Designed by Enrico Fumia at Pininfarina, the Alfa Romeo GTV and Alfa Romeo Spider were both incredibly iconic sports cars created by legendary Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo. Following a long seven years without a GTV model, Alfa Romeo felt that the automotive public was ready for such a car. Produced from 1995 through 2006, the 2+2 coupé GTV stood for Gran Turismo Veloce or Fast Grand Tourer and was the successor to the Alfetta GTV coupé, while the two-seater cabriolet Spider replaced the 30-year old Giulia Spider. Internally the two models were designated 916. From 1993 until 2004 around 39,000 Spiders and 41,700 GTVs were produced. Until Alfa Romeo launched the Brera in 2005 the GTV was available, though the Spider lasted one more year until its discontinuation in 2006.
The Italian manufacturer was looking for away to re-establish their slick sports car image for the 1990s, and the GTV was just the car to do that. Initial renderings and drawings began in September of 1987, and a clay model design the following year. Fiat CEO Vittorio Ghidella accepted the design and Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was tasked for the interior design and the detail work while Bruno Cena was named the Chief engineer. Cena later won 'Engineer of the Year' The Spider and GTV were based on the then-current Fiat Group platform dubbed the Tipo Due, or Type 2. The models were heavily modified and featured an all-new multilink rear suspension while the front suspension and drivetrain were based on the '92 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. The GTV had a 0.33 drag coefficient while the Spider featured 0.38.
These wedge-shaped models were met with mixed reviews at first. Both models were nearly identical, sharing front wheel drive and sharing engine placement but eventually the lightning shape won over the public. These models were recipients of the 1995 Car Magazine's 'Best Designed Car' and '1995 Car of the Year for Autocar Magazine. They also received the 'World's most Beautiful Automobile' award in the same year and were featured in Car Magazine's 'Best Design Detail in production.
The GTV and Spider featured the standard Alfa Romeo grill with dual round headlights similar to the Pininfarina Quartz, also designed by Enrico Fumia. The body of the cars were low-slung and featured a wedge-shaped design with a low nose and a spunky lifted tail. To greatly improve the aerodynamics of the car the rear was 'cut-off' with a 'Kamm tail'. The Spider's hindquarters were similar to the GTV except they featured a more rounded rear. The Spider also sported a folding soft-top with five-hoop frame that would completely disappear when retracted under a flush fitting cover. Optional was an electric folding mechanism that could be fitted.
The interior of the sports car featured a one-piece rear lamp, fog-lamp or indicator strip that flowed across the rear of the body. Conveniently the minor instruments in the center console were within easy reach of the driver. Critics praised the design of the GTV and Spider saying that the quality was well on par with its German competitors.
In July of 1988 the exterior design was completed and production began late in 1993. Assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan, all of the four cars were 3.0 G6 Spiders and were initially offered with 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 12V. The first GTV was produced in 1994 and came with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The car was premiered at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. Both cars were launched officially at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1995. Sales began the same year.
The GTV received a new engine in 1997; a 24-valve 3.0-liter V6, and red four-pot calipers from Brembo and larger 305 mm brakes. Updates for this year included rectangle console knobs instead of the round central ones. A three-spoke steering wheel was also new this year. To bring the noise down to 74 dBA, some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh.
In the spring the following year the models underwent a revamp that involved mostly the interior. The GTV and Spider received a new center console, changed controls and rearranged switches and different instrument cluster and painted letters on skirt seals. A new chrome frame around the grille was added at this time along with color-coded side skirts and bumpers. Besides standard black the dashboard was now available in Red Style and Blue Style. New color-coded upholstery and carpets were also offered.
1998 also brought with it a new engine; the 142 HP 1.8 Twin Spark. The 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with a different plastic cover and different length intakes. The 2.0 TS power output rose to 153 HP. Featuring a nomenclature of CF2, the engines changed engine management units. A six-speed manual gearbox was made standard for the 3.0 24V. The Spider now offered the 2.0 V6 TB engine.
