Photos make it clear this is no historic relic, but rather a current weapon of mass destruction
Introduced in 1966, the GTA (the "A" stood for alleggerita, or lightened) was the official competition version of the Giulia Sprint GT. The model was produced in road and race variants, the latter, as usual, being the responsibility of Autodelta. Almost indistinguishable from the road-going Sprint GT, the GTA differed by virtue of its aluminum body panels, Plexiglas side and rear windows, and lightened interior fittings and trim. As a result, the GTA tipped the scales at around 450 lb lighter than the stock steel-bodied car.
Alfa's classic twin-cam 1,570-cc 4-cylinder underwent extensive modification for the GTA. In road trim, the revised engine produced 115 hp, with up to 170 horsepower available in race tune. The GTA made its racing debut on March 20, 1966, at Monza, with Andrea de Adamich and Teodoro Zeccoli triumphing in the Jolly Club Four-Hour Race. From then on the Autodelta-prepared GTAs enjoyed outstanding success, winning the European Touring Car Championship three years running, from 1966 to '68.
The Championship's 1,300-cc class had long been the preserve of the Mini Cooper, but that would all change in 1968 with the arrival of the GTA 1300 Junior, which for the next few years enjoyed dominance equal to that of the Mini in the early '60s. Unique to the model, the GTA 1300 Junior's engine combined the Giulia's 78-mm bore with a 67.5-mm-stroke crankshaft. Equipped with the GTA's twin-plug head and revving to more than 9,000 rpm, this little gem of an engine produced 150 hp-plus. Just over 400 GTA 1300 Juniors had been constructed when production ceased in 1975.
Entered by Scuderia Pegaso, the GTA 1300 offered here competed in the 1970 Targa Florio driven by its owner, Paolo de Luca, and Giuseppe Vassallo, completing four of the ten laps before retiring. This car went on to achieve numerous class victories in Italian national events in period, as recorded by its competition record on file, and is offered with its original Italian title of ownership ready for export.
De Luca owned the GTA until 1971. The vendor's father bought the car from Fabrizio Violati in 1988, and when it was sold in 1990, the sticker from the 1970 Targa Florio (since removed) was still in place. A recent participant in the Tour of Spain (2005), the car is presented in very good condition, having been fully serviced earlier this year.
|1970 Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior
|470; approx. 300 Autodelta modified
|Original List Price:
|$7,200 (Corsa w/carburetors)
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|Engine Number Location:
|Intake side of engine, near front
|AROC PO Box 12340 Kansas City, MO 64116-0340
|B (Stradale), A (Corsa)
This 1970 Alfa GTA 1300 Junior sold for $93,150, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams Les Grandes Marques à Monaco sale, held May 18, 2009.
The three Alfa GTA models have long been a curious case in the sports GT collecting world. The GTA, GTA Junior, and GTAm all have a prodigious racing history, driven to class and sometimes overall wins by pilots both famous and amateur on many continents. They’re best known here in the U.S. from the glory days of TransAm racing, but they were also quite successful in European touring car events.
The GTA 1300 Junior was created to run in the 1,300-cc class rather than the 2-liter class, which was far more competitive. As expected, the Juniors showed a clean pair of heels to the Mini Coopers, which had dominated the lower class. The problem today is that in modern vintage racing, the expensive lightened panels and fancy twin-plug ignition of the GTA are no match for an off-the-street GTV with modern chassis technology, fiberglass or carbon fiber body parts, and a breathed-on 2-liter engine, which looks like a 1600 or 1300 but has the power and torque an Alfa GTA could only dream of. So you’re faced with basking in the originality and correctness of your six-figure car while being blown into the weeds lap after lap by a rebuilt $15,000 GTV. That’s okay-we know you’re reading SCM because you’re a purist at heart.
Autodelta variants had significant price differential
There are three distinct classes of GTA Juniors. Of the more than 400 built, 300 were modified as competition cars in the workshops of Autodelta, Alfa’s official race preparation department. Of those, 100 were fitted with SPICA fuel injection. They produced 110 hp, 160 hp, and 165 hp, respectively, and there was a substantial price differential among them, with the Autodelta competition cars costing approximately $7,200 and $10,997, against the factory “stradales” at $3,656. As most stradales were modified later for competition of one sort or another, that differential hasn’t continued today, with all GTA Juniors trading in a narrow range.
Compared to the GTA 1600, which has more torque and lower gearing, the GTA 1300 Junior is a rather different driving experience. Off the line it’s not much, but if you keep it the powerband, it’s sweetly manageable. By avoiding the brakes and going for momentum on twisty roads and circuits, you can lessen rowing through the gears, which the larger-engined car might encourage through more point and squirt driving.
Looking at the photo of the interior of the car here, it’s clear that this is no historic relic, but rather a current weapon of mass destruction. Modern racing seats and contemporary instruments fitted into the stripped dash panel indicate it has been thoroughly prepared for European events such as the Tour de España it ran in 2005.
Why remove the 1970 Targa Florio sticker?
There seems to be a gap in the provenance here, and the historical record doesn’t directly support the auction catalog description, but perhaps the original Italian title of ownership mentioned fills that in. For instance, period photos of de Luca in a GTA at the Targa Florio show a car with wide fenders, not the narrow fenders on the car today; we don’t find any mention of body panel replacement during restoration. Sadly, the 1970 Targa Florio sticker has been removed from the car, so we’re missing another point of historical reference.
Records of the 1970 and 1971 Targa Florio show an entry by de Luca and Vassallo, but list them as running in 1.6-liter cars. All together it seems to suggest that while this chassis may have been raced in period, it may also have been delivered as a stradale.
For vehicles such as this, an unbroken chain of ownership is worth its weight in gold. Even if the
paperwork doesn’t quite line up, it still appears to be a well-prepared Alfa GTA that has run at least one fairly recent major event. The price paid is in line with that of a clean stradale, so perhaps no harm was done, but especially in the current market, you can never have too much information.