Fifty Shades Of Giulia
The name Alfa Romeo is very much linked to bright red sports cars, and rightfully so, given the marque's back catalog. Still, over the years, Alfa has offered many excellent alternatives to the classic Rosso Alfa...
...So I've decided to pick 50 of my favorite shades and put together a sort of post-war history of Alfa Romeo cars through their colors: enjoy!
Nowadays, this early Giulietta saloon with its candy-like pinkish color is a favorite among visitors to Alfa Romeo's museum. Still, this shade, called "Rosso Corallo," wasn't popular with buyers at all in the period. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as these Alfas were, to all intents and purposes, family cars, and relatively expensive ones at that.
Therefore, buyers tended to prefer more subdued colors like "Azzurro Acqua di Fonte," which means "spring water blue," or the classic "Biancospino" white, which owes its name to the common hawthorn's flowers. White remained a favorite for Giulia buyers, too... The civilian ones, at least...
For the Polizia and the Carabinieri, the Giulias wore the "Grigio Verde" made so iconic by period Italian B-movies and their spectacular car chases. The Polizia cars then changed color in 1976, with Alfa Romeo using several slightly different "Azzurro Polizia" over the years. The Carabinieri, instead, switched to their current elegant dark blue livery in 1971, and, in case you wondered, the color is "Blu Lord."
The Giulia Super from 1971 on display at Alfa Romeo's museum is finished in another popular color for the model, "Blu Olandese," which translates as "Dutch Blue." By this time, however, Alfa Romeo's color chart had become broader and wilder, and by 1972 you could buy a Giulia, a 2000 Berlina, or a GTV in the incredible "Prugna" (plum): possibly the most over-the-top Alfa color ever. Speaking of GTVs, one of my favorite combos is "Ocra" yellow with black TexAlfa vinyl interior.
Coachbuilt Alfas, that is to say, Alfas whose bodies were manufactured by the likes of Pininfarina, Bertone, or Zagato, were often offered in colors not available on other models. I really love "Giallo Prototipo," a Pininfarina shade available on the Spider between 1970 and 1977. It's called "Prototipo" because it had been previously used on Pininfarina's stunning prototype based on the 33 Stradale and shown at the Paris motor show in 1969.
Alfa Romeo's V8 grand tourer, the Montreal, was available in fantastic colors matching its unparalleled visual presence. For example, you lucky Montreal buyer could choose between not one but two different shades of orange, a solid or a metallic. The Montreal could also be had in two different shades of green, "Verde Metallizzato" and the quite striking "Verde Medio."
The latter was also available on the Junior Zagato, whose strikingly modern lines were penned by the great Ercole Spada. The Junior Zagato was presented in 1969, and most of its color palette was unique, with even the plain white and red having specific names and codes. One further color option that the Montreal shared with the Junior Zagato's palette was the deceptively named "Blu Medio." Although both cars were available in gold metallic, these were two different colors: "Champagne Metallizzato" and "Oro Metallizzato," respectively.
In general, the Alfa Romeo colors I love the most are those from the 70s, when a wide selection of delightfully bright solid colors and many gorgeous metallics joined the fray. "Azzurro Le Mans," for example, was Alfa's take on the classic French racing blue, but a personal favorite is "Giallo Piper," whose name refers to a then-famous Rome nightclub. Among the metallic paints, "Verde Oliva" proved very popular on late Giulia Supers, while perhaps too few people specced the lovely "Blu Pervinca" for their GTVs or Berlinas. Speaking of GTVs, a 2000 from 1972 was the last car ever owned by legendary Italian poet, writer, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. His GTV was finished in "Grigio Medio Metallizzato 728," an elegant shade that was a popular choice for buyers of this model.
But it's impossible to talk about 1970s Alfa Romeo without the Alfasud. The fact that Alfa's new compact car was manufactured near Naples rather than Milan inspired its color palette, full of references to the geography of Campania, the region where the Pomigliano d'Arco plant was located.
For example, "Bianco Capodimonte," a solid white but with a slightly warmer overtone than the classic Biancospino, referred to the traditional Neapolitan porcelain production. "Blu Posillipo" took its name to an affluent residential quarter of Naples and its stunning views of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, "Verde Ischia" and "Blu Procida" were named after two islands in the Gulf of Naples.
However, by the end of the decade, Alfa Romeo's color charts had lost many of their brighter shades, as in those days of intense turmoil and social unrest, people evidently preferred not to attract attention to themselves. This was an era pretty much dominated by brownish tones, from the very popular "Avorio" and "Rosso Veneziano" to the darker and the nowadays embarrassingly un-PC "Testa di Moro," which literally means "african's head." But my favorite is the metallic "Luci di Bosco," whose romantically-sounding name means "forest lights."
In my view, Alfa Romeo's 1980s colors were, for the most part, rather uninspiring. The cars were cool, but I think the 75, for example, could really have used some nicer colors. One shade only late 75s got but went on being very successful on 33s is the metallic "Verde Mirto."
Another smash hit was "Rosso Proteo" (38), which took its name from the concept car presented to great acclaim at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show.
By 1992, the days of the classic Spider were sadly numbered, but at least it could be had in the elegant "Verde Inglese 306" and the bright "Giallo Ginestra." However, the latter wasn't exclusive to Alfa Romeo: it was used on other Fiat group models like the Delta Integrale and the Fiat Barchetta, then returned for a special edition of the newer Alfa Spider of the "916" generation. Speaking of the "916" GTV and Spider, these cars have had some of the best Alfa colors ever, like the pearlescent "Verde Oasi," "Rosso Mirò," and the yellow metallic "Giallo Zoe." Between 1994 and 1998, the Spider could also be had in the kind of weird "Verde Acido," but few buyers took the chance.
But the most iconic shade of recent Alfa history must be the famous "Azzurro Nuvola," the metallic sky blue that assumed different nuances depending on the lighting condition. A rather costly option on the 156 and later the GTV and 166, "Azzurro Nuvola" indirectly owed its existence to Fiat Group's CEO Paolo Cantarella. He vetoed painting the 1996 Nuvola concept car in any kind of red, thus forcing the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo to come up with a worthy alternative.
Although "Azzurro Nuvola" took everyone's attention, the 156's launch color actually was "Azzurro Achille," a shade directly inspired by the delicate pastel colors typical of the 1950s Giulietta and 1900 saloons. Unfortunately, the later 166's launch color was the much less inspiring "Grigio Sterling," when Alfa's flagship would have certainly been better served by the iridescent "Bianco Aurora," a white that showed lovely warm nuances according to the ambient light. Few buyers chose it, though, and it's pretty hard to find now.
Alfa Romeo's most recent past has been pretty much characterized by the captivating triple-coat "Rosso Competizione" that, after launch on the limited-edition supercar, could be had on the 159 and Giulietta as well. In 2020, the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio were made available with the gorgeous "Verde Montreal," but my favorite remains the stunning "Blu Misano," which suits the Giulia to perfection.