RE: Alfa Giulietta -- what?s in a name?

RE: Alfa Giulietta -- what?s in a name?

Friday 17th December 2004

Alfa Giulietta -- what’s in a name?

Alfa Romeo launched its pretty Giulietta Sprint 50 years ago. Andrew Noakes looks back at a true classic


Nobody seems to remember exactly how the Giulietta got its name, but the best story involves a racing driver, a nightclub, a Russian prince well known for poetry and word play, and William Shakespeare. Because Giulietta is, of course, the Italian equivalent of Juliet.

During the French launch of the first new post-war Alfa, the 1900, Grand Prix driver Jean-Pierre Wimille entertained seven Alfa Romeo directors at a Parisian nightclub – where they were recognised by the aforementioned Russian prince. He greeted them with ‘You are eight Romeos without even one Giulietta?’ and the comment must have stuck in at least one influential mind…

So Giulietta was the name chosen for Alfa Romeo’s second line of cars, a small saloon to run alongside the mid-size 1900. To raise development cash a ‘debenture’ system was set up: small investors bought a stake in the new project, in the hope of repayment with interest once the car was selling well. To encourage sales of these debentures Alfa Romeo announced that every investor would be entered into a prize draw, and 200 lucky winners would each get a brand new Giulietta.

Difficult birth

Launch was slated for the Brussels motor show late in 1953, then for Geneva early in 1954 – but there was no sign of the Giulietta. While pilot production of the engines, transmissions and suspensions was under way, the tooling and equipment for making the new monocoque bodyshell was still under construction. Winners started to wonder if they would ever get their cars, and the whole thing threatened to become a PR disaster.

The solution turned out to be a stroke of genius. Instead of giving the winners their production saloons, as intended, Alfa would create a special coupé, which could be hurriedly built in small numbers to fulfil its obligations to the lottery winners and drum up some positive publicity at the same time. A coupé design already existed, but Ghia and Bertone were brought in to give it a bit more pizzazz.

Bertone design

Ultimately it was Bertone’s Franco Scaglione who was responsible for the final shape of the car, a wonderfully well-proportioned and curvaceous coupé with a family resemblance to the 1900 at the front. A show car was constructed in a few short weeks and it brought the house down at the Turin show in April 1954, garnering more than 700 orders despite a price tag which represented around three and half years’ wages for the average Italian.

In the lead picture, on the left is a Giulietta Sprint, on the right is an Alfa 1900 Sprint with Touring body.

Performance

Underneath, this ‘Giulietta Sprint’ was all new. Up front was a 1.3-litre, all-alloy twin cam developing 65bhp at 6000rpm – the first appearance of an engine which would go on to power Alfas of all sorts right through to the 1990s. Independent suspension all round provided a supple ride, plenty of grip and predictable break-away characteristics, and the result was a compact coupé which was huge fun to drive.

The Giulietta Berlina saloon (left) followed in 1955, sharing the Sprint’s handling and roadholding but offering more space and four doors. Later that year Alfa added a drophead, the Giulietta Spider (left below). The Spider’s exquisite good looks – from Pininfarina this time, rather than Bertone – made it a celebrity favourite, owners including Sophia Loren, Diana Dors, Gina Lollobrigida and Esther Williams. Later the Spider would be the car thrashed – and crashed – by Edward Fox in ‘The Day of the Jackal’.

Both Berlina and Sprint saw plenty of action on the race track and in rallying. Soon there was a demand for more power, which Alfa answered in 1956 with the Sprint Veloce. Twin Webers, a higher compression ratio and revised valve timing liberated 80bhp from the little twin-cam engine, though mid-range flexibility suffered from the higher state of tune. Aluminium bumpers and Perpex windows also aided performance by minimising weight.

Even more power (and a five-speed all-synchro gearbox) came in 1957 with the Sprint Speciale (SS), for which Bertone developed a striking low-drag body shape (left). Wind tunnels were not nearly so advanced nor as widely available then as they are now, so most of the development work was carried out on the Milan-Turin autostrada: the Giulietta was covered with wool strands to indicate the direction of the air flow, then photographed from a chase car.

Imagine doing that on the M3…

Development

In 1958 a Series II Sprint unveiled a restyle (by the young Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working for Bertone) and some mechanical improvements, including Porsche-type synchromesh. A Series II Veloce was also listed, with 100bhp and the option of the SS five-speed gearbox.

One Sprint Veloce, which had been crashed during a sports car race, was rebuilt by Zagato with a light alloy body, and this led to a small run of replicas known as the Giulietta SZ, built from 1960-62. The SZ would be a strong competitor in its classes in production sports car racing in the 1960s.

By then, work was already well under way on a new family of small Alfas, which would emerge as the new Giulia Berlina in June 1962. The Giulietta Sprint and Spider grew up into the Giulia Sprint and Spider, with a 1570cc version of the twin cam engine developing 92bhp. But there was still some demand for the smaller engine, so Alfa Romeo effectively reintroduced the Giulietta Sprint – though now it was known as the 1300 Sprint.