Engines were updated in 2000 to fall in line with new emission regulations Euro3. The new engines received a new identification code: CF3 and were slightly detuned. The Spider lost the 3.0 V6 12V engine and received the 24V Euro3 version from the GTV in its place. Since they didn't comply with Euro3 emissions the 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T. Spark were discontinued. Until phase 3 engine range arrived on the scene there were only two engines left, the 2.0 T. Spark and 3.0 V7 24V. The Spider and GTV became the final Alfa Romeo's to be produced at the Arese plant before it closed during the fall of 2000. Production of the GTV & Spider was relocated to the Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin.
Phase 3 arrived in 2003 and would be the final update for the GTV and Spider. Pininfarina was in charge of the styling, but he did so without the assistance of Enrico Fumia. On the exterior the sports cars received a new 147-style grille along with different front bumpers with an offset number-plate holder. On the inside was a new different center console with a fresh new upholstery pattern and new colors. The color of the instrument illumination went from green to red. This year there were new engines introduced that included 165 PS 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 240 PS 3.2 V6 24V that could achieve a top speed of 158 mph.
Production ceased late in 2004 at Pininfarina's plant though some cars could still be purchased leading up until 2006. Still available were the following engines; the 1.8 16V and 2.0 16V Twin Spark and a turbocharged 2.0 V6 12V producing 199 HP or a 3.0 V6 in either 12 or 24 valves and a 3.2 V6 24 valve engine. Dubbed V6 TB the 2.0 V6 was produced because of an Italian law that added additional sales tax to cars with engines larger than 2 liters. The 2.0 V6 was a sleeved-down version of the three-liter V6. The turbo avoided this tax but produced extra power.
Based on Fiat SuperFIRE-family block with Alfa Romeo designed cylinder head was the 2.0 16V Twin Spark engine. This engine has variable inlet cam timing, which gave 25 degrees of variation to improve torque and produce a more linear power delivery. Rotating at twice the engine speed, the 2.0 TS engine had two belt driven balance shifts that enhanced the engine smoothness. No balance shafts were found on the 1.8. The best-selling version of the Spider and GTV was the TS.
Pumping out a top speed of 150 mph, the 3.0 V6 24V was the fastest production Alfa Romeo when brand new. The fastest Stradale Alfa Romeo was the 3.2 V6 24V GTV 240 PS had a top speed of 158 mph and could hit 0-60mph in just over six seconds. The 2.0 JTS 163 HP engine was introduced in 2003, uses direct injection in a similar fashion to that of a diesel engine. To improve engine breathing at high revs this engine uses only one spark plug per cylinder and features a variable-length inlet manifold.
Numerous features came standard with the GTV and Spider and included AC, front airbags, power steering, front seatbelt pretensioners and Bosch ABS. Other features included electric heated door mirrors, height adjustable headlamps, front and rear fog lights, third brake light, electric frameless windows with one-touch operation for driver's side, fire prevention system, stitched leather gear knob, reach and rake adjustable leather clad steering wheel, a stereo radio/cassette with six speakers, and an automatic electric aerial. Optional items included electric heated seats and sunroof on the GTV, alarm system, passenger-side airbag removal, metallic paint, and iridescent paint and leather MOMO seats on the Lusso trim.
'Lusso' was a separate trim instead of an option pack. The standard model was dubbed the 'Turismo' from 'Medio' in the UK. During phase 1 and 2 Medio and Lusso trims were offered with nearly any engine except for Medio-only 1.8 L TS. During Phase 3 the cars were separated into Media-only 2.0 L JTS and Lusso-only 3.2 L V6. 'Base' M.Y. 2003 2.0 L TS was also available.
Blue Style included a blue dashboard with white or blue leather MOMO seats while Red Style featured a red dashboard with either red or black leather MOMO seats. During Phase 2 the Blue and Red Style interiors were available with Lusso trim, and featured on all models in Phase 3. All of the other equipment and options stayed the same. Phase 1 cars offered leather MOMO seats in 3 colors; red, tan and white. The Spider added a light-grey color option. Phase 1 cars featured a black plastic grille in the nose of the hood, and lacked the chrome edging. Early CF1 and CF2 engine only featured one catalytic converter while all CF3 versions came with three catalytic converters installed with two of them at the exhaust manifold.
