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Ash's 147 GTA



Ash J

ClioSport Club Member
  Sunflower Ph1 172
Hi guys,

Was feeling bored so thought I would start writing up a project thread on my current car… an Alfa 147 GTA.

Why a 147 GTA? Well, I remember at a young and very impressionable age, my dad coming home one day with an Alfa 164 3.0 V6 Super. The engine was mesmeric, I thought it sounded like a Ferrari! I promised myself that I would one day own an Alfa with that amazing V6 engine. This would be my daily car so I still needed something relatively modern, which only really meant a 147 or 156 GTA. Or indeed an Alfa GT. But it had to be the 147; I think they look really menacing but very pretty at the same time. I also believe most people think I am mad opting for a mid-2000 Alfa V6 as a daily car!

You may remember me from previously owning a couple of Clio 182’s which were both well documented on this forum… a Black Gold which I turned to full Trophy spec, and a Liquid Yellow.

Since selling the Liquid Yellow 182, I have owned (in order)…

BMW 120d (the only car I have managed to take over to the Nurburgring!)
BMW M135i (running 420hp – great fun)
Lotus Elise Club Racer

Few pictures of each of the above cars..

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And now an Alfa 147 GTA which I bought in January 2019. For a brief period, I owned both the Elise and Alfa at the same time, but I decided having a second car mostly just sat around was pointless (and I don’t have a garage) so the Elise was sold a few weeks back.

I appreciate this is a Renault forum, but having formerly owned a few Renault Sport models (and hoping to own another some point soon), thought it would be ok to post and might also be of interest to some.

So, standard spec of the car when I bought it…

Metallic Black
3.2 V6 (legendary Busso V6 engine)
Black/Grey Leather Interior
Bose Stereo
69k miles
Full History

And a few mods had been carried out already…

Q2 Diff
330mm Brembos
CF2 Manifolds
Wizard Downpipes

The previous owner had a fair bit of work/maintenance done in August 2017 at 66k miles, as follows:

Timing Belt Kit & Metal Water Pump
Service (Filters, Plugs, Engine & Gearbox Oil, Gaskets, All Fluids)
Q2 Diff
CF2 Manifolds
Wizard Downpipes
New Clutch Kit
Rear Brake Discs and Pads
Braided Brake Hoses
Diff Bearings & Gearbox Oil Seals
Powerflex Front ARB Bushes
Front Upper Strut Brace (Polished)

He also had the alloy wheels refurbished and an engine painting service carried out. They were both done in a matching flat grey, which looks a lot better in person than what the photos show. This was chosen to match the inners of the leather seats. The engine detailing was a complete engine out job as you will see in the pictures below.

It then sat on his driveway in a Carcoon for almost 18 months, covering only 2-3k miles, before I bought it.

Various pics of when I first bought it and of some of the work which was carried out already…

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And one when I got it home and parked it up next to the Elise!

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Also got one next to a M2 Competition which lives round the corner from me. I was seriously contemplating ordering a brand new M2 Competition in Hockenheim Silver a few months ago, so had to pull up next to this one and take a picture when I had the opportunity.

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I had a pretty clear vision of how I wanted it to look and the modifications I wanted to carry out, even before I agreed to purchase the car!

So, in typical Ash fashion, the modifications began.

First of all, the standard head unit was swapped out for a top end Pioneer Bluetooth unit (so I could play my own tunes!). This coupled with the factory Bose sound system does make for a pretty awesome setup.

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I was not a fan of the standard steering wheel at all. I think it was leather, but it felt more like plastic/vinyl. So, I got in touch with Royal to have mine retrimmed in smooth leather (sorry Snappy fans! I know his work is good too!). Royal have carried out a few steering wheel retrims for me now; typically I opt for Alcantara, but that would have been out of place in the luxurious Alfa interior, so I went for leather, with grey stitching to match the seats.

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Then my OCD kicked in… I could not fit a retrimmed steering wheel with steering wheel buttons which were anything less than perfect! So, I ended up buying a brand new pair of OE steering wheel buttons (not cheap!), fitted them, then got round to swapping the new steering wheel in. Looks so much better, and more importantly, feels so much better (ooohh aahhhh!).

