・South African car now in the UK ready to register
In 1954, Alfa Romeo introduced its new Giulietta range of compact 1.3-litre models including a Berlina saloon, a 2+2 coupé and this – the Giulietta Sprint.
The Sprint was a low-roof two-seater coupé that had a fairly modest 65bhp at launch – but the power output meant nothing because the car’s appeal lay in its absolutely stunning styling. The proportions were perfect and that led to a huge demand from customers, many of them young men who wanted something that was inexpensive to run but at the same time achingly cool. Within weeks of the car’s reveal, the waiting list was so long that Alfa Romeo had to draft in a selection of coachbuilders to help it keep up with demand.
At one stage, the car was assembled in three stages – the bodies by Bertone, the engines and running gear by Alfa Romeo itself and the final trimming and interior fit-up by Ghia, though by 1959 the vast majority of work was carried out by Bertone alone in a bespoke facility in Grugliasco, nine miles west of Turin.
This car is one of those Grugliasco cars (hence its Carrosserie Bertone logo’d kick panels) – all of which were finished by hand.
It’s also been uprated to Veloce spec, which means of course a power output of 80bhp instead of the standard 65bhp. Quite a difference, especially given the car’s light weight.
Although the Alfa has been repainted in its original maroon, it has never been welded or rebuilt.
Prior to the vendor, it had been the sole property of one family from new: grandfather, son and grandson, all of whom had enjoyed using it and looked after it in the manner to which it was accustomed.
It was purchased by the vendor earlier this year and imported to the UK this summer.
The seller is a former South African resident who works with contacts in the motor trade and classic car scene out there in order to source some of the most remarkable cars and bring them to the UK.
This example certainly fits that bill and comes with all of its import paperwork, along with a South African registration document, and will be sold with a full UK MOT.
The vendor is experienced in bringing vehicles to the UK and is happy to help the new owner with registration.
However, the car has not been registered with the DVLA yet in case the next buyer wishes to export it. It does, though, have a NOVA certificate and all UK duties have already been paid, so aside from a small first registration fee there are no additional duties to be paid.
The Giulietta is in astonishing condition both on top and underneath, the latter being especially remarkable as there are no signs of rot anywhere, nor of the car having been welded. It really is incredibly solid and unrestored, which for a 60-year old Alfa Romeo must make it almost unique.
Although it has never been fully restored, the car has had a paint job and it looks extremely smart in its burgundy maroon finish. There are, however, a couple of flaws. It's missing a badge on one front wing and there are various areas of the body where the paint has incurred micro blisters, some areas that are worse than others.
You don't notice them from a couple of feet away but if you want perfection then you need to bear this in mind as something to rectify in the future.
For an Alfa Romeo of this vintage, however, the structural condition of the car is far more important as they were unfortunately prone to rot. This one is as solid as they get and all of the trim and brightwork is otherwise present and correct.
While the exterior is evidently the most beguiling part of a Giulietta Sprint, the cabin isn’t short on style – indeed, the three-dial instrument binnacle is still a feature of modern Alfas, with a large central dial and two smaller ones either side and below – such is the importance of its heritage to the Italian brand.
As well as the striking painted dash and delicate steering wheel - complete with horn ring – the Giulietta has had new carpets and grey leather trim throughout and the cabin is in fine order, the only minor negative being a gap in the dash where a radio was once fitted – and where a suitable period unit would still look terrific.
Under the bonnet, the Giulietta is in fine order. The engine bay is exceptionally clean and well-detailed, suggesting a lifetime of fastidious maintenance.
The 1,290cc four-cylinder unit fires up easily on half-choke and settles to a steady idle. The clutch is a little sharp until you get used to it, not helped by the typically Alfa offset pedal position, but once you get used to it and the long, spindly gearchange it’s a delight to drive, feeling instantly responsive. We were able to drive the car over a short distance and can report that it feels very tight and well-sorted, with great steering and brakes.
Quite apart from this car’s historic significance, as a commercially successful hand-built coupé and one of the most iconic models ever made by a brand that’s steeped in heritage and romance, it’s also a car with a great history.
It's a really smart, solid and well-presented car that has clearly been well-loved by the only family that have ever owned it previously. We doubt there's anything like it.
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1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint to Veloce Spec
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