The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale is a rolling piece of Italian car design history. Unlike the sportier and more popular 105 and 115 GTs, GTVs and GTAs that replaced it, it’s more of a pocket-sized grand touring car than it is a sport coupe. The product of Carrozzeria Bertone, its mid-century, space-age shape was the result of lessons learned from the super-aerodynamic Alfa Romeo-Bertone Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica design studies.

Almost visually identical to the Giulietta Sprint Speciale, the Giulia was powered by a slightly larger 1.6-liter engine. The Giulietta was originally conceived to go up against Zagato’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ, which shared similar underpinnings, but the Bertone car’s steel bodywork was too cumbersome to bring the fight to the alloy-bodied Zagato. As a result, the Giulietta’s shortcomings as a sports car precipitated its transformation into the Giulia grand tourer.

Collectors have traditionally ignored the Sprint Speciale twins in favor of the faster and lighter 105s and 115s, but that’s changing quickly as they are recognized, the Giulia in particular, for their jaw dropping looks and capabilities as effortless, back-road touring cars.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale.

  • 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
  • Year:
    1966
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    129 @ 6500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    96 @ 4500
  • 0-60 time:
    12 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    112 mph
  • Price:
    75700
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale Exterior
- image 627842

The Giulia Sprint Speciale shares its shape with the Giulietta Sprint Speciale, with the primary difference between the two being the engine, which we’ll get to later. Penned by Bertone designer Franco Scaglione, the Sprint Speciale’s styling is more Italian than Cesar Augustus eating baked ziti on a gondola. With its long overhangs and dramatic lines, it strikes a beautiful, yet unique profile. Its drag coefficient of 0.28 was by far the best of its time for a road car, a distinction it held for over 20 years!

Its drag coefficient of 0.28 was by far the best of its time for a road car, a distinction it held for over 20 years!

When viewed in profile, a lovely continuous curve runs from the base of the windshield all the way to just above the rear bumper, and the flourish above the front wheel is a just plain cool. Chrome is used to wonderful effect in the delicate front and rear bumpers, stylized taillight housings that reach towards the rear wheels, and the thin strip that runs the length of the hood from the signature Alfa Romeo grille.

The Sprint Speciale is closely related to Alfa’s famous Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica design studies. More commonly known as the BAT 5, 7 and 9, these concepts were the result of a collaborative project between Alfa and Bertone to create the most aerodynamic cars possible. They were designed concurrently with the Speciale, which no doubt contributed to its wind-cheating shape.

Interior

1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale Interior
- image 627851

Inside the Speciale is typical retro Italian fare. Matching-color leather is everywhere, and wraps the seats, doors, and upper and lower dash sections, with the most common colors being black, brown (shown here) and Alfa red.

How much time do you really plan on spending in the back seat of a 50-year-old Italian car?

The instrumentation features some lovely details and switchgear that dots the entire length of the dash. A chrome-rimmed tachometer sits front-and-center and is flanked by a speedometer to the right and multi-function fuel, temperature and oil pressure gauge to the left. The thin Nardi steering wheel is wrapped in black leather and the five-speed gear shifter sticks out almost horizontally from under the dash, which is fairly typical of old Alfas.

The low-back bucket seats are positioned close together, with nothing but the handbrake lever in between. It’s a 2+2 cabin, but there’s not nearly enough rear legroom to accommodate anything resembling adult human feet or enough rear headroom under the dramatically sloping rear glass. But how much time do you really plan on spending in the back seat of a 50-year-old Italian car?

Drivetrain

1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
- image 627856

As previously mentioned, the main difference between the Giulietta and Giulia was the engine. The 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the Giulietta gave way the Giulia’s larger 1.6-liter four, which was equipped with Weber 40 DCOE2 carburetors. It produced 112 horsepower, which was enough to propel the aerodynamic Alfa up to 125 mph. ‘Giulietta’ is the diminutive of ‘Giulia’ in Italian, so the name change was word play to highlight the newer, more grown-up engine.

Power is channeled to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, and disc brakes are at all four corners — another upgrade over the Giullietta, which made do with drum brakes.

Prices

1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
- image 627858

Prices for Giulia Sprint Speciale are currently going into the stratosphere. This blue example recently brought a high bid of just over $80,000, but that’s on the low end of the spectrum. Original low-mileage examples have recently sold for over $200,000. Only 1,400 Giulia Sprint Speciales were ever built (and roughly same numbers of Giuliettas), so they weren’t exactly plentiful to begin with.

Competition

BMW 2002tii

1972 - 1974 BMW 2002tii High Resolution Exterior
- image 518322

The BMW 2002 is the car that sparked the sport coupe and forged an epic on-track rivalry with the Alfas of the day in the Trans Am U2L (under 2.0-liter) class. First introduced in 1968, 2002s are incredibly fun drivers and, because they’re so common, surprisingly affordable and easy to maintain. Nice one’s can be had for four figures, while much the rarer, sought-after 2002 Turbos have recently sold for over $100,000.

The sweet spot in the lineup seems to be the 2002tii. Introduced in 1972 and putting down 130 horsepower, Car and Driver said it felt “like a $2500 car with a $2000 engine.” Earlier models produced 100 horsepower, while the 2002 Turbo puts down a wonderfully laggy 170 horsepower. You would be hard pressed to find another classic that has a better fun-to-cost ratio.

Read our full review of the 2002tii here.

Porsche 911

1965 - 1969 Porsche 912
- image 329790

First introduced in 1963, the 911 has since spawned a range of cars that includes turbocharged, all-wheel-drive beasts and track-bred road racers, but early 911s are actually a pretty good on-paper match for the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale. With the exception of ultra-rare examples like the 2.7 RS, they’re also in same price bracket. Values have consistently increased over the years, making old 911s a sound investment.

It’s weird to think about now, but the flat-sixes in the original 911s produced just 128 horsepower, while the 911S introduced just three years later produced 158 horsepower. Paltry power numbers by today’s standards, but the 911’s low mass means they still feel properly quick. If the 911 is a little rich for your blood, there’s also the more affordable four-cylinder 912.

Conclusion

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale might not be the sportiest car of the era, or even the sportiest Alfa Romeo of the era, but it’s uniqueness and striking looks can’t be denied. This isn’t a car in which you go vintage road racing on the weekends. It’s one you admire in your temperature-controlled garage and occasionally fire up to tip down to the your local independent coffee house for an espresso.

That might sound like a knock, but it’s not. Comparing the Giulia with newer, faster 105- and 115-based cars is easy, but it’s also unfair. It tried to be a sports car in the Giulietta, but finally grew into its pants as a grand touring car in the Giulia. Collectors are starting to come around to that fact, and the Giulia is now being recognized for what it has always been: a compact touring car that’s utterly gorgeous with a fascinating story.

  • Leave it
    • * Not quite as competent as a GTV or GTA.
    • * Rather expensive and likely to be more so in the future.
    • * Maintenance could prove costly.

Source: eBay

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