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Next came some new handbrake and gear gaiters in leather with matching grey stitching. And the previous owner had just fitted a brand new OE gear knob at great expense, so I was happy with that.

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Then I wanted the bodywork attending to, just to remove swirl marks etc from bad washing techniques over the years. I enlisted the work of Auto Curators in Hook and left the car with them for 3 days to carry out a paint correction and ceramic detailing service. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I went to pick the car up. Needless to say, I would not hesitate to recommend them if you ever want some detailing work doing.

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Then once getting it home, it had it's first clean post the detailing and ceramic coating. Oh so easy to clean and maintain! You can see the Elise in a few of these photos, and also the Clio 172 which I bought for my dad in the 6th & 7th photo!

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The car was riding on shite Pirelli tyres, so I set about looking into tyre options. I was about to purchase Pilot Sport 4’s, until seeing that Pilot Sport Cup 2’s were available in the OE tyre size for the GTA, so I took advantage of an offer Blackcircles were doing, and put a set of Cup 2 tyres on. One word…. awesome. They even look awesome (yes, I have a bit of a tyre fetish it has to be said!).

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Next, I wanted a bit more noise. As standard, the GTA comes with manifolds that have cats in them, and this is a big contributing factor to head gasket failure, as the cats get very hot and then end up cooking the head gaskets. A popular mod is to fit what are called CF2 manifolds from earlier V6 model Alfa’s as these do not have cats in them, and bolt straight on. The previous owner had this done, along with a pair of Wizard downpipes (Wizard is synonymous with aftermarket Alfa V6 exhaust systems). The rest of the system from the centre cats back was standard.

The car sounded amazing as it was; you knew you were in something special. But as always, I just wanted that little bit more. I got in touch with Wizard exhausts and agreed on having one of their cat-back exhaust systems installed, with an unsilenced centre section. So, I took a trip up to Bicester where the systems are fabricated to have one fitted. Now it really does sound like a piece of exotica! It can be quite raspy at low revs, and on the cold start, but as the revs climb, boy does it sound good. Sometimes I think it is a tad too loud (I am sure my neighbours would agree) and consider going back to the standard system, and other times I love it and would not even contemplate changing it. In reality, I can see me having the centre section swapped for a silenced version at some point, just to tone it down a little. The exhaust is a work of art though, and is very, very light compared to the factory system.

Pictures were taken before the rear trailing arms (looking a bit rusty!) were replaced a week later!

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Then came the big work. From an aesthetics point of view, I wanted the car sitting lower and slightly wider, to fill those lovely wide arches at the rear. From a performance point of view, I wanted it to be a back road weapon!

The nearest specialist to me is Autolusso in Bournemouth, so I booked it in there at the beginning of March to have the following done. Some of the parts I sourced myself, some were supplied through Autolusso.

KW V1 Coilovers
Eibach ARBs with Powerflex Bushes
New OE Front Upper Wishbones
New OE Front Lower Wishbones
New OE Front Top Mounts
New OE Rear Top Mounts
New OE Rear Trailing Arms
Uprated SuperPro Drop Links (Front & Rear)
New Front OE Brembo Discs (330mm)
New Front Uprated Brake Pads (Performance Friction)
Brake Fluid Flush with Super Racing Blue Fluid
Driveshaft Rebuild with new Outer CV Boots & Uprated Inner Aero CV Boots
New Gearbox Diff Oil Seals
Gearbox Oil Change
Engine Oil & Filter Change
New Pollen Filters
New Rear Engine Mount
Short Shifter Upgrade
SuperPro Uprated Gear Linkage Bush
H&R Hubcentric Wheel Spacers (12mm Front, 15mm Rear) & Longer Wheel Bolts
Full Steering Geometry Setup

The result is nothing short of amazing, both in terms of how it looks and how it drives.

