ALFA ROMEO GIULIA

Is there a more inappropriate car for a 20-year-old than a non-running, left-hand-drive Alfa Romeo Giulia Super from the 1970s? Having bought, rebuilt and owned mine for the last three years, I'm well equipped to answer just that.

Modern cars are all very well, but for unadulterated driving thrills it is older machinery that hits the spot. I was looking to scratch such an itch in 2017, and came across the 105-series Alfa Giulia Super - a peculiar, three box saloon with sports car underpinnings. Perfect. Less perfect, however, were the rotten bodies of the majority of UK-bound cars, so a cheap flight to sunny Italy ensued to begin my search.

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
ALFA ROMEO GIULIA

There were cheap rot boxes, expensive rot boxes...and then the car: a 1972 Giulia Super 1.3, finished in Indigo Grey with an oxblood interior. It was a solid example but riddled with mechanical issues, so after some bargaining and Italian arm waving, I secured the car and it was on the way to it's new home in Wales. I owned a Giulia!

Work commenced when it arrived and over a painstaking two years, which included fitting Alfaholics suspension, rebuilding the carburettors and replacing the steering box, the project was complete. It was time to christen the Giulia on the Black Mountain Pass for it's first, proper drive.

Buzz over the cattle grid, grab a downshift with a hearty blip of the throttle and the little Alfa snarls it's way up to 6500rpm. That motor, coupled with exceptionally short gearing, is addictive - with just 90bhp on tap it's no powerhouse, but you're invited to savour every last rev and fire through the gears to keep it on song. Arrive at the first few corners and you're tasked with keeping that hard-fought momentum, and the Giulia is more than up for the task.

Turn in and the thin Nardi wheel immediately relays that familiar, old-school chatter. It doesn't steer with quite the precision of a modern car - instead the slow, unassisted rack requires big, deliberate movements, which is no bad thing. The Alfaholics setup gives the support needed to carry speed and really lean on the car, too, at which point a tight grip of the steering wheel is your only way of staying put in the spongy vinyl seat.

Despite those new springs and dampers and a slim kerbweight of 1000kg, the skinny 175-section tyres relinquish grip with ease and there is still some pitch and roll in the car. I was never looking for raw performance and grip, however. Instead, I wanted to keep some compliance in the chassis and thin, slippy rubber to allow me to reach and breach the car's limits at lower than hooligan speeds, which is key to enjoying a car on the road. You can feel the outside front tyre beginning to scrub when pushing hard, but the nose tucks in beautifully if you back off the throttle - if you take more liberties, throw it in and stand on the gas it'll even hold some quite amusing angles. It's a car that gives back, the Giulia.

And although it'd be thoroughly dusted by a Toyota Aygo, there isn't much I'd rather drive for a hard blast on the right road. Gratifying to drive fast, deeply special and with room for my mates, the Giulia is a wonderful thing to spend time in. The perfect car for a 20-year-old? I think so.

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