Alfa Romeo's in-line 'six', the 2600, was discontinued in 1969
, so for ten years the Milanese manufacturer lacked a six-cylinder flagship. In early 1979
the place was filled by the Alfa 6 saloon, at the time it being the only six-cylinder Italian car in realistic production.
In characteristic manner the famous Italian company conceived the new car around the power unit - which was also completely new. In the interests of space saving, compact build, and maximum stiffness of crankshaft Alfa Romeo opted for a 60-degree V6.
Cubic capacity was kept down to 2.5 liters for economical performance. The cylinder block was in traditional light alloy but the bore/stroke dimensions broke with Alfa tradition by being 'over-square' (88 by 68.3 mm respectively). The two cylinder heads incorporated valves (two per cylinder) operating at a less inclined angle than previous 'Nord' motors, and had only a single overhead camshaft per bank, driven by a flexible coggbelt.
Utilising an unusual valve gear (not unlike the British Leyland-Rover 2300/2600 'six') the camshafts bore direct on the heavier inlet valves, and transfer movement to the lighter exhaust valves through rockers and short pushrods from 'extra' cams on the shafts.
The V6 had a cubic capacity of 2492 cc, electronic ignition, with mixture being supplied by a battery of six downdraught carburetters (that frequently went out of balance). Fuel was delivered by electric pump which would cut out in the event of harsh deceleration (in an acccident), or low oil pressure.
The maximum power-output of the engine was 160 bhp DIN (119.31 kW) at 5800 rpm, and with max. torque at 161.95 Ib ft (22.4 mkg/217.17 Nm) the Alfa 6 was certainly a muscle car. The Alfa 6 had a five-speed gearbox, but unlike the Alfetta and Giuilietta the unit was coupled direct to the engine, not mounted at the rear.
The gearbox was ZF and had the lever posiitions laid out in the 'Porsche manner' with first gear isolated from the remaining four, unlike the normal Alfa sequence of fifth engagement after the normal four-speed pattern. Equipment was lavish and included power steering (with high gearing at 21 : 1), limited-slip differential, and four-wheel disc brakes (perforated at front) with a double hydraulic circuit.
The Alfa Romeo V6 Engine...
At launch, the motoring press described the appearance as dated, but the model had been around in development form for some considerable time, final launching being delayed by industrial upsets and so on. The Alfa 6 looked a little like a larger Alfetta and indeed utilised that model's torsion bar front suspension, and de Dion rear axle. Its length was 15.61 ft (4.76 metres), and it weighed 3153 Ib (1430 kg). Luxury appointments included electric windows, central locking, electric adjustment of driver's seat, electric wing mirrors and a 25% limited slip differential.
the car was revamped, with single square headlights replacing the twin round units, new bumpers, a new grille and new trim around the rear lights. Minor interior changes were also carried out, whilst mechanically the engine's troublesome six carburetors were replaced by Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, with the power remaining at 158 PS (156 hp/116 kW).
This revamp also saw the introduction of two new engines, a 2.0 version of the existing V6 engine (which retained the carburetors) and a 2.5 liter VM 5 cylinder turbodiesel.
The Alfa Romeo Alfa 6 was the first Alfa Romeo to have a fully zinc-plated body. However, the galvanization proved to be of very low quality, which actually caused the Alfa 6 to rust even faster than previous Alfa Romeos (the brand was already being well-known for having rust issues).
The car was also known for problems regarding the alternator, which in early models deteroirated rapidly and needed to be replaced every few months. The Alfa Romeo Alfa 6's reliability and rust issues, coupled with its relatively small production (only 12,070 examples were produced), mean it is now a very rare car, particularly outside of Italy.