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Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV

Playing the Romeo Published: 9th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 1750 GTV
  • Worst model: 1300 Saloon
  • Budget buy: 1300 Juniors
  • OK for unleaded?: No, needs additives
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4100 x W1580mm (GTV)
  • Spares situation: Pretty fair
  • DIY ease?: Excellent
  • Club support: More body related (rust)
  • Appreciating asset?: GTV’s are fast moving up
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Always a cultral classic
What a lovely looker almost 50 years on! Sadly rust loves Alfas so check with care – even 'restored' examples What a lovely looker almost 50 years on! Sadly rust loves Alfas so check with care – even 'restored' examples
Alfa engine is well known and durable if looked after - 2000 weakest unit Alfa engine is well known and durable if looked after - 2000 weakest unit
Giulia saloons are almost as much fun, more practical and a fair bit cheaper but most are in poorer shape Giulia saloons are almost as much fun, more practical and a fair bit cheaper but most are in poorer shape
Great in its day but the cabins lack stamina; easily repaired apart from cracked dash tops Great in its day but the cabins lack stamina; easily repaired apart from cracked dash tops
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If you’re after sophisticated a sporting saloon or coupe from the 1960s then they don’t come any lovelier than Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and GTV

Pros & Cons

Style, image, pep, good spares and support, easy to upgrade
Dear to restore, rot woes, frail fi ttings and trim. Bodging
£1000-£10,000

They say that you’re not a true car enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa. Yes they impress and irritate all at the same time but for the price no other carmaker offers so much passion or prestige. When talking classic Alfas, well we suppose that all qualify to some degree and yes that even includes some of the less memorable efforts of the 70s and 80s. But it was the 1960s which saw Alfa at its peak with the Spider and the GTV, the latter arguably the car the older now family guy Hoffman would have to be chosen if ever a sequel to The Graduate was made. Alfa’s GTV is one the greatest coupe’s of all time a well as one of Alfa’s fi nest designs ever. In an age where twin cam engines. fi vespeed transmissions, sophisticated suspensions, all round disc brakes et al are now taken for granted, Alfa was offering the lot well over 40 years beforehand. It didn’t come cheap mind and in its day a GTV (as the car became better known as) was a costly as an E-type but these days the tiny gap has become a chasm and these BMW 3 Series Coupes of their day can still be exceptional value for money – so long as you get a good one that is.

History

Most 1300s have been fitted with bigger engines

Before the Gran Turismo variant came to existence, Alfa Romeo must have noticed that the Giulietta Sprint, with its sleek coupe body and four seats, more power than its saloon sister, and an affordable price tag, would always be a winner, as it was taking up to a quarter of the Giulietta sales; and so the Sprint magic continued in the Giulia range, originally with a Giulia Sprint GT.

Launched back in 1963 in its 1570cc guise, the Giulia Sprint GT used a second twin-choke carburettor, which meant a 10bhp hike in power from the original 96bhp (in the Giulia saloon) to 106bhp. The Giulia Sprint GT was as fast as the old Giulietta Sprint Veloce. For three years, then, Alfa Romeo allowed a tuned saloon version (the Ti Super) to outperform a GT coupe. Eventually, something had to be done to improve the latter’s engine performance: specifically, a modified cylinder head an inlet manifold did the trick. Enthusiasts soon learnt how to recognise the Alfa Giulia GT Veloce, or Alfa GTV as it became known, by the three horizontal chromed bars, which linked the central ‘scudetto’ (badge) to the front headlamps, and ver tical sidelights, where the indicators were housed.

