Why you’d want an Alfa Romeo Giulia
Overshadowed by the more dramatically styled models that were derived from it, the understated 105-series Giulia is a thoroughly delightful compact family sporting saloon.
In 1963, the best The Motor could find to say of its appearance was ‘inoffensive-looking’, though the testers were more complimentary about its engine, gearbox, handling and performance.
That was a little unfair on Alfa Romeo’s Centro Stile chief Giuseppe Scarnati, who had produced a remarkably spacious small saloon – the column gearchange and split-bench front seat allowed it to be marketed as a six-seater at first – with extremely good aerodynamic efficiency (the same Cd as a Porsche 911) and exceptional all-round vision for driver and passengers.
Early cars with drum brakes (in left-hand-drive only) are for the purist; the race-oriented original TI Super is the most sought-after and expensive, but the1965-on Supers with twin Webers are more usable and still impressively lively to drive.
For the top-specification cars, look on the rear pillar for the Bollino d’Oro (the gold badge) on 1965-’69 examples, then the Biscione (the serpent from the city arms of Milan and the Alfa Romeo logo) from 1969-’72.
The 1300s and single-carb 1600s are slower, but are still energetic and fun cars to drive; only the rare Nuova Super Diesel lets the side down (though you’d struggle to find one, even in Italy where it enjoyed a tax break).
Despite the fact that prices are rising, the cost of restoration from a wreck still exceeds the value of the finished car so it’s worth seeking out the rare unspoiled originals, even though they command a significant premium.
Most cars have been restored: assess carefully the quality of the work, because your future ownership experience will be dramatically different depending on whether it’s been done well or bodged.
Beware examples fitted with cheap pattern parts – they can make a good car unreliable and are best replaced with quality components.
Original UK cars will invariably have rusted, but rot-free right-hand-drive vehicles turn up in Australia or South Africa, where Giulias were assembled from CKD kits and may have local trim differences.
That clear glasshouse means driving a left-hooker rarely feels like a handicap, so there’s much to be said for buying a rust-free car in the layout for which they were designed.
Images: James Mann
Alfa Romeo Giulia: what to look for
See above for a rundown of some crucial areas to check prior to purchase.
Engine and steering box
Check that the engine spec is correct and listen for noisy valvegear or timing chain, indicating wear.
Beware overheating and signs of the oil and water mixing – corrosion can damage the engine internals and clog waterways, leading to a blown head gasket. Carburettor wear or abuse can result in poor running.
Beware of cracks in the steering box casing (replacements aren’t cheap) or weak brakes caused by stuck calipers or a failing servo or master cylinder.
Alfa gave the Giulia an exceptionally well-located rear axle.
A noisy diff will cost you £500-1000 to rebuild, while a worn propshaft is £100-300.
Check for layshaft noise and failing synchros – a gearbox rebuild will cost £500-1500 depending on the amount of restoration/replacement required.
A complete, original interior, with all the vital door and detail trims, is a real bonus because those minor components can be hard to find.
Alfa Romeo Giulia: before you buy
A well-sorted original Giulia should be a delight to drive, so get out there and try it out once you’ve had a good look over the car to make sure it’s safe to test.
This should include checking for dangerously deteriorated wiring, corrosion around the suspension mountings and not forgetting the tyres, which may be decades old.
If it feels woolly and imprecise, budget to replace the suspension bushes and wheel bearings, and possibly rebuild the steering box.
The disc brakes should be powerful and not too heavy: inevitably calipers seize and master cylinders and servos (some late right-hand-drive cars have a costly twin-servo set-up) can fail due to internal corrosion –regard this as a negotiation point because all can be rebuilt.
The twin-cam engine should feel gutsy and rev willingly, albeit with quite a difference between the single-carburettor 1300 and the twin-Weber 1600; make sure the car has its correct specification or, if it has been uprated, that the upgrades enhance it rather than spoiling it.
Many Giulias will have had mechanical tweaks, from the engine to the suspension, most of which should improve performance and handling, but some may feel too extreme.
Get as much information as you can on how the car has been looked after: frequent oil changes and antifreeze maintenance are vital.
While driving, check that the instruments and controls all perform as they should. A sloppy throttle response is likely to be down to worn or poorly adjusted carbs; again, all can be rebuilt.
