Chapter 5

The Giulietta appeared in 1954. It's name, according to Alfa lore, stems from an incident at a car show where an automotive writer commented about the lack of Giuliettas, because he only saw the Romeos.

The engine was a technical marvel. While it retained the typical (for Alfa) twin overhead cams and aluminium head, the block was also aluminium and utilized the wet sleeve design. The upper part of the block is essentially an open box. Into the box are installed the cylinders that slide into machined receivers in the floor of the "box". The lower portion of the block features five deeply webbed main bearings and a counterweighted crankshaft. The advantages of the wet sleeve design are twofold. First, it allows the cylinders to be fully surrounded by coolant. Alfa Romeo intended this engine to have very high horsepower to displacement relationship, and heat dissapation was a concern. Second, at overhaul time the cylinders can be replaced independent of the pistons, and the block can be rebuilt an indefinite amount fo times as the damaged or worn cylinders can just be thrown away...
The result is an engine that makes a tremendous amount of power for its size, and is as unbreakable and as satisfying engine as you will experience... Every detail must be just so, and when it is the car is remarkably reliable and faithful. One little thing out of place can be a nightmare.
1956 Giulietta Sprint Veloce Lightweight engine.
The first version to be produced was the Bertone-bodied Sprint:
1957 Giulietta Sprint with incorrect tail-lights from an "interim" '59 spider.
The first twenty four Sprints were produced in 1954 under "hardship" conditions at a variety of body building establishments in order to complete the cars designed and built to be lottery prizes in a national lottery held to provide Alfa Romeo with the funds necessary to help it switch from low volume, high cost cars like the 6C 2500s and, to some extent, the 1900s to high volume, less expensive cars which could keep AR in business. There had been great enthusiasm and anticipation for the results of the lottery, but Alfa had trouble coming up with the prizes. Although Bertone was responsible for the final design of the car, the production of the first 24 cars, the "lottery" cars was farmed out whatever body builder's had available space and manpower to quickly and finally get these cars out to the prize-winners of the lottery. There were subtle differences between the individual "lottery cars". (Some, if not all, had opening hatch backs, gas filler caps coming through the right rear fenders, for instance.) Few, if any of these cars exist and no pictures are currently available. "Real" Giulietta Sprint production began in 1955, with an 85hp, single carbbed, column shift version which became the true basis of all the in-line four cylinder Alfas produced until 1994. The design was a sem-fastback with a fishbowl type rear window. The slab sided look echoed some of the fashionable U.S. designs of the time.
The charm and performance of this car was so endearing, Alfa sales quickly recovered and with the 1955 introduction of the four door Giulietta Berlina, Alfa was on the road to recovery. 1956 saw the introduction of the Giulietta Spider, produced to satisfy the request for an open car for the American market made by American importer, Max Hoffman. The "first series" Giulietta Sprint, noticable by its less than standard, 5 1/2 inch diameter headlights and the delicate trim on the openings on either side of the grill, was produced until January 1957 when the car received full sized headlights, more amenable to American requirements. This design stayed in place until February, 1958, when the car received larger tail lights and a larger, more busy looking grill. This design remained the same, through the mecanical 750 series to 101 series change of 1959, and lasted with a 1600cc engine, as a Giulia until 1965.
1955 Giulietta Bertone Spider rear view
This beautiful, one-off, car is the work of Bertone's fantastic Franco Scaglione. Rear tails á la Bertone BAT 5 (also his work).

Selection of accurate Giulietta Spiders
The Spider, with its Farina styling was introduced in late 1955. By 1957 it too was available in Veloce form along with the Sprint.
1956 Sprint Veloce Lightweight
Dave Sisson recalls a build-up of this car. The pictures which show details have not been featured here, save one (check out the engine above):
The pictures were taken over a TWO day period in which we frantically rushed to build the car and get it on the plane to the '87 Mille Miglia. The factory stored it at (not in) the museum for free for five years worth of Italian racing. It's back here now and my friend Ken Shaff races it regularly.
The car is a 56 Sprint Veloce Lightweight, with alloy panels and sliding windows. The doors weigh 7 pounds. the 1300cc 750 series veloce engine developes 131 hp at 8300 rpm and it will pull 7000rpm in top gear. That pushes this 1600 pound car right along.
To get this horsepower at 8300 RPM is what allows that 1300 cc car to pull a genuine 7000 rpm in fifth gear at over 140mph. That's not a common feat in a 1300cc coupe. Ken's Engine builder, Conrad Stephenson, is quite good and put his finest work into that engine.

Giulietta Sprint Special by Bertone
Alfa was out to race the Sprints so they asked Bertone to design a variant of the Giulietta that would compete with the unofficial Zagato versions which "were beating the pants off the factory's lightweight Sprint Veloces".
The SS car represented the fruits of the BAT project.
Even though the first prototypes were done in aluminium, the design was just too heavy to be competitive. As a result, at the car's introduction in 1957, it was intedended to be a futuristis, luxury 2-seat tourer. They styling was considered a little too wild. It is conceivable that the SS might have been responsible form more than a few UFO sightings!

Giulietta Sprint Zagato 1 (aka SZ 1)
As a result of the SS's failure as a race car, the SS went on to become a tourer and in 1959 Alfa signed an agreement with Zagato to allow Zagato to purchase unfinished SS floor pans and mechanicals upon which to base the SZ. The new SZ had a very pleasing, wind-cheating look, much like the kind of football they used to use before the war, and this new car became the focal point of Alfa Rome competition for the next few years.
Giulietta SZ2 Giulietta SZ2
Shortly after the first SZs hit the track, it was obvious that the competition was getting better too. The Alfa engineers found the improvements would have to be found in aerodynamics. The engineeers at Zagato felt the present SZ was too short, and went about elongating the nose and tail. About this time the findings of Professor Kamm were being discussed among industry engineers. Kamm found that although extending a shape to a longer and longer teardrop in the rear made for less and less turbulence, in application the greater and greater surface increased drag beyond a point of diminishing returns, and the best practical solution was to chop off the end of the teardrop of these findings led to the Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca - "tail cut" or truncated in English. Some thirty of the SZ Coda Tronca were made.

The texts of this very page were mostly taken from Jose-Luis Fonseca's Romeo&Giuliettas article, which appeared in the Summer, 1994 issue of AutoPhyle.

Next stop: 2600 and Giulia


Copyright and Copy, December, 1995:

Paul Negyesi
Budapest, Hungary
This page or its parts can not be used for commercial purposes. I'm no way related to the company, therefore I'm not responsible for the info.