The combination of the diff, KW suspension, Eibach ARBs and Cup 2 tyres culminates in grip levels which are nothing short of astonishing! It also feels very alive and on its toes; proper little drivers’ car. The only car which came close was my Black Gold 182 running Trophy Sachs and AD08R tyres, but in current setup I would put the Alfa one better, it really is that good. The steering is slightly quicker than the 182 and takes a bit of getting used to, but you don’t really notice any extra weight over the front axle when pushing on. Then again, I’ve not driven a 182 for a while so maybe that opinion might change. The only negative with the Alfa is the turning circle is absolutely shocking! But I love the car for that, who doesn’t want to perform a 3 point turn around a mini roundabout?!

Add the engine and the noise into the mix, and I would defy any petrolhead not to fall in love with this car.

The stance is now absolutely spot on; it sits at a sensible height, and the arches are filled perfectly with the addition of the spacers. And….. #Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2.

Pictures during the work, and after...

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That pretty much brings me up to date.

Future plans are:

Full Carbon Intake with BMC CDA Airbox
Brand new OE Brembo Calipers (just OCD!)
Replacement mats
Replacing small cosmetic items (badges, washer jets etc)
Possible remap
Possible wheel refurbish - love the current colour, but think silver would look fresh! Thoughts?

There is a little addition under the engine bay which I will be doing this weekend which I hope will look as good as I imagine in my head, so we shall see. I will post an update once I have done this on Saturday to get opinions!

I was actually thinking of selling this, partly due to fuel costs (20-21mpg around town if you are lucky) but I can’t bring myself to do it. Most 147 GTA’s are not used as a daily, so fuel costs do not matter. But I love this thing too much to sell it. One of the only cars I’ve owned where every time I get out of it, I have to look back at it. That is the sign of something special. Every drive really is an occasion in the GTA, it gets admiring looks everywhere, and lifting the bonnet can easily draw a crowd at a meet.

If you have never driven one or been in one, I suggest you have a go! They are utterly wonderful. Maybe not to everybody’s taste, but you will change your mind when you hear the engine.

Thanks for reading guys, and I will keep this thread updated for any work that is carried out.

Some more pictures taken within the last week, showing how she looks now...

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JoePeps

ClioSport Club Member
  M2,XJS,S1000RR
That looks incredible, I've always wanted one of these.
In the top 5 cars on here for me.
 

imprezaworks

ClioSport Club Member
  Mk5 Golf GTI :)
I looked (nosey) the other week thinking they were like 5k ish, wrong lol.

They seem to have gone up a touch in value? Unless they were always that money? (10k plus)
 

youngarthur

ClioSport Club Member
  Clio 197,with megan'
I had one in red, seems a long time ago now, but sold it, as the road holding leaved a lot to be desired, but lovely car never the less.
 

Paul172sport

ClioSport Club Member
  Sunflower Ph1
Love your build threads always such attention to detail.
Gutted missed the lotus tho.
I'll have keep eye out for you, I'm driving a grey's transit at mo but still got the vrs too.
 

Porl

ClioSport Club Member
Fanbloodytastic! One of the best looking hatchbacks ever. And as you say equipped with a glorious sounding and even better looking engine! And then the previous owner and yourself have made it all look even better! Never mind updating when work is done, just post pics of it every week?.
 

Grier

ClioSport Club Member
  A clio...
Top work as the current owner of your BG I know the effort (££££) you put into your cars great seeing you're at it again, keep it up.
 

-Rob

ClioSport Club Member
  M3 CS / 1/29 PB 182
Wow. Share your sentiments about the engine, looks like you've pretty much made it perfect.

I'd change the wheels/colour to silver/shark fins, give it a cleaner look to match the paint. That's superb, it really is - credit to you.
 

Waitey

ClioSport Club Member
  Rangie Sport, Alpina
As much as I love these. My friends was such and utter lemon I can’t bring my self to buy one!
 

Silent_Scone

ClioSport Club Member
  Evo 5 RS
Very nice. The interior is quite an eye opener compared to the exterior of the car, they've aged so well on the outside. Looks to be ok underneath, too. These suffer from rot quite badly.
 
Love it!! I've always liked them :cool: I used to check PH every now & then to see if an Autodelta tuned one turned up, never did.

