock rebuild of the engine, although we're focusing on suspension choices right now, since the car will need to be a roller when it gets completed at the body shop. Just wanted to comment on some of the thoughts that people brought up.

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Originally Posted by ersatzs2 View Post
Keep it Stock.
Now that I'm firmly in the second half of my car-guy life, actuarially speaking, I am coming down harder every day on the side of originality. My rationale is pretty simple: it seems to me that the ultimate goal of any connoisseur is to develop an epicurean appreciation for a 'artist's' best work within his historical period, and relative to his peers. I view your Guilia as a kind of time machine that transports you back to what was state of the art in the mid sixties. You can align your perceptions with the journalist reviews, race results, styling comparables of the day, and it teaches you about the car's place in history from the perspective of taste, performance, engineering/manufacturing standards, and, really, automotive anthropology (how driving enthusiasts 'encountered' the car in that timeframe). The moment you begin to 'modernize,' 'update,' 'improve' the car, you deny yourself that opportunity. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy the car, of course you can, and it will be wonderful, but it won't be a connoisseur's experience of the maker's art.
I thought this was an interesting opinion and I appreciate you sharing. From my experience of driving vintage cars, it's evident that they're all flawed. They all have problems and short-comings that are evident from the factory, and even more so today in comparison to modern cars. Sometimes those flaws and shortcomings can be mitigated or even eliminated, but at the end of the day those flaws and shortcomings are some of the appeal of owning and driving a vintage car. Driving a vintage car is an immersive experience, and the good can't be taken in isolation, it's the whole experience. All the little characteristics and idiosyncrasies that bring out the character and spirit of the car and differentiate it from everything else.

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Originally Posted by hunttheshunt View Post
We live in a time of highly boring, very similar looking cars with different badges but not different engineering background. Cars of today are machines and computers on wheels, but don't have any soul or any own character.

If performance would be enthusiast's only choice, we all should drive F1 cars or Superbikes. Your wife's Benz has not even 5℅ of emotional potential of an 105 series Alfa.
I completely agree with the sentiment you describe here. Modern cars are bland and un-interesting. They remove the driving experience from the driver and transfer it to a computer. You can drive a modern car pretty much anyway you want, because they'll cooperate and adapt to your driving style. Vintage cars require a particular driving style to get the best out of them, and impart their own soul and character on the driver as you put it. Also in addition, modern cars are over-powered and over-weight and as a result hide the bulk of the driving experience.

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Originally Posted by Vivace View Post
But a daily or fun car that the factory might have put out if they weren't held back by bean counters or the reality of the times, a car with modifications that can be un-done, would be a lot of fun, and we see them every day. Example: the sweet Giulia sedan that Our Man had featured on Petrolicious. Is that car wrong? I don't think so. Can it be reversed when it's the last one left? I think so.
I agree. When I was refreshing the suspension on my RX-7, I saw fit to make changes here and there to improve the handling. With the exception of modern shocks and polyurethane bushings, I don't think I made any modifications that your average enthusiast could not have done in the early 80's. I could return the car to stock over a weekend if I wanted to. I think this will be the route we go with my father's GTV. Nothing that violates the spirit of the car, and nothing that isn't easily reversible.
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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-30-2016, 07:37 PM
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I don't think I made any modifications that your average enthusiast could not have done in the early 80's.
That's a good criteria for deciding what/when to make a modification. I always cringe when someone describes a "resto-mod" involving a modern Honda/Lexus engine, power rack & pinion steering, sequential transmission, ... in a vintage Alfa chassis. My question becomes: "If you dislike the vintage driving experience so much, why not just buy a contemporary car?"

So yes, make modifications but don't go overboard. Limiting yourself to early 80's technology is a good way to keep things in perspective.
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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-30-2016, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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That's a good criteria for deciding what/when to make a modification. I always cringe when someone describes a "resto-mod" involving a modern Honda/Lexus engine, power rack & pinion steering, sequential transmission, ... in a vintage Alfa chassis. My question becomes: "If you dislike the vintage driving experience so much, why not just buy a contemporary car?"

So yes, make modifications but don't go overboard. Limiting yourself to early 80's technology is a good way to keep things in perspective.
Yep, totally agree. It does beg the question, when you've changed everything in the car, why did you buy it in the first place? Needless modifications like engine swaps are always frustrating to me. I do like vintage race cars though, because at least ideally they've been modified according to the time and avoid the temptations of modernity. Vintage Italian cars are supposed to be very special, and I know we're very much looking forward to it.
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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 12:27 AM
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This in an extremely interesting topic. I also have a stock 1600 and have been wondering what to do with it when time and funds allow. It is a car that I resurrected from a barn a couple of years ago and as such, there isn't any modifications to speak of. But what my more knowledgeable local alfisti have suggested are more or less the same as mentioned here. 123ignition and cams. I happen to have an extra 1600 head, so that would be ported as well.

