One of the world’s most advanced sports sedans turns 50 this year: Alfa Romeo’s Giulia was launched to the global press on 27 June 1962 at the Monza race track, home of much of the car’s development and a host of sporting successes.
While revolutionary in 1962, the Giulia’s prowess began a philosophy for innovation and technological advancement that has existed in every Alfa Romeo sedan since, not least the internationally acclaimed 156 and current 159.
The Giulia is particularly significant in Alfa Romeo’s hundred-year history. Its style, technology, performance, reliability and innovation are just some of the elements which led to the Giulia’s success: from 1962 to 1977, the Giulia’s range of models combined sold one million units, making its mark on an international level in the process.
Monza was a fitting venue for the launch of the Giulia TI, a circuit where Alfa Romeo had achieved so many of its sporting successes and tested all of its racing vehicles up until the start of the Seventies. Three years later, in 1965, the Brianza track saw the official return of Alfa Romeo to competition since exiting grand prix racing in the 1950s with the Giulia Sprint GTA, another extraordinary vehicle from the Giulia range.
In an age where most sportscars featured tubular chassis, pushrod engines and leaf spring suspension, the Giulia caused a sensation as a volume family sedan when it arrived with a monocoque, coil springs, a gem of a twin overhead cam engine and a five-speed gearbox as standard. It was to set the benchmark for what was to become known as the sports saloon.
Its advanced technology extended to its aerodynamics: closer inspection reveals that the Giulia sedan is hardly boxy with not a single flat panel on it. This styling ingenuity endowed the three-box saloon with a drag coefficient of just 0.34 – still an impressive value even against today’s machinery.
It is this remarkable feat and hallmark of the Giulia that has inspired the 50th anniversary logo for the car, originated from a famous advertisement which described the Giulia as “designed by the wind”.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia would become available in 1300cc and 1600cc models including TI and Super configurations and the ultimate TI Super built in limited numbers to compete in international touring car races. South Africa would play its own role in the development of the Giulia with so-called Rallye versions unique to our market, including a 2,0-litre model with distinctive Personal wheels and a limited slip diff.
The TI (or sometimes Ti) nomenclature – meaning Turismo Internazionale, or Touring International – remains a nameplate for the sportiest versions of any Alfa sedan. Witness Alfa Romeo’s current 159 Ti.
Alfa Romeo clubs, enthusiasts and automotive fans all over the world will be paying tribute to the Giulia over the coming months. Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa will also be paying tribute to the Giulia locally with an imminent announcement.