If you were to choose a nameplate that, above all others, best encapsulates what Alfa Romeo stands for, nobody could blame you for picking the original Giulietta from the 1950s. Yet, I bet you didn't know these five little factoids about it...
Fun to drive, technically sophisticated, and, in most versions at least, drop-dead gorgeous to look at, the Giulietta represents Italy's incredible post-war renaissance better than perhaps anything else. Revered by collectors since the 1980s, the story of the Giulietta has been very well-documented, but I bet you didn't know these five little factoids about it: sit back and enjoy.
What's in a name?
The Shakespearian name of Giulietta came about one day at the home of the poet Leonardo Sinisgalli, a good friend of Alfa's president Giuseppe Luraghi. Up to that point, Alfa Romeos had never been given proper names but rather numbers and acronyms. Luraghi wanted a change, though, and Sinisgalli's wife, overhearing the conversation, suggested Giulietta for Alfa's new car and Romeo for the new van, which were unveiled contemporarily at the Portello factory in 1954.
The flying wipers
The Giulietta Sprint Speciale, introduced in 1959, was a gorgeous rolling sculpture from the creative genius of Franco Scaglione. The whole design was driven by the desire to lower drag to achieve a higher top speed.
However, during testing, the windscreen wipers tended to lift off the screen at high speed. To counter that, all the Sprint Speciale were fitted with a transparent plastic element called "diruttore," which diverted the airflow away from the wiper blades.
The Station Wagon
In 1950s Italy, station wagons were perceived as workhorses rather than practical family cars, so demand for a wagon derivative of the Giulietta was very limited. It's therefore believed that just 91 Giuliettas were converted into wagons, between 1957 and 1960, by the Milanese coachbuilder Colli and the vast majority went to the Polizia Stradale, the Italian highway police.
In 1960, the Milanese coachbuilder Colli built a stretched limousine out of a Giulietta Berlina called "Ministeriale," intended for use by public institutions and livery services. However, it's believed that only a single prototype was ever produced.
The one that never was
The Giulietta Berlina was discontinued in 1964, but as late as 1963, Alfa Romeo considered the possibility of extending the model's lifespan through a heavy restyling. The Carrozzeria Bertone delivered a prototype in February of '63 for evaluation by Alfa Romeo's management, which abandoned the whole idea shortly after.