The Bertone-penned Sprint Speciale version of the Giulietta first appeared in the Alfa Romeo catalogue in 1957. With super-streamlined bodywork, it was reckoned to be absolutely sensational looking, bearing a marked resemblance to some of the legendary Italian marque’s earlier competition designs, particularly the Disco Volante sports-racer and the still futuristic Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica show car.
The Giulietta’s successor, the Giulia, appeared in 1962. It featured a larger 1570-cc engine and five-speed gearbox, and was fitted with front disc brakes. A Sprint Speciale version of the Giulia again became the road going Alfa model to have, the extra engine capacity, coupled with the slippery aerodynamic shape, providing effortless high-speed cruising.

A letter on file from the Secretary of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club confirms that Giulia SS chassis number 381350 pictured here was manufactured in Italy in 1965. The vendor tells us that the left-hand-drive coupe was restored to a very high standard, some four years ago by XK Engineering. The aerodynamically efficient bodywork has been finished in silver and the interior trimmed in black. With legendary Alfa 1.6-liter, twin-cam four-cylinder engine and well-spaced five-speed manual gearbox, this is one of the prettiest Grand Tourers from the 1960s.

{analysis} This 1965 Giulia Sprint Speciale sold for $21,999, including buyer’s premium, at H&H’s Buxton auction, October 7-8, 2003. The price, at the mid-range of the SCM Price Guide, represents good value for this limited-production, special-bodied Alfa.

The Alfa Sprint Speciales are as close as you can get to a “show car for the street.” Originally conceived as a competition variant of the Giulietta, Bertone’s steel body made the car heavy and thus uncompetitive, compared with the alloy Zagato-bodied Alfa race cars. Nevertheless, it certainly made for a stunning style statement for the road.

Blessed with the competent mechanicals of first the 1300-cc Giulietta and then the uprated 1.6-liter and five-speed of the Giulia, Sprint Speciales are cars that are as enjoyable to drive as they are to look at. The aerodynamic Bertone body allowed the SS to have a higher top speed than the standard-bodied cars, an assured highway cruiser that topped out at 120 mph.

Mechanically there’s little difference between a stock Giulia Veloce and an SS, as both have dual Weber carbs, tubular headers, a two-piece oil sump for enhanced cooling and other Alfa go-fast parts of the era.

Giulia engines and gearboxes are reliable and long-lived, provided they have been serviced by knowledgeable hands, with accurate and timely valve-adjustments being of utmost importance. This makes service records and ownership history a definite plus, as these cars suffered through a time when they were inexpensive enough to be considered just used cars.

When considering an SS, the first concern must be fit-not of the body panels, but of the driver. These cars have fairly flat floors and low seats, which combined with the traditional Italian “legs up, arms out” driving position, can make these cars uncomfortable for six-footers or people with long legs.

As with all low-production cars, body condition is an area of concern. Sprint Speciales are expensive to restore properly, as they were hand-finished cars with body panels that do not easily swap from one car to another. Shut lines are particularly important, especially the door-to-fender contour on the sharply rounded sides. These should look quite even, which is difficult to achieve in a car that does not carry its original bodywork.

Special attention must also be paid to ensure that the unobtainable trim pieces such as bumpers, grille bars and window surrounds are present and in good or restorable condition. Badges and wheel covers, however, have been reproduced and are readily available.

A good Sprint Speciale should feel quite solid, with few rattles or clunks. In spite of the reputation for poor build quality that Italian cars of this era have, limited-production models like these were carefully assembled. After all, when new these Giulia Sprints were more expensive than the six-cylinder Alfa 2600, and at nearly $6,000, we are talking Jaguar E-type money.

Speaking of Jags, the Giulia Sprint pictured here has been restored by XK Engineering. Given their first-rate reputation for paint, it may be assumed that the bodywork on this SS was properly done, something to be careful about on a car as prone to rust as an Alfa.

Giulia SS values have not moved much recently, remaining stuck in the $20,000 range since reaching a high of $50,000 during the speculator’s market in the late 1980’s. There’s certainly potential for these cars to appreciate again.

With the stylistic inspirations for the SS, the fabulous Alfa BAT 5, 7, and 9 show cars, trading in the seven-figure range, the Sprint Speciale is a far more practical and inexpensive way to put some of this kind of style in your garage, in a car that offers considerable driving fun as well. Considering this combination of visual flamboyance and driving practicality, this Sprint Speciale, and indeed any properly-restored SS in this price range, should be considered well bought.-Donald Osborne

(Photo, historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.){/analysis}

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