• Stunning original and unmolested GTA
• Unrestored condition
• Hugely loved and cherished car from deceased estate
• Classic ‘Busso’ V6 with incredible power
In the early 2000s the hot hatch underwent a bit of a renaissance, with the likes of the Ford Focus RS, Vauxhall Astra VXR and Honda Civic Type R all dialling things up a notch in terms of performance expectations.
But if there was one hot hatch that was truly scorchio, then it was in the Italian corner. At the Paris Motor Show in 2002, Alfa Romeo announced that it would be creating a sporty version of its former Car of the Year, the 147.
But there was no screaming four-pot under the bonnet of the 147. No. For that was not the Alfa Romeo way.
Instead, the 147 would be as much about the engine as it was about the rest of the car – you only have to open the bonnet to see this, but we’ll come to that.
Rather than a piddling turbocharged four-cylinder, the 147 Gran Turismo Alleggerita (GTA) would be the swansong for the Italian company’s legendary big V6, developed by Guissepe Busso for the 1978 Alfa 6 and evolved from there.
The GTA’s 3.2-litre unit would be the biggest and most potent iteration of the ‘Busso’ V6, developing 250bhp and 300Nm of torque. Was it quick? You betcha. Was it more than the 147 could handle? We’ll come to that.
What we have here is a stunning example of the 147 GTA – a rare car and one that has been loved and adored by its previous two owners (and most likely the two before it, given its condition).
It is only for sale due to bereavement, after the most recent owner sadly passed away early this year. The sale is being handled by a family friend on behalf of his widow.
Supplied new in July 2003 to Sidlow Alfa Romeo in Crawley, West Sussex, the GTA was registered to the garage for the first year of its life, presumably as a demonstrator.
It then passed on as a used car to its second keeper, who owned it until 2008, when it was sold to an owner in Cheshire who had it maintained by the well-known Alfa main dealership Mangoletsi Motors.
It made its way east in 2010 to an owner in Kings Lynn, who adored it and had it maintained through Jamie Porter, one of the UK’s best-known and most respected Alfa independents. Jamie Porter continued to look after it in the care of its most recent owner, who bought the car as a future classic in 2016 and kept it garaged and only used it occasionally, clocking up just over 3,000 miles in it. He passed away in June 2021, and the car has been handed over to a family friend to help with the sale.
There is an absolute stack of paperwork with the car, including the original bill of sale, a used car invoice from 2003 and a full service history. There are bills in separated filed sections for each of its owners, including tow pretty substantial ones from 2017 and 2018, detailing cambelt, spark plug and water pump replacement, and a new clutch. The car has covered less than 1,000 miles since the cambelt replacement.
There’s also a cutting from an old issue of Evo magazine from 2010 in which one of the car’s previous owners appears with it in a GTA buyers guide – a nice quirky piece of history.
The car has just been through an MOT test and the current certificate is valid until July 2022, passed with no advisories.
It’s red and it’s an Alfa Romeo. Those two elements are a good start.
But it gets better. This is a car in truly lovely condition throughout – there’s a tiny, tiny dent on one door and some minor stone chips, but apart from that the exterior is superb, while the 18-inch multi-spoke alloys look terrific and are shod with decent Yokohama rubber.
The paint retains a deep shine and hasn’t faded like solid red often does, the only slight inconsistency being the nearside of the boot lid which looks ever so slightly ‘out’ in certain lights – but it’s barely noticeable.
The GTA body kit makes it pretty difficult to inspect underneath, but the car’s low mileage and corrosion-free MOT history provide significant reassurance. In addition, the car has been garaged by its previous two owners, so for over a decade.
In many respects the cabin is standard 147, so you get a central infotainment screen that was once state-of-the art and will play your own music from one of those giant SD cards rendered obsolete by the smartphone, and a smart twin-pod dash that curves up and around the driver and passenger.
It’s a great-looking cabin, though, and the black ribbed leather seats are a stylish work of art. Everything works including the air con and it’s in fabulous order.
Onto the oily bits, and that’s where the 147 GTA truly comes alive. The 250bhp Busso V6 was big, heavy and stacked with torque, so you might expect it to be a bit unwieldy. But it isn’t. While the weighty nose can definitely be felt from behind the wheel, the GTA is still surprisingly agile, the extra mass actually helping it gain traction it may otherwise have lost by putting so much power through the front wheels.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have the super-sharp handling precision of a Focus RS or a Civic Type R, but this is a car with a lot more soul and it’s still terrific to drive. Then there’s the soundtrack – you wouldn’t get that from a four-cylinder.
Open the bonnet, and you’re met by an engine that’s every bit as stylish as the exterior. There’s no hideous plastic engine cover under here, just a raw, exposed V6 with a polished stainless steel manifold and delicate red lettering. It’s an Alfa thing – if you don’t get it, you’ll never understand…
It runs really well, while the maintenance history should back up that all of the running gear, transmission and suspension elements have been attended to as and when required, and with no expense spared.
This is a fabulous example of a rare and rapidly appreciating modern classic, and it has covered a tiny mileage over the past few years as the most recent owner – apparently an Alfa nut - was keeping it in preservation and using it only occasionally as he wanted one of the best examples you could get.
If it weren’t for the saddest of circumstances, this car most certainly wouldn’t be on the market right now. It’s a fabulous example of a model that’s bound to get even more collectable in the fullness of time and is an opportunity not to be missed.
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