The Alfa Romeo GTV and the Alfa Romeo Spider (Type 916) were two sports cars produced by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 1993 to 2004. The GTV is a 2+2 coupé, and the Spider is a two-seater roadster version of the GTV. Around 39,000 Spiders and 41,700 GTVs were built.
The GTV’s name (Gran Turismo Veloce—English: Fast Grand Touring) placed it as the successor to the long-discontinued Alfetta GTV coupé, whereas the Spider was effectively the replacement for the then 30-year-old 105-series Giulia Spider. The GTV was available until the launch of the Brera in 2005, while the Spider lasted another year until the launch of its Brera-based successor in 2006.
Alfa Romeo GTV is claimed as the best sport car by Jeremy Clarkson in 1998 and is listed at no. 29 in Top 100 Cars from 2001.
Both cars were designed by Enrico Fumia at Pininfarina. The GTV was planned to re-establish the sporty coupe tradition of Alfa Romeo for the 1990s. The design dates back to initial renderings of September 1987 and first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella (Fiat CEO) accepted the design, Centro Stile Alfa Romeo under Walter de Silva was responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were based on the then-current Fiat Group compact car platform, called “Tipo Due” (or Type 2), in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider.
It is a typical Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights (motif later used on Alfa Romeo Proteo), it is low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider shares these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded. The Spider featured a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which completely disappears from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism was fitted as an option.
Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. At its launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals.
The GTV was initially offered with 2.0 TS or 2.0 V6 Turbo, while Spider with 2.0 TS or 3.0 V6 12V.
The exterior design was finished in July 1988. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. V6 Turbo GTVs had two air intakes on the lower lip, one for oil cooler and other for intercooler. Early V6 Spiders lacked any additional intakes as the oil cooler was mounted in front of the radiator. The car was produced in three distinct phases. The Phase 1 cars had a black plastic grille in the nose of the bonnet, without the chrome edging and black-painted sills all round.
In 1997 (Phase 1b) a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV, The new 24V car also came equipped with a new 16″ 5 hole ‘teledial’ wheel design to provide extra clearance for the larger,305 mm (12.0 in) brakes and red four-pot callipers from Brembo. Further exterior changes were new rear badging ‘V6 24V’ denoting the fitment of the new engine, and V6 Turbo-sourced front bumper lip with just one intake on the right hand side to allow air flow to front mounted oil cooler. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA.
On the interior, pleated leather seats from MOMO were offered in White, Red and Tan. These seats came with respective matching coloured carpet, pleated leather door card inserts as well as optional color coded stitching around, hand brake, gear lever and the stitching of an all new three-spoke steering wheel. First RHD cars from this generation retained the original, four-spoke, steering wheel.
In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time (Phase 2), mainly the interior was changed with new center console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. On the exterior main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 144 PS (106 kW; 142 hp) 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp). Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as an optional extra. The 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. From this generation every V6-engined car had additional air intakes on the lower lip.
2000 engine revamp
In August 2000 (Phase 2b), engines were revamped to comply with new Euro3 emission standards. The units were slightly detuned and have a new identification code “CF3”. The 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with the 24V version from the GTV, now only with 6-speed manual gearbox. The 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued also and, for MY 2001, the engine range comprised only the 2.0 T.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the “Phase 3” engine range arrived. The GTV/Spider were the last Alfa Romeo cars made at the Arese plant, which closed with production moving to Pininfarina, at its Giorgio Canavese plant in Turin, in October 2000.
In 2003 a new and last revamp arrived (Phase 3), also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. Main changes are focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change in interior was minimal with different center console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 165 PS (121 kW; 163 hp) 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp) 3.2 V6 24V allowing 255 km/h (158 mph) top speed.
By the end of 2004 production ended at Pininfarina’s plant. Some cars were still available for purchase till 2006.