Alex Jupe has a made a name for himself as the country’s expert in transaxle Alfas. His GTV6s are spotless and he is one of the too few who dedicate a lot of his time to shining a light onto the Giulietta and the 75, of which we definitely don’t see enough out there. For all his well deserved fame, Alex comes across as a very gentle, understated person, who is immensely passionate about his work. And the results are always stunning. We sat down with him on a visit to his workshop and we asked him our favourite questions.
What made you fall in love with Alfa in the first place?
I can tell you that, actually. I was six years old. My dad had a Giulietta when I was a kid. I found his Alfa brochure from the dealer and I was flicking through it, and there was a Giulietta image – I’ve always loved the Giulietta – and as I went further there was a picture of a GTV6 in its rear three quarter angle. I just looked at it and I thought “I’m going to own one of those one day”. I absolutely loved that. And I was fixated on it from that point, from the age of six.
What’s the first Alfa you would recommend somebody to buy?
I am a little biased (chuckles) but I would say a GTV6. It’s because they are really usable and they are actually more reliable than people believe that an Alfa would be. As usual, they get slated quite heavily, but they really are a fantastic car to use it if you want to do a track day and also drive for long distances on the road. With a few choice modifications they can do both, rather than only one or the other and not many cars can do that successfully, even now.
They make a good first classic, actually. The only thing I would say is, if they are rusty they are very expensive to fix properly, because you can buy barely anything for them.
What is the biggest misconception about Alfa?
That they are incredibly unreliable. Because they are not. They have electrical glitches, which tend to be on the cars that sit around in damp lockups, not being used, then taken out in summer and do a thousand miles in the year. Mechanically they are incredibly strong. Things like the injection system on the GTV, which is Bosh, are perfectly alright. It’s rare to have a problem with any of it. It’s just things like lights and so on, all minor stuff, because they have open block rather than sealed connectors, so when left unused they corrode in our damp climate making for poor connections. And funny enough, it’s the only car I’ve been driving as daily car for my entire driving career, which is 27 years that did not leave me stuck anywhere. But I’ve been left stranded by two BMWs and a Ford.
What project would you most like to build?
I think it’s actually the one that I am about to start, which is a restomod. We’re about to do a GTV6 with the Group 2 arches on, with a 3 litre engine, with independent throttle bodies and a laptop management system. It’s a road/trackday car with customised interior, and everything done like that. The owner wants it better than new. So the underside will be like new, the interior, the engine bay, the lot. I am really looking forward to that.
What’s your favourite car meet?
I am going to say something controversial here. I am actually not a massive fan of one marque meets anymore. If it has to be Alfa only, it would be National Alfa day, at Bicester Heritage, which is really good. My favourite static car meet is the Auto Italia Italian Car Day at Brooklands. Otherwise, if you are talking about a meet with a bit of everything, Silverstone Classic is superb. For me, my favourite meet of all, which is not about showing your own car, is the Goodwood Members Meeting. I absolutely love it.
What’s your favourite place to take your Alfa to?
On the road, I would head straight back to the Alps. I’ve driven my GTV6 through the Swiss Alps and it was a fantastic experience. I would get in that car and take her back and do the rest of the stuff I haven’t done yet. And spend a week doing it!
If it’s a circuit, it’s the Nurburgring. My car has done a lot of laps around the Nordschleife and it’s perfectly set up for it.
How does owning an Alfa change you?
They get under your skin, that’s for sure. Lots of people joke about this, but most people don’t have one Alfa, they have at least two. That means they have some chance of having a working one. They do get under your skin somehow…
There is a passion about it, they’ve got this heritage that goes back so far and you’re buying into the heritage of the marque as well and what’s gone before. There is something emotive about their cars, there is a passion that a lot of other cars don’t have. When you drive them, they are much more communicative, more alive, the cars talk to you when you drive them. I can’t say exactly how it changes you, but I can tell you why people like them.