Regarding the suspension, though. I don't consider myself as an authority, on the contrary. My previous vintage Alfa was a Giulia with a 1750 engine, lowered suspension, small steering wheel and the works. But I have to say that I enjoy driving with the stock suspension a lot more. It feels fun and sporty while keeping more or less within the speed limits. It's a comfortable ride and takes you back to the time when it was designed.

I think that it's a blast to drive on small twisty roads with less than perfect tarmac. My intention is to keep it that way. The only things that I'm considering is to get rid of the 10 mm spacers on the front and cut the rear coils a bit so that the car would sit a bit lower in the rear (hopefully not making them too stiff in the process).

It will be interesting to see how hcaulfield57's story continues.
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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Just to add something I've been thinking of the past few weeks. Tires were mentioned a few posts above, and at first I thought it ludicrous that people were suggesting keeping the stock tire size.

I've actually changed my mind somewhat. An example, my 83' RX-7 came with 185 width tires stock. I've since "upgraded" to 205 width tires (still on the factory 13" wheel of course). By doing this I was able to increase the grip or road-holding of the car phenomenally. However, unfortunately I've lost some chassis feedback, steering precision and throttle steer-ability. One of the things that most people (myself included) find frustrating about modern cars is they have too much grip and are too sanitized. So I've traded grip for feedback. Next time I buy tires, I'll probably try my best to go back to the standard size. Not necessarily saying large tires are "bad", but there is a trade-off.

Also, as an update: My father and I have decided to keep the engine stock, with the exception of the intake cam, I don't remember the number off the top of my head, and it's late. We haven't ordered anything yet though. Transmission and differential are stock, and suspension is mostly stock, with a few exceptions. I'll have to look at what we bought, I don't recall off the top of my head. The car is being prepped for painting.

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post #26 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 09:25 AM
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cut the rear coils a bit

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This in an extremely interesting topic. I also have a stock 1600 and have been wondering what to do with it when time and funds allow. It is a car that I resurrected from a barn a couple of years ago and as such, there isn't any modifications to speak of. But what my more knowledgeable local alfisti have suggested are more or less the same as mentioned here. 123ignition and cams. I happen to have an extra 1600 head, so that would be ported as well.

Regarding the suspension, though. I don't consider myself as an authority, on the contrary. My previous vintage Alfa was a Giulia with a 1750 engine, lowered suspension, small steering wheel and the works. But I have to say that I enjoy driving with the stock suspension a lot more. It feels fun and sporty while keeping more or less within the speed limits. It's a comfortable ride and takes you back to the time when it was designed.

I think that it's a blast to drive on small twisty roads with less than perfect tarmac. My intention is to keep it that way. The only things that I'm considering is to get rid of the 10 mm spacers on the front and cut the rear coils a bit so that the car would sit a bit lower in the rear (hopefully not making them too stiff in the process).

It will be interesting to see how hcaulfield57's story continues.
Don't do it. Get the Alfaholics Fast Road kit B. I realize the rear looks a bit high but, if it's looks and handling you want?
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post #27 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 10:45 AM
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Dlbehrns,

My guess is you're referring to Alfaholics Fast Road Suspension Rebuild Package Stage 1 - Kit B. If so, this is exactly what we did (albeit we bought the equivalent from Classic Alfa). There was essentially nothing that could be salvaged from original - so, for us it was a "no-brainer" to upgrade to the slightly modified and "lower" suspension kit. We can't wait to get the car back and install everything - however, this is likely still six (6) months out...

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post #28 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:30 PM
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Same?

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Dlbehrns,

My guess is you're referring to Alfaholics Fast Road Suspension Rebuild Package Stage 1 - Kit B. If so, this is exactly what we did (albeit we bought the equivalent from Classic Alfa). There was essentially nothing that could be salvaged from original - so, for us it was a "no-brainer" to upgrade to the slightly modified and "lower" suspension kit. We can't wait to get the car back and install everything - however, this is likely still six (6) months out...

Chuck
I don't know that they are one and the same? Perhaps someone else could comment.....
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post #29 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 08:47 PM
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I didn't mean to imply that they're exactly the same - rather that they're comparable (same parts / pieces) and lower the car approx the same...
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post #30 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-29-2017, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by dlbehrns View Post
Don't do it. Get the Alfaholics Fast Road kit B. I realize the rear looks a bit high but, if it's looks and handling you want?
Sound piece of advice. Could be that I will leave it as it is, although I would like a bit lower rear. The front spacers were installed in the seventies perhaps to make the height difference smaller. Regarding the Alfaholics kit, have to start saving...

GT 1600 Junior 1973, 159 2.4 JTDM 2006
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