20.08.2004 ItaliasPeed officially launches Autodelta's AWESOME NEW 156 GTA 3.7 - the most exciting Alfa Romeo sedan in recent years
In 1965 Alfa Romeo launched the Giulia GTA Sprint, a masterpiece based on Bertone's beautiful Giulia coupe. This particular classic was penned by 27-year-old Giorgetto Giugiaro, the most respected automobile designer of the 20th century, and now president of the famed Italdesign-Giugiaro design house.
Now, almost 40 years after the naissance of the Gran Turismo Alleggerita tag, leading Alfa Romeo tuning and design house Autodelta, are proud to unveil their latest creation: the Autodelta Alfa Romeo 156 GTA 3.7 with Selespeed transmission, a car appropriately drawn from another classic Giugiaro design.
Based in London, Autodelta was founded in 1987 by the talented young engineer Jano Djelalian. The inspiration for his company's name came from the original Alfa Romeo racing team of the 1960s - the team that successfully campaigned the original GTA series. Their latest offering is certainly worthy of the glorious Autodelta name and could be regarded as homage to everything the GTA legend stood for - "A victory a day with the everyday car."
Inspired in part by Alfa Romeo's hugely successful FIA European Touring Car Championship cars, the Autodelta 156 GTA 3.7, is set to capture the hearts and imagination of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts around the world.
The new model follows hard on the heels of the smaller Autodelta 147 GTA 3.7, which made its debut at the MPH03 Motor Show last December. Only Autodelta would have both the sheer audacity, as well as the engineering ability, to dump a 328 bhp and 3.7-litre engine under the bonnet of a Alfa 147 and make it work. So much so in fact that Jeremy Clarkson, always the harshest of critics, was moved to comment that a "mad amount of power and astounding grip make this the hottest hatch ever."
So Autodelta's engineers, who fail to recognise conventional boundaries, set about opening the next chapter in the firm's rich history with the 156 GTA 3.7.
As with everything in life, first impressions are important. The 156 GTA's flared out wheel arches, beautiful 18-inch multispoke wheels and revised front and rear spoilers with quad tailpipes epitomize what high-performance Alfa Romeo motoring is all about.
Autodelta's Creativestudio design branch has successfully evolved the original shape set forward by Giugiaro, making a purposeful statement without upsetting the delicate line of the 156. With its generous air intakes, the front bumper insinuates the car's tuned 3.7-litre V6 engine. The increased air intake area at the front improves airflow to the engine and oil cooler.
The engine itself uses 101 mm bore forged pistons, gas flowed heads and is lightened and balanced. The factory injection system has also been reprogrammed, whilst a larger Ferrari derived throttle body is fitted. The electronics have also been re-mapped and modified to work with the Selespeed transmission. Already an object of great beauty, the Alfa Romeo V6 engine is now visually complemented by a sport carbon air intake.
Due to a wider front and rear track, the front and rear wings have been flared out. Totally new lightweight front wings now form a perfect 'wasp-waist', enhancing the car's powerful stance. The rear wheel arches have been offset by razor-sharp extensions, leading upwards to meet the rear optical units. Revised side skirts connect the muscular wheel arches, and include air outlets.
The taillights themselves are also unique to the Autodelta 156 range, incorporating four individual round elements behind clear lenses. A new rear bumper takes on the style of Autodelta's recent Alfa 147 GTA 3.7, providing a clear link between Autodelta's models.
Quad tailpipes protrude from the rear bumper, and are positioned either side of an air diffuser. The stainless freeflow exhaust has been developed by Autodelta, and greatly reduces the amount of back pressure over the standard GTA system. The rear end is completed by a subtle lip spoiler on the boot.
Autodelta's gorgeous multispoke 18-inch alloy wheels draw attention towards the meaty 6-pot brake callipers and heat-treated 355mm cross-drilled and vented brake discs, which are complete with aluminium bells. This revised braking system, which includes special compound pads, has been developed by Autodelta and AP Racing to cope with the bucket load of extra horses. It is worth comparing these with the standard 4-pot Alfa 156 GTA Brembo brakes with 330 mm diameter discs.
The suspension system has also been upgraded, with stiffer performance-orientated bushes, height adjustable dampers with new coil springs and revised geometry settings for maximum body control.
Despite the car's competition inspired looks, Autodelta have developed the car for user-friendly everyday driving, their engineers, with Alfa tradition coursing through their veins, careful to remember this is after all a saloon. The end package is slightly gentler than the Autodelta 147 GTA 3.7, if 'gentle' is really a word we can associate with this blisteringly quick car!
An Autodelta-developed limited slip differential has also been included to help relay the extra power through the uprated clutch and custom-built 8.5 x 18" light alloy wheels shod with 235/40/18 tyres.
The Autodelta Alfa Romeo 156 GTA 3.7 will be strictly customer-built, and each vehicle will have its own plaque carrying the serial number. With Alfa Romeo's own version still bearing the old body design, Autodelta are certain to proclaim another victory with the GTA label.