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I am no longer a GT owner! Yes, you read that right, and yes I’m of course referring to my Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV Bertone.

Well, I’m perhaps getting slightly ahead of myself as the Alfa Romeo is still physically in my possession. But after long and thorough consideration, I’ve put it up for sale. As such, I have already mentally prepared myself upon being without my GT, and instead spending more time behind the wheel of my beloved Citroën DS. It’s part of a grand plan to achieve a simpler life which includes owning fewer classic cars to maintain. However, as far back as I can recall, I have always owned a GT of some sort. I can’t help but question my own decision, but am I merely being a bit of a dramaqueen when I ask: Can I really live without a GT?

Time will tell. But I can already sense that the pending departure of the Alfa Romeo has awoken my curiosity for other classic GT’s. There is after all no harm in looking. Being a bit philosophical about it, there’s a saying along the lines of: When one door closes, another door opens. Which possibly explains why I suddenly find myself stumbling over more interesting classics for sale on the internet than is usually the case.

From a historical perspective, I’ve always found cars from the grand continent of North America quite interesting. But somehow – and at times probably self-inflicted – something has always “gotten in the way” of me owning one. I must therefore confess to a total lack of experience with American classics when it comes to judging their virtues. Nonetheless, I still find them terribly interesting to read, write and even dream about.

By the mid-1970’s General Motors found themselves battling for their compact Chevrolet Vega model range, mostly due to reliability issues with the engines and not least the bodies inherent tendency to rapidly decompose into a pile of rust. GM had invested heavily in their new and compact H-body, and thus seeked to utilise it for as many GM models as possible in an attempt to regain some of the invested capital. This strategy resulted in a variety of models such as the Chevrolet Monza, Buick Skyhawk and Pontiac Sunbird. But it was the sleek Oldsmobile Starfire which hit the market as the nicest of the vast H-body family.

Despite a big practical hatchback, the Oldsmobile Starfire GT had a distinct coupé design with a very obvious resemblance to the then very modern Ferrari 365 GTC/4. As with all other GM products of that era, there was a seemingly endless list of options enabling customers to spec their new cars with a broad combination of different interior-packages, optional equipment, various wheels and tyres and not least external graphics. Furthermore, for the 1978 model year, Starfire customers had the choice of a standard 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Iron Duke engine, a Buick-derived 3.8-litre V6 or the range-topping Chevy 305 V8. Transmissions could be either a four- or a five-speed manual or the virtually-mandatory-in-the-US three-speed automatic.

The particular Oldsmobile Starfire GT from 1978 shown above is for sale in the US – on Craigslist – at a mere $ 3,900. The selling owner claims that the car is totally rustfree and that the indicated 49,000 miles are true and correct. The condition of the interior suggests that he might well be right. He goes on to explain that the car has been laid up for five years, but that the V6 engine and the automatic gearbox has since been serviced with all new fluids, hoses and some gaskets too where necessary. Only the factory air condition doesn’t work.

It all adds up to a rare and interesting GT available on a very slim budget – even including shipping to Denmark and not least those horrid Danish import taxes. There’s no denying that it’s a handsome car, and I would argue that GM Europe were inspired by it when they shortly after designed the Opel Manta B and the big-brother Opel Monza. Granted, the H-body cars don’t enjoy the most illustrious image as classic cars. Maybe they really weren’t very good and deserve a life in the shadows of greater creations.

Or maybe the broad consensus is wrong. Maybe these cars are simply misunderstood. Is it in fact an affordable darlingfor Grand Touring through Denmark? Or as a crowdpleaserat a local harbour on a summer’s Tuesday evening – for those of us lacking a GT in our garage?

 

6 Responses

  1. YrHmblHst
    Oh man…did I stick my foot in it or what yesterday? Had no idea you were thinking about buying one…
    Although personally I could never imagine selling an Alfa GTV, even at the LUDICROUS prices they are bringing, given that you have owned one, you will be sorely disappointed with this little Olds. Now, if shape and rarity are of primary concern, then go ahead on ; youll be the only one at any car show/gathering you attend on the entire continent. Shoot, youd probably be the only one at 85 + percent of the gatherings in the US – I havent seen an Olds branded example in years. A few Monzas occasionally, but almost never an Olds.
    BUT! if you REALLY want one, in stock form, the Oldsmobile variant will be the ‘nicest’ driving one of the lot. A manual and a V8 would help, but the V8 is a real tight fit. Even a 6 and a real gearbox would suffice, but mnsho is that the slushbox pretty well takes the car out of consideration. But of course, thats just me…
    Theyre not horrible little cars, but theyre just not real great either; theres a reason theyre so cheap.
    [oh…and youre wanting to ‘simplify’ and keeping a Citroen?!?!?
    Reply
  2. YrHmblHst
    oh yeah… IF you decide to get one, buy the very best and most complete one you can find – parts are thin on the ground. Oh, you can keep it running and driving forever, but trim parts and such are hard to come by I would imagine – theres no aftermarket support that i know of. Admittedly, Im no expert on these cars, but if there were much of anything available, i’d have stumbled across it surely over the years I would think…
    Reply
  3. Søren Navntoft
    . Thanks for your comments, they seem to be based on true sense. I AM splitting from my dear Alfa, and I AM aiming for a simpler life. No question about that. My article is probably mainly to illustrate the state of mind when you’re in a form of transition in life.

    The Starfire GT just looked like a kind of undiscovered gem from a european point of view. I suspected building quality etc. And of course the low price is a kind of indicator that trees do not grow into the sky. Anyway, I feel that these less lovable cars also require attention and a form of affection – At least in writing.

    Reply
  4. YrHmblHst
    Agreed that these types of cars – not necessarily just this model, but cars less known – need a little attention. Many arent bad cars – not great obviously – but were a victim many times of their time and often bad press that was undeserved. These little cars werent BAD, just not great an for whatever reason never gained enough of a following to keep the soft parts flowing or engender aftermarket interest. The design was fine; government intervention – which can screw up an anvil – as well as accountants – see earlier comment – really ‘mediocre-ised’ the vehicle. Add in the UAW and there ya go…

    Ironically/coincidentally, I was looking thru Hemmings last night and checked for Opels – I have a thing for early Mantas. There were two Opels, that were I wealthy or lived over there, I would surely look into bringing home, both located in The Netherlands. A yellow 73 Ascona and a white 83 Manta GSI. both clean enough to eat off of and both just as cool as a polar bears nose imnsho. Either of those would be a suitable, yet less expensive and more reliable replacement for the GTV I would think…

    Reply
  5. Anders Bilidt
    , I was genuinely shocked to learn that you’re selling your Alfa-Romeo! How long have you owned your Bertone? How many roadtrips through Europe have the two of you been on together? Must have taken a lot of soul-searching to come to the conclusion that it needs to go…
    Is it some sort of inverted-mid-life-crisis? ;-)

    As for the Starfire, I too rather like the styling of it. And it would certainly be a rarity here in Europe – no doubt about it! But while I don’t have the same knowledge of these cars as – in fact I’ve never so much as sat in one! – I would suspect that the driving dynamics would be a rather profound disappointment when coming straight from your twincam’ed Italian GT…

    Reply

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