(In typing this over since I wrote it over 18 years ago, I have found some glaring errors-please don't send me mail! Thanks)
"The Alfa's charm is both as individual and as varied as human nature, as well as the basic fact that it is Italian and therefore, undeniably the product of a poetic and romantic race...it takes no more than a few miles of open (preferably convoluted ) road for any driver worthy of the name to feel growing appreciation and start to form his own personal attachment to the responsiveness, control and engineering of the firm's latter day designs."
This must be the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce that's being praised in the Road and Track"Road Test" of September 1965. Now that you're thinking of a fast sports car and open roads, let's take a look at the car, we call the hidden collectable.
Lets go back to just before 1955, when the Spider was introduced by Alfa Romeo. The factory was building the 1900 series cars and doing quite well for a postwar factory, that built cars in low production numbers. However , the end was threatening and the factory needed something that could replace the current series; something that would have a good solid base on which to grow for the future. This how the Giulietta (pronounced Julie-et-ta) series came in to being.
Performance, as well as appeal, in the customers eye are number one, and Alfa Romeo designed the Giulietta with these in mind. The car was cheaper to buy than its counterpart the 1900 and more economical to. In trying to hold down production costs, the car was made smaller; therefore it reached a public that was virtually untouched by most auto makers of the time. The Giulietta series consisted of the Sprint coupe and Berlina and was expanded to the Spider, Sprint Speciale, Sprint Zagato and the Sprint Veloce. The combination of lightness, power and economical use and superb styling gave the public a car they had been waiting for.
So, in 1954 after many delays, the first of the Giuliettas rolled off the assembly line. The factory already had a convertible on the boards. The first of three prototypes were built and shown around many of the European car salons to test the waters of public approval. The car was a resounding success and was given the go-ahead for production. From the prototypes, the production car came with a refined Pininfarina built body. In the first year of production, 1956, 1007 cars were produced. That same year, true to Italian tradition, a faster version of the same car was developed-The Veloce (meaning fast). The cars shared the same body and similar mechanics here and there, but that's about all.
The Spiders came in a Normale (750D series) and Veloce (750F series). The engine was designed with a displacement of 1300cc, an incentive, because of the tax laws governing power. the Giuliettas were born with a 74x75 mm bore and stroke and a compression of 8.5:1, yielding 65 hp. This was the Normale setup, which had a single two-barrel, progressive down draft carburetor and power distributed through a four speed synchronized gearbox. The Veloce sported twin side draft Webers (40DCOE3's), 9.5:1 compression, and tube headers, using the same 4 speed gearbox. The Normale rear end ratio was 4.55:1 and the Veloces's 4.10:1. This gave the consumer a very economical and a faster version if he so desired.
In 1958, the 750 series became the 101 series when the body was stretched about one in in the middle of the chassis. Even later, in 1963, the same 101 chassis was given a 1600cc engine and renamed the Giulia. the Giulia was 74x82 mm in bore and stroke with larger valves, 9.0:1 compression, seals on the intake guides to cut oil consumption and sodium added to the valve stems to prolong valve life. This was the only series of Alfa s that had disc brakes in the front (Girling) and drum brakes in the read, rather than either all the way around.
The Spiders were built in the Giulia series in either the Normale or Veloce version, but the Sprint was not built in a Veloce version like its counterpart the Giulietta Sprint. By the time the Giulia series was rolling off the assembly lines, a newer series was already off the drawing boards. It would replace the older designs and was designated the 105 series.
In comparison, there is little difference between a Giulietta Normale and the Giulia Normale except for the electrics, displacement and the addition of a 5 speed gearbox. Yet, the difference between the Veloce and the Normale of either series is like day is to night. The Normale had the singe two-barrel down draft, the Veloce, twin Webers. The Normale had a well designed cast iron exhaust manifold, but was no match for the factory tube headers for deriving horsepower. The Normale has a moderate street cam, while the Veloce had a high lift and a longer duration. In the Normale trim, the Giulietta engine produced 65 hp and the Veloce 90; in the Giulia, the engine produced 109 hp and the Veloce 130.
