Notes and Comment
Welcome again. In this issue, a personal history and commentary from Jon Bernheimer about his sedans, and a piece on Giulia wagons and panel vans. Trying to say anything definitive about these rare cars is a tall order with so much information, misinformation, poor memories, nonexistent and lost records, and the like. Let’s call it a group effort/work in progress; anything you care to respond to, please do and I’ll print in future.
SquadraPatina proceeds apace. Did a couple more events in the race Super, one a VARA school at Buttonwillow, then a CSRG event at Sears Point. Lots of Alfas in my group, after a sleepy start on Saturday I got my act together on Sunday and led a GTA for some laps, eventually let him by, but then stayed on his tail til the end. Great fun. My street Super soldiers on, needs a little help on idle smoothness; time for a tuneup. Daily cars can suffer while projects get the attention. Sold one Giulietta Spider, am now cutting out rusty, dented trunk/fender areas on another (see AlfaBB thread for horrors). Having worked last year with Conrad Stevenson on the Carrera SS, I learned a lot, including measured fearlessness with serious body issues. Take a deep breath and starting cutting; it’s only steel. Am enjoying puttering around in the Perkins F12 van, but dang is it hard to find uses for a 50 MPH truck. If someone’s interested I might be tempted to sell. Join the Fly-In Drive-Home club! Just bought a project 69 Spider, which might take the F12’s place in the driveway. The March Berlina drive was greeted by rain; six hardy souls including a 428CI 1966 T-Bird made for Point Reyes, was actually very nice in drizzle once we got into the boonies. Bay Area Alfa swap meet in Menlo Park Saturday, May 10; see the BB for info.
The keeper of the Berlina Register, North American Giulia Sedan Register, and Giulietta Sedan Register is Andrew Watry, email email@example.com. Send corrections to your information or any other Giulia- and Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs. Always seeking articles for the newsletter. The keeper of the international Giulia Sedan Register is Barry Edmunds in Australia, email Giulia105@optusnet.com.au
By Jon Bernheimer
It all started with my new ’68 VW. I drove it from Alexandria, VA to Scottsbluff, NE in January ’69. Loved the rear engine, but I didn’t realize that (probably) exceeding the engine’s maximum rpms, at least for extended periods, would burn the #3 exhaust valve. I did this twice in two years, and the Alfa advertisements in Road & Track magazine, which had attracted my attention from my mid-teen years, began to plant a seed in the back of my brain. Alfas are built to cruise at relatively high speeds. VWs were not back then. I realized that an Alfa would be perfectly suited to the wide open spaces where I was going to school.
So on a 1969 break from Hiram Scott College, I visited International Motors in Falls Church, VA. I test drove 2 cars: a new Duetto, which I couldn’t afford (not having a job) and a fairly new GTV complete with racing clutch (which I also couldn’t afford). The salesperson pointed out a red ’67 Giulia Super, but I said to myself it just wasn’t a very good looking car. But when I got home, the gears in my brain began to mesh, and I realized the Super was still an Alfa, that it had all or most of the internals of other Alfas, and it was very practical with a large trunk and seating for 4. I went back and bought it for $1795 ($2995 when new in ’67). I drove my Super back to HSC, kept it until 1980, and sold it only because I couldn’t afford to have the suspension re-bushed. The car had been repainted, had a new clutch, and it had been sitting in my parents’ backyard for about nine months. A buyer drove overnight from Cincinnati, OH; we rocked the car back and forth to free up the clutch; manually moved the throttle plates back and forth (they’d become a little sticky), and started the car. After some sleep in a motel, the buyer drove the Super back to Ohio, where it resides today. (I located and contacted the owner last year after this long passage of time. He still has the car today.)
My memories of my first Super are many, with my earliest experience out on the open western roads. It had an Abarth exhaust, and co-workers could hear me coming minutes before I arrived. I once tied two 50-gallon oak barrels to the trunk lid and took them home for bedside night tables, and delivered Scandinavian furniture to customers in a like manner or tied to the roof.
