|Alfa Romeo GTV6 Site:
European Car Magazine - GTV6 Project
European Car Magazine - March 1996
Author - Paul Mitchell
Photos by the author
|In our series to date, we've covered many of
the areas that may require special attention in keeping a typical GTV6 on the road and
performing reliably. Along the way, we have also been able to include some performance
modifications and mechanical upgrades with the intention of making the GTV-6 more
enjoyable without negatively affecting the driveability or character of the car. One of
the last stones left unturned, so far, has been the clutch. The subject of this article
will be clutch replacement with an updated part, yielding an improvement in both
performance and reliability.
Before it ends up in the waste can or junk pile, let's take a look at the clutch that came with the GTV-6, as it is truly a unique design that provides a high level of performance and bears some attention before making the decision to upgrade. It is not only remarkable for its location, at the rear-mounted transaxle, but for its construction: a dual-plate dry clutch. Almost alone in this distinction, the number of other performance cars featuring this arrangement in the last 30 years can be counted on one hand. Providing more surface area, its ability to avoid unwanted slippage may seem a bit like overkill when considering the GTV-6s 154 bhp.
The hydraulic actuation of the clutch is the same for most Alfas, indeed most cars, and its most remarkable feature is that it's thoroughly unremarkable and reliable. The clutch pressure plates and discs are relatively trouble-free-but after a high number of miles, when they finally begin slipping, the plates tend to go away quickly. Average life expectancy of the dual plate clutch is 75,000 miles with a conscientious driver.
A surprise to many owners planning their first GTV-6 or Milano clutch replacement is that the only way to perform the task properly is to replace the entire clutch pressure plate, disc and flywheel assembly. It comes from the factory pre-balanced, and to reuse your flywheel while replacing the pressure plate and disc will only ensure that you will suffer from severe driveline vibrations. These vibrations are not only unpleasant to feel, they will also eventually lead to failed driveshaft flex couplings, flywheel bearings and transaxle input shaft bearings. Obviously, little is to be gained by skimping, so plan to do the task property.
In compensation for the added expense of flywheel replacement, the owner will save a bit on labor when compared to most other cars, since the entire assembly can be replaced without the removal of the transaxle.
Another issue the owner must resolve before beginning the work is whether to replace the clutch-flywheel assembly with the original dual-disc type, or retrofit the newer 3-liter Milano single-disc clutch. Considered by many to be an upgrade from the dual-disc type, it benefits from having established its reliability by handling the additional 30 bhp and additional ft-lb of torque of the 3.0 Milano. Life span tends to exceed that of the dual-disc, and this alone qualifies as an upgrade.
Both clutch assemblies are manufactured by Sachs, and are very high-quality, well-engineered components. Both are available through the dealer and aftermarket network, and usually are in stock. Sachs has been relied upon by many European manufacturers as an OEM source and is well known for its engineering services, shock absorbers and other automotive components.
Having driven GTV-6s with both types of clutches, the only discernible difference is a slightly different feel to the pedal-the dual-disc seems to have a less-progressive take-up. Of truly no functional consequence, the choice is up to the owner, though the fact that the original-type, dual-plate clutch is a few hundred dollars more than the other option will certainly be a factor. The average cost of the dual-plate assembly is $650, while the clutch assembly for the Milano 3-liter is $350.
Whichever type of clutch assembly is chosen, removal and replacement is the same. It will fall well within the ability of the owner with a free day, a set of common hand tools, and a will to see the project through. Remember, dont skimp on will. When your knuckles are bleeding, and youre up to your elbows in transaxle grease, you'll need all the will that you can lay your hands on.
When replacing the clutch, check the pivot for the clutch arm for stress cracks, as this is not an uncommon failure on older cars. This part is available through your dealership or parts supplier. Also to be replaced at this time is the throw-out bearing (provided with the clutch assembly), the selector-shaft-support bushing, any driveshaft flex-couplings showing wear and the center-support bearing-if it should be needed. Servicing the driveshaft will be the subject of a later article in our GTV-6 series, but dont put off any driveshaft repairs until it's published, or you'll end up being very sorry and very poor.
Special thanks to Stewart Sandeman of Alfa Performance Connection [ (714) 588-0500 ] for allowing the photography for this article to disrupt his daily routine. Most Alfa Owners Club members will recognize Stewart as the technical-hotline director who has eased the suffering of many owners through his good work at APC and on the hotline. His experience spans the Alfa Romeo spectrum from pre-Giulietta to beyond Callaway twin-turbo, and he has saved the author from the threat of walking and unnecessary financial abuse many times.
Required tools and supplies:
Road test the car and begin enjoying more solid power hookup.