Alfa Romeo’s popular classic which goes under the model name: Giulia Sprint, GTV, or among entusiasts simply The Bertone, named of course after the design house which created the timeless design, hardly needs any further introduction. The little coupé belongs to the elite of well-known and recognisable classics, and everyone has some kind of relation to it. However, in 1964, Alfa Romeo exposed the Giulia to rather severe surgery and thus created something quite different and quite rare.
The summer is on our doorstep, the sun is shining and the temperatures are rising here in Scandiavia. Most vintage car owners cannot deny longing after a car with no roof – a convertible, cabriolet or roadster – at least sometimes. This type of car is known by several names, but the essence is simply about driving al fresco with wind in hair and free access to the fresh air. The open car is a luxury and for many, the most important element of sports car driving.
More often than not – regardless of marque and model – the droptop versions have been created on the back of existing models which themselves were born with a roof, and this has not always lead to the most beautiful and harmonious results. Besides the aesthetics, the open cars also had to give up some of the rigidity of the bodywork due to loosing their roof, and in an attempt to reinstate some stiffness to the shell, a stronger and heavier structure would be built into the floors and lower part of the body. This meant, in almost every case, that the weight often ended up exceeding that of the donor model. Not exactly ideal for a car which was meant to be more sporty. Even so, in most cases, engineering stiffness into those roofless bodies also failed because of compromises caused by the weight gain, and the cars often ended up being both heavier and softer than the equivalent tintop model. Nevertheless, the roofless cars still possessed an air of exclusivity among the buying public and would add some glitter to the entire model range, thereby helping sales.
The Giulia Sprint GTC was Alfa Romeos sports cabriolet from the 1960s. And at least in my view, quite a successful convertible version of the iconic Sprint GT coupé, which was produced in very limited numbers, with a total production of only 1,003 examples. A proper rarity then!
Pictures courtesy of: Jan Paustian – Stelvio Automobili
Of that number, only a mere 100 right-hand drive cars were manufactured for the UK and South African markets. As mentioned, the car was based on the Giulia Sprint GT and the conversion from coupé to convertible was carried out at the design house Touring in Milan. In addition to the lack of a roof, one of the hallmarks is the characteristic badge on the boot lid with the inscription: Giulia GTC.
To restore at least part of the body rigidity which disappeared by removing the fixed roof and roof rails, Carrozzeria Touring added reinforcements to several areas of the body. Throughout the lifespan of the model, numerous modifications were made to optimise the reinforcement, apparently for the purpose of improving the rigidity which was a struggle to achieve to a satisfactory level.
Despite the extra steel reinforcements, the GTC’s total weight was only 905 kg, contributing to its sporting performance potential. Not a bad result, as the coupé officially weighed 950 kg. The rear seat was even maintained in the convertible and the car could just about accommodate four people – preferably children or adults without legs in the rear, but the seat was there. And found in the engine compartment was the same legendary 1.6-litre Nord engine cast in aluminum and sporting two overhead camshafts. It still offered a willing 105hp and had five gears in the gearbox.
However, Carrozzeria Touring was in deep financial trouble when the Giulia Sprint GTC went into production. Sadly, the famous company had to turn the key shortly after production ended. All of which adds another point of interest for the Guilia GTC as it was Carrozzeria Touring’s very last project. One can say that it effectively makes the GTC the Touring swan song, aiding to make the story of the Alfa Romeo convertible of the now famous Bertone coupé model, a truly interesting story. Here in Denmark we have a few of them owned by enthusiasts and they are always an attraction.
What better excuse to share a couple of entertaining videos with a true race legend as test driver of a GTC. In the first one, moving along at quite some pace as well. It could well have the description: “That guy… balls bigger than his goggles… no helmet…”.
The second video is more poetic and could easily serve as inspiration for how to film with today’s Go-pro cameras as well.