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Discussion Starter #1
Hey. There is a 1986 GTV6 at a local auction and I'm planning to go bid on it. I've never so much as seen a GTV6 or any older Alfa in person, so my experience is nil.

I've been doing some research to determine if this car could be a slightly headache inducing daily driver, and funny enough, my biggest concern that I keep coming across are forum posts where people seem to dislike the transmission. Something about 2nd gear making an appalling noise, synchros never working, and stop-and-go traffic being a fear.

Could someone fill me in on the gearbox? People seem to love these cars, but hate the gearbox, and since shifting the car is such a big part of the driving process, its a bit confusing to me. I dont know if I could enjoy a car if I dreaded reaching for the shifter. I know you can swap in Milano parts, but I'm not sure how good those are either. I'm coming from a 1997 Miata if that offers any comparison of what I'm used to. I'd really appreciate any help here. Thanks guys
 

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I've only ridden in Miatas - never drove one - but it is unlikely the Alfa gearbox would compare favorably to that. But it is not terrible, either. First, the Alfa gearbox needs to be shifted precisely & smoothly. Not banged from gear to gear like a Chevy truck. Second, the Alfa synchro's need the correct oil to work properly. Many 'modern' gear oils are too slippery - the synchro's can't do their job if they can't grab onto the spinning gears. As long as the synchro's are not totally worn out, swapping to the correct oil (Redline 75w-90NS is readily available) can make a big difference. I have two Alfas - an '81 GTV6 and an '84 Spider. With the correct oil they both shift smoothly with no appalling noises.

I suggest contacting a local Alfa Club. In these times of social distancing it might be problematic but perhaps a club member would give you a ride or even let you drive their car. Start here: Chapters Search – AROC
 

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Second gear may have worn synchros if it has been abused. If you read road tests of them when they were new you will see complaints about the shift mechanism being vague. Alfa changed the shifter in mid '85 to a complex mechanism which worked better when it was new but was worse than the early one when the many joints wore loose. I think that the early shifter is OK provided the one bushing is not sloppy.
Not many mechanics know how to work on GTV6's so you should either be prepared to learn and get your hands greasy or identify an Alfa mechanic who is not too far away. They are such good cars when they are running well that you tend to forgive the "issues". The high speed handling and the exhaust note are superb and the electrical system is less complex than the Alfa's that followed them. Do a careful inspection for rust if you decide you want it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So far it isnt sounding too bad. Unless there is some incredibly unique job that requires all sorts of unusual tools or guru-like alfa knowledge that I am just physically unable to do, I plan on doing all the work myself. I dont mind having to adjust valves, swap timing belts every 30k miles, or search around town for someone who can balance an apparently weird driveshaft. I think I've been pushed over the fence with deciding to get one of these, I just have to hope no one at the auction wants it just a bit more than I do and decides to overpay. Unfortunately my garage is a warehouse right now (dont ask, haha) so I'll need a way to keep it out of the rain for a few months if I do take one home next week.
 

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Mastering shifting the transaxle smoothly is one of the joys of owning a GTV6.
I've actually seen people say this on other threads. Is this the sort of thing where you're just going to have jerky shifts until you learn it, or are you actually going to be damaging gears and synchros until you get the hang of it?
 

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It's not the car I'd want to learn how to drive stick on, but if you know how to drive a manual you'll be fine. Just don't rush the upshifts and try to jam it into gear: shift smoothly and slowly.

On downshifts depending on how worn the transmission is it can be useful to double-clutch, particularly when downshifting into second gear.
 

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Mechanically, most everything can be worked on/repaired by a competent home DIY'er. The Alfa BB is a good resource for advice about taking care of these cars.

