Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Review

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Chris Nicholls/Steve Nally

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Hot Euros pt.3: We look at some of the finest drives ever to come out of Europe, including Alfa Romeo's beautiful Bertone-designed 105 Giulia Sprint GT

 

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

You'd have to take a long walk back in time to fully understand the significance of this model to the reputation of Alfa Romeo. Here was a light car with big car comfort, very solid performance and handling along with great brakes. Add in the styling which has aged beautifully and you have a car that was ahead of its time.

It seems a mix of mechanical woes and good old fashioned rust has probably dealt a mortal blow to the majority of these very pretty cars over the years, which means the Sprint GT you see before you is a rare beast - particularly in the condition it's in.

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Unmistakably Italian, the lines are credited to Bertone. They were penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro and you can see some family resemblance to the same marque's 2000 range.

The 105/115 series shared the same body lines and basic four-cylinder engine layout, though there were myriad variations produced from 1963 through to 1977.

Coupe, 2+2 and cabriolets were produced in anything from 1300 through to two-litre variants. A five-speed manual transmission was standard fare, while later models could have a limited slip diff added to the specs sheet.

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This gem is the 1964 GT, which means it runs the 1600 version of the twin-cam alloy powerplant and made its first public appearance at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show.

It breathes through twin Webers and claims 78kW. That may not get your pulse racing, but since it weighed just 950kg it was good enough for an independently tested 113mph (182km/h), which made it a pretty hot car for the day. You also got four-wheel disc brakes in the package, another advanced feature for the time.

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We mentioned reliability and longevity as issues – something that’s backed up by Massel. "The Alfas in those days were very temperamental, electrics, bearings – the 2002 (BMW) was a far stronger car," he explains. "My 2002 ran two-and-a-half full seasons including endurance races, we never changed the engine.

"On an Alfa, the guys who raced against me were forever fixing motors and gearboxes."

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That said, the car has won him over. "I never thought the day would come when I’d be enthusiastic about an Alfa," he admits, "It’s a gorgeous little car. It’s got a completely different feel to the other three – quiet, just seems to be more comfortable. It sits beautifully, the seats feel good, it’s got that sporty look and feel and it likes to be driven as well. You take it through the hills and run it to 5500…"

Modern oils and build techniques mean that reliability is far less of an issue than it used to be with these cars, though finding one that hasn’t been messed with is a challenge. Massel admits to stalking this car for the best part of 30 years before the owner – a major collector who was the second caretaker – finally relented and sold it to him. It was restored back in 1982 and hadn’t turned a wheel until it was very recently recommissioned. Of the 22,000 cars produced, just 10 per cent were right-hand-drive, making this an exceptional find.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

BODY Two-door coupe
WEIGHT 950kg
ENGINE 1579cc Inline DOHC four
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual
SUSPENSION Independent A-arms with coils (f) Live axle with trailing arms (r)
BRAKES discs front and rear
POWER & TORQUE 78kW @ 6000rpm, 139Nm @ 2800rpm
PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 11.1s

 

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See more of our Four Hot Euros feature:

- Part 1: 1971 Porsche 911T
- Part 2: BMW 2002 Tii Touring
- Part 4: Ford Escort Lotus Mk1

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