Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA 1300 Junior – Destined To Dominate

The racing success of the Giulia GTA spawned the Giulia GTA 1300 Junior, that competed and won in smaller displacement categories as well.

The bond between Alfa Romeo and motorsports has always run deep in the history of the brand. It began with the first victory of the 40-60 HP in the Parma-Poggio di Berceto race in 1913 and continued for decades in all motorsport disciplines,  from open road racing to Formula 1, Endurance and Touring.

After retiring from competitions in the mid-1950s to focus on the increased industrial production, Alfa Romeo returned to racing and winning at the beginning of the 1960s. This period is remembered in particular for the many victories of the Giulia GTA and the GT Am in the European Touring Car Championship, reserved for cars modified from mass production models, that was staged from 1963 to 1988 and again from 2000 to 2004, to be later superseded by the World Touring Car Championship.

Code name: GTA

The Giulia Sprint GTA (that stands for Gran Turismo Alleggerita) was introduced at the 1965 Amsterdam Motor Show. Derived from the standard Giulia Sprint GT, it featured several modifications that made it about 200 kg lighter (hence its name “Alleggerita”) by and significantly boosted its celebrated 1.6-litre four-cylinder twin-shaft engine. The car went on an impressive winning streak earning the European Tourism title for three seasons from 1966 to 1968.

In 1968 Alfa Romeo also chose to take part in the Tourism championship competitions reserved for smaller displacement engines, so the Giulia GTA 1300 Junior took to the track alongside the Giulia GTA 1600. The car derived from the GT Junior that had been presented two years earlier with younger motorists in mind, with which the racing version shared the four-cylinder 1290 cc engine, originally fitted on the Giulietta. It picked up several sports solutions from the GTA 1600, like the double-barrel carburettor and the twin-spark ignition.

Officially presented in June 1968, the car was an immediate hit with the fans. Besides fielding a very competitive car, the goal of Alfa Romeo with the GTA Junior 1300 was also to offer a more affordable sports car which was cheaper to run than the GTA 1600. Mission accomplished.

The Giulia GTA 1300 Junior was a good commercial success. The car remained in production until 1975 and 447 units were made, almost all of which sported the distinctive Alfa red livery with four contrasting white elements (the side fascia, the four-leaf clover emblem on the front wing, the words “GTA 1300 Junior” on the boot and the Alfa Romeo snake emblem on the bonnet). It touched a top speed of 175 km/h and it weighed just 920 kg. The result was achieved by using aluminium panelling, Plexiglas side and rear windows and stripped-back interiors.

The Alfa Romeo racing department Autodelta was responsible for developing the model for races. The wings are broadened to accommodate wider tyres, the weight was dropped to 760 kg and the power was upped to 160 hp (the top speed was 210 km/h). The carburettors gave way to mechanical injection in 1971, which was less sensitive to strong lateral acceleration. The horsepower rose to 165 hp. Finally, the adoption of a new four-valve cylinder head in 1974 developed a peak power of 180 hp at 9300 rpm.

In a famous advertisement of the time, it was presented as “La Giulia che vince”, the winning Giulia. The definition was particularly fitting since the impressive prize record of the GTA 1300 Junior was packed with national and international victories collected from Italy to the United States, all across Europe. The most coveted included the two consecutive European Tourism titles, in 1971 and in 1972, two 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the Jarama 4 Hours, the 6 Hours of Nürburgring and other important races at Monza, Zandvoort and Silverstone. Its racing career ended in the mid-’70s.

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