In 1964, Alfa Romeo and Porsche were roughly on par with their mass-production cars. The 356C and the Giulia Spider Veloce had similar performance.
But by 1970 the two companies were worlds apart and have continued to diverge. Two things happened.
First, in 1965 Porsche introduced the 6-cylinder 911. It immediately outclassed Alfa’s new offering the four-cylinder Duetto—which was also heavier than the Giulia it replaced. It took Alfa 16 years, until 1981, to release the 6-cylinder GTV6.
The other thing that widened the gap between the two marques was their approach to smog and safety regulations. Without question, Porsche had more resources to respond to these regulatory challenges that kicked in 1968.
Underfunded Alfa was always on the defensive. It failed to produce a U.S.-legal car in 1968 or 1970, much to the dismay of its dealers. Despite what SPICA fuel injection lovers say, this Weber-replacing mechanical pump, adapted from another use, worked well only when attended to by those who understood them. Such experts were far and few between and remain so today.
Further, Porsche crafted a semi-attractive solution to the 5-mph bumper challenge. (I have a 1975 911.) Alfa, however, grafted heavy, ugly protuberances to its Spiders, Berlinas and Alfettas. On the Spider, the massive bumpers lasted until the 1991 S4. (I’ve got one of those too.)
Even during its dark “mid-years” of 1975-78, Porsches were relatively quick and still sports cars. The smog-strangled, powerless, heavy Alfetta GTs, Berlinas and Spiders were, in stock form, slow and clumsy.
I lived through this period, and in fact sold new Alfas for the Portland dealership, Ron Tonkin Grand Turismo. It was with sadness that I watched Porsche continue to evolve with iconic models like the SC while Alfa countered by offering “The Graduate,” which was nothing more than a decontented Spider.
I am far more an Alfa Boy than I am a Porche Guy, although I’ve had my share of each. I’m afraid that those of us looking to Alfa’s glory days with production machines that could stand head-to-head with Porsche are going to have to keep our or focus in the 1960s.
Do you agree that the 750-series Giuliettas, 101-series Giulias, and 105-series GTVs and Supers were the last great Alfas?