Keith’s Blog: My Favorite Alfa is a 4-door Sedan

 

I had a chance to go for a drive in the SCM Giulia Super last weekend. We took a scenic, winding route, starting on Portland’s curvy Skyline Boulevard and passing through the tony Pearl District downtown.

From there we headed out through an industrial area on Highway 30 and then crossed the cathedral-like St. John’s Bridge before heading home.

I have owned over 100 Alfas. I currently have seven. I hate to think about parting with even one of them.

But each time I’m in the Super, it becomes clearer to me that if I had to pick a favorite Alfa, it would be this homely 4-door sedan.

The Giulia Super, designed by Giuseppe Scarnati, was the world’s first mass-produced sports sedan. More than 475,000 were built from 1962-75. They shared their basic drivetrain and suspension with the so-called “Tipo 105 Series” Alfa GTV, Duetto and square-tail convertibles.

While Giulias came with a variety of drivetrains, the best known in the United States are the 1967 Giulia Supers. The “Super” nomenclature referred to the uprated twin-cam 1600-cc engine that, with a pair of dual Weber carburetors, produced about 110 horsepower. Top speed was 106 mph and 0-60 mph is a leisurely 12 seconds.

Getting into a stoplight drag with nearly any modern economy car is a bad idea. Because of all the lovely mechanical noises the 50-year-old Super makes, it will “feel” much faster than a modern car. However, the Kias and Hyundais won’t even know you were racing them as they watch you vanish in their rear-view mirrors.

The 1967 SCM Super has been upgraded with a 2-liter engine that puts out about 135 horsepower. The increase in horsepower has allowed the rear axle ratio to be changed from the stock 4.56 to 4.1. The car now cruises effortlessly — if not quietly — at 80 mph.

Oddly enough, the boxy-shape of the Super offers excellent aerodynamics. It has a drag coefficient of just .34; the only cars in production in 1962 with a lower coefficient were the Citroen 4-door sedans and the Porsche 356.

The wheels have been changed to wider 14-inch ones. Stiffer springs, larger brakes, Koni shocks and front and rear sway bars complete the package.

The SCM Super is now faster, lower and corners better than the two-door GTV coupe of the same era.

But it’s not the performance that makes this homely little sedan so endearing.

It’s an endlessly useful car. I’ve gone on 1,000-mile trips with two pre-teen boys in the back seat. I’ve carried bicycles sticking out of the trunk. On high-speed tours, I’ve often taken the inside line on challenging roads, passing exotics with far more horsepower.

The driver has a commanding seating position, looking over the short hood. The gauge has two very large instruments, with speedometer and tachometer surrounded by other indicators.

The lever for the 5-speed gearbox is perfectly placed.

Our car has a bad-boy exhaust, which always surprises people with the great sounds coming from such a non-descript car.

In short, the Super makes every short trip into an autocross — and every long trip into a Mille Miglia.

When you are behind the wheel, you know you are in a machine produced by a sports car company that has been winning races since 1910.

I would miss the top-down ecstasy of the Duetto, or the ultra-crisp handling of the GTV. But neither of those cars are really 4-passenger, all-weather sports cars.

Supers have gotten expensive of late, as the world has discovered their appeal. Oddly enough, young sports car enthusiasts are particularly drawn to them, as much for their performance as their contrarian appeal. Next Gen Super owners take pride that, in era of look-a-like egg-shaped vehicles, they own a car that stands out from the pack.

If you find a decent, mostly-correct 1967 Super for under $25,000 you should snap it up. We paid $24,000 for the SCM Super five years ago, and we have “invested” another $10,000 worth of upgrades into it. I’d hope that it would now be worth at least $40,000.

As the years pass, I place an increasing value on cars that can carry family and friends. And I can still rap the throttle and pretend I am Juan Manuel Fangio sliding sideways on the backroads of Italy near Milan, where the Super was built. No car can do everything, but the Super checks more boxes for the sports car enthusiast than most.

Before you ask, mine’s not for sale.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin

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  1. Told ya before. My instructor at the Nurburgring (years ago) had a Ti. Tells you a lot. He said before the course ‘forget power, bring a car with great handling and brakes’, so I went in a fake GTA. Couple of times he demonstrated a section four up in his upright sedan. I preferred it to my borrowed coupe…

  2. I felt the same way about my 1977 Alfetta Sport Sedan. It met an unhappy end when a skip loader destroyed it in front of my house. My 2017 Giulia is giving me more than enough pleasure but sadly without the simplicity.

  3. I couldn’t agree more Keith. I have a 69 Euro-spec Super with a transplanted 2.0L from a Berlina. It is cool and typically the only one at my local classic car gatherings, is exceedingly practical, and just fantastic to drive. If you haven’t done so already, check out the episode with the Giulia Super in Seinfeld’s series this past year.

  4. I agree and I look forward to driving the wheels off one of those. Just bought a 1964 Giulia TI. Love the details on those early Berlinas.

  5. I agree with everything!!! I bought my ‘67 Super in 1987, using all my savings, my first car, worked for the mechanic to get the transmission replaced. That car has been the best car I ever had. I drove her in CO winter storms, across the US multiple times. The only problem was people stealing bits off the car when I parked it. There is no greater thrill than roaring past the cop on California route 1, who was giving another driver a ticket. There were many times I was faster than 106mph. That car hated 70mph. She purred at 80, and felt as though I had let her run true to her nature at 110mph. I love that car. Her name is Cara Mia. Great article, thanks!!!!