new models: Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
>>> the GTA legend
Alfa Romeo aimed to complement the GTA with styling that conveys an idea of strength and sportiness in a few brief but telling lines. This they planned to be achieved without altering the car's original, stylish shape. Changes that affected the external appearance had to be limited to parts affected by technical changes to the chassis and mechanicals.
The outcome is the Alfa 147 GTA, an out and out sporty model that borrows the clean, spare design that assured the basic model much success. The natural tension set up between the rounded surfaces and ridges is resolved in an ideal balance. The design also hints at historical brand motifs, albeit in a very modern and understated way. For example, the bonnet is drawn out lengthways to suggest a mighty engine capable of far from ordinary verve and alacrity. The tail tapers when viewed from top or side to make the car look more slender and dynamic.
The Alfa 147 GTA has borrowed all these exterior features from the basic model. The new model differs in its broad wings that stand out at the front to accommodate the larger 17 inch wheels ( with 225/45 tyres ); in the black headlight ground that adds to the air of sportiness and the foglights that have been shifted toward the outside of the car to free the air intakes and allow the power unit to be cooled more easily.
The resulting image is of a strong, compact car with mastery of the road and a pronounced personality of its own. This is also borne out by a beefy side view underscored by a new moulding linking the two broad wings. New five-ringed wheels exclusive to the GTA range add a clean, highly engineered feel ( spoked wheels more typical of cars used for motorsport are optional ).
At the rear, the new version features a larger bumper. This feature is hardly apparent from the side but is apparent when the car is viewed from behind. The lower part of the 147 GTA's rear end looks completely different from the original model from boot floor level downward. One reason is that the rear bumper contains a big extractor that is visibly divided by the metal panels into one long horizontal opening and two smaller side openings. The extractor serves the aerodynamic function of carrying airflow from the front of the car to the back of the car, i.e. of extracting the airflow. The final touch is provided by two oval exhaust tailpipes in line with one of the brand's classic styling cues.
Ten body colours are available on the GTA, including the outstanding Nuvola White, an iridescent shade exclusive to the model.
In a car of great temperament, the interior always revolves around the driver's cockpit. The Alfa 147 GTA is no exception, as you would expect from a car created for performance. The GTA complements the basic Alfa 147 package with a few sporty styling details exclusive to the version.
These include a brand-new three-spoked steering wheel, gear lever with leather gaiter and surrounds in Puma grey, a darker shade than that of other Alfa 147 versions. The out and out sporty pedals include aluminium pedal covers and footrests with rubber inserts and ergonomic shapes. These are complemented by a mat in the central storage compartment made out of metalluro with rubber detailing.
The seats are sports-configured and cloth trimmed. The model offers three exclusive colours: red, silver and blue. Leather upholstery is also an option: this comes in one shade ( black ) or as a two-tone combination. The latter offer black leather side bands while the central cushion and backrest insert may be in natural, grey or blue as required by the customer. The seat design displays the horizontal ridged design made famous by so many Italian sports cars of the past. The front seats come with a built-in head-restraint and adjustable seat. They are divided by an armrest with storage compartment. The rear seat offers the same sports configuration but all the comfort of a true five-seater.
The Alfa 147 GTA interiors may also be distinguished from other model versions by other features. The door panels, for example, come with cloth and leather inserts that reflect the same motifs and colours as the central part of the seats. The ceiling is grey-black, while the boot trim is completely black. The same applies to the sun visors, courtesy light and pillars. One more distinctive trait that has become a standard feature on the Alfa 147 GTA is a mat fastened mechanically to the carpet. The sill plates come with a satinised metal insert bearing the wording GTA in bright metal.
The control panel also displays new features, with special gauges and a black background. The reading scales also look different, while a screen on the multifunction display shows engine oil temperature.
|>>> the GTA legend
During the Sixties, the Touring category was one of the areas of motor sport most followed by the public and consequently also by the Manufacturers. Cars derived from standard production models battled it out on the main circuits watched by crowds of fans. Great names included Jim Clark, John Whitmore and Andrea de Adamich.
Alfa Romeo wanted to be part of it all and the company decided to commission an up-and-coming workshop to prepare its cars: Autodelta, headed by Carlo Chiti, a world-famous designer from the Ferrari stable. The resulting marriage between engineering and motor sport has become the stuff of legend.
On February 18 1965, Autodelta's first creation was presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show. The car was a development of the Giulia GT, rechristened the GTA. The new car differed from its sister externally in the addition of front air intakes, handles and the triangular Autodelta badge. The 1600 Twin Spark twin shaft engine was vigorously reinforced to increase the power output from 106 to 115 bhp.
The GTA triumphed even on
its first outings, though nothing less was expected of this winning car.
Seven GTAs took the first seven places, for example, at the Jolly Club
4-hour race in Monza. With great drivers at the helm, the cars began to
steal the thunder of the Lotuses that had previously reigned supreme.
In 1968, Alfa Romeo presented on-road and racing versions of the GTA 1300 Junior. The car looked the same as the standard production Junior, but was made leaner and meaner by long white bands along the sides. The racing version delivered 160 bhp (the on-road version 103 bhp). It goes without saying that the new GTA swept the board as soon as it went out on the track.
Now there were two racing GTAs and their domination lasted until 1970, the year that saw the arrival of the GTAm, derived from the 1750 GT Veloce America The body was completely transformed compared to the original version, as was the engine - a 230 bhp two litre unit. The car, with the Dutchman Tonie Hezemans at the wheel, won the European Touring Championship in 1970 and 1971, taking six first places in eight races.
In 1992, Alfa Romeo decided to return to the track with a version of the 155 Q4 prepared to Italian SuperTouring Championship standards and rechristened GTA. Like the others, this car retained very little of the standard production version: carbon wings, a rear spoiler that could be tilted to different angles, a 16 valve turbocharged engine capable of 400 bhp of power (compared with 186 bhp of the normal version) plus an intercooler cooled by nebulised air. The four team cars were driven by Larini, Francia, Nannini and Tamburini. The new GTA won 17 of the 20 races it was entered for and Larini won the title.
Once the season was over, the GTA cars stood aside to let other Alfa Romeo models take over. Until this year, when the legendary GTA tag reappeared on the powerful Alfa 156 cars raced in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, with Fabrizio Giovanardi taking the driver's title and Alfa Romeo beating BMW to the manufacturer's crown.
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