2002 Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
Alfa Romeo's competition Giulia Sprint GTA blazed a trail of success across the racetracks of Europe in the '60s and '70s, taking three consecutive wins in the European Touring Car Championship in 1966, 1967 and 1968. 37 years later, Alfa Romeo is once again preparing to defend its European Touring Car Championship crown with a new racing GTA.
Taking as their base the revised Alfa 156, Alfa Romeo's engineers developed an exciting specification for the GTA, including a brand new 3.2 litre V6 24V engine, completely new suspension geometry and settings, a much more powerful braking system, more direct steering, two new gearboxes (a six-speed manual and a six-speed semi-automatic featuring F1-derived technology), and sporty new 17 alloy wheels.
Fiay's Research Centre together with Alfa Romeo's Design and Development team reappraised the front suspension specifically for the Alfa 156 GTA. Compared to the system on the regular 156, the GTA features a reinforced lower beam, special struts with a different steering link fastening position, a lower ride height, new shock absorber and spring settings, and a larger diameter anti-roll bar.
Alfa 156 GTA and Sportwagon GTA are fitted as standard with an ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system that optimises traction at any speed with the aid of both brakes and engine. ASR is activated automatically whenever the engine is started, but can be deactivated by means of a switch on the central console. When ASR is active, a warning light on the control panel flashes.
Alfa's 156 GTA power unit is derived from the classic 3.0 litre V6 24-valve unit available in the Alfa 166, GTV and Spider. This 2959 cc, all-alloy engine has been the subject of universal acclaim for many years, as one of the finest high performance power units of its generation. Alfa engineers, however, changed the crankshaft and pistons to increase cylinder capacity to 3179 cc (3.2 litres), lengthening the stroke to 78 mm (from 72.6 mm).
The increase in cylinder capacity is accompanied by a whole set of mechanical changes. The intake and exhaust ports have been increased in diameter, and the valve timing has been changed. The control unit software has been rewritten and the cooling system has been upgraded with the addition of an engine oil radiator.
The transmission has been reinforced to cope with the significantly more powerful engine. Driveshafts are new, while the clutch is larger and the six-speed gearbox offers new, stronger components. A six-speed Selespeed version, with a Formula 1-derived operating system, is optional.