The Giulietta is the car that took Alfa Romeo from being a relatively small production company to being an economically viable and successful firm. Prior to that, they had produced large and expensive cars, and never in very large numbers. With the Giulietta, however, Alfa Romeo produced significant numbers of these charming and capable cars. Its success was due in part to its unique placement in the market. It was neither a large hugely expensive car, nor was it very small utility car (such as the Fiat 500). Instead, the Giulietta was affordable enough so that many could buy it, yet permitted a more glamorous and useful approach to motoring that really struck a chord with buyers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The car came in a variety of trims and body styles, ranging from the standard Berlina (sedan) to the high performance Veloce models, which could be had with Pininfarina, Bertone, or Zagato coachwork. The standard Sprint Bertone coachwork was relatively common, but a small number of Sprint Speciale Bertone bodied cars were made, which drew on the radical styling of the three BAT concept cars that Bertone built on Alfa 1900 chassis from 1953-1955. The unusually aerodynamic styling was also influenced by the Touring's 1900-based Disco Volante of 1952. In all, just 1366 Giulietta Sprint Speciales were built, all to the mechanical specifications of the Veloce, which included higher compression ratio, hotter cams, and twin Weber carburetors.
This particular car is a well-sorted restored 45,000 mile example that has fascinating known history from new. Completed on 10 October 1961, the car was ordered new by an Englishman who fell in love with the Sprint Speciale while on holiday in Italy. He lived in Malaysia and so this car was delivered new there, where it remained for the first seven years of its life. He returned to the UK in 1968, bringing the car with him, and used it sparingly until his death in 1971. His widow stored the car in a garage until 2010, when she sold it on to a broker who began a restoration, and eventually sold the car to its next keeper in 2012, imported the car to the United States and finished the restoration with an eye toward drivability and reliability for long distance tours.
The restoration included a bare metal repaint in the car’s original paint as well as an engine rebuilt by Alfa specialist RM Restorations Limited. A new interior was done by Auto Weave employing the correct seat fabric and headliner. The suspension was rebuilt with high performance components by Alfa West, who also tuned the car. The brakes and gearbox were also renewed. New Michelin XAS tires were also fitted, the wheels refinished, and the engine now has 1400 miles. The glass and Plexiglas bug deflector were also replaced.
The car makes a great cosmetic impression. The paintwork was done to high standards and is virtually unmarked. The body is straight and the fit very good other than the bottoms of the trailing edges of the doors sit a bit proud. The chrome on the bumpers, grille, and front deck lid is excellent, while the window trims show light pitting. The glass and lights are excellent and the car is equipped with H4 headlights. The miscellaneous trim, which is unique to the Speciale and therefore difficult to find, is all present and in equally nice shape. The attention to detail is very nice, with beautifully refinished wheels, new Michelin XAS tires, and newly polished hubcaps.
The interior was comprehensively redone as well, with excellent two tone upholstery, new carpets, and new headliner. The visors are excellent, as is the dashboard upholster and the chrome trim. The steering wheel is very good, with no major wear, as are the instruments and controls. The windscreen washer bag is the correct VDO type and one of the unique features of the Sprint Speciale is its placement on the driver’s kick panel.
The engine compartment is clean and attractive, and is consistent with a high end driver, being a notch below show level. Some of the paint finishes, on the voltage regulator, generator, and exhaust manifold for example, shows age. The painted areas such as the inner fenders and firewall are very nice. The valve cover is highly polished and the correct Veloce type intake trunking is excellent, including the cast airbox. The Weber carburetors show some light soiling but the overall impression of the engine compartment is strong. The trunk is also attractively presented with new rubber floor mat, restored matching spare wheel, and factory jack, which is held in place with a new leather strap.
The car runs and drives well. The engine makes good power, has good oil pressure, and is well-carbureted. It is clear that gearbox has been rebuilt because the synchromesh is excellent. The suspension works properly and the steering is communicative and precise. The brakes are effective and there is a pleasing coherence to the car that supports the low mileage.
A genuinely rare (more 300SL Gullwings were produced, for example) coachbuilt Italian car, the Sprint Speciale has appreciated significantly in recent years and represents a visually stunning car that is a pleasure to drive and is relatively straightforward car to own, thanks to the abundance of Giuliettas. They make great touring cars and this car is lovely example with fascinating history and beautiful presentation. It is a pleasure to drive and is complete with spare wheel with hold down clamp, high quality reproduction tool roll, and jack.