Alfa Giulietta 1954-65 Buying Guide
The Giulietta 750/101 was one of Alfa Romeo’s early forays into the world of mass- produced small sports cars. Offered in a range of body styles and progressively more powerful twin cam engines, good ones can make for a superb and usable sporty classic
• Project £10,000-25,000 • Good £30,000-50,000 • Concours £60,000-80,000 •
• Most Expensive at Auction: £230,000 (Giulietta Sprint Zagato – RM Sotheby’s)
Running costs ★★★
DIY Friendly ★★★
The 750/101 series Giulietta arrived in 1954 as a 2+2 coupe, its Bertone penned body caused a minor sensation at the Turin Motor Show and soon after a 4-door saloon, 2-seater coupe and roadster variant joined the line-up. A handful of coachbuilt bodies were also manufactured.
All featured a 1.3-litre twin cam inline-4 in varying degrees of tune and either a 4 or 5-speed manual gearbox sending power to the rear wheels. Despite the modest engine capacity, the Giullietta’s lightweight bodyshell gave it impressive
performance and power outputs almost doubled over the production period. The rare Sprint Speciale and Zagato variants were capable of reaching 120mph and thanks to the easily modifiable base engine, few Giuliettas have been left untouched over the years.
Bigger capacity engines, disc brake conversions and 5-speed transmission swaps are all common and while they can greatly enhance performance, the standard cars possess a delicacy and balance that tends to see them command significantly higher prices.
The range received a number of improvements and updates over the years so even
standard models offer strong performance and may appeal to those seeking both speed and originality. These cars can offer a lot of driving excitement and are relatively easy to maintain, but watch out for rusty or incomplete ones as trim and body pieces can be very hard to come by.
The 1.3-litre engine was an advanced little unit featuring twin cams, an aluminium head and twin carburettors in hotter variants. They can offer years of trouble-free service although regular maintenance and periodic tuning are essential to keep them performing well.
Oil leaks around the head gasket and various seals are normal and uprated gasket seals can alleviate the issue. Allowing the engine to warm up properly before thrashing it is also vital to extend the period between rebuilds.
Without any fancy electronics keeping everything in check the carburettors need to be checked at every service, which should include an oil change and is recommended at least every 6000 miles or annually. Correctly adjusted valves and cam timing have a significant effect on engine performance and sending the car to an Alfa specialist is well worth it.
All Berlinettas came fitted with a 4-speed manual transmission that tends not to have any major issues other than requiring an occasional oil change only requiring rebuilds on high-mileage cars. Crunching when engaging gears may require further attention as does an overly loose feeling shifter.
The later SS and SZ models were fitted with 5-speed units which many owners have since retrofitted to other models. These too have no significant problem areas to worry about and unless originality is paramount, can provide improved performance on the 4-door models.
Suspension and brakes
The Giulietta featured drum brakes all-round, braking performance should be adequate on unmodified cars and a brake overhaul can make a big difference to the efficiency of the system.
Front disc brake conversions have been popular in the past and can provide for much improved stopping power especially when paired with more powerful engines.
Suspension systems are extremely robust and generally require only periodic greasing at the joints. If the cars feels loose, especially at the rear then the trailing arm bushes should be inspected. Uprated springs and modern shock absorbers can greatly improve the handling.
The bodywork tends to cause the most headaches for owners thanks to rampant rust, hard to source panels and non-original parts being used.
Other than ensuring that all the exterior trim and chrome work is present, a thorough
inspection of the body and chassis should be undertaken to identify any corrosion and rust. Areas to pay particular attention to include footwells, boot, rocker panels and side sills.
Check around the arches and underneath the doors too for evidence of badly resprayed panels and poorly repaired accident damage. Spiders in particular can suffer from rust due to water ingress from poorly fitted hoods.
Make sure that the interior is as complete as possible as the scarce availability of minor trim items can lead to many headaches down the road. Getting involved with a club and contacting Giulietta specialists is your best route to sourcing parts.
The manufacturing of convertible tops and seat recovering can be outsourced to specialists however the seat and roof frames are harder to source.
- 1954: Alfa Romeo 750 Giulietta Sprint introduced in 2+2 Coupe form with a 79bhp
1.3-litre twin cam engine and 4-speed manual gearbox.
- 1955: 52bhp 4-door Berlina saloon and 2-seater Spider models join line-up. A limited
number of Promiscua estate body styles were also produced.
- 1956: Giulietta Sprint Veloce receives twin carb 89bhp engine.
- 1957: 4-door Giulietta T.I. with more powerful 64bhp engine introduced. Sprint
Speciale and Sprint Zagato offered with 99bhp twin-carb version of 1.3-litre engine.
- 1959: Redesign carried out on saloons with improved instrumentation and minor
mechanical changes. Series renamed from 750 to 101.
- 1961: Second update carried out on Giulietta range. Standard Berlinettas received a
power update to 62bhp while T.I. models got 73bhp. New grille design and individual
front seating on T.I. were the more notable changes.
- 1963: Giulietta Berlina production ends with 39,057 units built.
- 1964: T.I. model ends production with a total 92,728 made.
- 1965: Giulietta Sprint and Spider models received new 1.6-litre engines, were
rebadged as Giulias and sold until the end of 1965.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta models offer a classic Italian driving experience for a range of tastes with a choice of practical saloons, sporty coupes and convertibles to pick from.
Unmodified examples are extremely rare and command high prices although
sympathetically modified examples can be more enjoyable to use regularly and are easier to source. Avoid rusty ones and cars with incomplete interiors as costs can soon escalate.
The most collectible models are the Giulietta Sprint Speciale and rare Sprint Zagato which uses the Speciale’s running gear although a nicely cared-for Berlinetta T.I. provides similar thrills for a fraction of the price.
|1.3-litre Sprint Veloce|
|1.3-litre Sprint Speciale|