We don’t see many modified Alfa Romeos on Speedhunters, and there could be a good reason for that. We’ve all heard the stories about second-rate build quality and poor reliability before, so you can understand why enthusiasts might not want to go there in first place, regardless of any prior personal experience with the brand.
But whatever the reason and despite any shortcomings that Alfa Romeos may have in the eyes of some, there’s something special about this marque. Leon, the owner of this 147 GTA knows it, and decided to create his ultimate version of the Italian manufacturer’s early ’00s hot hatch. He’s called it ‘Monstro’.
In stock form, the GTA isn’t a lazy hatch by any measure. The 247hp it pushes out from its iconic 3.2L V6 Busso engine is enough to send it from 0-60mph in a swift 6.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 246km/h (153mph).
This one’s more powerful and a whole lot faster than that – not that you’d likely pick it from a quick glance.
Sure, its factory-pumped bodywork has been visually enhanced with carbon fiber mirrors, a carbon rain tray and a carbon roof spoiler, but those are just subtle cosmetic changes.
Look closer and you’ll catch a glimpse of the Powerbrake big brake kit up front – complete with 6-piston callipers, large 2-piece slotted rotors, race pads and stainless steel braided lines – and Bridgestone Potenza RE-11s wrapped around black-refinished original Alfa 147 GTA wheels.
Yes, many people fit big stoppers and sticky rubber on their performance cars, and grip is especially welcomed on a FWD hatch, but these upgrades alone still don’t give away this GTA’s real party trick. For that, you need to pop the hood and feast your eyes on a build carried out by South Africa’s Alfa genius – Dawie de Villiers at Glenwood Motors.A Killer Reveal
Immediately, the aftermarket AHM throttle body kit steals the show. What you can’t see are the internals of a highly modified engine that’s been stretched over half a liter to 3.75L.
Custom Wossner forged pistons were massaged into the cylinder block with Mahle sleeves, and these work with forged Pauter connecting rods and a strengthened GTA crankshaft. Up top, the cylinder heads were gas-flowed, ported and fitted with 300-degree Newman billet race/rally-spec cams, oversized valves, and AHM double valve springs and retainers. On the intake side, fuelling comes via Dice Injection rails and Bosch 440cc Green Giant injectors, with AVGAS the drink of choice. On the exhaust side you’ll find a Powerflow system.
Once complete, the whole package was tuned by MC Customs via a South African-designed Dicktator engine management system. The result was a solid 355hp at a screaming 7,800rpm – a solid 100hp+ improvement over the engine’s original output.
While some of these cars were specced with semi-automatic Selespeed transmissions, this is one of the vast majority with three pedals and a 6-speed manual gearbox. Since then it’s been further enhanced from factory spec with a shorter final drive ratio and a Quaife limited slip differential, and now also benefits from a race-spec clutch and flywheel assembly. The car won’t be staying this way for much longer though, as Leon currently has a Quaife sequential upgrade on order.
To make the most of the engine and transmission modifications, the suspension has seen some changes too, most notably with Autodelta 3-way adjustable coilovers and the upgrade of every bar and brace that could be replaced.
The GTA’s interior is mostly original, and I can see why Leon wanted to keep things largely the way Alfa Romeo specced the car. As you’d expect though, the changes that have been made are well considered ones; custom-trimmed Recaro Pole Position seats, Sabelt harness belts, and VDO gauges in a radio delete panel to meter water and oil temperature, and oil pressure.Made To Be Driven
Without much convincing required, Leon took the GTA for a few spirited runs up and down the hill we were shooting on, and this thing sounds so insane. But don’t take my word for it – listen for yourself in the video above.
I was also able to get behind the wheel and make a few runs on my own, and what an experience that was. This is a proper point ‘n’ shoot machine.
The well-sorted Alfa isn’t the only interesting car in Leon’s garage; he also owns a modified Nissan GT-R, a Ford Capri Perana (another one of those South African specials), and is currently building a crazy drag truck. He freely admits that the GTA is his pick of the bunch though, so that really says something about this car.
I’ve always been a bit of an Alfa Romeo fan, but getting to spend some time with this little blue rocket named Monstro, and then having the opportunity to drive it in anger, has just made me fall completely in love with the idea of owning one.
Bring on the pain I say.