Right from the outset, this book doesn’t pretend
to be anything other than as described in the title – it’s a guide to power
tuning the Alfa DOHC engine as found in RWD Alfas. This includes all variations
of this engine, in capacities of 1300, 1600, 1750, 1800, 2000 and 1800 turbo,
and as fitted to Gulias, Berlinas, Spiders, Guliettas, Alfettas, 75s, 155s and
others from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, and even the Nineties (and they
say that the Holden grey motor was long lived!). To maintain continuity, the
author uses the 2000cc version as the basis (aiming for approximately 165hp),
but points out where other capacities vary and what should be done in those
The book, the second edition of the title, is
broken down into logical and simple to navigate sections covering Engine, Fuel
System, Ignition and Electrics, Exhaust System, Oil and Water Cooling, and
finally Chassis and Drivetrain. Additional chapters are devoted to the
introduction, a list of suppliers and specialists around the world (including
Pace and Benincas in Australia), camshaft diagrams/comparisons and an American
to English glossary of terms.
In terms of readability, it’s not the sort of book
you’d necessarily enjoy as bedtime reading, but as a resource for a performance
rebuild of the venerable DOHC Alfa engine, I consider it a must. However the
author does assume some reader knowledge of engine modification tricks. As an
example, the use of BMW valves is mentioned; however, there is no discussion as
to what type or even from what model or year BMW. But the detail given during
the porting process is nothing short of extraordinary as the author discusses
where the head material needs to be removed, what sections to be careful of, and
gives a full set of ‘before’ and ‘after’ internal diameter dimensions.
The author is clearly an Alfisti but that doesn’t
prevent him noting weaknesses and design flaws of the engine, or in fact in any
other part of the car that he touches upon. The book runs to some 144 pages and
the text is enhanced with approximately 170 detailed illustrations, photos and
graphs, though some are not as easily tied to the text as they should be. A
simple “as illustrated overleaf” would have helped in more than a few cases.
Seventeen pages of detailed camshaft profile diagrams further supplement the
illustrations. Another nice feature is that factory part numbers and companies
specialising in certain areas are quoted throughout the text as well.
Nearly 70 pages are devoted the engine alone;
other pages cover improvements to the electrical system, big brake
modifications, suspension revisions, LSD adjustment, recurving distributors,
weight reduction, gear clusters selection, etc.
In summary, this book is for the hardcore Alfa nut
wanting to get the most from his or her engine. But while at first glance it
appears to have no relevance to other makes, there are still passages of text
that would be useful for anyone considering a performance engine rebuild. For
example, inlet gas inertia and its effect on cam timing are discussed in detail,
as is why you might want to balance the oil pump - but I imagine there will be
texts available on similar topics and of more relevance to your engine type.
Title: The Alfa Romeo DOHC Engine
Publisher: Veloce Books
RRP: £19.99 UK, $39.99 USA, $54.95 AUS
Author: Jim Kartalamakis