I'm not keen on the wheels in that grey though.
 

Ash J

ClioSport Club Member
  Sunflower Ph1 172
This car is absolutely mega. Been out and seen it In person, the arches and stance on it dont do it justice.

Thanks mate. Yes you are right, the pictures really do not do the stance justice and just don't show how well the wheels fill the rear arches!

Some of the pics arent working for me. Still in Fareham??

Pics all seem to be working. Nope, living in Southsea now bud. You still in Fareham?

Absolutely amazing as always with you're work mate!

Thanks mate! You still got the Megane?

Love that. For me, silver wheels would make it perfect.

Yep, you will notice in my original post that I mentioned thinking about going silver. The grey actually looks a lot nicer in person than in the pictures, but I am seriously considering having them done in silver.

That looks incredible, I've always wanted one of these.
In the top 5 cars on here for me.

Wow, quite a statement! Thanks mate.

I looked (nosey) the other week thinking they were like 5k ish, wrong lol.

They seem to have gone up a touch in value? Unless they were always that money? (10k plus)

They have been steadily increasing yes. They could have been bought for peanuts (relatively speaking) about 5 years ago, but values have definitely climbed recently. Quite a few imports have come onto the market recently too. But yeah you need £10k plus I would say for a decent one now. I have read that they are appreciating by about £1k a year on average at the moment.

I had one in red, seems a long time ago now, but sold it, as the road holding leaved a lot to be desired, but lovely car never the less.

In standard form I would agree. But with the modifications that I have done (a fair few GTA owners run similar), and particularly with the Q2 diff, they are a totally different animal. Not that I'm saying it is the best handling hatch out there.

Love your build threads always such attention to detail.
Gutted missed the lotus tho.
I'll have keep eye out for you, I'm driving a grey's transit at mo but still got the vrs too.

Cheers Paul. Still around the Fareham/Whiteley way are you? I shall try and keep an eye out for a grey transit!

Lotus was amazing. Nothing else quite like it in the way they drive. But just not ideal having 2 cars without a garage.

Top work as the current owner of your BG I know the effort (££££) you put into your cars great seeing you're at it again, keep it up.

Thanks mate. Glad to hear you still have the BG. Have you done anything else to the car recently? Should you ever consider selling, please give me first refusal to buy it back!

Wow. Share your sentiments about the engine, looks like you've pretty much made it perfect.

I'd change the wheels/colour to silver/shark fins, give it a cleaner look to match the paint. That's superb, it really is - credit to you.

The engine is sublime. It is silky smooth, but revs when you want it to. I really love the breath of ability of the engine. Typically, V6 engines are silky smooth and very torquey, but can also be quite lazy engines. With this V6, whilst having lots of torque, it also absolutely loves to be revved (redline is just shy of 7k and can be made higher with a remap).

My brother in law had an R32 Golf (Mk4) which I drove a number of years ago now. That was very different. Didn't sound as good to my ears (albeit a nice sounding engine in its own right) and definitely not as keen to rev. That said, it was noticeably torquier lower down than the Alfa, you could drive a gear higher everywhere in the Golf compared to most other cars, particularly around town. But it did not feel anywhere near as special. I don't think I could ever get bored of winding the Busso V6 out to the redline.

Equally, if you just want to put it in 6th gear for a long journey (as I did this weekend), and just cruise along and ride the torque, you can. You wouldn't need another gear on the motorway, it is more than happy to pull from 45/50 in 6th. Very much a mini GT. That's why I love it; can do everything!

As for wheels, yes I have been seriously considering silver as I mentioned above and probably will get it done. Definite no to the Sharkfins though. They do look good, but not as good as the Teledials for me. Plus I have it sitting just how I want it now, having being lowered and running spacers. The Sharkfins are 18s whereas Teledials are 17s; I would not want to run bigger wheels as it would upset the ride and the handling (and I might even get scrubbing issues now it is lowered). It looks purposeful as it is. And rides surprisingly well given it is on coilovers (KW), quite a few people have mentioned how comfortable it still is (or bearable perhaps is the better word) - you can obviously tell the suspension is firmer/stiffer but not to the extent of being uncomfortable.