The fuel tank could hold up to 18 gallons of gas and was ahead of the rear axle line nestled behind the rear seats for safety. The battery and CD auto-changer were located in the trunk. Nitrogen filled struts supported the hood and hood lid. Standard was a space-saver spare wheel along with a no-cost option of an aerosol can of tire repair sealant, which was a typical factory standard from 1998 and took the usable space in the trunk to 5.5 cubic feet.
The hood was composed of KMC, a composite material of polyester, fiberglass and epoxy adhesives to save weight and the front wings were constructed in PUR plastic. The largest single composite molding found on a production car, the hood hid two rectangular Hella headlamps with separate bulbs for dip and main beam. They were hidden behind the four round holes in the hood. The body shell was completely rustproof as it was galvanized with full plastic wheel-arch liners.
The GTV featured a 64% stiffer chassis while the Spider featured reinforced A-pillars. Standard on the models was 15 inch perforated steel wheels, while 16-inch teardrop alloy wheels with 205/50 tires came on the Lusso option package. 16-inch teardrop alloy wheels became standard from Phase 2 and 3 with 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/45 tires becoming factory optional. Some complained that the Italian sports cars were difficult to park because of its low seating position and large turning circle. It made the end of the hood and corners disappear from the drivers view and therefore hard to navigate. The long doors didn't help.
Using a pretty conventional set-up, the front suspension used MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, offset coil springs and an anti-roll bar. Designed by Gianclaudio Travaglio the multilink rear suspension was independent and comprised of quadrilateral geometry with an upper triangle, double low arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar joined to a light alloy subframe that was secured to the car's frame. During the beginning stages of a turn the centrifugal forces create a small 'rear wheel steer' effect in opposite direction to the way the front wheels point and then the forces build up through the corner, the rear wheels would start steering in the same direction as the front wheels.
The 1.8 TS and 2.0 TS Spiders featured 10.1-inch Altecna-system brakes, while the other models had 11.2 inch Lucas or ATE system ventilated-discs at the front. The cars featured disc brakes all around and had 9.4-inch Lucas-system solid-discs at the rear. The 3.0 V6 24V GTV and Spider had 12.0-inch Brembo-system ventilated-discs with 4-pot calipers that were resplendent with white 'Alfa Romeo' lettering.
In 2004 production of the GTV and Spider ceased in 2004 with a total of 81,799 units sold. They were available until 2005.
A large number of limited edition Spider and GTV models were produced during the models life span. These editions can all be classified into three groups: Edizione Sportiva GTV 2001, Special Series 2001 and Limited Editions 2002. Nearly all of the models featured the titanium line finished center console without the Alfa Romeo script. Except for some German-market Edizione Classica models, all Special Series could easily be located by their silver numbered plaque to the side of the center console. Except for the first model, all of the cars had unique version codes. Spider models all featured electrically operated hood. All models sported Lusso-trim equipment.
With its inspiration taken from a one-model Alfa GTV Cup race series, the GTV Cup 2001 was a limited edition based on the 3.0 V7 version of the GTV. Only 419 cars were produced during 2001. A total of 180 were 3.0 V6 24V GTV Cups, with 155 of these being RHD version, while 239 models pumping 148 hp were offered in LHD only. The 2.0 TS cars were normally painted silver, with just a few examples in red, while 3.0 V6 cars were only sold in red. RHD and LDH version featured silver Limited edition plaques rid red and black text. What made the Cup version stand out was their factory standard rear spoiler, front spoiler, wheel arch side vents and titanium-like finish 17-inch 'telephone dial' alloys. Under the hood was the same 218 PS 215 HP V6 as found on a standard model. The interior sported leather-material upholstery.
The Edizione Sportiva was a German-market GTV produced in 2001. These models were only offered with 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V CF3 engines. They sported sleek black leather upholstery with red stitching, red carpets and Zender front wings. The interior of the car featured electric seats, Blaupunkt radio/navigation with 10-CD changer located in the trunk. Available only in Nero Met was 17-inch 'teledial' alloys. This version was limited to 500 models, but only around 200 were ever produced and made it the only limited edition model to not have the unique version code and have the Alfa Romeo script on the center console.