The extra premium did not deter keen drivers, as the production fi gures show: in little more than two years, almost 14,000 cars were made, and only slightly over ten per cent of those were destined to righthand- drive countries. In 1966, in the best Alfa Romeo tradition, a Junior version joined the range, with its twincam, twin-barrel carburettors 1290cc engine. Only one horizontal bar adorned the radiator grille, and it had a fi ve-speed, fully synchronised gearbox. Despite having only 89bhp under the bonnet it was to be one of the most commercially successful Alfa Romeos of all times. When the 1570cc engine was enlarged to 1779cc (and a new version, Giulia 1750, was born), the unit was adopted by the GTV version too in 1967. The new GTV 1750 was capable of 120mph, and the power output grew to 118bhp. The USA market demanded a Spica indirect fuel injection system to meet the stringent law requirements, whilst the European markets were very happy with the usual twin-carburettors. This version boasted a hydraulically actuated clutch and rear anti-roll bar. The twin headlamps (the outer ones were the larger) were part of a revised front grille. The supercharged GT AM version enjoyed conspicuous competition success.

In 1972 a bored-out version of the 1750 engine raised capacity to 1962cc, and the 2000 GTV range was born. Power output was raised also to 132bhp, and this improvement, coupled with the fact that the GTV 2000 was lighter than its predecessors, brought the top speed to almost 125 mph. This time eight horizontal bars on the front grille told the tale of a more powerful engine under the bonnet. Throughout the GT/GTV histor y, careful handling of design changes and attention for detail ensured that the model’s styling stayed fresh and modern, even when the range was fi nally axed in 1976 after proving to be one of Alfa’s most successful ideas ever. Okay, so let’s talk about the often overlooked but equally entertaining and more practical saloons. The Giulia 1600Ti/ Super was launched in 1962 and despite the brick-like look was pretty aerodynamic. Like the sportier coupes it too boasted fi ve speeds with Weber carbs on the sportier Super, introduced in ‘65. Drum brakes were fi tted to the earliest models but a better servo set up was made standard in ‘66. For ‘69 there was a mild chassis (rear anti-roll bar) and cabin revise with a ‘proper’ handbrake location coupled with dual circuit brakes in March ‘71. A cheaper rubber matted ‘1600’ arrived for ‘72. The 1300 range surfaced in the UK in April 1967 with a 94bhp engine, cheaper trim and a single headlamp arrangement. Changes were similar to the 1600 but car was dropped in February 1971. The 1750 arrived in the UK in March 1968 with a 132bhp engine, having its only facelift in March 1970 with better trim and detailing before being replaced by the 2000 in late ‘71 (although the 1750 lingered on until Feb ‘72) with an automatic option after March ‘74. It survived until 1977 although by now the Alfetta was Alfa’s new Romeo.

Driving

It’s an Alfa and an old school one at that so with those sharp twin cams at full cry how can an enthusiast not be stirred? However with a simple but soundly designed chassis dating back to almost 50 years, you’d be a fool to think that these old Alfas can keep up with sporting machinery of today. Cer tainly the handling of a good, well set up GTV that still stands out but when compared to a grippy, fat-tyred modern, the limits seem low. But speed isn’t everything and it’s the driver involvement that the Alfa demands that makes it so much fun. In their day they were considered fast ; today a 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds (for the 1750 model – the best of the bunch it’s considered) is tardy but the beauty of any saloon or GTV, even the perky 1300 too, is their sharp throttle response and lovely sound. Compared to a crude Capri the GTV is pure sophistication and elegance on the move. That standard fifth gear helps on modern roads although admittedly it’s not a quiet car, especially the fussier 1300 and 1600 versions. It’s hardly an overtly roomy 2+2 either but no worse than the Ford for family needs with the Giulia saloons as practical as any Cortina.

In their day you had to be a real Alfa fan to buy one as combination of high ex works prices plus, back then, special import duties put the cars way out of their respective classes. For example at £1648, the 1300 Junior was even dearer than a Sunbeam Tiger and a whopping £500 dearer than an MGB GT which offered similar performance. Autocar put it best when summing up the 1750 GTV in 1968; “Very expensive, but a most exhilarating and rewarding car to drive” while Motor regarded the line up as the “connoisseur‘s range” although it admitted that you could by a lot more performance for a lot less money elsewhere. Bet it didn’t detract from the Alfa’s desirability.