The biggest killer of our cars is rust. Alfa was not good about rust-proofing 'back-in-the-day'. The GTV6's weak points for rust are the inner fenders where the suspension attaches and behind the front fenders (the splash shield acts more like a mud collector). If the car has a sunroof, check the windshield pillars - the sunroof gutter drains ran down through there - but the plastic tubing would shrink and pull away allowing water to run into the area.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The GTV6's weak points for rust are the inner fenders where the suspension attaches and behind the front fenders (the splash shield acts more like a mud collector). If the car has a sunroof, check the windshield pillars - the sunroof gutter drains ran down through there - but the plastic tubing would shrink and pull away allowing water to run into the area.
This is definitely going to be a concern for a few months if I wind up with this car. This one has already had an extensive rust repair, so its about 95% free of it at the moment. I'm in Florida, so no salt, but I've got about 6 more months without a garage, and its raining about every day now. I think a waterproof car cover should do the job. The car has been resprayed a non-original color, so I dont feel too bad about the car cover causing minor swirl marks in the paint. The car I'm buying is far from museum quality, but I'm actually quite happy about that because I'd rather get it at a good price and put some work into it.
 

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I'm in Florida, so no salt, but I've got about 6 more months without a garage, and its raining about every day now. I think a waterproof car cover should do the job.
Be careful with car covers or tarps in the rain---they are good for keeping water from leaking into the interior, etc, while it is actually raining, but when it is done raining they trap moisture under the car and in the engine bay and can do more harm than good. It might be tricky in a climate like yours where a rainstorm rolls through almost every day, but try to take off the cover when it is done raining to let the car dry out.
 

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Be careful with car covers or tarps in the rain---they are good for keeping water from leaking into the interior, etc, while it is actually raining, but when it is done raining they trap moisture under the car and in the engine bay and can do more harm than good. It might be tricky in a climate like yours where a rainstorm rolls through almost every day, but try to take off the cover when it is done raining to let the car dry out.
I was thinking the same, but apparently they make these fancy hydrophobic car covers where the water just beads right off. They apparently dont get damp. I'm going to have to look into them.
 

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If you do not know for sure that the timing belt has been replaced in the past few years then do it soon. Do not let the car roll backwards in gear unless it is fitted with a "Stayfast" fixed belt tensioner or bent valves are likely. Also inspect the fuel hoses from the injector rail and replace them all if they are not flexible.
The V6 engines are almost bullet proof if you take care of those things.

Where in Florida? Richard jemison is in Pensacola and he is a transaxle wizard.
 

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It always helps to drive gently until fluids warm up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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they make these fancy hydrophobic car covers where the water just beads right off. They apparently dont get damp. I'm going to have to look into them.
That's all great, but as long as the ground/pavement UNDER your Alfa is damp, the car is going to be marinated in humid air once the rain is over. Sure, the cover might keep water from migrating downward into the car, but it does nothing to keep humid air from moving up. And that hydrophobic thing is still going to trap moisture underneath it.
 

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Never had a problem with the transmissions in my three transaxle Alfettas, two GTV6s, and the Milano, and the dissimilar/different design 164s but I've also seen people ruin Alfa gearboxes by trying to ram or speed shift the lever from a gear up to the next gear. Carlo complaining all the way through a rebuild.

You have to "feel" the Alfa shifting, letting the gear synchros/gears mesh as they want to, not overly forcing the gear change. No one is drag racing these cars. I tend to do it with just fingertips. I do like to double clutch downshift in order to shift down a gear quickly, sometimes also using the brake at the same time, but not always.
 

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1984 GTV6, 1973 Berlina, 1987 Milano
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Mastering shifting the transaxle smoothly is one of the joys of owning a GTV6.
I second this. I have owned a few Alfa Spiders, a couple Transaxle Alfas and a 99 Miata relatively recently.

The Miata has just about the nicest shifter I have ever used. Precise, short throw, easy to use.

The Spider was the Miata in its day. But that day was 50 years ago. They still have nice shifters. Just not Miata nice.

The transaxle cars require skill to drive well and drive quickly. Which is what makes them so rewarding. The engine and exhaust note are probably the best I have ever owned and make driving the car a joy at any speed. The steering is precise but heavy at slow speeds. And the shifter requires a little mastery to get just right. Which is part of the fun.