End of the line

In 1963 the old Giulietta-shape coupés and spiders were pensioned off and the Giulia saloons were joined by a coupé, the Giugiaro-styled Sprint GT. This became available in numerous engine sizes, spawned a convertible (the GTC) and racing versions (the GTA and GTAm), led to the Duetto and Spider, and was even tenuously linked to the Tubolare Zagato (TZ) racing cars. Late in the 1970s the Giulietta name would return, on a compact, wedge-shaped saloon with that same twin cam engine, in 1.3, 1.6, 1.8 and eventually 2.0-litre forms.

But that’s another story.

Links:

www.alfaromeo.co.uk

www.giulietta.com

www.andrewnoakes.com

Author
Discussion

WildfireS3

Original Poster:

9,472 posts

225 months

Friday 17th December 2004
quotequote all
Love these cars!! But I'm biased as my father owns a RHD one of these:



I really want to drive it!



>>> Edited by WildfireS3 on Friday 17th December 15:50

wombat rick

11,713 posts

217 months

Friday 17th December 2004
quotequote all
Pretty car.

FestivAli

1,055 posts

211 months

Saturday 18th December 2004
quotequote all
preety car (my apologies to the italian job)

dinkel

26,043 posts

231 months

Saturday 18th December 2004
quotequote all
We need a little color here:







Is that a glorious little car or what?

lanciachris

3,357 posts

214 months

Sunday 19th December 2004
quotequote all
Looks like a baby fulvia zagato

errek72

943 posts

219 months

Monday 20th December 2004
quotequote all
lanciachris said:
Looks like a baby fulvia zagato


Well, if you want to make parallels with Lancias, I always thought the Hyena looks like a modern interpretation, maybe that one started out as the new 'SZ'?

dinkel

26,043 posts

231 months

Monday 20th December 2004
quotequote all
Giulia Sprint Speciale


Giulietta Sprint

Luvly color.

Giulietta Sprint Speciale

Love the way that bonnet opens up.

The engine of a Giulietta Sprint

Isn't that one of the most beautiful 50s / 60s 4pots?

lanciachris

3,357 posts

214 months

Monday 20th December 2004
quotequote all
errek72 said:

lanciachris said:
Looks like a baby fulvia zagato

Well, if you want to make parallels with Lancias, I always thought the Hyena looks like a modern interpretation, maybe that one started out as the new 'SZ'?


That looks tasty. Where can i find more about it? no sign on carsfromitaly.com

rutthenut

202 posts

236 months

Monday 20th December 2004
quotequote all
From what I rememeber, the Zagato Hyena was a new body put onto Integrale drivetrain/running gear. Looks good, should go well too.

The Lancia Motor Club had one on their stand at the NEC Classic Car Show a couple of months back

Duncan23

142 posts

207 months

Monday 20th December 2004
quotequote all
IIRC the Hyena was something like a 200 car production run. And yeah, built on an Integrale Chassis. The only one I am aware of was owned by a LMC member who was based in north England. But I haven't been a LMC member for a couple of years...

errek72

943 posts

219 months

Tuesday 21st December 2004
quotequote all
If you google 'pictures' Lancia Hyena, or Hyena Zagato, you'll find lots of links, here's two of them :
www.xsb85.dial.pipex.com/town/walk/xsb85/hyenapage.html
www.walkersgarage.co.uk/main.htm (below left)

The story is that a Dutch businessman, Paul Koot, saw money in making a new, high-tech car using the old zagato principle of adding lightness: take an integrale floorpan and put an aerodynamic, lightwight chassis on it. Even the interior, including the roof, is made entirely out of carbon fiber. The engine was tweaked only slightly.
The trouble was that at the time Lancia was not willing to supply chassis so for every car, an integrale was bought and slaughtered. As this was not economical, only 24 were made.

I saw the proto on the design stand at the Brussels autoshow and was awe-struck. In the flesh, no other car can touch it for its compact musculature, it really looks like an animal ready to jump. Note the Alfa ES30/SZ headlights, front window and door window frames.

This is another case where those Fiat guys gave a potentially breakthrough product a neckshot; only a few years after the Zagato guys repeated the proces on a Golf TDI, a project called the 'Zuma'.
Imagine that; a Punto 4*4 Zagato at the price of a Puma or Tigra. Now tell me that wouldn't sell..


lanciachris

3,357 posts

214 months

Tuesday 21st December 2004
quotequote all
My googles of last night suggested 25 were built between 92 and 93 and that they sell now for about 100k.

Not much chance of finding one for me then

toppstuff

13,698 posts

220 months

Tuesday 28th December 2004
quotequote all
This Hyena is for sale :




Its here: www.walkersgarage.co.uk

price on application apparently....

they have a Delta turbo group B rally car in road spec and never used as well --- 100k !!

Stirlings.co.uk

311 posts

196 months

Thursday 24th January 2008
quotequote all
Regarding the Giulietta name

i recall the alfetta means little alfa
so surely giulietta means little giulia??

velocemitch

3,428 posts

193 months

Thursday 24th January 2008
quotequote all
Might do, but the Giulia came after the Giulietta, which might mean Giulia is just a big Giulietta....idea

Wombat Rick

11,713 posts

217 months

Friday 25th January 2008
quotequote all
velocemitch said:
Might do, but the Giulia came after the Giulietta, which might mean Giulia is just a big Giulietta....idea
That's it!