I loved my first Super, always regretted selling it, and hoped to find another one day. Eight Alfas later (assorted Alfetta sedans, a Sprint GT, a GTV, two GTV-6s, and two Milano Verdes), and nearing retirement, I decided to try to locate another Super to give myself as a “graduation [retirement] present.” I had seen a classified ad in an Alfa Owner in 2006 listing five Supers, but when I got serious, I couldn’t find the issue or the ad. In January 2007, having seen a photo of Bill Gillham’s Super “Hooligan,” I decided to give him a call to see if he could help me find one. Bill told me that he had three. He had Hooligan; he was restoring another, “Bella,” for his wife; and he had a third that would make a good project. I told Bill that I didn’t have the skills or the place to restore the “good project” myself, and we ended up deciding that he would restore it for me. To make a long story a little shorter, nearly two years later I took delivery of a ’66 (built in July ’65, and delivered new to a customer in San Francisco in September the same year) Le Mans Blue Super (nearly a twin of “Hooligan” from the outside). The restoration (better told by Bill) and work done since (better related by me) would require at least two additional articles. I love the ’66, it is great to drive and attracts more attention than any other Alfa I have owned (attributed to its age, unique shape, and to its Le Mans Blue color).
All of the above was written to provide some history of my time with my Supers. But none of the above was requested by Andrew Watry. He did, however, ask me to write a short article about a note I sent to Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market, regarding a recent change in the Investment Grade assigned by SCM for the Giulia Super. I won’t include the entire communication here, but my letter and Keith’s response appeared in the November 2013 edition of SCM on pages 26 and 28. I had seen the Super assigned a “B” for many years, but I think about 6 months ago, the grade changed to “C.”
According to the SCM Pocket Price Guide, “B” is assigned to “Cars that have something special about them, often technical innovation, style, or competition provenance”—but normally not all three. They were generally produced in far larger numbers than the A-tier cars. Examples of B cars include Austin-Healey 100-4, Ferrari 512 BB, and Lotus 7. “C” is assigned to “Cars that have some inherent interest but had few special or desirable characteristics.” Examples include Porsche 914, Saab Sonett II, Triumph TR-4.
My thought process was that SCM had assigned the Super a “B” grade for years and for good reason. I stated to Keith that to my knowledge, the Super was the first production car to have used wind tunnel-testing during design. I think you, the reader, have been aware that in spite of the Super’s boxy shape, its drag coefficient is either equal to or lower than those of an early XKE or a Porsche 911. Of at least equal importance, the Super was the first modern sports sedan [or the Giulietta or Giulia TI, making Alfa’s lead even longer. ADW], which beat out the BMW 1600/2002 by two to four years, respectively, in making its appearance on European and American roads. BMW and BMW owners, by and large, believe that BMW built the first modern sports sedan. It just isn’t so. In addition to its place in automotive history, the Super came standard with 4-wheel disc brakes, a DOHC aluminum alloy engine, 5-speed transmission, and two-barrel Weber carbs. The early BMWs were not so well equipped.
The Super’s historical significance and standard features, I believe, fit well and comfortably within SCM’s definition of grade “B,” and the change to grade “C” just seems illogical. Keith wrote, in part: “With only five letters to choose from—A, B, C, D and F—when we review all the various investment grades every six months, we ask ourselves the following question: Given all the collectible cars we cover, does the grade we are giving to this specific model make sense? “In the case of the Alfa Giulia Super, it has going for it all the things you mention. In fact, all of those things are the reason I bought one ... On the other hand, it is a 4-door sedan, built in extremely high numbers for a collectible (124,590 from 1965 to 1972, although the number of pre-1968 Supers officially imported to the U.S. is far lower, perhaps under 10,000, but we haven’t been able to find an exact number). Note that among other Alfas with a “C” rating are the GTV 1750/2000, the Montreal, and the GTV-6 Balocco. We could make a case for each of them being rated “B,” and with the resurgence of interest in the Montreal, it may well change categories in our next SCM Price Guide. “But at the moment, the 4-door configuration, the high production numbers, and the lack of, shall we say, ‘sex appeal’ of the Super will keep it in the “C” category.”
I wrote back to Keith and repeated that as SCM had previously assigned the Super the “B” grade, and for appropriate reasons—and none of the reasons had changed—that we would have to agree to disagree. Hey, it’s Keith’s magazine and a good one, which I greatly enjoy. Having spent a bundle on having my Super restored, I want to see the model assigned the higher grade. I don’t plan on selling my Super as long as I am able to still drive safely and enjoy it, but would rather get more of my money back one day rather than less! As Andrew pointed out to me, most Alfa owners would rather see the prices of older Alfas depressed in order to be able to purchase and enjoy them more easily/less expensively. I just wanted to share my Super experience and communication with SCM with you. Thanks for reading.
