ALFA ROMEO 105-SERIES GIULIA REVIEW

 

The thought of a British car maker producing a twin-cam sporting saloon in the early 60s, with all-round disc brakes, independent suspension up front and a five-speed gearbox would have been laughable. 

They may have wanted to do it, but Britain’s conservative automotive industry would never have produced such a thing. Not Alfa Romeo though, which needed to come up with something radical to dig itself out of a financial black hole.

That car was the Giulia 105-Series, offered in saloon and coupé forms, and launched in June
1962 to widespread critical acclaim. The 1570cc four-pot provided superb performance too, with 103mph on offer at a time when most family saloons ran out of puff at 90. It was partly down to the superb aerodynamics – with a CD of just 0.34, the car is astonishingly refined at high speed. From 1964, the Giulia could be had with the 1290cc Giulietta engine. Spot one by its single headlamps. They’re still nippy motors as even the small engine still boasts twin overhead camshafts and up to 82bhp. 

While the Giulia coupés have long been sought after, increasing values are pushing them out of reach. The saloon may be more of a challenge aesthetically, but with such a great driving experience on offer, it’s no wonder that prices of these more practical classics are now on the up – which is why you need to buy sooner rather than later.
 

VITAL STATISTICS

Engine 1570cc/4-cyl/DOHC
Power 92bhp @ 600rpm
Torque 108lb ft @ 3700rpm
Top Speed 107mph
0-60mph 13sec
Economy 26mpg
Gearbox 5-speed manual

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK

This is the Achilles’ heel of the Giulia. Unsurprisingly, replacement panels are all but extinct, with nothing even being reproduced. The whole bodyshell is potentially one large weak spot, but focus on the bottom six inches of the car most closely – the sills, inner wings and front crossmember all need particular attention. Because of the scarcity of fresh panels, you also need to be on the lookout for bodged repairs all over. 
A and B-posts rot, while the boot floor (including the spare wheel well) is likely to have been patched by now. The floorpans, bulkhead and wheelarches are all likely to have seen better days, so be on the lookout for filler that’s been liberally applied.
Exterior brightwork can also be a headache. You’ll struggle to find replacement bits on a used basis, with anything new having disappeared years ago.

ENGINE

Various twin-cam fours were fitted to the Giulia – there were 1300, 1600, 1750 and 2000 options. All are tough, but noisy tappets and timing chains are common. Head gasket failure is the most likely malady, so look for oil trickling down either side of the block along with signs of the coolant and lubricant mixing, given away by white emulsion on the underside of the oil filler cap.

TRANSMISSION

All Giulias came with a five-speed manual gearbox, which is reasonably tough, but second-gear synchro can prove weak if the gearchange has been rushed before the ‘box has properly warmed up. 
Another weak spot is the gear selector fork, which bends, leading to jumping out of gear when reverse is selected. Damage can be caused after just 50,000 miles. Rebuilt ‘boxes cost around £600.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Worn suspension components can all be replaced – hard-driven cars are likely to need an overhaul. Rear-wheel steering is common, from tired trailing arm bushes, while knocks from the front betray worn bushes. They’re all easily renewed though.
The biggest braking problems come from cars that haven’t been used for years, with seized cylinders, calipers and servos being potentially costly to revive or replace. The servos of later cars can fail, and when they do there’ll be clouds of white smoke from the exhaust, which is the brake fluid being drawn into the engine and burned.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

The original interior trim was reasonably tough, but by now it’ll have seen better days. Luckily most items are being reproduced and are not particularly expensive, although it’s the usual story – if it all needs replacing, the costs will add up. A new headlining is £112, a full set of seat covers is £250+, while a carpet set is £135 or more. Even the boot carpet sets are available for £85.
The electrics are more reliable than Alfa’s reputation might have you believe. The most common issues centre on the fuel tank earthing poorly, leading to erratic fuel gauge readings, as well as the column stalks not working properly – although these
can be rebuilt by specialists.

VERDICT

With great club and specialist support, a driving experience to savour and steadily rising values, the Giulia makes sense on so many levels. However, while mechanical parts availability is very good, the same isn’t true when it comes to replacement panels. You also need to garage your Giulia, or at least keep it under cover, if it isn’t to rapidly deteriorate. But if you look after it, you’ll be rewarded with a dream drive every trip plus the pleasure of owning a steadily appreciating classic. But be warned: unless you can find a good one, you’ll be bankrupted.

 

 

 

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