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?