The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV, formerly known by the same name minus the “V”, established itself in a class of one since its arrival in 1963. There was no other 2+2 sport coupe that had all the qualities it did: a lusty 1.6 L DOHC four making a prodigious 125 (gross) hp, a slick-shifting five speed transmission, and handling that simply defied the fact that it had a solid rear axle. There were others too, such as the attractive interior, dash, steering wheel, and supportive genuine bucket seats. And last but not least, its timeless styling by Giorgio Giugiaro.
There’s not a lot to say except that it was a love fest, with only a few minor niggles. A Porschephile who drove it admitted that the GTV was a superb handler and presented the best alternative to his beloved brand. A Chrysler engineer spent some time looking underneath the rear end to see just how Alfa made a solid rear axle work so effectively, even at speed in curves on rough pavement.
The legend was not based on hype; it was well earned.
The BMW 2002 and 3-series get the glory, but this is THE original sports sedan, right here folks.
In 1965, there was nothing else like it.
Tom: I know you mean well here, but the actual Original Sports SEDAN was the Giulia 4-door running mate to this. A slightly higher center of gravity than the GTV, of course, but despite looking streamlined as a brick its aerodynamics were better. I’ve never had one of those, but my first Alfa was the follow-up Berlina, with the later 2-liter engine and equally fine aerodynamics and road manners. I do love my Milano, but a good Giulia or 105 Berlina might make me want to get back to where I once belonged.
I mis-typed the year, and I don’t dispute the Guilia FOUR-door may better fit the sedan description–perhaps I should have said 4-seater.
I am not an expert on Alfa Romeos. However, these Guilia 2-doors with the original body style, are my favorite Alfa of all time, so I am biased.
During my pre-teen years in Greece in the mid 1970s, this was one of the cooler cars on the road, snazzier than a BMW 2002. The sedans may have been more aerodynamic, but they didn’t look as sharp (and there were quite a few Alfa sedans on the roads).
As a kid in Greece, I did not have the perception that Fiats in particular, and Italian cars in general (Alfa, Lancia) were lousy cars, since there were so many of them in Greece. However, between moving to the US, and getting older, I came to see that Fix It Again Tony was not cut out for the US, and by association, apparently Alfas were not either.
Compared to Greece, in the late 1970s, Alfas were very rare in metro NYC–which leads me to believe they were very rare in the US. BMW 2002s were not all that common either, especially the nice, small-bumper cars.
But I think the formula of a stylish body, with a high-output, high-winding OHC (TWO OH cams too), stick-shift (5-spd, not 4-spd) was pioneered with this car, more than any other, at least for me.
The BMW 1600, and especially 2002, were very successful because they offered the same appeal, executed with teutonic precision and quality, for considerably less money, and in the USA, ate Alfa’s lunch and then some, and poured it on with the 3-series.
The Lotus Cortina–I didn’t think of that–perhaps the first “GTI”–an econocar with muscle
I think the 1963 Lotus Cortina has a fair shout at original sports sedan status, and at a more affordable price than Alfa’s.
Replaced the tires on my Volvo 142 with Pirelli Cincuratos. Made a huge difference. Tires on the test car seem to be the same pattern. Good tires.
There is one car I can think of, that although it uses a somewhat different means, achieves a nearly equal (arguably better balanced) end to the Alfa 105-115 Coupes. Here in the US they are complete unknowns due to, for all intended purposes, a nonexistent dealer network, but make no mistake, those in the know do not dispute the accuracy of their well earned reputation. Have a peek at what Road and Track had to say about it two months after they tested this Alfa; yes the outright performance figures trail a bit, but 1.) it is astonishingly $700 less expensive – not something I expected to find, and multiple period ads back up that this wasn’t an error on R&T’s part, and 2.) there was a lighter, more powerful performance oriented 1.3 HF model available:
Click here for Sept. 1967 R&T Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Rallye test
Intriguingly, in far-off Australia, these were a common-enough sight in cities – at least, common-enough to a car nut kid. In truth, Alfa can’t have sold too many of them in a market that’s only 1 million new cars a year presently and maybe half that in ’60’s-’70’s.
That said, it seems every one ever sold is still around, so they still seem common to me. I sat in one once, a ’65, in about ’98. It was immaculate, and (from memory) about $18k: too high, I thought. Same one’d be close $100K here today. Oh well. Still too high, then…
Thanks for the Fulvia link. It would be my choice over the Alfa.