I recently bought an 84 GTV6. It was very much a "punt". The owners were an elderly couple who owned the car for 8 or so years. They passed it on to their son who, sadly, died. They were making an attempt to "restore" it but couldn't find a mechanic who knew old Alfas. It as occasionally driven around town. It is "original and unrestored" and it shows. While not a car that had been sitting for years, certainly had been sitting for at least 1 if not 2. It had been available for sale for a LONG time. Prices here in Australia for Alfetta Coupes are going nuts and it is the colour combination I like most (Silver over black). It was in Brisbane and I live 2500km (1500? miles) away in Adelaide.
Anyway, I bought it. I had looked at it and driven it around the block but little more. It is VERY loud as it has "headers" and, more or less a straight through exhaust. It drove like a pig and the old man was adamant not to thrash it. It was clear that they loved the car and hated to part with it.
I went to pick it up this weekend and I discovered... it has some problems.
The oil pressure gauge was not moving off the peg.
The Tacho is stuck on 2000rpm... there are wires near the coil that have been disconnected. My "spider senses" tell me...
It seemed to be running on 4 cylinders
There is a driveline vibration that is both noisy and can be felt through the gear stick.
It burns oil but not lots.
The brake pedal is spongy and needs pumping
The headlights are so pathetic it is a not funny: it is sad.
If I try to close the fuse panel the car dies (only did that once!)
It really is original and unrestored other than the gear stick knob and the exhaust.
It has all the original engine bay stickers
It has very little rust which has not been fixed and by implication: not been bodged (I hope).
The suspension is lowered and, other than some control arm (upper?) bushes, is very tight.
The interior 7/10... some wear and a cigarette burn on the driver's seat, and it has 4 ugly speakers installed in the doors.
Exterior 5/10 It may have had a partial respray...
On with the story...
My brother lived nearby (100km away) and went down and collected it.
I flew up last Thursday evening and the car started up first time. We took it for a drive in the dark. It was awful. Huge vibration. No power. It seemed to be misfiring. Tires near flat.
Next morning I put it up on some ramps to see if a guibo was cracked. No. All good. I discovered the original plug spanner ! BIG WIN!
I drove it to the parts shop and bought a wire brush and cleaned the plugs. One wet and one sooty. Bought injector cleaner. Now a 6 cylinder, not a 4. Better but not good. Began my 2500km drive home via a friends house 900km (550miles) away. Noise suppressing ear plug headphones needed and used!
Car ran ok in 5th only. Added injector cleaner. Filled with super premium fuel In all other gears it vibrates like a demon. It seems to do so at engine speed. Queensland is warm and dry. Heater stuck on. Windows down. Fumes in through windows thanks to poorly designed exhaust exiting straight out the back and too close to the rear...
Drove all day. 900km. Puffs of smoke from exhaust after lifting off down hill and then accelerating. LOUD. Seems to be 3 noises: exhaust, engine and driveline.
The oil pressure gauge lifted off the peg after 3 or 4 hours.
The car sounds like an aeroplane. It now has that noise that you can hear when a single engine propellor plane is working hard... I'm thinking this is not quite right but LOUD exhaust masks the noise and all 3 noises change with engine speed.
Arrived at my friends house after 11 hours. Handbrake is tight and utterly useless. Gear shift is VERY long, vague and heavy compared to my 79 GTV. It pops out of gear if not fully pushed in to 2nd and 4th. It baulks on first gear if cold. Engine temp sits at about 70c. Very stable. Oil consumption: low
Visited overnight. Beer and Snitzel and TV. Perfect after 9-10 hours in the quite comfy seat. Sore right leg. Fuel economy of about 11litres per 100km. (26mpg)
Took off next morning. 7:30 am. Google maps takes me less desirable route.
Still LOUD. Still vibrating, though now, in 5th it seems to be coming and going a bit. 3 hours in after refuelling I picked up a Canadian Hitchhiker. She added 150kg to the load in the car. Maybe that's unfair but her bag was HEAVY !
This is where it gets weird... no not the hitchhiker. She was your usual 20yo off to the see the world and get a bit of perspective. The weird is that on bends, at speed 110km/hr (70 mph?), the car would vibrate loudly and stutter. On one of these bends it REALLY did so, then suddenly I had oil pressure and the car seemed a bit smoother. It was a serious "***?!"moment. More power too. Oh well... we're still having a lovely chat, we're still travelling forwards...
Dropped off hitchhiker as I turned West for Wagga Wagga (yes it is a place... google it. Wagga Wagga means "many crows" as the Australian Aborigines counted: 1, 2, 3 and then... many. This was quite common). I've driven from Brisbane via Sydney and am now turning West for Adelaide. Nearly ran out of fuel. Well I did... but I was travelling at 80km/h and I ran out 200m from the petrol station. I literally rolled to the pump. Put 66.5l into a 65 l tank.
Continued on. Hour upon hour across the bottom right hand corner of Australia. Epic stuff. Over time it became clear that I now have 2 noises: one is coming directly from under the middle of the car, the other is a lifter tick. The engine knocking/vibration is gone. The exhaust is still painfully, don't worry about the stereo because you can't here is LOUD. About 12 hours in, and for those of you who have never driven on "outback" Australia it is possible to drive 1,000 miles and only slow for towns that have no traffic lights and in many cases no petrol station but they all have a hotel...... These roads are like those in rural Montana. Just you, a white line and huge trucks. After 10 hours in it is now clear that whatever was causing the engine vibration is fixed. In my head it is either a blocked injector, blocked oil filter or partially blocked oil pump because now the engine is running fine BUT still I have a very noisy bearing style growl and as I drive it becomes clear that their drive line has a major problem Houston. The "***" moment was the engine problem "fixing" itself. Over 115km/h/ 70+mph this thing vibrates so bad that acceleration is not possible. If I lift off it disappears and the car runs smooth... until the next time. It happens more on right hand bends.
Now it's getting dark. I've been driving for 10 hours. And am now relying on the head lights... oh dear...
Over the next 4 and half hours I cover the remaining 600km, no that can't be right... may be it was 5 and half... peering into the blackness. Finally I arrive in near home and once again manage to get 66.5 litres into the tank. That light really means: SOON
! as against...soon...
As I drive through the traffic, in a major storm (Adelaide is in the "roaring 40's" google that too) and the car is a monster to drive. But when that vibration isn't there (it comes and goes - the ultimate drive train lash?) it is just frightening. Brutal, fast, loud and requires a very manly attitude to manage...
My "punt" paid off. The car runs. It is unmolested though I suspect is has some serious cams (or something) and it took me 2500km in about 40 hours...
Over the next few weeks I will replace all the fluids and get a good look underneath. I suspect the vibration comes from the drive shaft. This page (Alfa GTV6 Driveshaft (propshaft) faq.
) lists the possible problems. I suspect that other than the guibos, all the other problems are in play.
I'd be interested to hear any of your experiences regarding any of this but particularly:
...the engine vibration that went away and is somehow clearly associated with the oil pressure. You can see that in the pic the oil pressure gauge is not on the peg even... over time it came up between the first mark and the 4.
... the drive shaft issue...
... head light solutions. Desperately needed...
... the mystery engine killer in the fuse box which is currently hanging down... I'm afraid to try to push it back up...
... fuel economy at 110km/h - 70mph
... heater stuck on...
... do I repaint it or leave it with the blisters, scrapes and cracked air dam?...