You Need to Buy a 1963-1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Right Now
Want mid-century Italian beauty you can drive every day? Better get moving, bello.
BMW is credited with inventing the modern sports sedan. By stuffing the potent 2-liter engine from its lazy-eyed 2000C/CS coupes of the Sixties into an erect little Neue Klasse two-door, BMW created the iconic 2002. Grandad to the benchmark 3 Series, the 2002 elicited raves upon its release, single-handedly establishing a brand identity that found expression in BMW’s 1975 slogan, “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
As with dentures, thermometers and the carburetor itself, however, the origin of this new vehicle class may be better traced to the fertile land of da Vinci and Galileo: Italy.
Some might credit the Alfa Romeo 1900 of the Fifties with starting the trend, but we posit that the requisite components didn’t really come together until Alfa’s subsequent release of the car pictured here, the Giulia Super, which predated BMW’s bite-size ‘bahn-burner by at least half a decade. And while the Bavarian made do with rear drum brakes, a single overhead cam single carbureted engine, two doors and only four forward speeds, the Alfa brought four-wheel discs, a high-revving double overhead cam dual-carbureted alloy motor, four doors and a standard five-speed transmission.
“It has all of the parts bin, go-fast parts,” says Santo Spadaro, co-owner of Dominick European Car Repair in suburban New York, a marque specialist and incurable Alfisti. “So, it looks like a family sedan, but underneath the skin, it’s really a super touring car.”
Though the Giulia Super’s body may seem to follow the three-box paradigm, its aerodynamics were honed in a wind tunnel. “It actually has a lower coefficient of drag than the teardrop-shaped Porsche 911,” Spadaro notes.
Along with a commitment to rigidity and low weight (around 2,200 pounds) this slipperiness allowed the Giulia Super to make do with relatively tiny 1.3 liter and (later) 1.6 liter engines, maximizing fuel efficiency. It also gave the car a shape that allowed for pleasant open-air motoring in the days before air conditioning. “In the Giulia, you can drive with all the windows open and the air doesn’t make any noise, and it just comes in, and just cools you off without beating you up. It’s really pretty marvelous,” Spadaro says.
The airiness extended beyond literal ventilation. As a proper sedan, with an upright, if delicately curved, roofline and a proper trunk out back, the car was roomy even with every seat filled. “You have a car that can carry five people comfortably, and all their luggage.” Spadaro says. “You can put six-footers in the back seat.”
Its acute verticality also provided for a better view down the road than more overtly sporting coupes managed. With its thin roof pillars and expansive greenhouse, driving the Giulia Super was like sitting under a giant square Pyrex baking dish. Visibility was exemplary in every direction.
Prices on high-quality versions of the aforementioned sports coupes—the BMW CS, the Giulia’s two-door sibling the Guilia Sprint GT/GTV and especially the Porsche 911—have taken off in the past decade, but sedans haven’t quite kept up pace. Until recently. Our friends at Hagerty, one of the world’s largest insurers of classic vehicles and publishers of the print and online collector car bible the Hagerty Price Guide, have shown price appreciation for the average 1963-1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super sedan of nearly 65 percent in the past five years alone. And as with many other rising collectibles, early-series cars have benefited from the greatest increase. First-year cars from 1963 have almost doubled in value during that same time period, going up by nearly 95 percent.
What is driving the increase? Some of it can be marked down to the overall trend in collector cars, a sort of global appreciation in which all boats are lifted by a rising sea. But Spadaro sees another factor. “I think there’s a movement towards cars that are all-rounders.” That is, a dual and literal appreciation for cars that can do everything well.
This trend privileges closed, stiffer and more stable machines over sexier but less utilitarian convertibles. And it privileges sporting four-doors like the Giulia Super over more sensual coupes like the Alfa GTV.
“GTVs are great cars,” Spadaro says. “But frankly, the Giulia drives every bit as good as the GTV but with a better sightline and a more comfortable seating position. Plus, you can pack your family and all your stuff in and have a good time. I think people are digging the fact that these cars are multipurpose.”
Lest you think you’ve already been priced out, the point of entry for an average (in collector-speak, “Condition 3”), drivable, cosmetically lovely vehicle is around $30,000—not chump change, but not much for a mid-century Italian with a rising profile.
“The Giulia has always been something of a cult car,” Spadaro says. “But I think lately people are coming to it because as event cars go, it’s a nice car to live with on a daily basis.”