The Alfa Adventure: Part 1
I bought an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and here's the story so far
We’ve all heard the above quote from Jeremy Clarkson and all the other anecdotes about Alfas including their colourful reliability and dodgy build quality. Yet, Alfa Romeo continue to have some of the most passionate owners across the world. These are people who swear only by Alfa. I have had the pleasure of being a part of this club since November last year but it was only in March that I decided to take a leap of faith and buy an Alfa Romeo of my own.
Some of you might know that I have long been contemplating buying an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and in fact, there is a 2 year old article out there somewhere on DriveTribe with a comment from me about my desire to own the car. However, I would have never had the guts to do so unless I had met the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of NZ.
Just like you, I have watched all those TopGear Alfa Romeo videos about stuff falling off and the cars breaking down. Not to forget that nugget of wisdom from Jeremy saying 'Alfa Romeo build a car to be as good as a car can be, briefly!" Scary stuff for a novice car owner. Anyway, I did it and bought a 2004 Alfa Romeo 147 GTA in Nero Mettalizato. It is one of 1000 ever made with the Ferrari derived Selespeed gearbox.
I've decided to call it, Aurora.
How did I do it?
My friends at AROC (Alfa Romeo Owners Club) knew that I had been looking for a GTA since November now. They are hard to come by and there were only two listed for sale so I went to see a local one but that was in shocking condition so it was best to stay away. Months passed and then all of a sudden, there was a new listing. The only reason I knew of this new one was because my friends, Luan and Owen messaged me as soon as it came up! At first, I wasn't really interested because the listing didn't even have pictures and the odometer was a little high at 73,000 miles. The next day there were pictures and some more messages from the two of them. All of a sudden, I was interested.
The former owners also had an alloy wheel repair shop
After mulling over it, I made the call to the owner and arranged to see it on Day 4 (Thursday). In the meantime, I looked into its history and saw the current owners had bought it 6 years ago. They also had a genuine reason for selling. Good stuff. They had also changed the cambelt and water pump last year (a $2,000 job). They had serviced the car every 5,000 km and driven it a decent amount every year. So, it has been running all this while which is important with these cars. You definitely don’t want to buy one that has been stagnating for months at a used car lot.
Oh that Busso V6
I took Owen along with me to see the car and he gave his valuable tick of approval (he has 3 GTAs). So I put a deposit down with a promise that Luan would come by to inspect it on Sunday. He noted a few things that needed repairing but I ended up buying it for $11,000 NZD.
The elephant in the room here was one that affected all 147 GTAs and that was the differential or rather the lack of it. So, first part to order was an Alfa Q2 diff. Next, the suspension parts were old and the engine at the front it very heavy so it was best to replace the bushes and front suspension arms. Thirdly, it also had an oil leak so a couple of seals were needed. These parts costed roughly $2,500 NZD altogether and all had to be ordered from the UK. I recommend Alfa WorkShop and Autolusso Bournemouth by the way.
Next up, I had some preventive maintenance carried out on the ECU as they are known to fail. Trouble is, this preventive maintenance buggered the ECU so now I have sent that away to be rebuilt. Since the car has now been sitting idle for a month, the battery has died and is beyond salvaging. Along with this, we also noticed that the oil leak had started to wear away some of the radiator hoses. Some more parts were in order. A new set of hoses, a radiator and a coolant tank along with the ECU repair work and battery. Something like another $1,500 there.
My collection thus far
Why did I do it?
I love Italian cars, always have and probably always will. Ever since getting my Golf GTI, I have also become a big hot hatch fan. The 147 GTA has always been ultra desirable in my mind, not just because of it’s rarity. That Busso V6 is like an orchestra and the car itself looks very pretty too. Not to forget that only 5,000 of these were ever made and 1,000 with the Selespeed gearbox meaning that they are a good bet as an investment car. With some smart planning and a generous birthday gift from my parents, this dream became a reality.
However, I went into it with my eyes fully open. I watched every video there is, talked to 147 GTA owners from AROC and did my research. I knew about all these costs. And that is the nugget of wisdom I will offer you in exchange for reading this article, make sure you know what you are getting into.
Once my ECU is back, I will have more updates for you so stay tuned for my Alfa Romeo ownership journey.
Thanks for reading :)