We just put a shifter rebuild kit on our 87 Milano and it will fit an 86 as well. It really tightened up our shifter which had 200k miles on it previously and vibrated apart during a Lemons race.

I'm a small dealer in Oregon and buy cars all the time from auctions. I'd be happy to look at the listing for you and point out any issues I see. Even my GTV6 which spent its whole life in SoCal has some rust behind the passenger front wheel. Probably thanks to the sunroof drains and parking on a crowned road.

Good luck!

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I'm gonna jump in and advocate you go ahead, give this GTV6 a try.. You sound unafraid of wrenching and are looking forward to putting some sweat equity to reap the reward that comes with it.. A GTV6 would respond well to that treatment. Yes, as you and others have said, the transmission synchros can be an issue, and it will be revealed when you drive it. I think you'll also find some devils lurking in the details; electronics, dry rotted hoses, sticking Air Fuel Meter door, various things the engine relies on to run well, maybe a corroded ground wire here and there... Those things will crop up, and it's all part of sorting out a long-dormant Alfa. Maybe we each have our specific set of experiences to be cautious about, that we learned from, mentioned in the comments provided by others.. but in the end, issues can all be solved or fixed by discussions here on the Board and a dose of optimism .. and competent mechanics aren't necessarily rare, just ask around here or locally.. I'm sure FL has them.

I've only heard praise for the Miata's shift qualities, but I don't think you'll be seriously disappointed by the Alfa.. it's just different. There is some vagueness to the feel of slotting it into gear because of the long bar and linkages to the rear. Ever driven an old rear-engined air-cooled VW? Kind of like that. If the synchro to 2nd is worn (as it is to some extent in mine), you learn to either hesitate for a moment between 1st and 2nd, or double clutch on the upshift, and definitely double clutch on the down shift. Or if it's worn bad enough, the fix is known and permanent, I am told. After 5 years driving mine like this (and changing differential oil to Redline 75W-90NS...) I know the time will come when I'll have the synchro replaced, but for now it is under control, shifting is second nature and I'm having a blast... and Heck, yours may not even have this problem.

GTV6s are super-fun cars to drive and the engine will reward you with its unique song...

Cheers,
- Art
 

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I drove an early Miata a friend had, and because I was so used to driving Alfas of different sorts, I at first thought the Miata shifting was actually too notchy, so to speak. Did grow to think it was ok, but the notchiness kept me thinking it was a little coarse, lol. My Sprint GT was direct as well, but didn't seem that coarse.

The newer Miata must be smoother.
 

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I'm in agreement with all the above input. The weak points are: being rust-prone and the timing belt. Keep a fresh timing belt on it and you won't have any worries about pistons meeting valves! 2nd gear may have worn synchros, but that's correctable. Even with worn synchros, careful shifting may only apply for the first couple of miles until things warm up a bit. I've found from experience that having a mechanic close by, whose familiar with transaxle ALFAs, can make life much easier. There are enough little quirks that you don't want to be paying a mechanic, who works on 'everything', 3 times as much to learn the tricks that a GTV6 veteran already knows. No price deductions for OJT. Check under the hood around the shock towers. If rust has already ravaged that structural area, you may be looking at a parts car. Depending on the model year of the one you're interested in, ALFA made many upgrades over the 6 year production run. Miatas have a more direct linkage on the shift gear (not having to reach back to very rear of the car with the minor slop in each joint cumulatively stacking up). So maybe a better comparison might be between a GTV6 and Porsche 924s, 944s, and 928s.

The missing piece of the puzzle revolves around your location. Nothing against Florida (I lived an hour north of Tampa for 5 years)... but finding a twisty mountain road requires a trip to northeastern GA or western NC. The real beauty of these cars is the way they can make you giggle like a little girl in the hairpins!

Let us know if you purchase that rascal.
 

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Both miatas and gtv6 are momentum cars; meant to keep revs and speeds high to carry quicker around the track. A gtv6 will be an infectious add to your warehouse with preferred parking near the doors.
 
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