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greggearhead Reader
11/26/17 5:55 p.m.

Well, I bought another driver/project, after daily perusals of non-driving projects I just realize I don't have time for, not that I have time for this one.  

It's a 1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta coupe with no rust.  No, really.  Seriously.  Come on - I'm not kidding.  It's a California car, that some buddies bought, flew out from Colorado, got it running and went through a bunch of it over two days, and drove it back, with very minimal issues.  Their adventure is a real story in and of itself.  

Before I get into it as it sits - what's the goal?  Well, make some period-ish sports purpose mods and run it in the Silver Summit Classic Car adventure.  Lower, stiffer, larger wheels, more/better lighting, better sounds and maybe a bit more power and reliability.  When I'm done playing with it, it will likely be listed for sale, but I'm not sure how long I want to play with it yet!

Anyway, it's a Mille Miglia edition - one of 500 (oooohhh, aaaaahhh, rare - but not really valuable) that amounts to some extra badging and spoilers, I think.  It has the venerable dual overhead cam 8 Valve all alloy Alfa 4 cylinder, in 2 liter iteration.  The SPICA injection is still there and still functioning surprisingly well.  The transmission sifts well and easily (once warmed up a bit), and the suspension and brakes are in, again - surprisingly good condition.  The shocks were swapped from the parts car at the time of this car's resurrection, because they were Konis, and in good shape.  They aren't bad at all.  Many of the rubber bushings look poor, but no clunks or rattles, other than from the exhaust that looks like it's been welded together from about 20 different (emphasis on different) pieces.  It starts and runs easily, almost all of the things in it work, so it's got what I call, good bones.  

First order of business, because it broke down on me the day after I bought it, is a new starter.  The solenoid is hanging up and it keeps the starter spinning, even if I turn the key off sometimes.  I can turn the key off and back on quick and shock it into closing, but it definitely needs replaced.  Ordered and on the way from Timbuktoo.  I have also ordered a full set of polyurethane bushings, as most of the important ones look cracked and frayed, and an exhaust leak melted the De Dion rear axle bushing on the drive back from Cali.  The two guys that brought it back bought a bushing that was close from a parts store, and (literally) whittled it to fit in the parking lot and that's what's in there now.  I really, really like a firm, taut chassis (that many of my passengers think is too stiff) but I'm on a budget with this one, so I'll try to find some GTV6 torsion bars and springs that are stiffer than the 4 cyl versions, but not really sporting, and add some Bilsteins and maybe a bigger sway bar.

It came with new rubber brake hoses, but I think I am going to go with braided stainless steel brake hoses.  I've used them on most of my builds over the years, and really like the increase in feel it gives.  

In the interest of sound, and sanity - I will build a 2.25" mandrel bent exhaust with a resonator and a turbo muffler to make the Alfa sound like a European sports car, and maybe free up 5 or 6 horsepower.  I like the SPICA injection (evn though I'm not familiar with it), and have read enough reviews on the stock airbox to know that it is a very good design that shouldn't be messed with.   So, likely, I will mess with it.  Sidedraft carbs or ITBs sound awesome - and I would like some of that sound but not to lose the benefit of the airbox, so there could easily be some ugly husbandry of intakes.  

Cosmetics is usually the last of my worries, and that will be the case here as well.  I'll throw in some H4 and H1 headlights, because I sell them, and it just isn't smart to use sealed beams on anything driven in the dark, IMO.  I will also add some extra driving and fog lights to give a little rally flair as well as function.  I dislike USA market bumpers on most Euro cars from the 70s, and while these aren't awful, I think they will have to go away.  Maybe some Camaro bumpers modded to fit, or just a tube bumper/light bar in the front or something.  Have to see what I find.  


Anyway, here she is:



mblommel Dork
11/26/17 6:03 p.m.

Man, that is niiiice.  Looks like a great start.

greggearhead Reader
11/30/17 10:36 a.m.

Thanks.  In the parts-ordering phase, which is fun, because then it's like Xmas when boxes arrive.  Mandrel bends, muffler, resonator, header, springs, bumpers, sway bar, torsion bars, brake hoses, etc.  =)

edizzle89 Dork
11/30/17 11:25 a.m.

Everything about that spoiler is awesome!


alfadriver MegaDork
11/30/17 11:42 a.m.