As much as I love these. My friends was such and utter lemon I can’t bring my self to buy one!

I have no doubt there are some lemons out there. I don't think they are as unreliable as everybody makes them out to be though. Generally comes down to poor maintenance, or the fact they are admittedly a little more sensitive to not being as well maintained compared to some other cars (i.e. more sensitive to not being serviced or having oil changes on time). They do need frequent oil services/changes and can be expensive when things do go wrong though I admit!

Fingers crossed all has been well so far. The only work that has been needed (so far!) are modifications which I personally wanted doing; the car didn't really need anything.

Very nice. The interior is quite an eye opener compared to the exterior of the car, they've aged so well on the outside. Looks to be ok underneath, too. These suffer from rot quite badly.

I actually find the interior very nice to be honest. Basic, yes, but I like that, nothing to over complicated. Simplicity is key for me. They have definitely aged very well on the outside, but equally I think they have aged very well on the inside too. Just a personal opinion though! The seats are lovely to sit in.

Yes they can suffer from rot, but mine is pretty clean as far as rot goes. One of the reasons I purchased this one, the owner at Autolusso Bournemouth told me it was a pretty clean one underneath when I spoke to him prior to purchase.


Thanks to everybody else for all the nice comments too, very much appreciated!

So, I did a 300 mile round trip this weekend in the Alfa to attend a wedding. Absolutely faultless, such a nice car to drive on long journeys.

I hired an airbnb for the night... once I arrived and knocked on the door, before I even got a "hello", the chap immediately commented on the Alfa and came out to admire it. Always feels nice when something like that happens.

Had to take a picture of it sitting on the drive at the airbnb, I love how it looks from the front...

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As somebody made a comment about the interior above (it not ageing well), thought I would put a couple of pictures up. I personally love the simplicity and it is a very pleasant place to be. Seats are very comfortable.

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And on the way up to the wedding, I went through Hindhead Tunnel. Thought it would be rude not to annoy other road users by dropping a few gears and booting it through the tunnel! Just so you guys can hear how she sounds with all the exhaust work. Video does not do it justice! There was a Range Rover SVR which decided to join in the fun just towards the end, you can hear him flooring it behind me at about 0:48 seconds or so... the sound of thunder!

Apologies for the crap quality, I did not want to hold my phone whilst driving, so had it in a mount on a dashboard vent, hence the camera moving around a little.

 

Iain C

ClioSport Club Member
I rember testing one of these back in about 2005 and being gutted it didn't drive as well as it looked or as well as my 172, the the noise, even in stock trim was amazing tho. I bet those mods done to your car have really sorted the handling issues.
Always loved the seats in these too.
Autolusso handling options are great.
I think if have this over the lotus too
 

Waitey

ClioSport Club Member
  Rangie Sport, Alpina
Loads of stuff......

My mates died due to its wiring loom.

He paid £7995 for it, it was black just like yours.

In the year he had it he spent £4200 at Alfa specialists. New engine loom, full sensor kit, ECU etc etc.

Traded it in for £4500 still not working.

I spent hours working on that thing!

Still I'd have one like this....

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Luke

ClioSport Club Member
  Megane 250
Amazing work, I’ve always loved these.

I’m just not brave/handy enough to own one.
 

Christopher

ClioSport Club Member
That's absolutely stunning now. I'd be after a tidier set of mats to complete the interior, some nice subtle black ones/OE ones.

Agreed on the silver wheels too, it'd look perfect then!
 

massivewangers

ClioSport Club Member
  Several
Lovely looking car that. Bet it sounds great and you've put plenty of nice bits on it already. The wheels would definitely look better silver, or with the ones on the red one above.

You need to get someone to take some proper pictures of it though, yours don't do it justice. Need to get one of the DSLR types on here to do some snaps :)
 

Ash J

ClioSport Club Member
  Sunflower Ph1 172
Regret saying this, but this has been advertised for sale.

You guys must think I'm mad! I think I am too!

Selling for reasons as explained in the ad (see Classifieds section).
 


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