Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.
I think Wordsworth had it right. Those with memories that extend back to the 1990s will remember it as a golden age for coupés. Keen drivers now can only look back in envy at the bounteous choice we had back then.
If you felt so inclined, you could have chosen from a whole plethora of two-door sportiness that included such desirables as the Fiat Coupé, Honda Prelude, Peugeot 406 Coupé, Nissan 200SX and Volkswagen Corrado. Even Rover was in on the act with its 200 Coupé and Vauxhall with its Calibra.
But for those with an eye for style and a yearning for a romantic badge, there was one coupé that stood head and shoulders above all the others: the Alfa Romeo GTV.
Designed by Pininfarina, it was a low-slung, wedge-shaped, devilishly handsome two-plus-very-tight-two with dual round headlights and a delightful heart-shaped grille that looked a million dollars but cost considerably less.
Its interior had been given serious thought, too, with cowled dials and part of the instrument panel invitingly angled towards the driver. And for those who liked to have their hair ruffled, there was even a drop-top Spider version, albeit with what turned out to be a considerably more flexible body than the GTV.
Under its pert bonnet, you could have initially chosen from a 148bhp 2.0-litre Twin Spark inline four or, a year or two after launch, a 217bhp 3.0-litre 24-valve V6. Both engines were tweaked considerably over the car’s long life, gaining such niceties as direct injection and more capacity, but even the early cars had a fair turn of speed – think 0-60mph in 8.0sec for the Twin Spark, 6.6sec for the V6.
But it was the way the GTV steered and took bends that really set it apart. It may have sat on a modular Fiat platform that it shared with more humdrum models, but with a deliciously quick 2.2 turns lock-to-lock rack and a low centre of gravity, it responded eagerly and gripped impressively. And all this despite the lack of a limited-slip differential or any other limiting electronic device - traction control wasn’t offered until 2003.