Prices

Although dear when new, the same can’t be said now and you can buy a very nice car for £4500- £6000 while even the very best GTVs are rare to bust £10,000 (the only exception being the rare GTAs which can cost up to £30k) although values are on the rise. Most interest lies in the 1750 GTVs, followed by the 2000, then the 1600 although the 1300 is no booby prize – if you can fi nd one that is as so many have been upgraded to 1600 or 1750 spec. Saloons are worth a fair bit less; say around £3000 less depending upon spec and condition. And talking of condition you should buy purely on it as these cars are dear to restore and you’ll rarely recoup your outlay buy doing up a basket case, which cost around £1000 still.

As with all classic cars just making sure the car is up to spec can, and often does, work wonders. Handling is fur ther improved by a dedicated Harvey Bailey kit comprising of uprated springs and a new front anti-roll bar. Polly bushing is only effective on the rear says special ist Benalfas. Brakes on all cars are best uprated to ‘2000’ model with uprated pads. As the Alfa engine already uses big jugs, just racier higher lift cams liberates a lot more power. While later Alfa engines are ver y similar and kits to accept modern ignition and fuelling systems are available, its not all together a straight drop in and go swap and it‘s certainly a costly one if not carried out at home.

What To Look For

  • Rust has to be the biggest worry when buying any old Italian classic and the Giulia is no exception. Indeed, thanks to scant rust protection from new, save for a lick of black paint, These old Alfas dissolve on the driveways for fun so you need to check everywhere – and we mean everywhere. And if you don’t know the horrors of a GTV, enlist a specialist who does.
  • Apart form rot you need to wary of cunning bodges. There are some fantastic GTVs out there, but similarly there are also some fantastic looking tart ups too which can catch many people out. Again, it’s where the knowledge of a good specialist helps because although parts and panel supplies are quite good, many rusty cars are too far gone to economically repair properly..
  • Chief rot spots are the rear of the chassis where the suspension trailing arms are attached. If this area is bad, or has been poorly repaired, then walk away as the car is probably bad all over,
  • Still at the rear, inspect the boot area, especially at the base of the rear screen. If too badly gone the body’s strength will be compromised. Check for deft fi ller work here. Scrutinise the boot fl oor these can rot through and the inner wings. We’re reliably informed that a Cortina Mk3 fl oor is a good match!
  • Footwells (especially around the pedal box assembly) and inner sills need a careful eye and be wary of fresh paint and underseal. If you can, remove those sexy Alfa door tread plates to have a squint at the state of the inner sills. The sills are constructed in three layers but if the inner and outer ones are okay then the middle is usually sound. Tip: when checking the rot prone outer sills, see that they tuck behind the wings at each end. Many replacements don’t and apart from being non standard, will not be as strong either.
  • Check the bulkheads for rot, the jacking points and the valance panels, the latter, which are terrible for rusting. The front crossmember can go in a big way as can the front spring pan attachment points. The crossmember also provides location for the anti-roll bar and although patch panels are available it’s a big job to fi x.
  • You’re not fi nished yet… Inner wings, front scuttle and wings, bonnet (front edge), boot are next on the agenda but the biggest concern has to be the A posts where the meek front splash panels behind the front wings provide scant protection against the elements, if indeed they are still fi tted. Rampant rot can render the car scrap.
  • The rear wheel arches are often bodged; if done properly then a lip or seam should be present and not smoothed over with filler. Incidentally, 2000 GTV arches differ to the rest due to the bigger tyres fi tted.
  • Even the roof and petrol fi ller fl ap corrode! Some late cars were fi tted with a factory vinyl roof, which would you believe were ‘nailed’ in place and if the covering is removed you can even see the holes left. Apart from rotting door bottoms on all models, cars fi tted with earlier recessed door handles suffer from rot around the handle too!
  • The good news is that panel supply is good and it’s possible to make a grotty Giulia good again. However it’s an involved, costly process and money may be better spent on a top car in the fi rst place. Mechanically there’s better news as the oily bits are well proven, quite robust and easy to attend. And as a fair bit of the workings were used in successive Alfas so supply is too much of a problem and some useful upgrading can take place.
  • The 105 Series featured an engine span of 1.3 to 2-litres and to the uneducated they all look the same. They are all virtually interchangeable, too which means that many cars run larger engines (some even use the twin spark engine fi tted to new Alfas). Nothing wrong in that - but bear in mind that apart from differences in gearing, all models apart from the 1.3, boasted twin servo-assisted brakes as well as larger anchors.
  • The evergreen twin cam has been around for more than 50 years and is pretty strong. When worn it will fume and smoke although don’t be too worried about the oil pressure gauge diving into the danger zone at idling as it’s common. A healthy unit should register around 50-70psi on the dial.
  • Failing head gaskets are known and remember that the 2000cc unit is more prone to this and even cracking due to being thinner and lacking safety valve core plugs. Check for oil mixing with water and vice versa and have a compression carried out if you are worried. Another sign of failing head gaskets is oil weepage from the exhaust side of the unit.
  • Three different types of fuelling were fi tted; Weber Dellorto Solex carbs and these can differ due to the year of the car – or even what was more practical/available to use at the time! Solex ones are least preferred because even though they perform ok aren’t as sexy plus parts availability is so good either. Rough running may be more than simple tuning; the carbs may need a full rebuild after all these years and you can budget around £500-600 to do the job properly.
  • The five-speed gearbox was a joy in its day and still should be although wear may be present. Don’t count a lack of second gear synchro in this though as it’s the fi rst thing to fail on even a healthy ‘box (crunchy changes?). Oh and by the way, it’s an old fashioned gearbox that’s a bit stiff and slow when cold but fi ne once the oil has warmed up. Diffs are usually okay but the limited slip unit on the 2000GTV (optional on 1750s) requires more involved repairs.
  • As for the rest of the running gear, make a note of the fact that the steering box location to the cross-member can crack, front and rear suspension bushes and engine mounts are prone to failure (especially the latter so check for engine rocking and a juddering clutch take-up), rear suspension check straps break and the brakes were changed from Dunlop to ATE early on in the car’s life.
  • Interiors are Italian plastic but can be repaired easily. Worn stitching, cracked dashboard tops, damp-ruined headlinings, broken switchgear and split gear gaiters are top faults. And those Italian electrics of course…
  • With so much to check we can only advise that you either enlist the help of an Alfa expert plus obtain a copy of the excellent Essential Buyers Guide to the Giulia GT Coupe from Veloce Publishing (ISBN 1-904788-69-6). It’s the best tenner you’ll ever spend on the car!

