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Giulia: The Quintessential Alfa

The 1962-78 Giulia represents for many Alfa Romeo’s finest hour, the moment when Alfa Romeo produced only 70k cars per year… Profitable cars though, all based on the proven Giulia running gear, which still was leagues ahead of the relatively little competition. A situation that would never repeat again in the company’s history.

The Giulia was presented at the Autodromo Di Monza in 1962, and the press was stunned by the radical look of the new Alfa saloon, destined to replace the much-loved Giulietta.

Gone were the curves of the older model, superseded by a boxy volume and straight lines: And that stubby, square tail? What happened? Science happened.

Orazio Satta, Alfa Romeo’s engineering supremo, developed cars according to two guiding principles: favorable power to weight ratio and low aerodynamic resistance.

The innovative shape of the Giulia resulted from testing of scale models in the Milan Polytechnic’s wind tunnel, as Alfa didn’t have one.

That’s why the Giulia sat much lower than its forebear and its big front, and rear screens were dramatically curved. Those seemingly gratuitous scallops on the sides and the roof also resulted from this pioneering, albeit rather empirical, approach.

But boy did it work!

When the Italian magazine “Quattroruote” tested the Giulia Ti, the new 1600cc family saloon flew past 170 Km/h, in an era when 150 was yet considered uncharted territory for family saloons.

If the Giulietta set the tone for Alfa’s successful post-war years, the Giulia refined the so-called “Formula Alfa” to perfection. Agile, powerful family cars that sold at a premium because of their superior performance.

In a moment of unprecedented economic growth, Italians couldn’t have enough of these hot Alfas, which had virtually no market competition and sold profitably in around 60k units per year. One of Alfa’s best customers was the Italian Police, which bought Giulias by the thousands until the early 70s.

Those olive green police cars found themselves on the front lines during Italy’s turbulent 70s, an age of extreme political tension and increasing crime rates.

In movie theaters, a new genre of movies inspired by the sense of danger and helplessness of those days found much success: the “Poliziottesco.”

One of the main protagonists of those movies was the Alfa Romeo Giulia in police livery, which represented the establishment, the struggle to defend an order under attack. Without a siren, the Giulia’s generous performance could be either the baddies’ ride of choice (as often was in real life!) or the long twin-cam arm of the law.

The road portrayed as the one place where the fearless “commissario” could fight back crime on his own brutal terms: justice delivered instantly, Dirty Harry style…

 

Giulia: The Quintessential Alfa

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