Giulia Wagons and Panel Vans
In total, Alfa built a half-million Giulia sedans over 15 years. Last issue I covered the rare TI Super, a model of 501 individual cars. This issue I’m treading into the minefield of another rare model, Giulia wagons, panel vans, service wagons built by Colli, Giorgietti, Grazia, Introzzi, and Marazzi, firms engaged in the then-dying industry of European coachbuilding. Reliable numbers are hard to come by for these cars, but they’re likely nearly as rare as the TI Super. In 2001 historian John Hertzman guesstimated there were 106 wagons in total from all the makers, but I’ve seen numbers as low as 16 and as high as 500. Other estimates say 160 cars were factory-listed as Colli Giardinetta, 400 by Giorgietti, with varying numbers by other makers; none of this was well documented. This article is an exercise in putting down thoughts and the research I’ve done, and starting the discussion, subject to knowledgeable reader input, rather than my acting like some kind of authority. I know of four wagons in the Bay Area, so I see them more regularly than most folks, and I’m privileged to have driven three. But that doesn’t make me the expert and I’ve never owned one, so I’m putting down what I “know” and have researched, and will be happy to receive input to correct the record.
First, a little background. These five companies were carrozzeria, that is, coachbuilders who would build or modify bodies on factory cars, whether Alfa, Fiat, Lancia, what have you. Hertzman quotes Fusi that in the 1950s Colli had built 91 Giulietta Promiscua variants (including stretch limo versions); Boneschi (see picture below) built a few as well. These cars were roughly similar but had detail differences. The Giulietta was built in much smaller quantities than the Giulia, so the stage was set for greater things on the 105 chassis.
Two basic Giulia wagon body types exist (my nomenclature, not official): the “wagon” with windows all around, and the “panel van” with metal, not windows, on the rear sides. There are other differences, including tailgate height, whether there is a back seat, whether the roof was replaced entirely or simply extended, and so on. Both Giulia TI and Giulia Supers were converted, and later a few Nuovas. And I have heard of one Introzzi 1300 Super panel van. At a remove of 40-50 years on cars that changed hands many times, were poorly documented, and rusted badly and needed repair over time, it can be difficult to determine which car was made by which carrozzeria and what it looked like at birth. For example, one car started as a panel van but was restored by cutting in wagon windows.
Colloquially, most folks refer to all these cars as “Colli wagons,” which at least identifies them but is not precise. Colli built some of them, numbers subject to argument (Black & White Garage in the UK says 160 cars), but likely built the first cars, and in general seems to have done the best job. They also may have provided the template for other builders to work from, as well as “kits” for conversion. My experts say Colli cars have a full tailgate (though even that is disputed), whether panel van or wagon, reaching down to the rear bumper (the blue Black & White Garage car contradicts this). Colli cars typically have a well-executed rear seat, with a chrome grab handle across the top. The spare tire was moved under the now-flat rear floor. In Italy, as with the Giulietta Promiscua (used for goods and people), they were also known as Giardinetta (garden car). Colli cars are allegedly listed by Alfa as Giardinetta in the official build records, whereas other makers’ conversions are recorded as sedans, not noting the body change. The cars provided to Colli for conversion were delivered minus seats, trunklid, and the like, in prep for the conversion. I’ve heard all wagons (with windows) are Colli, but that is subject to argument too. The Colli logo is a stylized swallow in blue and white.
The picture below is a standard Alfa “builder’s photo” of an apparent Colli wagon (see the identifying fender badge) from Fusi, and Owen, “Alfissimo.” It is seamless in terms of design and execution, looking like it came from Portello like any other Giulia. This is an early Giulia TI because it has drum front brakes, which ended 1964ish. The majority of wagons and vans seem to be on Super bodies, introduced in mid-1965, but I have seen three TI-bodied wagons (and one French Super has TI badging), one of which had a swapped-in Super engine and interior. Anything can happen over 50 years since the cars were build, rusted, wrecked, fixed.
Introzzi is probably the second biggest builder. Introzzi cars and other non-Colli have a tailgate that consists just of a hinged window and the rear part of the trunk lid, opening down to the stock lift-over line above the lights. Rear window shape varies too. Below is a pictured a yellow 1300 Super Introzzi panel van, which also has a fabric sunroof. Note the small “gill” vents in the lower rear corners.
