First of the Giuliettas, the Bertone-styled Giulietta Sprint coupé debuted at the Turin Motor Show in April 1954 powered by a 1.3-litre, all-alloy version of Alfa's classic twin-cam four designed by one-time Ferrari engineer Giuseppe Busso. The Giulietta family's success surprised even Alfa themselves: production targets were revised upwards and to satisfy demands for increased performance upgraded 'Veloce' versions of the Sprint coupé and Spider convertible were introduced for 1956. The new Giulietta Sprint Veloce was soon being raced with success, winning its class in the 23rd Mille Miglia and finishing 11th overall, while class victories were achieved in the Coppa Dolimiti, Tour de France and Mille Miglia, and the Alpine Rally won outright.
These early Giulietta Sprint Veloces, with Bertone body numbers commencing '77', are now commonly known as 'lightweight' cars. They differ considerably from the 'normale' Sprint and were built in limited numbers: 252 in 1956 and 348 in 1957. A weight saving of about 70kg (900kg for the normale compared to 830kg for the Veloce) was achieved by using aluminium for the bonnet, boot lid and door skins. Aluminium was also used for items such as the bumpers, 'eyebrows', 'whiskers' and headlight rims, while Plexiglas was used for the side windows. Interior changes included lightweight seat frames, different door panels and no rear seats. The engine now produced 90bhp courtesy of a higher compression ratio, different pistons and camshafts, two sand-cast Weber DCO3 carburettors, a magnesium air box with different intake and filter arrangements, and an electric fuel pump. A four-speed tunnel-case gearbox with central change lever was employed. The petrol tank now held 90 litres, which necessitated changes to the boot floor and handbrake arrangements.
Although not specifically designed for competition, these cars soon proved unbeatable in their class in motor sport events worldwide. Chassis number 'AR 1493 03559'was acquired for this purpose in January 1957 by Mr Denis de Graffenried Villars, a cousin of the well-known Maserati Grand Prix privateer Emmanuel 'Toulo' de Graffenried, via the de Graffenried Alfa Romeo dealership in Lausanne, Switzerland. The original sales invoice and factory Certificate of Origin are in the history file. Denis campaigned the Giulietta with success for around ten years in numerous rallies, hill climbs and European Mountain Championship events, mainly in Switzerland and France. The car was tuned over the years by Karl Foitek, the well-known Swiss Alfa racer and tuner (original invoices on file). In 1967 the original colour of Bianco Spagna was changed to dark blue and the car was sold to Benjamin Muller of Winterthur, who entered it in various events.
The Alfa was laid up in 1973, presumably following an engine failure, only to be rediscovered in Switzerland some 35 years later by Christophe Grohe, from whom the present owner bought it in 2008 at the Rétromobile event in Paris. Although the car looked presentable, it soon became apparent that it needed more work than anticipated and a full 'last nut and bolt' restoration was undertaken by Jan Steutel in the Netherlands in 2008-2009. Bills for this work totalling 85,000 Euros are on file. Extreme care was taken to preserve the car as it had developed over the years while maintaining originality, with all the previously mentioned special 'lightweight' features retained. After restoration the Giulietta was briefly registered in the Netherlands to obtain EU admission, and in 2010 the car participated in the Alfa Romeo centennial celebrations in Milan and Monza, taking pride of place.
The car comes with a very nicely presented and well documented file of history that includes period action photographs, the original sales invoice, assorted newspaper clippings, correspondence with the de Graffenried family, restoration invoices, UK V5C document and MoT certificate valid until March 2014. A rare set of aluminium bumpers is included in the sale.
Presented in a condition reflecting its recent restoration by a recognised expert, this matching-numbers Giulietta Sprint Veloce is in fast road tune and represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of the rare, early lightweight models possessing an impeccable pedigree and in-period competition history. It is, of course, eligible for participation in many of the most prestigious historic motor sports events including the Mille Miglia.
The illustration of the engine in the printed catalogue is incorrect. The illustration is of a 5.2-litre Lamborghini V12 and we are confident it would not fit in the engine bay of the Giulietta. The car does have the correct engine fitted as can be viewed online. The registration number for this car is 113 YUF, not as catalogued.