The Giulia Affair

by Keith Faulkner (Per Sempre Alfa - February 2000) Includes extracts from: "Alfa Romeo and Giulia" - Ulrich Lanius, "Quadrigoglio" March 1984 and "Designed by the Wind" - Dave Mericle, "Alfa Owner " June 1998.

Having only owned "modern" Alfas (a Sud, 33 and 75) I was fairly ignorant of the qualities of the early models that had, in fact, helped create the Alfa legend. During the 1998 Alfesta I gained an inkling of these qualities, having tried in vain to keep up with a scruffy, fully laden Berlina on the winding road down from Binna Burra. However, it was not until a few months ago that, through the generosity of Ian Hyland, I got the opportunity to experience the joys of driving a classic Alfa over an extended period.

Giulia Super at the All Italian Display...Many Club members would be familiar with Ian's dark-blue 1966 Giulia Super, but I saw it for the first time during a Driver Training session at Mt Cotton early in 1999. It was love at first sight - I was immediately taken with the pretty lines of the car, its neat, uncluttered interior and the lashings of chrome at the front end. In August 1999, Ian went to America on a business trip and he offered me custodianship of the Giulia in his absence. Never actually having been responsible for a vehicle other than my own, it was with some trepidation that I accepted Ian's magnanimous offer - although I was no expert on early Alfas, I knew enough to realise that restored Giulia Supers don't grow on trees!

History of the Giulia

The Giulia Ti, the first of the 105 series cars, was presented to the automotive press at Monza on June 27, 1962 as the successor for the aging Giulietta. The Ti designation stood for Tourismo Internazionale. This new Alfa offered compact exterior dimensions, enough room for four people, a large trunk and a powerful motor.

The Giulia sedan was to set a standard for its class no other car maker of the era could live up to. It was Alfa's most successful model when measured in production numbers - in 1965 about 40% of the entire production was Giulias. Including all the variations (Ti, Ti Super, Super, Nuova Spider and Diesel Super) more than 600,000 cars were made; for an exclusive manufacturer like Alfa, it was success on a scale scarcely imagined.

Ironically, the Giulia sedan almost never was. Between 1959 and 1961, Alfa developed the Tipo 103, an 800cc front wheel drive sedan with most of the styling cues of the later Giulia sedan (one example survives today in the Museo Storico). At the time, Alfa was entirely controlled by the Italian government - and the industrial giant FIAT controlled the politics of the country. There was no way that a new Alfa - in either front engine/front wheel drive or rear engine/rear wheel drive configuration - would be allowed to compete against the FIAT 500/600 models. Thus the Tipo 103 project was shelved - but if it hadn't, it is unlikely that the Giulia sedan would have seen the light of day.

The engine for the 1962 Giulia Ti was developed from the 101 series Giulietta 1300 power plant and had a displacement of 1600cc. It was all aluminium with cast iron liners, double overhead cams and hemispherical combustion chambers. With a single two-barrel downdraft carburettor (Solex) the engine produced 92hp (DIN) @ 6200rpm. The Giulia could accelerate faster than a Porsche Super 75 and could keep up with a Porsche Super 90.

The chassis ran a suspension similar to the Giulietta with coil springs front and rear, independent in the front and live axle located by trailing arms and trunnion. Originally, the Giulia was fitted with drum brakes, but in production these were upgraded to discs. The engine was mated to a 5-speed transmission, originally actuated by a column shift. A floor mounted gear selector was introduced during production.

Alfa maintained the Giulia was "designed by the wind" and it's easy to see why. With a wraparound windscreen, small frontal area, body fluting, subtle spoiler built into the rear roofline and a Kamm tail end, the claimed coefficient of drag was 0.34. By comparison, the BMW 1600 of the same period had a Cd of 0.42, a Fiat 124 came in at 0.41 while the Porsche 911 also managed 0.34. Although the body at first appears to be three boxes - engine compartment, passenger cell and boot - welded together, the deceptive chunkiness masks the delicate aerodynamics.

Italian car makers are artists, and while some of their automotive designs border on the outrageous, the Giulia illustrates that they can also be masters of subtlety. Despite its angular looks, there are no squared-off angles on the Giulia; every door, body panel and piece of trim has been rounded-off or imparted with a gentle curve. The longer the Giulia is viewed, the more subtle details appear. It is a masterpiece of refined automotive understatement - truly fitting the description of "classic".

After the success of its launch in 1962, production of Giulias went into full swing at the Arese factory. In April 1963 the most desirable of the Giulia sedans came into production: the Giulia Ti Super. Only 501 were produced, sporting the "quadrifoglio" on sides and back. The engine had forged pistons with a compression ratio of 9.7:1, 1600cc Veloce cams, tubular headers (the same as later used on the GTA) dual sidedraft Webers, heavy duty rods and other reinforced engine parts, resulting in 112hp (DIN) @ 6200rpm.

Other differences were bucket seats, round instrument gauges, floor mounter gear selector, sports steering wheel, Campagnolo alloy wheels and a plexiglass window in the rear. With a body weight of only 910kg and the same engine as the SS and TZ1, it was designed for racing, although its role in the Alfa program was soon to be taken over by the Giulia Sprint GTA.