A suggestion- go to Centerline Auto just outside of Boulder.  They will totally help enable you.  And they are a great source of parts.

The engine can quickly be warmed over for not a lot of money resulting in a big improvement.  Also, when at Centerline, you can decide if you want to fabricate your own headers or use the ones they market.

Your car is in great shape- including the interior.  Way better than the one I had 30 years ago (I had a '77 GT from '87-96).  

JamesMcD SuperDork
11/30/17 11:43 a.m.

Awesome! Those things are neat. That interior looks nice too.

greggearhead Reader
12/10/17 8:54 p.m.

OK, so most of the exhaust pieces have arrived - the euro manifolds and down pipes, straight and mandrel bends, center resonator.  Also the GTV6 front torsion bars and yellow Konis, Poly bushings for all the suspension.  Front 1" addco sway bar on the way.  

I sold the bumpers, so these need to come off, and I have an idea to modify the pump to make it work with bigger cams than it is supposed to, stock.  We'll see.  


Glued on the door trim piece, and the door seals arrived.  Need to pull it in the garage and plug away at it!

alfadriver MegaDork
12/11/17 7:22 a.m.
greggearhead said:

... and I have an idea to modify the pump to make it work with bigger cams than it is supposed to, stock.  We'll see.  


Do study the pump carefully.  The dream of simply modifying it to take bigger cams has been around since 1969, when the system was first introduced.  And there's a reason Wes Ingram is in business based on that dream.  20 years ago, when we were building my GTV, I bought a set of cams and a pump mod from him that I really have liked a LOT.  I also did some simple intake and head porting- nothing bigger, just cleaner.  And the system matches up really well.  

I had dreamed of making the SPICA a full racing pump, too- but I never go that project off the ground- my desire to race ended before I started the pump part.  But Wes also has some custom pumps made specifically for some trick cams.

greggearhead Reader
12/11/17 11:49 a.m.

Appreciate your input - and I will be careful.  I have spoken with Wes, and several others, and I'm not going to touch the 3D cam or anything like that.  

However, I'm right beyond the ege of what it's capable of with the cams I want - so trying to find a solution.  I think I have one, but I will test to make sure.


Once I get the intake and exhaust done, I'll see what the air fuel ratio is everywhere, to make sure the baseline is good, then do some testing to see how much headroom (in fuel) there is, then the cam swap.

gearheadE30 HalfDork
12/11/17 3:00 p.m.

Wow, that is in really good shape. It also has possibly one of the coolest spoilers I've ever seen. Here I thought Mini had pioneered that gauge layout; somehow it just looks better in an old Alfa!

Will the GTV6 bars lower the front of the car at all? I think that would be about the one best thing you could do to that car, aesthetically.

greggearhead Reader
12/11/17 3:08 p.m.

The stiffer torsion bars won't lower the front, in and of themselves.  The ends are splined, so if it was sitting this high, you just have to re-index the splines on the torsion bar vs. the receiver splines on the car or control arm to make it sit lower.  YES, it will be lower when I'm done!  



Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill UberDork
12/12/17 12:02 a.m.

By any chance, would you like a 3-liter V6?  I have one that's stuck in Colorado and I'm trying to find someone to salvage some sort of use for it. 


Let me know wink


greggearhead Reader
12/12/17 10:27 a.m.

Hmmmmm.....    Not for this one, but my next project goal is a GTV6 or Milano, which I would like a 3.0L for.  


Yes, I would like a 3.0L!


Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill UberDork
12/12/17 10:26 p.m.

PM sent laugh

2002maniac Dork
12/14/17 1:09 p.m.
Hungary Bill said:

By any chance, would you like a 3-liter V6?  I have one that's stuck in Colorado and I'm trying to find someone to salvage some sort of use for it. 


Let me know wink


I take this to mean the Toyota did not complete its journey to Texas?

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill UberDork
12/17/17 10:43 p.m.

Oh man, you picked the wrong day to ask me about that one...  angry

Yeah, the truck is being driven all the berkeley over Colorado but for some reason he never drives it to berkeleying Texas when he visits his family.  So the engine sits, and sits, and sits and there's nothing I can do about it because I'm half a world away...  He was supposed to drop it off at M4ff3w's place where the Alfa lives so the two could be united, but alas.  Them's the breaks I guess.

end rant

If there's a silver lining to that cloud it'd be that GRM's efforts to get the truck this far will result in a 3-liter going in Greg's next project (no pressure or anything Greg laugh ).

