With the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Italian carmaker has a history of producing some of the most beautiful cars the motoring world has seen using the Giulia name, none more so than the Giulia SS: a coach built car with timeless charm…
Born a Giulietta and transformed into a Giulia, the Sprint Speciale, like its cousin the Spider, was given a new lease of life with its displacement increased from 1300cc to 1600cc. The appealing lines remained unchanged, while performance improved considerably.
Between 1962 and 1965, the baton passed between the Giulietta family, and the new Giulia was a stepping stone in that transition. In fact, while the new saloon (which was “designed by the wind” according to the slogan of a famous advertising campaign) was being produced at the Portello plant, Pininfarina and Bertone continue to produce the Spider and Sprint Speciale versions respectively, which were still derived from the Giulietta. However, the names and engines were adapted to become the Giulia 1600 Spider (and Spider Veloce) and the Giulia 1600 Sprint Speciale.
In the case of the Bertone coupé, the original aerodynamic styling designed by Franco Scaglione for the SS in 1957 remained virtually unchanged, including the low and slender nose, the sloping rear windscreen connecting with the boot lid and ending with a squared-off tail. Further changes were made to the interior, which became less spartan thanks to some new details such as a passenger handle. A new dashboard design with different instrumentation also changed the appearance of the instrument cluster.
The biggest difference lay under the bonnet: in place of the 1290cc unit was a twin-cam engine with an increased displacement of 1570cc. It unleashed 113 hp at 6500 rpm, thanks to two Weber 45 twin-barrel carburettors, and was still coupled to a five-speed transmission.
The first 200 Giulia SS cars produced still had three-shoe drum brakes on all four wheels, while later models mounted disc brakes. Despite being 75 kg heavier than the Giulietta SS, the Giulia 1600 SS reached a top speed of 191 km/h. Production ended in 1965, after 1400 units had rolled of the production line, and the baton was definitively passed to the Giulia Sprint GT.
The cars remained popular in racing among ‘gentleman drivers’, who appreciated their high torque at low revs. They were mainly used in hillclimbs, such as Consuma near Florence or Stallavena-Boscochiesanuova in the Verona area, as well as numerous editions of the Targa Florio (from 1967 to 1970), on roads that brought the best out of the Giulia SS. The cars also held their own on endurance race circuits such as Monza in the Coppa Intereuropa, at Mugello and even at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969.
*Special thank to FCA Heritage