A GUIDE TO THE GTV CUP 'SERIE LIMITATA'
With the Alfa Romeo 916 GTV and Spider models now rightfully recognised as modern classics, their values have suitably strengthened over the past few years. At the pinnacle of this rocketing trajectory is their very rare spin-off, the GTV Cup. This striking limited edition appears to be the car any Alfa-ccionado wants to add to their collection right now.
Having sold three examples ourselves in 2017 (#27, #45 and #89), #80 living two doors down from us with Nick Harper and several other owners entrusting the maintenance of their Cups to the specialists here in Norwich's Little Italy, we're in an unusually fortunate position to know these sought after cars inside-out.
We explain below the myth and mystery behind the GTV Cup and give a few pointers for any potential purchaser to look out for.
A Racing Start
Between 1999 and 2000, Alfa Romeo offered customers in Italy a pretty unique experience; to drive a works-prepared GTV 3.0 V6 in a competitive race environment with expert guidance and full factory support. For a very reasonable fee of £4000, 160 novice drivers (the series was strictly for those with no professional experience on track) got to live out their Fangio fantasies for an entire weekend. Firstly treated to a circuit racing master class by Andrea De Adamich (former Alfa Romeo F1 driver) at the Varano de’Melegari circuit, they were finally let loose in an actual race with 16 identical 240bhp+ GTV 3.0's and, more than likely, 16 similarly anxious amateur drivers!
The cars themselves were built by Fiat Auto Racing in Chivasso to Group N regulations. They differed from those in the showrooms most obviously by the addition of the 'aero-kit' (front and rear spoilers plus side skirts) and some extraction vents in the front wings for brake cooling. Mechanically, they gained a remapped ECU, a catalytic-converter-less exhaust system, the oil cooler was moved to a more central location and 200kg was shed.
It's unknown how many of the original racing Cups survived this unique series unscathed, but occasionally they do pop up for sale in some far flung corner of the internet. Often they've been further modified for use in another series and many seem to have been exported over to Japan after Alfa had finished with them. When they do appear on the market, however, they're rarely cheap and nor they do hang around for long!
Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday
For those not lucky enough to get to play racing driver in the Cup series, there was some commiseration when, in 2001, Alfa launched the new GTV Cup road car in showrooms.
Maintaining the full aero-kit and vented wings from their racing brethren, these Cups tamed for the road also gained a unique half leather interior, an eye-catching chrome-like finish to the 17" teledial alloys and a plaque proudly proclaiming each Cup's individual build number in the very limited run. Just 419 were produced; 180 3.0 V6 powered models and 239 2.0 Twin Spark variants.
Each 3.0 Cup was finished in 130 Rosso Alfa paintwork, while the vast majority of the 2.0 4-cylinder Cups were finished in 612/A Grigio Chiaro (a handful were seemingly ordered in red from new, just to complicate matters!). Only 155 were allocated for the RHD UK market (which, legend has it, was a nod to the legendary BTCC-winning Alfa Romeo 155 of the mid-90s) and each and every one of these boasted the full-fat 3.0 V6 engine under the bonnet.
Mechanically, there is no difference over a standard GTV which might make the premium price a Cup currently commands seem a little hard to fathom. However, the Cup is very much more than simply a sum of its parts. One of the few designs which is not only unspoilt by the addition of a bolt on body-kit, but actually improved; the Cup flourishes frame the GTV's already seductive styling perfectly. Likewise, the half-leather seats are actually a great deal more comfortable (particularly for taller drivers) than the usual Momo upholstery.
And anyway, who doesn't like being part of an exclusive club? Own a Cup and you can instantly count yourself amongst a very select few hardcore Alfisti!
Pointers When Purchasing a Cup
- The numbered plaques were seemingly stuck on at random, there's no uniformity to their position on the centre console whatsoever!
- The build numbers were separate for RHD and LHD models (so, there's a RHD 001 and a LHD 001, for example).
- UK Cups have red engraved lettering on the plaques while those sold in Europe were black.
- Like any other V6 'Busso' powered Alfa, timing belt intervals are strictly 3 years or 36k miles. Allow £700-£1000.
- In our opinion, originality is king. Q2 diffs and stainless exhausts are common additions, but a factory spec' car will always be worth more.
- Rear spring pan arms are known to corrode and it is very difficult to find replacements, just like any 916 model.
- The original chrome-like finish of the wheels is very difficult to replicate when refurbished with powder coat.*
- There are lots of Cup-a-Likes; 'normal' GTV's with the aero-kit and vented wings retro-fitted - but they will not have a plaque.
- On the Alfa Owner forum, some dedicated owners have produced The Cup List, tracking each of the 419 built.
If there's anything else you'd like to know about the GTV Cup, please don't hesitate to ask!
*Ranking up there with sourcing a bonnet for a Series II Fiat 127 (that's a story for another day though!) getting the finish and colour just right for the Cup wheels has been one of the biggest headaches we've ever had. After several attempts and trying many different recommended firms, we went to the extent of speaking with Speedline Italy directly and had them send us the exact process used when new. It's convoluted, but we got there in the end!