Three Of A Kind

Lotus Cortina Mk2
Lotus Cortina Mk2
Arguably the closest car in spirit and sophistication to the Giulia saloons, the Mk2 is always in the shadows of the iconic Mk1 and yet it’s a better all rounder being more relaxed and civilised yet just as quick. They are about half the price of a Mk1 into the bargain. Only two-door cars were offered so beware of fakes. Spares and support is pretty good but engines are dear to rebuild.
Lancia Beta
Lancia Beta
In house rival to the Alfa ranges in the 1970s was Fiat-based and virtually killed off in the UK in 1980 due to front page rust worries. But the Lancia Beta (available in saloon and coupe guises) has a lot in common to the Giulia and GTV and feels similar to drive despite being front-wheel drive. Not that many left now yet despite rarity don’t command much money – fi ve grand tops.
Lotus Elan +2
Lotus Elan +2
Evenly matched to the GTV in its day on performance and price, the Elan +2 is not as family-sized as the Alfa but okay for small kids. Excellent car that’s said to be even better to drive then the smaller Elan with superior handling. Later cars came with fi ve-speed gearbox for more relaxed cruising which helps a lot. Not as dear as more iconic Elan two-seater but prices are starting to rise.

Verdict

A good Alfa Romeo is a joy to drive and own – but there’s also a lot of dross out there. Look at as many examples as you can to get a feel of the car and the standard on sale before you dive in with an open chequebook. With rust such a major worry it may be best to seek out one of the many Alfa specialists to fi nd the right car. It’s worth the effort and added expense entailed because this Alfa remains timeless in its style and appeal. and always will.



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