Giulietta Ti: Italy's Favorite
While the "1900" marked Alfa's first foray into series production, it's the smaller Giulietta that transformed Alfa Romeo into Italy's second-largest carmaker, overtaking a struggling Lancia.
Its development wasn't trouble-free, though: the Giulietta saloon's launch had to be delayed due to a resonance issue within the bodyshell whose root cause proved elusive.
However, part of the Giulietta's development was funded through a public subscription of capital, with the commitment to put the new model on sale by 1954. To attract savers to the investment, a lottery to win a car was set up as well. This meant Alfa Romeo had to have a car on time for the Turin motor show in April of '54, no matter what.
The Giulietta was a massively overspecified vehicle for its target market.
Thankfully, the Austrian engineer Rudolf Hruska reasoned that sports car buyers would tolerate higher noise levels in the cabin and that Nuccio Bertone could deliver a sexy coupé in record time, and that's how we got the fabulous Giulietta Sprint. The Sprint had gathered about 500 orders within the Turin show's first day, thus buying Alfa's engineers the time they needed to get the four-door saloon ready for a 1955 release.
The Giulietta was a massively overspecified vehicle for its target market. Powered by a 1290cc all-aluminum twin-overhead-cam inline-four-cylinder, the small Alfa used aluminum casings for the gearbox, differential, and brake drums: the latter had helicoidal fins to further improve heat dissipation.
By the time the sportier Giulietta Ti was introduced in 1957, Alfa Romeo's yearly output had increased 187%, but the best was yet to come.
The Giulietta Ti adopted a slightly different rear-end design, with small, pointy tailfins partly concealing the taillights. But, much more importantly, it came with 65 HP thanks to a higher compression ratio and a double-choke Solex carburetor. Enough to push the Giulietta Ti over 150 Km/h, which doesn't seem like much today, but was almost unheard-of for your average 1950s family saloon.
the faster Ti accounted for the vast majority of Giulietta sales, leading to the base model's discontinuation after 1962
This lovely example from 1958, painted in Azzurro Acqua di Fonte, belongs to our friends at the Portello Factory. Like most of their cars, it has been extensively campaigned in various racing venues, including the Goodwood Revival. However, it's now presented as a road-going car ready for regularity events and even comes with a vintage mechanical trip master.
Apart from its history and provenance, another point of particular interest of this Giulietta Ti is the relative rarity of its body style nowadays, as it lasted just two years in production. By 1959, the Giulietta Berlina and the Ti saw their front and rear fenders remodeled, with new headlights and taillights, front air intakes, and a new dashboard inside.
By 1961, when the Giulietta saloon body was again modified, with larger bonnet and boot openings, new bumpers, front grille, and taillight clusters, the faster Ti accounted for the vast majority of Giulietta sales, leading to the base model's discontinuation after 1962. Meanwhile, power output for the two Giulietta models had increased to 62 and 74 HP, respectively. The Giulietta Ti soldiered on until 1964 when the new Giulia 1300 took its place... But that's a story for another time.