Meh, whatcha gonna do?



greggearhead Reader
12/18/17 12:41 p.m.

Oh, I know all about situations like that, unfortunately.  

My shop truck tow Van got new heads and lots of other stuff, then wasn't running very well, so I took it to the local SBF experts.  They've had it for 4 weeks, and have found lots of little things, but can't figure out why 2 injectors aren't firing.  


I'm waiting to get that back to go to Cali to pick up a Porsche.  Waiting....  waiting....   Almost ready to rent a box van to go get it.  

greggearhead Reader
12/21/17 5:02 p.m.

OK, so here are a couple pictures - poor, I know, but I was in a hurry.  Plan on starting on the Alfa on Sunday to make some serious disassembly process.  


Here are pics of the bushings, exhaust parts, GTV6 torsion bars, front Koni shocks, and....

Um, yes, those are vintage aluminum tumblers (glasses).  Perfect cheap velocity stacks.  




greggearhead Reader
1/22/18 6:07 p.m.

Well, it took longer to get quality time in the garage with the Alfa, but yesterday I was able to sink my teeth into it some more.

I pulled the Watts linkage off the rear suspension to replace the old rubber bushings with some Polyurethane ones I got. The old bushings came out so easily, I was almost startled when the first one fell out when I put a little tap on it with a hammer and socket. I don't have a hydraulic press anymore, so was concerned I wouldn't be able to get them out - that was NOT the case.

Pressing in the poly bushings pretty easily using the vice. I greased the bushings using synthetic grease, but it sealed the bushings to the housings so well they would push back out after a little bit because there was compressed air in the middle between the bushing halves!

I also pulled the front hub assemblies to do the big/vented rotor & caliper upgrade, as I plan to make the car capable of mountain canyon runs and track days.

Here is a comparison of the original solid Alfetta Rotors next to the Fiat 500 Abarth vented rotors. Larger, and internally vented - more braking power and lots more fade resistance. I'll be using Volvo 240 Turbo 4 piston calipers as well. The centers of the Fiat rotors will need to be opened up to fit the Alfa hub, and a small (1/4" I believe) spacer to get the hub exactly where it was before, but with this rotor with a different hat offset.

Huge thanks to tomhenneka and his thread on the ABB

I also had to remove the bumpers to finally get them shipped out - and that meant removing the headlights to get at the side bolts for the front, and the interior panels in the rear to remove those side bolts.

I was going to use one the passenger side high beam headlight hole as a cold air intake to the SPICA airbox, but it doesn't look like that's feasible without a lot more work. We'll see. At least I can replace the headlights with much better H4 & H1 units now.

I pulled the exhaust manifold, which was cracked (likely due to a partially plugged exhaust) and had to remove the air conditioning compressor and bracket with the alternator to do so, which was really a pain. I couldn't get the lower bolt of the bracket out, because the radiator was in the way, so I had to pull the radiator. The top retaining bolt has a captive nut on the front hood support panel. Unfortunately, it was no longer captive, and just spun around, and we couldn't get to the nut to try and hold it in place any better, so we cut the bolt head off, and got the radiator out. Then, we were able to get the remainder of the bolt unscrewed - we'll see how we can make the nut captive again, and still allow it to move around a bit as designed to allow some fitment of the radiator. Since I pulled the AC compressor, I decided to pull the rest of the system that was easily removable. The condenser, hoses and drier in the engine bay all came out. SO much more room around the engine and in the bay now, and probably 55-65 lbs less weight on the nose. To say nothing of the bumpers being gone as well.

Hopefully, this week I can get the Fiat rotors machined to fit the Alfa hubs and pick up some spacers, and also get the rear half shaft allen head bolts unstuck so I can drop the suspension to replace the springs, and pop the lower ball joints to replace the bushings and torsion bars. And get my replacement shocks in.

If I am lucky I'll get my Euro Exhaust manifolds and downpipe coated and installed so I can build the rest of the exhaust as well, and get it back on the road before doing the cams and airbox.

