Cars

The 1968 Giulia Is The Essence Of Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo has consistently left an enduring mark on the automotive world: pre-war racing efforts led by a young Enzo Ferrari, a succession of cars in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, and today's beauties like the 8C and 4C. The 1968 Giulia GTA 1300 Junior Stradale that's going under the hammer at Pebble Beach is more or less the embodiment of all its ancestral and descendent Alfas. Put simply, the Giulia GTA 1300 is the essence of Alfa Romeo.

The GTA cars were Alfa Romeo's response to the Lotus Cortinas, for a time the best lightweight coupe race cars on Earth. The regular GT 1300 Junior wasn't exactly heavy—at just a tick over 2,000 pounds, it would be one of the lightest cars anywhere today—but that didn't stop the boys at Alfa from replacing every single body panel with a thin gauge aluminum with the ultimate goal of shaving off 450 pounds. 

The body panels alone weren't enough, though. The engineers even went so far as to give the car a special lightweight dashboard and seats. It might seem excessive, but at 1,600 pounds, the car weighs just 50 more than a modern Formula One car.

Technically, the car only has 110 hp, but there's so little mass to move that when you put your foot down, it'll feel like the equivalent of a modern ride with 300 hp. 

What does all this mean? For starters, it means the car absolutely dominated its class in international competition, winning over half the races in its first season. It means it had good acceleration, didn't have to slow down much for corners, and could change directions pretty easily...all hallmarks of a great performance car.

If you think the car's literal, 450-lb, ahem, enlightenment can lead to a zen-like driving revelation, you're not alone. Amazingly, in the mid-1990s, it was bought by the chief priest of the Bukkukojii Buddhist temple in Japan. A man whose entire life was dedicated to attaining nirvana and finding perfection in simplicity felt he couldn't live without this Alfa.

The GTA 1300 Junior has passion, performance, purpose...and almost nothing else. In a word, it's perfect.


Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He attained nirvana for a few brief moments on the track once and will spend the rest of his life trying to get back there.