In terms of chassis numbers, all the cars I’ve seen in person have VINs that reflect their underlying model designation and number series; Giulia TI 105.08, Giulia Super 105.26, etc. Fusi lists “Giulietta Promiscua” models separately from other Giuliettas, and does for one range of 105.26 Giulia Supers Promiscua in 1968-69 (869073-899423). But clearly not all 30,000 were vans or wagons; normal Supers pick back up with 899424, so I’m not sure what this means.
For a general thread on Giulia wagons and panel vans, see this thread on the AlfaBB: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/sedan-1962-1977/160515-super-wagons.html
Grazia and Giorgietti cars I don’t know much about. Black & White Garage says Grazia made 90 cars, Introzzi 80 cars. They also cite Carrozzeria Marazzi (who also built Type 33s and Lamborghinis) as having built two Nuova Super wagons, which would have been mid-1970s. A Giorgetti wagon sold at Artcurial in Paris in 2013 and is now in restoration, documented on the AlfaBB at http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/sedan-1962-1977/286785-giulietta-1600-super-giorgietti.html The Giorgietti car has a non-stock tailgate with an alleged Fiat rear window, and is a major, major restoration project. Here is an interior view of a fairly original Colli panel van in Berkeley on a late 1967 Giulia Super chassis. This was originally an Alfa service vehicle.
Here is another big project, a Colli panel van (note the full-height tailgate), below, which has kicked around the East coast for some year, mostly sitting outside. This is not an uncommon condition for these cars to end up in, sadly. This is probably on the border of what makes sense to restore, at least with current values.
Finally, in a generational follow-up, a 1750 Berlina was built by Carrozzeria Pavesi 1968, shown in Tabucchi & d’Amico, “Alfa Romeo Production Cars From 1910,” which states a small series of these cars was built. Dare we to hope that any still exist? Anyone ever seen one?
All of these cars, whether Giulietta, Giulia, or Berlina, result in natural, harmonious, professional-looking wagons with great utility; the wagon extension fits the original body design so well. It’s a shame they weren’t made in greater numbers. As I said, I’ve been lucky to see and drive a few. As with many special-bodied Alfas, their days of affordability are in the past. As of April 2014, the Black & White Garage car is offered at 22,500 Pounds Sterling, and needs floors, rockers, and paint. Rusty projects come up from time to time, but these are cars that can cost an awful lot to restore. But what a car to have.
For information on the Black & White Garage Colli, see http://www.bwgarage.com/giulia-105-series/1967-alfa-romeo-giulia-giardinetta
For information on the carrozzerie generally (as well as Romeo2 and F12 information), see http://www.romeoregister.com/phdi/p1.nsf/supppages/0453?opendocument&part=3
Berlina/Giulia Market Report
1965 Giulia TI. Grey car with red interior, 2000 engine with dual carbs, 4.1 axle and brakes. A bit of a crude hotrod; fast but rough. Started life white, found in Florida, roadtripped west a few years ago. Eventually de-rusted and painted on a budget, seats redone from black to red. Lowish quality driver-level work. $9,000 AlfaBB, Berkeley CA. A good basis for someone who wanted an inexpensive Giulia sedan and could do some spruce-up. A friend owned this car, I worked on it some, saw the body and upholstery in progress 5+ years ago. Driver-friendly, won’t win any concours or local shows and needs fine-tuning to a bunch of systems. Still, a grey/red TI is a good thing. I haven’t seen the car in a couple years, but having talked to the mechanic who prepped it for sale and the extent of work involved ($3,000+ on mechanicals alone), I’d call this price high for condition. 12/13
1969 US 1750 Berlina. Maroon/tan car with 2000, good mechanicals. Described as “10-footer” with poor paint, some body issues and an added tubular structure in the trunk (a Berlina Tubolare?), apparently a strengthening measure after a rear hit long ago. Formerly owned by racer Al Leake. $5,801 ebay, Los Angeles. I looked at this car years ago when Al Leake was alive, and it was a complete, ignored car that had sat for years and wasn’t operable. In this sale I guess it was back on the road, but the cosmetic issues seemed to remain. The tubular trunk structure turned me off for a number of reasons; I wouldn’t buy it at any price. The ebay listing pictured it, sort of, and briefly described it. I hope the buyer noticed. Probably fair, maybe a bit high, for a beater driver. 1/14