Alfa Romeo Giulia price guide
- 1300: £2500/7500/25,000
- 1600: £3000/10,000/28,000
- Super: £5000/15,000/32,000
- Bollino/Biscione: £10,000/25,000/40,000
Prices correct at date of original publication
Alfa Romeo Giulia history
1962 Jun 1570cc Giulia TI launched
1963 Apr Lightweight TI Super added, with twin Webers, disc brakes; 501 made ’63-’64
1963 Aug Servo discs replace drums
1964 May Floor gearchange option (std on RHD); four-speed, LHD-only Giulia 1300
1965 Mar Super detuned, with standard body; five-speed 1300 TI, with RHD option
1966 Feb Floor change std; triple-dial dash
1967 Sep 1300 updated; 1600S replaces TI
1970 Dual-circuit brakes, centre handbrake; twin-carb 1300 Super replaces 1600S
1972 1300 TI dropped; Super 1.3/1.6 remain
1972 Dec 125bhp 1600 Rallye (South Africa)
1974 Nuova Super 1300 & 1600 replace Super, with plastic grille and flat bootlid
1976 Jun Nuova Super Diesel added: 1760cc, 54bhp, 86mph, 6537 made
1977 Production ends
The owner’s view
“I’ve had this very original early 1600 TI for five years,” explains Alfaholics’ Max Banks. “It’s one of the first floor-change, disc-braked five-speeds, so I just had to have it.
“The previous owner wanted to modify it, but I refused to do it. Very few in the world have never been taken apart – they still occasionally turn up in the dry south of Italy – and it feels so sharp, so nice to drive.
“I grew up sitting in cars while my dad was restoring them, and soaked up that knowledge and a deep love for old Alfas. They’re such a pleasure to drive and can be modified to make brilliant fast-road cars – Dad ran a Super with 2000 GTV power in the ’80s and I have a Giulia 1300 that I plan to tweak as my family car.”
BMW ’02 SERIES
Equally compact, though less spacious and never a four-door, the ’02 had the benefit of later development but struggled to match the Alfa’s sporting character, except in high-performance models.
Sold 1966-’77 • No. built 750,000 • Price now £5-30,000*
A delicate, delightful front-drive saloon with 1.1- to 1.3-litre V4s and up to 80bhp. Column gearchange and four speeds except on late models; rust-prone and few survivors, but can be a bargain.
Sold 1963-’73 • No. built 192,097 • Price now £4-10,000*
*Prices correct at date of original publication
Alfa Romeo Giulia: the Classic & Sports Car verdict
A really well-sorted 105-series Giulia is a joy to own and drive, so make sure you find a good one – better to buy a lesser model in good condition than a top-spec car needing a full restoration.
Earlier Giulias are rarer and more sought-after, but the newest ones are well over 40 years old by now and represent bargains in comparison because there’s a wide spread of prices.
- A practical classic with sporty performance
- They have plenty of options
- A great specialist and enthusiast following ensures a good parts supply
- Many cars have been neglected due to years of low values
- Restoration can be very costly
Alfa Romeo Giulia specifications
- Sold/number built 1962-’77/836,323
- Construction steel monocoque
- Engine all-aluminium, dohc 1290/1570cc ‘four’,with single Solex 32 or twin Weber 40/45DCOE carbs
- Max power 77bhp @ 6000rpm to 112bhp @ 5500rpm
- Max torque 75lb ft @ 4700rpm to 105lb ft @ 2900rpm
- Transmission four/five-speed manual, RWD
- Suspension: front double wishbones, anti-roll bar rear live axle, trailing arms, upper trailing wishbones; coil springs, telescopic dampers f/r
- Steering recirculating ball
- Brakes 11¼in (286mm) front, 9¾in (248mm) rear Dunlop discs, with servo (drums pre-’63)
- Length 13ft 7in (4145mm)
- Width 5ft 1in (1550mm)
- Height 4ft 8in (1430mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 2½in (2500mm)
- Weight 2006-2324lb (910-1056kg)
- 0-60mph 13.4-11 secs
- Top speed 96-115mph
- Mpg 22-30
- Price new £1299/1599 (1300/Super,1970)