This car’s story began in 1967. Brian Lamb and his wife, the first owners, purchased it from a California dealer, arranging for delivery in Milan. When it was ready, they flew from California to Italy, picked it up at the factory, then toured Europe before shipping it home. The Alfa came in appliance white (In Italian that’s “Bianco Spino”), with 15″ steel wheels, skinny 155×15 tires, and a 1600cc motor. The only modification by the Lambs was reupholstering the front seats in a grey tweed fabric found in Chevys.
When I responded to a newspaper ad in 1983, I could see that the GTV was a find. The body and interior were in good condition; it had no rust; and its original mechanicals were in good, though worn, condition. We struck a quick deal and as I drove it away I looked back to see the Lambs teary-eyed and waving goodbye from their front walk.
The short drive home verified that normal wear and tear was beginning to show all over the car, most noticeably in the motor, which could lay a cloud of smoke like a Navy destroyer. That wasn’t surprising; with nearly 100,000 miles on it, the only engine work it had ever required was a valve job.
I was beginning the restoration of a 1966 GTC at the time and the GTV was going to supply the missing pieces, something I neglected to mention to the Lambs. Shortly after arriving home, however, I decided that restoring the GTV would be a whole lot easier and less expensive than the GTC. Besides, after the emotional goodbye from the Lambs, there was no way I could turn their baby into a parts car.
Giulia’s gray phase
Within months of buying the Alfa, it was at a paint and body shop to repair some parking lot dings and change the color to — cover your eyes if you’re a purist — BMW Baltic Blue. This 1984 metallic blue-gray Beemer color turns out to be a great choice for a GTV. It even had a thin red pinstripe down the crease line on each side. Its original 1600cc motor was the next to go, replaced with a 1750 engine that served us well for another 20 years. I kept the motor mostly stock, adding only Shankle 8L cams, used with the original 40DCOE 27 Webers; a Magneti Marelli Plex 201 electronic ignition, and low restriction air intake and filters. The wheels were taken off a new ’84 Spider, whose owner wanted something different.
Sixteen years after painting the car Baltic Blue, it came time for another respray and new upholstery. While the Alfa had no serious prior damage and only two small spots of rot on the front fenders, it left for the body shop in January of 2000, and I didn’t get to drive it again for two full years!
How it all turned out is chronicled on this site. You’ll also see that Scuderia Non Originale (SNO) is a prominent part of this website. The idea for SNO was born while several friends and I were sitting beside my GTV and its red twin at Concorso Italiano, in Monterey, California. So, while my car isn’t “originale,” and hasn’t been for years, if it weren’t for this GTV and the friends who helped me build it, Scuderia Originale wouldn’t exist. And that would be a loss to the Alfa world … though I have no idea why.