The South African GTV6 3.0
by Toy de Carvalho
The history of Alfa Romeo is full of episodes that not that many people are aware of. Some ventures were brilliant, while others just disastrous. I'm sure many have heard of the Brazilian Alfa models, or of the 168, unique to the South East Asia market, or the Arna project of bad memory. South Africa also had a number of unique models, which among others, included the Sud GTA and Rally, the GTV Junior de Luxe and the Giulia Rally.
However, the model that gave the Alfisti so many happy days and reasons to go to Kyalami ( as if one was needed in those days), was undoubtedly the GTV6 3.0 litre. This model did not happen by accident, but trying to get to its origins is like getting to the roots of Alfa Romeo in South Africa and one man in particular: Dr Vito Bianco, a most charismatic man and motor racing enthusiast. Perhaps one should look even further, to the Italian roots of Alfa Romeo itself, the competitive pioneering spirit that guided the company from it's early days, - the " Cuore Sportivo''. Dr Bianco arrived in South Africa in 1968, entrusted by Alfa Romeo to do a feasibility study on a viability of a motor company in its own right, without any association with foreign marques, an independent subsidiary of the Milanese firm on those shores. Once it was established, it was soon realized, that Alfa Romeo did not attract the ''fleet market'', but even so, there were enough motor enthusiasts and connoisseurs for Alfa to prosper in Southern Africa.
A marque with such rich motor racing back ground, had made itself noticed twenty years earlier, when the Pietersen brothers famous ''Streepie'' - a 1.3 Giulietta, started collecting victory after victory, many times beating much larger engineered cars, not to mention the locally modified and enlarged 1.3 Alfa Romeo engines, that powered not only home made, but also Cooper and Lotus Formula 1 chassis, of Pieter de Klerk, Bruce Johnston, Syd vd Vyver, Trevor Blockdyk, Ernest Pieterse and many others, that were good enough to give the European Works Teams entries a fright or two, in the South African GPs during the 1.5 litre capacity days.
Year after year, from Giulietta Sprints through the TZ1, to Basil van Rooyen's GTA, not forgetting the Giulias, driven by the short sleeved Giovanni Piazza Musso and others, to the modern Alfettas, especially the unforgettable # B22, the 2.0 GTV of Arnold Chatz, which set a record that stood for a long time of the highest number of consecutive victories, to the more recent Giuliettas, Alfas collected victories and South African Championships.
So when the going got tough in 1983, the tough got going. Alfa was then competing with a 2.5 GTV6 and doing quite well in the South African. Group One Championship, the equivalent to today's production car racing. The main competiton coming from BMW ( as always) with the 530's as well as Mazda RX7's and Ford's 3.0 V6 Cortinas.
Even after the introduction of the 535 by the German company and the subsequent engine increase from 3.0 to 3.5 litres, a full thousand cubic centimeters and 40 odd Kws more than the Alfas, the 2.5 GTV's could still hold their ground - being 260 Kgs lighter helped. But when BMW introduced the close ratio box, 535i for the first time, Abel de Oliveira that had won the previous race, could not do better than fourth. Life begun to be a bit more difficult for the Italian cars.
Alfa had two things in its favour however. Firstly an enthusiastic MD in the person of Vito Bianco, who was not going to lie down and be beaten by a ''Tedesco'', and the privilege of having a racing expert of the caliber of Sampie Bosman in charge of the racing department. ''Sampie'' was he is known by all, was summonsed by the boss and told to come up with a way to beat the Beemers again. This quiet and unassuming man, had been responsible for the preparation of the cars that had given Alfa Romeo, so many track successes in South Africa and neighbouring countries in the past fifteen or so years.
As it so happened, Autodelta had made plans to increase the 2.5 GTV6 to 3.0 litres and then shelved them, due to the fact that it would have placed the car into a higher tax bracket in Italy and the rest of Europe. At the same time Alfa was dominating the ETCC, winning the manufactures titles from 82 to 85, so a three litre engine was not a priority, not even for racing purposes in the old continent.
That of course was not the case in South Africa, so the local company Alfa Romeo South Africa (ARSA), made an agreement with Autodelta who manufactured the crankshafts, pistons, sleeves and the cylinder head castings. These were essentially the parts needed for the capacity increase. Bigger valves were also made in Italy to ARSA specifications. Everything else was made in South Africa, including the machining of the blocks and cylinder heads and most importantly, the development and tuning of the engine. The new crank had a stroke of 72 mm, against the 68.3 of the smaller engine. The bore was increased from 88 to 93 mm. Maximum power went up initially from 116 Kws to 128, and torque from 213 to 222 Nm.Further development saw145 Kws being recorded in later models. Allied to the power increase, was a mass reduction from 1210 to 1138 Kgs over the 2,5 litre model. It was clear that low and medium range torque was more important for crisp acceleration than top end power, one of the reasons that easy to tune down draught Dellortos carburetors fished out of the Alfa 6 Sedan ,were opted for, rather than fuel injection as used in the 2.5 GTV.