1967 Giulia Super. Green/tan car in the Netherlands, unusually listed (thrice) on US ebay by a seller many AlfaBB folks have dealt with. Car looked very nice, all good condition, road-legal in NL, which means a lot more than it does in the US. New springs and Konis, stock running gear otherwise, reupholstered in velour (common in Europe), looked really good all over. $19,000 ebay, Netherlands. Although European cars can be very rusty compared to US, they can also be cherished and treated right (especially in Holland) and, subject to annual road inspections, are generally maintained better than US cars. This was one of those, and this seller is known and trusted by AlfaBB Giulia nuts, so the car should be a known (high-quality) quantity. Two rounds on ebay, sold but deals not completed, third time was the charm to a German buyer. Would have made more sense maybe to list on NL or German ebay, not US; most US buyers do not want to deal with overseas cars, which adds uncertainty and $5,000+ in costs. 2/14
1967 Giulia Super. Red/black, pretty much complete, a bit of an assemblage of parts, in generally good running condition, but needing attention to most areas. Body had a lot of primer showing, later grille and bumpers, Berlina seats. Appeared basically rust-free from the pictures. $7,500 Craigslist/Alfa BB, Pasadena CA. Bought on Craigslist and then sold almost immediately for the same price by a sedan nut when a better project showed up. A registered nonrusty Super you can drive home is a rare thing on CL nowadays, and I was surprised there wasn’t more of a land-rush for it. Price seems appropriate; do a more major restoration or a running fix-up while you keep it on the road. Seems about right. 3/14
1975 Nuova Super. Blue Nuova Super with natural interior, just in from Italy, no US papers yet. Appeared to be in excellent condition in ebay listing, inside, outside, mechanically. Dignified dark blue car, still with Italian plates. Sold through an NJ shop that has brought in various period Alfas and Lancias. $17,000 ebay, New Egypt NJ. The Nuova Super was the last series Giulia, with flat trunk and hood, and plastic Berlina-like grille. Many think it has less visual character than original design, but inside and in the driving should be little different. This car looked stunning, though I would want to look closely at the body of a car fresh off the boat from Europe. A comparable early Super would likely be 25-50% more, so this is a bargain if you’re OK with the looks; this is the US price of a 1300 TI or Super. If the condition checks out this a smart buy for the new owner, who plans to use it on rallies and other special events. 4/14
1971 Giulia Super. A late blue “Biscione” with tan interior, brought from Italy to Michigan some years ago. Better than many unrestored European cars, but shows a fair amount of lower bodywork needed. Very typical. Has been in regular use, sounded quite dialed in mechanically in the ebay listing. Honestly portrayed and described, refreshingly. $9,850 ebay, Novi MI. A second-series 1600 Super is second only to a first-series Super in terms of Giulia-sedan desirability. These have minor trim differences from early cars, different grille, individual seats, different door panels and handles, etc. Minor, they still look great and perform better with hanging pedals, hydraulic clutch, better electrics. This car is fairly close to my 71 Super race car, which also came from Italy; mine was much rustier. This could get expensive in the fixing, but the final price reflects it; a perfect car would be over $20,000. So fix, or just drive it and defer body fixes til later. This seemed pretty fairly priced, assuming the entire floors and rockers don’t need doing. Seller is a known Alfa quantity, has had similar cars before. I say fair price for all involved. 4/14
1972 Giulia Super. Another Biscione, this one green with tan, a common combo. Probably indistinguishable from my race car when new. This car came from the Netherlands a few years ago, where it was sold new and restored before export. A tip-top car in condition and spec, had 1750 with Alfaholics suspension, GTA wheels, track stance, etc. A common setup in Europe. Appeared to have everything going for it, in perfect condition, reluctant sale to pay for college. $22,500 AlfaBB, Waynesboro VA. As nice a Super as you could hope to find, dialed in and set up for fast motoring. The “boy racer” look with dropped stance is not to everyone’s taste, but probably more like it than don’t, and it certainly improves the driving. I can’t see anything not to like about this car beyond that it’s not a first series car, and that’s minor. I would call this a bargain by a couple thousand dollars. A first series car would bring more; before the recession, this likely would have been higher. Giulia sedans in the US for whatever reason have not recovered to the same extent as GTVs and Giuliettas. 4/14