The Timeless Charm of the Alfa Romeo GT Junior
The iconic Alfa Romeo Bertone coupés from the "105-Series" have become a firm favorite on the international classic car market, and it's easy to see why.
Cars just aren't allowed to look this good anymore, as none of these Alfa's delightful curves were traced with safety and aerodynamics in mind.
The Giulia GT was introduced in 1963 and was an instant hit for the Milanese firm, which had just inaugurated its new Arese production facility on the outskirts of Milan.
The new model was based on the newly-launched Giulia saloon but with a 16 cm shorter wheelbase. Its lines were penned by a talented twenty-something by the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro, who produced a masterful reinterpretation of the original styling theme he previously introduced on the 1960 2000 Sprint. No matter how hard you try, you won't find a bad angle in it: the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT is a true design masterpiece.
Equipped with a 1.6 liters all-aluminum twin-cam four cylinders engine, a five-speed gearbox, and powerful disc brakes on all four wheels, the Giulia GT's technical specification and performance placed it in a class of its own in those early 1960s.
Still, all that good stuff came at a price: at 2.3 million Italian lire and with an annual road tax of almost 50.000, the Giulia GT wasn't for everyone, and that's why the GT Junior came into play.
The GT Junior was an entry-level model first introduced in 1966. The "Junior" moniker referred to the smaller 1.3 liters twin-cam engine that translated into a much lower road tax, while the pared-back standard equipment brought the GT Junior's price comfortably under two million Italian lire, widening its market appeal considerably.
As a result, the GT Junior comfortably outsold its larger-engined brethren over its ten years of production. In fact, of the around 210.000 Giulia-based GTs produced by Alfa Romeo, over 40%, or nearly 92.000, were Juniors, which means Juniors have retained their place as the most accessible among Alfa Romeo's 1960s coupès.
The GT Junior lost the characteristic "step-front" or "scalino" front-end in 1971 when it adopted the smoother design pioneered by the 1750 GT Veloce, albeit minus a couple of extra headlights to keep the pecking order intact. Simultaneously, the larger 1600cc engine became available as an optional extra for the GT Junior, in exchange for a small 90.000 lire outlay. Between 1971 and 1976, about 14.000 GT Junior buyers opted for the larger engine, Alfa's venerable 1570cc all-aluminum twin-cam four, fed by two double-choke 40mm carburetors and rated at 110 horsepower first, then 104 from 1974.
The last update for the GT Junior came in 1974 when its exterior and interior appointments were made identical to the top-of-the-range 2000 GT Veloce, probably to streamline production in these models' twilight years. I believe it's fair to say that, when the last few of these pretty Bertone coupés left the Arese line in 1976, they closed one of the greatest chapters in Alfa Romeo's history. Since then, Alfa Romeo has made many, many more great cars. Quite a few have even sold in much higher quantities, yet the company has never fully managed to recapture the magic of these 1960s GTs.