FACTfile - Alfa Romeo 147 GTA – Page 3

As it carries out its complex task, the VDC stays in constant communication with the brake sensors and engine control unit but also with:

  1. the steering wheel and steering column (via the steering sensor)
  2. the control panel (active warning lights)
  3. the Body computer constantly exchanging information with the ABS, engine management unit and automatic transmission unit
  4. the electronic throttle (that communicates with the ABS in turn)
  5. a gyroscopic sensor installed on the passenger compartment floor to record car yaw and lateral acceleration

The Alfa 147 GTA also comes with ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), a feature of the VDC system, to limit drive wheel slip in cases of low road surface grip. ASR works at any speed and prevents the drive wheels from slipping by adjusting torque according to the grip coefficient detected at the time of slip. The device computes degree of slip on the basis of wheel rpm calculated by the ABS sensors and activates two different control systems to restore grip:

  1. when an excessive power demand causes both drive wheels to slip(e.g. in the case of aquaplaning or when accelerating over an unsurfaced, snowy or icy road), it reduces engine torque by reducing the throttle opening angle and thus air flow
  2. if only one wheel slips (e.g. the inside wheel following acceleration or dynamic load changes), this is automatically braked without the driver touching the brake pedal. The resulting effect is similar to that of a self-locking differential

The ASR maintains vehicle safety as much as possible and is particularly useful when grip is lost (icy multi-storey car park ramps are one example) and whenever the asphalt does not guarantee even friction. Another advantage of the ASR is the lower stress exerted on mechanical parts such as the differential and gearbox due to more effective control of low speed take-off and traction.

The ASR comes on automatically whenever the engine is started. To turn off the device, all you have to do is press a switch on the central console. When the ASR is active, a warning light on the control panel flashes. A control panel warning light comes on (with the switch led off), to indicate system faults or irregularities. ASR has to be turned off when snow chains are used because the wheel must be able to slip by tiny amounts to pile up the snow so that force can be transmitted to the ground and the ASR tends to avoid this type of action.

Alfa Romeo GTA

A bit of history

During the Sixties, the Touring category was one of the areas of motorsport most followed by the public and consequently also by the manufacturers. Cars derived from standard production models battled it out on the main circuits watched by crowds of fans. And the best drivers were not ashamed to race in this category. Great names included Jim Clark, JohnWhitmore and Andrea de Adamich.

Alfa Romeo wanted to be part of it all and the company decided to commission an up-and-coming workshop to prepare its cars: Autodelta, headed by Carlo Chiti, a world-famous designer from the Ferrari stable. The resulting marriage between engineering and motor sport has become the stuff of legend. On February 18 1965, Autodelta's first creation was presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

The car was a development of the Giulia GT, rechristened the GTA. The new car differed from its sister externally in the addition of front air intakes, handles and the triangular Autodelta badge. The 1600 Twin Spark twin shaft engine was vigorously reinforced to increase the power output from 106 to 115 bhp. Seven GTAs took the first seven places, for example, at the Jolly Club 4-hour race in Monza. With great drivers at the helm, the cars began to steal the thunder of the Lotuses that had previously reigned supreme.

The GTAs continued their domination of the European Challenge over the next few years. In 1968, Alfa Romeo presented on-road and racing versions of the GTA 1300 Junior. The car looked the same as the standard production Junior, but was made leaner and meaner by long white bands along the sides.

The racing version delivered 160 bhp (the on-road version 103 bhp). The new GTA swept the board as soon as it went out on the track. Now there were two racing GTAs and their domination lasted until 1970, the year that saw the arrival of the GTAm, derived from the 1750 GT Veloce America. The body was completely transformed compared to the original version, as was the engine - a 230 bhp two litre unit.

The car, with the Dutchman Tonie Hezemans at the wheel, won the European Touring Championship in 1970 and 1971, taking six first places in eight races. In 1992, Alfa Romeo decided to return to the track with a version of the 155 Q4 prepared to Italian Super Touring Championship standards and rechristened GTA.

Like the others, this car retained very little of the standard production version: carbon wings, a rear spoiler that could be tilted to different angles, a 16 valve turbocharged engine capable of 400bhp of power (compared with 186 bhp of the normal version) plus an intercooler cooled by nebulised air. The four team cars were driven by Larini, Francia, Nannini and Tamburini.

The new GTA won 17 of the 20 races it was entered for and Larini won the title. Once the season was over, the GTA cars stood aside to let other Alfa Romeo models take over. Until this year, when the legendary GTA tag reappeared on the powerful Alfa 156 cars raced in the FIA EURO TCC 2002 European Championship.

© italiancar.com.au 23/12/02

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