Some cars have a split personality. It’s all in the front fascia. The headlamps, the trim, the model year changes and the colour all play a part, too. Take the Alfa Romeo Giulia, for instance. If it’s a midnight-blue quad-headlamp like this one, it definitely has a slightly aggressive air, with that slight hoodline frown. But our Giulia’s slightly bigger younger sister, the 2000, lost that edge. Especially in this case.
I hate finding a CC (especially a dark-coloured one) at night, as my lack of photographic skills usually render the pictures unusable. But with a little bit of work on contrast, brightness and the like, some of this late ‘60s Giulia was salvageable, including this profile shot. It’s not especially beautiful, but then the Italian (and some French) saloons were right in their “three-box brick period” at the time. It never ceases to amaze me how low this car’s Cd is compared to its shape.
And though it’s no oil painting, it does convey the sports saloon image very convincingly – more so than Lancias of the period, certainly. But when Alfa launched their Giulia saloon in 1962, did they figure it would remain in production for the next fifteen years? I have no idea, but this boxy little thing carried on despite its outdated panoramic windshields and high beltline, oblivious to the new trends.
Most cars with long production lives are subjected to at least one major facelift – the Giulia certainly didn’t escape that fate. The 1974 Nuova Giulia came with a black plastic grille and a redesigned trunklid – a mercifully light-handed restyling. The previous generation’s 1.3 and 1.6 litre engines were carried over, but (sign of the times) a Perkins Diesel option appeared in 1976. That was only good enough to make the model last until the end of 1977. Well over half a million of these were made – not including the legendary Duetto Spider, which used the Giulia’s underpinnings through to the mid-‘90s.
Glance inside and you understand why Alfa made so many Giulias: these are very nicely appointed cars. Beautiful seats, instruments and a classic steering wheel design that just screams “Take me naaooow!” – all within a relatively small space, but with good headroom and excellent all-round vision. The Giulia’s looks may be a bit gauche (for an Italian car), but they certainly make for a happy driver. The 95 hp DOHC all-alloy 4-cyl. engine also added to said driver’s merriness, while also providing a great soundtrack.
I don’t know how many RHD Giulia Super saloons were made, but I bet finding one would take some doing. It’s not unlikely that this Alfa was bought new here, though Alfas, old or new, are a very rare sight in Bangkok. One sees more prancing horses than Bisciones, certainly. So I quickly snapped this nightly vision and thought that would be that, but the famous CC Effect went into overdrive: I bumped into another one a couple weeks later.
Night turned into day and the sporty, angry blue Giulia turned into a slightly dumpy-eyed 2000 – also a RHD, so perhaps imported new from Italy back in the ‘70s. The square headlamps are pure weird – no idea why this car has them. Perhaps some local workshop’s bright idea for rejuvenating the 2000’s face? Replacing the original quads with these rectangular units makes it look like the Alfa has gone to the optometrist and got itself a pair of thick-lensed horn-rimmed spectacles.
Here’s how the Alfa Romeo 2000 saloon’s snout should look like, just in case. Though very much based on the Giulia, the 1750 / 2000 berlinas wore a smoother body courtesy of Giugiaro at Bertone. The bigger Alfa was launched in late 1967 as the 1750; the 2-litre version arrived in 1971, eventually replacing the smaller engine and giving the model a new lease of life – until the axe came down in 1977, just as it did for the Giulia. Altogether, Alfa Romeo made over 190,000 of these in ten model years.
The tails of the Giulia and the 1750 / 2000 were also slightly different; a moot point here, as I did not manage to photograph either car’s behind. So here’s what they look like. The Giulia’s complicated and rather Edsel-esque rear end was completely changed and enlarged in the 1750 / 2000. Somehow, in doing this, Giugiaro erased the original’s, well, originality. By straightening everything possible and ironing out all creases, the 1750 / 2000 lost all of the smaller car’s personality. To me, this is strangely made even more evident with our Siamese oddball’s big square lights.
While I’m relatively confident in my guestimate for the Giulia’s model year, this grey 2000 is harder to place, given the tinkering it underwent. But someone more knowledgeable about these cars might know better. The car was unfortunately out of bounds and impossible to get from more than a couple of angles. I’d be anxious to see the rear one day – perhaps something strange happened there as well…
It was quite strange seeing these Milanese fraternal twins, both looking fairly decent for an Italian car that age. The 2000 looked a bit forlorn and seems to be up for sale, but the Giulia was obviously getting the care and attention it deserves. There are Alfistas everywhere it seems – even in the tropics.
CC Outtake: Blue Jewel, by Robert Kim