The Spider's suspension was sprung with unequal length A arms for the front, and a live axle in the rear suspended on coil springs at all four corners. This gave a ride of smoothness, yet responsiveness. A front sway bar was added to handle the understeer generated and high cornering speeds. The Giulietta was given large drum brakes in the front and smaller ones in the rear. The Giulia had discs in the front and used the same Giulietta front brake drums for the rear axle.
The engine could be modified from the Normale to a Veloce with little or now trouble, but the greatness of the engine lies in its ability to be modified beyond the Veloce stage to a hot street engine without much more than what the factory already provided. The head could be shaved .040" to increase compression ratio as well as add a higher lift came (10.5 or 11 mm). YOu could then port and polish the intake and exhaust ports and install a lightened flywheel. This gave the Giulietta another 50-70 hp, and with the Giulia you got an increase of 30-40 hp.
Even in the Normale trim, the car wasn't a slouch, however, the Veloce was much faster, The Giulia Veloce was rated to turn the quarter mile in 17.4 seconds with a 0-60 time of 10.5 seconds. This was in a body having a curb weight of 2150 lbs. The weights and balance of 54/46 made the car understeer heavily with hard cornering. This could be corrected with some Koni shocks all around and with changing the front factory sway bar to a heavier bar to cure the body roll. The car was then a real competitor in a slalom course. The top speed was only about 110 for both cars, but they could cruise along all day at this speed. The cars were made for exceptionally cool running, even on the hottest days. For the oil temperature to go off the peg, you'd almost have to be racing.
The Giulia Veloce had some unusual parts not shared with the Normale of the same series. The engine had forged rods that were balanced, the pistons were cast and balanced as well. The sump, which had a capacity of 6.8 quarts, came in three peices on disassembly. The main body of the sump was solid, except for the hole in the front and in the middle. It was here that the oil returned to the newer nine tooth pump, giving a higher volume and pressure. If the oil went in the middle it went into a channeled passage that allowed the oil to cool before returing to the pump pickup. This passage was formed by the bottom plate. When the oil collected in the middle sump, it was congregated around the hold in the middle which was 2.5 cm in diameter. Here was a box that had 4 gates that swung inward only. This box prevented an oil starvation situation when the car was under heavy acceleration and decelleration or hard cornering by allowing one of the gates to open and the opposite ones to close, thus trapping the oil.
Searching for surviving members of the Veloce production for both Giulia and Giulietta series has turned up about 75 cars for each series. It is believed by some that there are only 150 cars left in each series! the Normal version is existent in higher numbers because of the higher number of cars produced compared to the Veloce version. However, if you consider the number of cars that were shipped over to this country in the ensuing years after introduction, you would find that there are still many cars in existence despite those destroyed because of rust or accidents.
Many of the east coast cars have been scrapped for various reasons, but many are still available for parts and running gear. Many of the Veloces went out into racing as the viability showed itself from the moment the car left the showroom. Racing has, therefore taken its toll as well as rust. The car is still competitive in SCCA racing because of its classification. In 1977, a Giulietta of years past beat out the current factory production sponsored British cars in the same class. Some say a good Giulietta could be a Corvette in a competitive slalom course.
The Giulietta name hasn't just faded away with time. It was renamed the Junior, to designate the smaller powered car. It still lives on in this name today. The Giulia 1600 (101) lasted 3 years in production, 1963-1965. The spider was discontinued in 1965 and replaced with the 105 chassis counter-part called the Duetto for "twin". Thus ended an era of body styles that stretched from 1955 to 1965 with four models of spiders. The Giulietta name has recently resurfaced with a wind tunnel designed body and an Alfetta suspension.
What do you have with a Veloce? You have a convertible car with reasonably low production figures and figuring what the ravages of time have done, you have a very good collectable as far as parts and mechanical availability. You can restore a Normale for a fair fee and have a car that is not only fun to drive, but is thrifty as well. If you want excitement, the Veloce is the one to have. The car is rare, hard to find and will bring a commanding price if in excellent condition.
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