Huge shout out to my step son Flynn who helped all day long in the chilly garage - without him couldn't have gotten nearly this much done.


















Recon1342 Reader
1/22/18 6:56 p.m.

That is gorgeous. 


I looooove Alfas...

greggearhead Reader
1/23/18 7:20 a.m.

I can't wait to get the brakes, suspension and exhaust done and back on the road to check it out, then do the intake and cams, fab some nerf bars and do the interior panel by the radio.  Then it should be ready for the Silver Summit Rally this Spring!  http://www.classiccaradventures.com/colorado-events/hagerty-silver-summit/ss-event-info-and-registration/



Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill UberDork
1/24/18 9:16 a.m.

Those tumblers.  Where do you find them?  I need something cheap like that for a plenum mock up surprise

greggearhead Reader
1/24/18 9:31 a.m.
Hungary Bill said:

Those tumblers.  Where do you find them?  I need something cheap like that for a plenum mock up surprise

Ebay.  All 4 for less than $15 shipped.  Look for the scratch & dent ones - most people don't want those!  But better than $20-25 ea for 'real' velocity stacks.  

greggearhead Reader
1/24/18 5:11 p.m.

New goodies arrived.  Used AVO adjustable racing shocks, sway bar reinforcement plates and a ton of gaskets and filters.  Didn't photo the gaskets and filters because, well, they are gaskets and filters.  Also ordered some front control arm poluy Bushings from Centerline Alfa because they weren't in the 'complete' kit I ordered from another supplier...



greggearhead Reader
1/28/18 9:32 p.m.

Well, another Sunday, and some more work done on the little Alfa.  


Got the starter pulled, and the new one I bought is not correct, so I'll take the old starter that was hanging up, and the old alternator to a local rebuilder and see if they can rebuild them both.  On the plus side, they are both Bosch, so at least should be more common, parts-wise on their end.  I hope.  

My step son pulled the fans and switches out of the radiator we pulled, and the spare one that came with the car.  One is brass, and one is aluminum with brass end tanks.  I'll give them both to the radiator shop and ask their opinion.  I am hopeful the Aluminum radiator that was in the car and very slightly leaking, can be recored because it is lighter.  After losing about 200lbs of balast by removing bumpers and most of the air conditioning, I'm now progressing with a slight weight reduction purpose.  

We were able to get the half shaft allen bolts removed, which was a relief, because they were being *quite* stubborn.  That allowed lowering the rear suspension enough to pull the stock springs and replace with the unbranded 'racing' springs.  The stock springs were taller and the wire diameter was thinner - 0.492" compared to 0.531" for the race springs.  Plus, they are red.  That's gotta be worth something.  


The front suspension didn't really want to come apart.  The ball joints required a slightly different puller than the ones I had on hand, so borrowed one from the local O'Reillys.  Once I had the lower ball joints removed from the spindles, I was able to remove the stock torsion bars, after marking their positions, front and rear, relative to the control arm and rear torsion bar receiver.  Since I am replacing the bars with different, thicker/stiffer ones, indexing them isn't the most important thing in the world, but it is always better to have a reference and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  


Finally, we got the exhaust system taken off.  This was likely the ugliest, least functioning part of the car, which is saying something, as all an exhaust has to do, is let gasses flow out of it, and not fall off or be super restrictive.  This one did not fall off.  That is all.  On the way back from California when my buddies bought it and got it road worthy, there was a small hole in the rear section that pointed at, and melted, the center De Dion rubber bushing.  The factory cast iron manifold cracked on the #1 cylinder.  The resonator after the cat was making a pretty bad rattle sound.  The whole exhaust looked like it had been repaired at 5 different muffler shops, and while welds were good quality, the exhaust after the center resonator reduced in diameter twice in about an inch, and then had pinch bends, etc. before going to the less than great rear muffler.  


When I drove the car first, the rattle bothered me.  And the car at low rpms and low throttles felt good - ready to go.  But at WOT and higher rpms felt strangled.  I suspected the resonator was the cause, and I think I was right.  The center section had rusted away and was severely restricting flow, and possibly because of that, the cat had partially clogged - maybe 30% of the matrix seemed to not shine light through.  


My machinist buddy got the rotors and spacers machined in record time, and I thought I would get them mouned, but didn't quite make it before it was time to quit.  Maybe a night this week...  

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