The GTV Serie Speciale 'Elegant' was introduced in 2001 and featured brown leather upholstery, darker than normal tanned leather and black carpeting. The 'Elegant' was available in Blu Vela Met. or Nero Met. Like most limited editions there were additional leather strips beneath the door armrest and a 'Serie Limitata' numbered plaque was found on the titanium-like finished center console. The 'Elegant' was available with 2.0 TS and 3.0 V6 24V CF3 engines.
Debuting in 2001, the Edizione Classica Spider was available with either a 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V engine. The model was manufactured only in Nero Met. with an electric hood and special 17-inch high-gloss 'teledial' alloys. Like the other special editions, the center console sported a limited edition numbered plaque without the 'Alfa Romeo' script. On the inside of the model was light grey upholstery and black carpets.
2001 was the year for special editions and another beautiful example was the Spider Serie Speciale 'Elegant'. The Spider arrived with Blue Style dashboard and corresponding blue leather Momo seats and carpets. It was available in Giallo Zoe Met. or Grigio Chiaro Met. The hood was electric blue and it featured high-gloss finished 'teledial' alloys and had limited edition numbered plaque on the center console. Around 300 models were produced and offered with 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V.
2002 brought with it the Motus GTV with Nero Met. exterior with a two-part Zender kit that featured perforated black upholstery on the inside and red leather Momo seats. The center console was finished titanium-like and didn't feature the limited edition plaque. The Motus was available with 2.0 TS and Nero Met. also with 3.0 V6 24 V and sported 17-inch alloys.
Also debuting in 2002 were two different Lux GTV editions. The Grigio Chiaro Met. was on the outside and 'tango' leather on this inside with black carpets. With a black leather interior, the Lux featured Azzurro Nugola Pearl on the outside. Both editions came with 2.0 TS only.
Available only in Grigio Chiaro Met. the Spider Edizione Sportiva featured perforated black leather upholstery with red stitching and came with side skirts and front wings from Zender. All of these Spiders came without the 'Alfa Romeo' sign on the titanium-like finished center consoles and did not have the limited edition plaque. This Sportiva edition came with an electrically folded hood and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Arriving on scene available only in Nero Met., the Edizione Elegante Spider came with snappy two-tone leather seats and the choice of black light grey, or black-red with matching side panel upholstery. The Elegante was powered by either the 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V.
The Lux Spider arrived in 2002 and came in three different editions. The Blue Lightning Met. exterior featured 'tango' leather on the inside, and a blue electric hood. The Grigio Chiaro Met. exterior came with Black-Lys Grey Leather on the inside and a black hood. The Rosso Miro Pearl exterior version sported Red-Black Leather on the inside and a black hood. The Blue Lightning Met. came with the option of 3.0 V6 24V while the 2.0 TS was available for the other editions.
The Spider Sport Limited Edition was introduced in 2002 and came only in Nero Met. and Motus-like on the inside with black upholstery, carpet and perforated red leather seats. The Sport was powered with 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V. The Spider Elegant Limited Edition also came out this year and was available only in Grigio Chiaro Met. with a two-tone interior and sporting black-tango leather. Powering the Elegant was the 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 24V. The Spider was available only in Blu Lightning Met. and Lys Grey Leather interior was powered only with the 3.0 V6 24V.
A phase 3 Spider only, the Edizione Nero Spider was introduced in 2004 and was available after March. This edition was limited to just thirty cars in Austria, with a total number of 150 cars. These models were black metallic and featured a black and silver cloth interior and power came from the 2.0 JTS engine. The Spider Edizione was also a phase 3 Spider only as well. This edition was available in Rosso Miro Pearl. or Blue Reims Met. only with 2.0 JTS engine. The inside of the car featured Red or Blue Cloth or Black Leather. This edition was limited to Medio trim and limited to a total of 350 cars. Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson