One of the most beautiful sportscars you can buy - at any price. The GTV is beautiful and sounds even better than it looks. The styling is unmistakably Alfa Romeo, from that trademark triangular grille, through those distinctive twin circular headlamps, to the stubby, dynamic tail treatment of the GTV.
Certainly, build quality is up to the highest mid 90s Teutonic standards, an essential attribute given that Alfa had Audi, BMW and Saab in its sights when designing the car. Even the sports seats have Germanic firmness, though reveal themselves as being comfortable and supportive over longer distances.
Just as surprisingly for long suffering Alfisti will be the excellence of the driving position. The steering wheel is adjustable and the stylised dashboard, with its deeply recessed dials, easy to absorb.
Watch out for cars that have been thrashed and badly repaired. Check for electrical problems and interior creaks and rattles.
(approx based on a 1997 GTV 2.0 Twin spark, excl. VAT) A clutch assembly will be around £205, while a headlamp will set you back £225. A starter motor will be about £194 and an alternator approximately £120. Brake pads front and rear are about £49 and £53, respectively.
Under the bonnet of most of the cars you'll find, there's the gloriously melodic 2.0-litre 16-valve TwinSpark engine that was also enjoyed in the 145, 146 and 156. In a sense, you won't care that its 150 horses actually take you to sixty in 8.4 seconds on the way to 130mph. What will matter is the sound it makes, inviting you to rev and rev again.
The V6-engined models are considerably thirstier as you would expect while the extra weight in the nose adversely effects handling. On the plus side, you get one of the most charismatic engines ever built and the later 3.2-litre V6 models will launch you to 60mph in 6.3s. The direct injection 2.0-litre JTS which showed up in 2003 is more refined than the older 2.0-litres and can return a respectable 31mpg. The 0-60mph acceleration time is roughly the same as in the older 2.0-litre cars.
On the move it's fair to say that these Alfas are more at home on smooth Italian tarmac than Britain's bumpy back-roads. The Italians were quick to point out that the GTV was one of the stiffest cars in its class and, frankly, it feels it. If you like a sporty drive, however, this won't put you off.
Perhaps the highest accolades should be reserved for the front wheel drive handling. If you've always thought that proper sports cars should be powered from the rear, then stand by for a change of heart. Alfa wisely used the outstanding Lotus Elan as a benchmark in development, but improved upon it in a number of key areas.
First, there's power steering that, in contrast to the Lotus, offers the kind of direct steering that you'd normally associate with a racing car. Secondly, the Italians managed to design a multi-link rear suspension system that allows a degree of rear wheel steering. There's certainly none of the twitchiness that normally affects powerful front-driven sports cars under heavy acceleration.
If you can find one, buy it. You won't be disappointed.