Jorge Mazlumian's 1974 Alfa Romeo GTVItalians are known to be a passionate people who thrive on emotion. Take my mother for instance. Being a red-hot-blooded Italian, she inevitably imparts a taste of her lively culture to all who have the pleasure of meeting her. From the phenomenal food she cooks (with love, of course), to the hard-accented gobbledygook she speaks at speeds surpassed only by expressively flailing arms resembling multiple Judo chops, it's obvious passion flows through her veins. Treat her right and she'll reciprocate tenfold. Rub her the wrong way and you'd think you just stepped into the UFC Octagon.
The Italian passione not only draws others to them but also to their wonderful creations. Check out the Sistine Chapel, listen to Pavarotti, have a glass of Aldo Conterno wine, or a slice of good pizza. Even better, go drive an Alfa Romeo GTV.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who at the time was working for Bertone, the GTV sports coupe transcends time with its elegant yet sporty lines that have made it one of the most sought-after collectibles. You sense its Italian craftsmanship upon the first glance.
The GTV chassis started life in 1963 with the Giulia Sprint GT, which delivered 92 hp from a 1,570cc engine. It later turned into the Sprint GT "Veloce" (GTV) in 1965. Two years after that, Alfa released the GTV 1750 with a 1,779cc engine sporting a heftier 122 hp.
In 1971, Alfa made subtle changes to the body and upgraded to a torquey 1,962cc engine delivering an extra 10 horsepower. The GTV 2000 was born. With its updated powerplant, few other cars could bequeath this magnitude of enjoyment. With non-assisted steering and a highly balanced chassis, you're at one with the road. Simultaneously, the unmistakable Italian exhaust notes send chills down your spine. Drive it and you instantly want one.
With just 2,260 pounds to haul, the GTV was a true sports car in its day. Zero to 60 mph times under 9 seconds and a 120-plus top speed proved this, as did disc brakes at all four corners. High performance, combined with such special styling, made the GTV 2000 an instant classic, and the fact that it was only sold Stateside from 1973 to '74 makes it a rare find.
Fred Firschein, a Southern Californian Alfisto, lucked across the lovely '73 GTV in rare, original Metallic Light Beige paint at the turn of the millennium. He's been its sole caretaker since it left the original owner's hands. After 120,000 miles the car continues to elegantly motor the streets in factory original form-save for the GTV 1750 grille that Firschein feels is a more traditional Alfa design, and a twin-pipe Ansa muffler. Under the hood, the engine is virtually untouched other than Shankle air filters in place of the original airbox. Thirst is quenched by the SPICA mechanical fuel injection fitted to U.S.-designated cars for emissions control.
It should be no surprise this GTV has seen success at local concours events. A weekend cruising up the coast in a flawless GTV on a cool, sunny day is an experience to relish-by the end you'd feel half Italian. But driving a track-prepped GTV hits you in such a way you'd think of adding an "i" to the end of your last name. Jorge Mazlumian, my dad, had racing in mind when he found this red '74 GTV on the SoCal streets.
Having sent his Alfas to Stewart Sandeman of Alfa Performance Connection since the mid '80s-I remember spending days there doing my homework when I was a kid-Mazlumian felt comfortable putting them in charge again.
APC started by gutting it completely, removing all sound deadening material and bumpers, and added Lexan lateral and rear windows and a fiberglass trunk. A six-point Autopower roll bar and Halon fire suppression system went inside. The factory dash was replaced by a custom aluminum unit by APC, using Autometer gauges left over from Project M3 Turbo. Mazlumian secures himself in the Corbeau racing seat with a five-point Deist Safety harnesses system, and shifts crisply through gears with a relocated aluminum short shifter. An Odyssey battery was placed in the right rear passenger compartment for better weight distribution. The end result was a featherweight 1,944 pounds with a half tank of fuel.
To edge the competition, APC supplied a fully built 2.0-liter motor, including a ported cylinder head with oversized valves and Megacycle cams, and a bottom end with JE Pistons high-compression slugs and Carrillo rods. The SPICA fuel injection system was replaced with dual 45mm Dellorto carbs. The engine exhales through a 4-2-1 equal length header sans muffler piping for maximum flow. A lightweight aluminum flywheel helps the engine rev quicker, and since the factory clutch wouldn't hold, a Spruell clutch using a Porsche pressure plate was installed.
When the 110,000-mile original engine was dyno tested on a Dynojet 248C, it registered 91 hp at the wheels. The APC-built motor puts down 145. Combined with the significant loss in weight, the GTV now enjoys a power-to-weight improvement of 80 percent over stock. And it's instantly evident. The stock engine never needed to go much over 5500 rpm, but this engine revs freely past 7000 rpm, and the sound is nothing short of sweet.
But it's by far the loudest car I've ever driven. I only lasted two laps around the Streets of Willow road course without ear plugs, which my dad is always sure to wear. Unfortunately, during the drive I also couldn't hear my screaming passenger who was begging me to come in well before that.
While the steering might initially feel sloppy by today's standards of power-assist, I found myself enjoying the extra input needed to throw the car around. The more comfortable I got muscling the wheel, the more responsive the handling became. With just a hint of oversteer that got more radical as the throttle is squeezed mid-turn, it was like driving a big go-kart.
Dad has had a blast nearly every time he's time-trialed and raced at Alfa events. Although he'll kill me for saying it, he just finished first in his class for 2008 in the AROSC Alfa Cup Race and Time-Trial events, with a best official lap of 1:39 at Willow's big track.
Success doesn't come without some heartache, however, and he's sometimes reminded of the fact that he drives an old Italian classic in another way-frequent visits to the shop for maintenance or fixes. Like any vintage Italian racecar, the GTV can be a tad temperamental at times.
Still, there's no other car he'd rather drive on the track than his own. The seldom bad times are vastly overshadowed by the frequent euphoric moments, reminding him why he bought it. He loves it dearly. Could be it reminds him of another passion in his life: his Italian wife.
1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
2.0-liter I4, JE pistons, Carrillo rods, Megacycle cams, oversized valves, ported cylinder head, open exhaust, 45-mm Dellorto carburetors, Griffin aluminum radiator, Fuel Safe fuel cell, ITG air filter, 4-2-1 equal length headers, Redline fluids
Five-speed manual, aluminum flywheel, Spruell modified clutch
Bilstein shocks, Alfaholics (U.K.) springs, Alfaholics anti-roll bar, polyurethane bushings, Panhard rod
Porterfield race pads, ATE Super Blue fluid
*Wheels And Tires
Panasport alloys, 7x14Kumho R-compound, 205/55
Fiberglass trunk lid, Lexan windows, bumpers and side markers removed
Six-point Autopower roll bar, APC custom aluminum dash, Autometer instruments, Autometer Tri-Alert system with dash-mounted warning light, Autometer rpm-activated module with dash-mounted shift light, aluminum short shifter, Prototipo steering wheel, ignition flip-switch, engine-start button, Corbeau race seats (passenger side removed for racing), Deist Safety five-point harness, FireBottle Halon suppression system with exterior switch, Odyssey battery
Peak Power: 145 hp(91 hp stock)Measured at the wheels
Alfa Bulletin Board & Forums
Alfa Performance Connection
Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Southern