Anyone who dreams of winning a lottery prize to secure the car of their dreams is following a well-trodden path — for the wonderful Alfa Romeo Giulietta came about as a result of just such dreams. After World War II, Alfa decided to move towards a mass-market operation. By 1952 they even had a new small saloon ready to go, but lacked financial resources to build the Giulietta Berlina.
Alfa’s solution was inventive. They sold interest-bearing bonds with the promise that 200 lucky bond holders would each win a brand-new Berlina, once production began. The scheme was a success but by the appointed launch date no cars had appeared, after body-building problems. Again, Alfa’s solution was ingenious — wrapping a simple sports car body around the Berlina engine and chassis to placate anxious bondholders, by showing them a real car.
The result — designed by Franco Scaglione — was a sensation. Four examples of the Giulietta Sprint coupe were completed and shown at the Turin Motor Show in 1954, with enough bodies ordered from Bertone to satisfy winning bondholders. To Alfa’s surprise (and delight) their knocked-together car proved to be a huge hit.
The original Sprint coupe was swiftly followed by a Berlina saloon and a delicious open two-seater Spider designed by Pininfarina. As production continued, variants of the Sprint were produced – the Sprint Veloce, Sprint Special by Bertone and Sprint SZ by Zagato – the latter pair capable of over 120 mph (193 km/h). Carrozzeria Boneschi bodied a few Weekendina estate cars, whilst Colli also produced a small number of estates. The Giulia was introduced in 1952, essentially the Giulietta with a punchy 1,570 cc engine.
The nimble Giuliettas are great fun to drive, with good acceleration, sticky roadholding and more than enough oomph to leave any speed camera blinking in disbelief.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1954 (until 1965)
1,290 cc DOHC Straight Four
PERFORMANCE: Top speed of 103 mph (166 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 13 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Question: When is a Spider not a Spider? Answer: When it’s a Spyder. Italian manufacturers couldn’t agree on the standard description of an open-top roadster, with Alfa opting for the former and Ferrari the latter (Porsche siding with Ferrari).