ARSA competition department had no easy task. Every step, performance modification and calculation including the re-jetting and re-choking of the Dellortos was carefully evaluated and recorded until the final product was reached.
Happy with it, the ARSA team now had to build a car, or two hundred of them, to fit the engines into. At first a 4,3:1 differential was considered, but in the end, standard gear ratios and a 4,1:1 diff were found to be more than adequate to match the new engine characteristics, specially after lower suspension and lower profile tyres, 205/50 VR15 Pirellis were fitted. This lowered the overall gearing from 35,6 Km/h per 1000 revs in top gear, to 33,7, but still good enough for a top speed of 225 Km/h @ 6700 rpm and the titles of the fastest production car made in South Africa and fastest production Alfa in the world at the time.
Apart from the lower and wider stance, the most obvious difference between the 3.0 and its' smaller brother was the ''power bulge'' on the bonnet needed to accommodate the air filter, that was also locally designed and built. And so was the front spoiler that according to Sampie, was made after the average South African pavements height was measured and then built 25 mm ( 1'' ) higher. After it was fitted it was noted that the car's radiator temperature had dropped while the top speed had improved, proof of it's aerodynamic efficiency.
It should be taken in consideration that even if the basics were in existence, ARSA was by all means building a new car, with all the development it entails, where many times mistakes are made, hopefully to be identified and rectified. One example was the above mentioned , beautifully sculptured fibre-glass bonnet, that incorporated a ''naca '' scoop, whose main purpose was to feed air to the carburetors filter. It was soon realized that when it rained it also fed water, so the system had to be redesigned and rerouted without any loss of efficiency. Fortunately the aggressive bonnet shape was retained.
Alfa announced it's intentions in June 83 and then got busy building two hundred units, the required number for homologation that incorporated certain development restrictions and tests. This was essential for Alfa to be able to race it in accordance with the Group One rules of the day. Once this was achieved and a FIA representative, that was brought to South Africa gave the thumbs up, it was time for Alfa Romeo to go prove a point.
The new car made its competition debut in typical Alfa style, by winning the Lodge Group One International Two Hour race at Kyalami, completely annihilating the opposition in the process. Then came first and second in the Group One class, of the Three Hour race at Killarney, in Cape Town. The year ended with a Index of Performance and a class victory at the World Endurance Championship 1000 Km race at Kyalami.
The interior was quite spartan. The hideous split dashboard of the 2.5 was retained, but a more conventional was used on later models. No air conditioning, radio, or power steering here . The lack of this last item, together with a small steering wheel and a harder suspension made driving a bit tiring on long journeys compared with the smaller brother . Surprisingly it had electric windows and was fitted with Recaro seats dressed in a velvety material.
During the stages of gathering information, taking notes and generally researching the GTV 6 history, the name Sampie Bosman kept creeping up. Eventually it became obvious that Sampie had a hand on avery aspect of the 3.0 GTV6, from the front spoiler and bonnet design and manufacture, including the distinctive air intake, to the specifications of the engine, suspention and transmission parts, ( valve sizes, gear ratios etc ), manufacture and assemble.
In the 60's Sampie Bosman had been a member of the Alfa Romeo Superformance Team, that had bored a 1570 GTA engine off centre, to 1830 cc, as it had become obvious that more power was needed if the GTA was going to be sucessfull against the Cosworth powered Lotus Cortinas locally. As the new capacity interfered with the water passages, the water was cleverly re-rooted between the cylinders by piping in outside the block. This time there was no need for outside plumbing.
He was also responsible for bringing the FIA representatives to S.A. to get the new GTV 6 car homologated.
All of this was done at 28, Second street, Booysens Reserve. Sampie can still be found there, but no Alfas, just a small badge on the window, next to the workshop door.Talking to Sampie and his wife Noelen is like a trip into the South African motor racing past in general and Alfas in particular, from the days of the GTAs, to the trips to neighbouring countries, specially Angola to participate in Huambo and Benguela races.
It is soon realized that Sampie's blood is red - Alfa red! Unfortunatly that was also the colour Alfa left his bank account, when the Italian company pulled out of South Africa in 1985 and with it, ending the project and life hood of the people involved with it.
Unless records have been kept in some dark warehouse, is doubtful if it even be possible to determine with accuracy how many GTV6 3.0 were built. The official figure is of 212, but as 174 were sold in 1984 and 68 in 1985, plus an unknown number in 1983, its possible the total number made might have topped the 250 mark. Its however believed that Sampie personally dyno-tuned every one of the engines.
Toy de Carvalho,
Jhb , South Africa,