In 1963, Alfa Romeo decided that the 1,300 cc Giulietta series was due for a facelift and the 1,600 cc Giulia model was introduced. The most apparent identifying feature of the Giulia is the chromed, horizontal faux hood-scoop trim, replacing the petite vertical chrome strip of the earlier Giulietta. Alfa Romeo claimed this scoop was necessary to clear the increased height of the 1,600 cc engine. However, these larger engines are regularly retrofitted into the earlier, 1,300 cc chassis with no hood clearance problems, pointing to a triumph of style over function.
A much-desired addition was the ZF 5-speed manual gearbox, formerly offered only on the Sprint Speciale and the Sprint Zagato series. Rare for a production car of this era, the overdrive .79 reduction fifth gear allowed for decreased engine speed at continuous high speeds.
To cope with the increased 104 bhp output of the 1.6 Normale engine, three leading-shoe front drum brakes were fitted. These proved troublesome to adjust, each shoe affecting the other, and expensive to maintain with three wheel cylinders for each hub.
Dunlop disc brakes were introduced in 1964 on the front wheels, and provided enhanced stopping power with increased reliability. Should you own an early, drum-braked Giulia, an upgrade to disc brakes is highly recommended.
The interior of the Giulia was little changed, with only a new steering wheel, a revised radio-blanking plate, gauges with white numerals against a black background, and the loss of contrasting colored piping on the seats setting these cars apart from the Giulietta.
The top mechanism was much improved from 1964 on, with a spring assist to help raise and lower the frame from its body cavity.
In 1964 the first Giulia Veloce models made their appearance. Not just a 'hop-up kit,' their drive-train was very nearly completely different than that of the Normales. The Veloce engine had different camshafts, higher compression pistons, a pair of dual-throat side-draft Webers, tubular headers that tapered into an expansion chamber and two-piece aluminum sump with an integral cooling maze, which combined to produce 129 bhp.
The rear axle ratio of the Veloce was 4.56:1, as contrasted to the 5.12:1 of the Normale, and provided a leisurely 20 mph per 1,000 rpm versus the 16.2 mph per 1,000 of the Normale.
Externally, the only immediately apparent visual difference was the application of a rather unfortunate set of block letters spelling 'Alfa Romeo' above the trunk lock, and the badge '1600 Veloce' on the lower right part of the trunk.
The discerning Alfista will notice a split in the vent on the driver's side air intake. This division sends one-half the air to the driver's fresh air vent, the other half to the ravenous Weber carburetors.
Between 1964 and 1965, only 1,091 Giulia Spider Veloces were built, as compared to 8,950 Spider Normales. The serial numbers of the Veloces, stamped on the passenger side of the firewall inside the engine compartment above the fresh-air vent, began with the prefix AR39 followed by four additional numbers. Normales, except for the last few built, began with AR37 or AR38. The final Normales, produced after the cessation of Veloce models, had numbers above 391091, most often beginning with AR392.
The car shown here is Giulia Spicer Veloce S/N 390290, which still maintains its original color combination of very light ice blue over a red interior. It was purchased from its original owner in 1965 after only a few thousand miles had been covered. It remained in this enthusiast's ownership until 1990. During that time, it received an extensive body renovation by the noted Oregon restoration expert Bill Gilham, and a new interior to the correct original pattern by Larry Smith. In addition, a new piston/liner kit was fitted, and the cylinder head overhauled.
The car changed hands in August of 1990, having covered approximately 67,000 original miles. It still had its original, although worn, canvas top and radio-blanking plate. The gearbox was overhauled by Alfa specialist Les Hurlock, with all new 'moly' type synchros and sliders fitted.
In the spring of 1992 it was purchased by Ken and Marjorie Metzger, of Tiburon, CA, who use the car on a regular basis. They plan to have a new top fitted to original specifications, and to renew the rubber mats. Otherwise, their intention is to simply enjoy the car exactly as it is, a fine, extremely original example of a very desirable Alfa.
There are two types of Giulia Spider buyers: those who are informed and care a great deal about the difference between a Normale and Veloce, and those who simply like the Pininfarina styling of the Italian convertible, and don't care what is under the hood. SCM maintains that the performance of the Veloce is so far superior to the Normale that a $5,000 price differential would not be inappropriate.
Recent auction sales of Normales and Veloces, in good #2 driving condition, have been in the $13,000 to $16,000 range regardless of engine type, with a very shiny but not completely correct Normale bringing over $25,000 at last year's Barrett-Jackson Auction. That owner/dealer, by the way, has been advertising that car for sale ever since, with no takers. That is an indication that the car was overpriced then, and remains so today.
Before paying full price for a Veloce, be sure that all of the requisite mechanical parts are in place. Check the block number, as every Veloce we have examined in the country has an engine block prefix of 121, as opposed to the 112 of a 1600 Normale.
In the current market, purchasing a Veloce in need of major restoration does not make sense. Finding complete and correct cars in #1 or #2 condition and bargaining fiercely is the best procedure.
Giulia Spider Veloces will always be among the most desirable of the 705/101 series Alfas, and will appreciate at the front of the market.