Giorgetto Giugiaro is widely considered the greatest automobile designer in history, a title he certainly more than deserves. One of my favorite cars from his stellar back catalog is, without a doubt, the Alfasud Sprint.
Its sharp lines, wedge shape, and perfect proportions are typical of Giugiaro's projects from that era. Still, few people know that the Alfasud Sprint's design actually predates most of them, as it was designed straight after the saloon in the late 1960s.
In fact, Alfa Romeo's plans for the Alfasud included a whole range of derivatives right from the beginning. Still, the early Seventies proved to be a tough time for the company, between the troublesome first years of the Naples factory and the oil crisis.
This meant the Sprint ultimately saw the light in late 1976.
there's no escaping the "Sprint 6C" prototype of 1983
The Sprint owes its good proportions to the brilliance of the original Alfasud, whose compact boxer engine and long wheelbase made the Sprint surprisingly roomy for its size. On top of being a proper four-seater, the Sprint's practicality was enhanced by its 290 liters of luggage space accessible through a hatchback, a feature the Alfasud saloon wouldn't have until 1981.
For the Sprint's debut, the flat-four engine's cylinder bores were enlarged to 64mm, for a displacement of 1.3 liters and 76HP at 6000Rpm.
This engine configuration would be shortlived, though. By 1978, the 1.3 liters boxer engine was further enlarged to 1351cc while a new 1.5 liters variant became available. Both engines gained a set of two double-choke carburetors from 1979, bringing their horsepower rating up to 86 and 95 HP, respectively.
Following the presentation of the Alfa 33 in 1983, the Alfasud Sprint was comprehensively revised, losing the "Alfasud" name to be called merely "Sprint."
The sheet metal was left untouched for budgetary reasons, leaving the new black plastic grille and fascias the job of refreshing the Sprint's appearance for the 1980s. The 1.5 liters version became known as the "Quadrifoglio Verde" and gained 10 more horsepower.
The Sprint's last hurrah came in 1987 when the "Quadrifoglio Verde" adopted a 1.7 liters engine
By 1985 the Sprint's braking system was unified with the new 33's specification, with outboard front discs and drums at the rear.
At this point, there's no escaping the "Sprint 6C" prototype of 1983. Built by Autodelta for a possible Group B racing program, it was equipped with a mid-mounted Busso 2.5 liters V6 engine sending its 160HP to the rear wheels.
Only two prototypes were made and are currently preserved in the Alfa Romeo museum's vault.
This didn't stop the Australian entrepreneur Paul Halstead and the engineer Barry Lock, though. The result of their work was the "Giocattolo Group B," a small run of 15 Sprints built between 1988 and 1989 with a Holden 5 liters V8 rated at a whopping 300 HP installed behind the front seats.
The Sprint's last hurrah came in 1987 when the "Quadrifoglio Verde" adopted a 1.7 liters engine with two double choke carburetors that propelled it over 200 Km/h. The Sprint 1.7 "Quadrifoglio Verde" was also made available in a fuel-injected, catalyzed specification for Northern European markets.
One of those models was the last one to roll off the production line in 1989.