The 105 Series Alfa Romeos are the cars most non-Alfisti think of when you say “Alfa.” And that’s not surprising, as all of them — coupe (GTV), convertible (Spider) or sedan (Berlina) — offer a level of mechanical sophistication, build quality and pure driving fun which is hard to beat in their price ranges. In addition, any of these Alfas can be used without fear in modern traffic. While your collector-car insurance agency might not appreciate it, these cars could even be employed as daily drivers in many areas of the United States.

Although the 750/101 Series Giuliettas and later Giulias firmly established Alfa Romeo as a volume manufacturer, the market failure of the 102 Series “Cast Iron” 2000s and the later, 6-cylinder 2600 cars proved that Alfa’s métier was in smaller cars.

1962 to 1974 cars are best

There’s really no reason why you should care about the 105 designation, as it can get confusing and there are Alfas that carry the 105 series number that are anything but affordable, such as the racing GTA and GTZ, or TZ1. In addition, the last 105 Series cars for the U.S. market, from 1971 to 1994, became the 115 series. For our purposes, we’ll make a cutoff at 1974, when the last GTV 2000 coupes were sold in the U.S. and before the spider gained rubber bumpers.

The introduction of the 105 Series came with the Giulia TI sedan, or Berlina, in 1962. A thoroughly modern design with a very capable suspension, standard four-wheel disc brakes and the proven 1,570-cc (1600) twin-cam 4-cylinder engine, the Giulia TI also boasted an impressive 0.33 coefficient of drag, lower than that of the Porsche 356 or early 911.

The 105 Series range was extensively developed — from open two-seaters, such as the iconic round-tail Duetto through the Kamm tail and just ending with the rubber bumper overrider models. Coupes range from the early “Step Nose” 1600 through the ultimate 2000 GTV. Sedans go from the aforementioned Giulia TI through the competition Giulia TI Super to the homely-but-roomy 1750/2000 Berlina.

When choosing your Alfa 105, the first question to ask is: “Which do I need, and why?” There’s no reason to buy a Duetto if you’re always going to be afraid of its very vulnerable extremities, and the later “Square Tail” models offer the same driving experience—if not the same sexy 1960s style.

There were regular changes in styling details in the coupes, from the early Step Nose single-headlight Giulia GT models, such as the example Publisher Martin just added to the SCM stable, to the added driving lights and smooth nose of the 1750 GTV to the busier grille and more lavish detailing of the 2000 GTV.
If you need the room of a sedan, these Alfas don’t punish you. The truly entertaining sedans changed completely from the fluted sculpturing of the Giulia TI to the 1750 and 2000 Berlina, which are larger cars with almost no exterior decoration whatsoever — but offering more comfort than can be imagined in a true sport sedan.

All Alfas of this period offer sensational handling, and the sedans handle as well, if not better, than the spiders and coupes. All suffer from a bit of axle hop in the middle of bumpy corners, which is not particularly dangerous but can be entertaining if you’re prepared for it.

Don’t fear the SPICA

The relative performance characteristics of the 1600, 1750 and 2000 engines will be debated as long as Alfisti gather in bars, but it is generally agreed that with each increase in displacement, an increase in torque and lower-end power was accompanied by a reduction in the willingness to freely rev at the top of the band. It’s not a bad or a good thing — just different. Engine swaps to a different size were not uncommon in the recent past, although that has slowed as more attention is paid to originality. An engine upgrade generally doesn’t hurt value too much, but it depends on how original the entire car is.

One so-called upgrade that is falling from favor — and not a moment too soon — is the reflexive ripping out of the much-maligned SPICA fuel injection units on the 1750 and 2000 models. When properly set up and not fooled with by ham-handed amateurs, the mechanical fuel injection fits the power profile of the engines quite well. The number of badly done Weber carburetor conversions has done no favors to the reputation of either the shops which did them or the cars that have them. All the parts are available today to keep your SPICA running well, and there’s really no excuse to remove one at this point.

If you’re in the hunt, note that as Alfa dealt with the emissions and safety regulations in the U.S., it skipped a couple of years. There are no U.S.-market 1968 and 1970 Alfas. Those you might find could be personal imports or Canadian cars.

The price of admission

In terms of appreciation, with the exception of the blue-chip 105s — the GTA and the TZ1 — in the affordable-classic market, only the 1750 and 2000 GTV have shown notable upward movement in the market during the past few years, and even that seems to have leveled off quite a bit from 2007.

The best original or superbly restored coupes will sell in the $40k range, with most good examples available in the upper $20k to low $30k range. Duettos no longer enjoy the huge premium over 1750 Spiders that was once common, with very good cars selling in the low $30k area and many available in the low to mid-20s. Running, driving, presentable “square tail” Spiders are yours from the high four figures to just above $10k, with the cheap ones not worth the discount. I’m sure you noticed the market anomaly that sees the closed GTs and GTVs regularly bringing more than their open counterparts.

With the exception of genuine TI Supers, a limited production run (501) of homologated racers with many lightweight bits, sedans remain relative bargains but early models, from 1962 to 1967 have shown a rise lately thanks to their low survival rates. The choice is really dependent on which look you prefer, but very good 1750 / 2000 Berlinas can be bought in the high five-digit area while the Giulia sedans in comparable condition bring over $20k, with a real TI Super above $75k.

Join the club and drive

The defining characteristic of an affordable classic is usability. There’s no real use to buying a car reasonably and then having to spend lots of time chasing No Longer Available parts — and even more money finding the one service outlet within 1,000 miles to keep it maintained and on the road. While they do not yet enjoy the mouse-click rebuild now possible with a number of American and British cars, the Alfa Romeos of the 105 and closely related 115 Series come very close.

It is also worth noting that although these cars are relatively inexpensive to maintain, restoration costs are not inconsiderable. Sadly, they love to rust. As a result, you will see many cars in your search that should be avoided at all costs, unless you’re really good at welding in your garage. Also, the mechanicals are not for beginners.

Any of these Alfas will get you into a host of vintage events. The Alfa Romeo Owners Club has an active group of local and regional chapters where you can get involved and really use your car, which is the point of owning any Alfa.

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