At the 1965 Automobile Exhibition, the Giulia Ti became the Giulia Super. The engine was fitted with dual sidedraft carburetors, a different intake manifold and sodium-cooled exhaust valves to produce 98hp @ 5500rpm. The car also had a floor-mounted gear selector, round instrument gauges and fully reclining bucket seats.

In 1967, a second wiper speed and passenger-side door lock were added for the Frankfurt Auto Show. In 1969 the car received numerous improvements including a different interior with new seats, a hydraulic clutch, an alternator, a rear anti-roll bar, slightly changed instrumentation, wider wheels (165SR14 on 5"x14" rims instead of 155SR15 on 5"x15" rims) and improved sound deadening. The changes were not all introduced at the same point in production, resulting in some cars not having all the modifications. A simple version, called the Giulia 1600, was also available for two years, with a single two-barrel downdraft carburetter producing 95hp @ 5500rpm.

In the early 1970's, further revised models were offered. Improvements included a dual-circuit braking system, hanging pedals, doorstops, headlights adjustable for load, handbrake located between front seats, and steering wheel lock on the right side of he steering wheel. The engine now produced 103hp @ 5500rpm by using the 1600 GTV cams. The finish and interior of these cars were inferior to the earlier cars, but the technical improvements made the 1973 models the most desirable driver's car. A test by a German Motoring magazine produced a time for 1-100kph of 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 184.6kph.

In 1974, the Giulia Super became the Giulia Nouva Super. The front and rear bodywork was smoothed out, making it look more like the 2000 Berlina, but less original and individualistic. The seat design was changed and headrests added. Interior ventilation was improved by adding two additional air outlets on a centre console. Although horsepower rating remained the same, gas pedal reactions and acceleration were less brisk due to new emission-controlled Weber carburetters and milder cam timing. The wheels were narrower at 165SR14 on 5"x14" rims. Beside the 1600cc models, various 1300cc models of the Giulia also existed. Quite a large number of these were manufactured and sold, probably due to the high gasoline prices of the 1970's and the Italian government taxes based on engine displacement.

The Giulia 1300 arrived in 1964 and was fitted with an engine delivering 78hp (DIN) @ 6000rpm. In 1966, the Giulia 1300Ti appeared boasting 82hp @ 6000rpm. It also had quite an advanced instrument panel, featuring an etched PC board instead of wiring. In 1970 the Giulia Super 1.3 was introduced with the same 87hp engine as the 1300 GT Junior. The 1300cc models usually had single headlights, but from 1972 they received the same interior and exterior treatment as the 1600cc models. There were subtle differences in trim between the different models. The early Giulia Supers, for example, had a small golden Alfa Romeo emblem on the rear pillar, which was changed to a green enamel snake and later on disappeared altogether. The 1300cc and later 1600cc versions usually had less chrome than the early 1600cc models and the hubcap design was changed a couple of times.

In the fall of 1978, after 16 years, production of the Giulia ceased at Alfa's Arese factory.

Driving a Giulia Super Today

Having taken Ian Hyland up on the offer to baby-sit his Giulia Super while he was overseas, I was briefed on some of the minor quirks of the 33 year old Alfa: mechanical clutch, dynamo instead of alternator, powerful but physically demanding disc brakes, and unassisted steering. Whew; a bit of a change from an auto Alfa 75 with electric everything! My first drive of this car left a lasting impression. The level of restoration on Ian's car has produced a very usable classic - you treat the vehicle with care and respect, but for most part without the rampant paranoia associated with a Concours rebuild. [Story of the restoration]

The gearbox is quite smooth - especially for an Alfa - snicking crisply through the gate and the clutch was reasonably light (the Giulia is the only car I've driven with a mechanical clutch and I must admit I couldn't tell any difference).

The 1600cc engine is willing and certainly has no trouble keeping up with general traffic. And it makes all the right Alfa noises! Once up to speed, the steering becomes reasonably light and responsive. Handling is extremely good, considering the narrow wheels. Although body roll is noticeable (OK, alarming the first time) this belies the Giulia's ability to corner and track at speed.

At cruising speed, cabin noise is more than acceptable for a car of that era and interior appointments, whilst sparse, are adequate and well laid-out. And, best of all, there's front window quarter-vents.

As most Alfisti know, the best way to really come to terms with an Alfa is to find a nice twisty bit of mountain road, so on Father's Day I strapped my six year old Alfisti, Rowan, into the passenger seat and we headed for Mt Nebo, west of Brisbane. During the trip up the mountain and back down through the Samford Valley, the Giulia performed faultlessly. More than once I had to remind myself that this car was over thirty years old!

I also discovered that, when you drive a Giulia Super, you get noticed. Especially by those who appreciate a classic. My regular Alfa mechanic heard on the grapevine I was in possession of a Super and demanded I drop around to show him. The simple Sunday chore of washing the car turns into an event as neighbours drop over to check out the Giulia and heads never fail to turn when you pull up at a set of lights.

All too soon it was time to return the Super to Ian. At the time, the car was being offered for sale and it was very tempting to turn this brief affair with the Giulia into a permanent relationship!