Although Alfa Romeo has to date created more than 70 models in its rich 100 year history, it all came down to a battle between just two iconic Alfas in a poll of fans’ favourites, initiated to celebrate the Italian marque’s centenary year.
And it was the classic Alfa Giulia GTAm that came top of the poll, beating the modern 8C Competizione supercar to the chequered flag with less than one percent more of the vote.
The Alfa Giulia GTAm, which gained 20.4% of the overall tally, derived from the standard 1750 GT Veloce production model, and secured its place in the Alfa Romeo elite by winning the 1970 European Touring Car Championship in the hands of Dutchman Toine Hezemans. The votes for this poll were collected from admirers and owners – known as Alfisti – who submitted photos of their Alfas to the alfacentenary.co.uk website to create a unique piece of mosaic artwork.
The GTAm and Alfa’s current supercar, the 8C Competizione, led the way against a shortlist of classics including the 2900 B Le Mans, Alfasud and the 156 GTA.
A worthy runner-up with 19.8%, the 8C Competizione debuted as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 and went on to be produced in 2008 as a limited edition model of just 500 examples and selling out almost immediately. The car’s name derives from Alfa’s world famous 8 cylinder (8C) engine and the marque’s racing pedigree.
The Alfa Spider Duetto, widely regarded as a design classic, finished in third place with 16.01% of the vote. This car was first launched in 1966 and famously starred in the legendary film The Graduate in 1967, alongside Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
Alfa Romeo UK Brand Communications manager, Damien Dally, says: “The Giulia GTAm was a great Alfa and a deserved winner. It’s really interesting to see how people voted in the poll. We all have our favourites which is testament to the fantastic cars Alfa Romeo has produced over the past century.”
Favorite Alfa Romeo Poll
1. Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm – 20.4%
2. Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione – 19.8%
3. Alfa Romeo Duetto – 16.1%
4. Alfa Romeo Giulietta – 13.1%
5. Alfa Romeo Sud – 11%
6. Alfa Romeo 156 GTA – 7.5%
7. Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta – 7.3%
8. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Le Mans – 3.4%
9. Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sprint Speciale – 1.4%
[Source: Alfa Romeo; photo credit: Dennis Gray]
My vote would go to the Tipo 8C-35 first and the Tipo B P3 from 1930 second. Each detail on these two cars is jewel like in finish and crafted by artist.
I would have to vote for the T33 series of cars, particularly the T33/SC12. Always a beautiful and spectacular series of racing machines that evolved over time to eventually win the World Championship.
Grand Turismo Alleggerita.
A brief history, by Toy de Carvalho
It’s taken for granted and is of any ones knowledge, that in the beginning Autodelta created the GTA and all Alfaholics lived happily ever after!
Well, it was a bit more involved and complicated than that.
The GTA was actually the work of Satta, the brilliant Spanish engineer that headed Alfa Romeo at the time. He took the most iconic of all Alfas, the Bertone / Giugiaro GTV and started by replacing the heavy steel body panels such as bonnet and boot lid, with lighter aluminium alloy parts. Therefore the “A”, for Alleggerita or lightweight in Italian, in GTA.
He then send the shells to Autodelta, Alfa Romeo’s racing wing, for Carlo Chiti, it’s boss to install the race proven double spark headed engines, previously used in the TZ2s, modified suspension and other bits, for it to be eligible to compete in the two year old, Group 2, European Touring Car Championship (ETCC), that had proven extremely popular with the man on the street, that could associate the racing cars with his everyday transport.
One item that helped with this, was the fact that the bodies measurements remain untouched, in accordance with the strict rules, that forced cars to use road tyres.
The cars were introduced in 1965 and promptly not only won the first race of the inaugural Trans –Am series in the USA, but also the championship, racing mostly against 5 litre American big bangers.
The 1570 cc GTAs were entered in Division 2 for cars up to 1600cc. The car to beat was the Lotus Cortina, but soon they were retired by the GTAs, that is claimed to have won 300 races in 1966 alone.
Concurrently to the Gr 2 GTAs, Autodelta also built GTAs for the British, Belgium and French Group 5 championships. But if the Gr 2 cars kept their standard bore and stroke, (78 x 82) the Gr 5 cars, named GTA –SA for their twin superchargers, were equipped with over square engines of 86 x 67,5 mm.
The Junior is born.
In 1968 Alfa Romeo introduced a new line of models powered by 1300 engines and named them (GT, Spyder, Zagato, etc) Juniors.
At the same time the ETCC rules changed allowing Gr 5 cars to compete with Gr 2 vehicles. It meant that mud guards could by widened and racing tyres used.
The original GTA, that Carlo Chiti in the foreword to Tony Adriaensen’s masterpiece book “Alleggerita” (where can I get one?) , said “was a car that really didn’t have anything special”, suddenly grew muscles and broad shoulders, with the addition of wide mudguards riveted over the old ones, to accommodate wider wheels.
In that same year, Autodelta introduced the GTA Junior powered by a standard engine bore of 78mm, but with the stroke of the SA engine, of 67,5 mm. The car was entered in the Division 1 now for cars up to 1300 cc and for the next few years, until 1974, when BMW and Ford forced the FIA to abolish the division*, had no competitors. The original 1600 GTAs, were then entered in Group 4 events.
At the time Alfa had introduced the 1750 line, so in 1970 it build the 1750 GTAm powered with a 1985 cc engine.
As the rules had changed again and the Division 2 was now for cars up to 2 litres, it suited the GTAm perfectly.
That is when things got complicated.
How many GTAm were made?
No one really knows how many “Disco Volantes” were made in the early 50s, as Alfa Romeo personnel added and chopped body parts, including whole roofs. Some cars were powered by 4, while others by 6 cylinder engines and these were also changed around.
The same disease seem to have afflicted the GTAms, as many of them, appear to have been updated from Junior to Am by the installation of 2 litre engines. The early, original GTAm had the 1750 grill with twin headlight , but I’ve came across a number of GTAms with single head lights and step nose body denoting its 1600 GTA origins, with riveted panels added on.
This also adds to the question of how many GTAm were made. According to Fusi’s Bible, about 500 GTA , 447 Juniors and 40 GTAm were made. However Alan de Cadenet in “Alfa Romeo – Victory by design” claims 12 GTAm, but even 60 wouldn’t be a scandalous figure.
It is of a general consensus that the 1750 / 2000 GTAm , with the “m” standing for maggioratta or increased was powered by a 1985 cc engine and had Spica fuel injection. However, some of them had 1998 cc engines , Lucas fuel injection and even 48mm Webbers. Some even lost their twin plug heads. In this case single plugs were used to accommodate 16 valves on a much narrower angle head. These narrower heads had originally been used in the GTA juniors.
Finally there is the question of what does the “m” really stands for? As we seen above, officially it stood for maggioratta, but in a recent Alfa Romeo Forum discussion, it was pointed out that all GTAm chassis numbers are of the American market 1750 / 2000 series, raising the question if the “m” next to the GTA doesn’t mean America as many claim.
But does it really matter?
In all its forms the GTA series in the space of 8 years won 31 National championships, as well as the ETCC seven times, the Coupe du Roi at the 24 hours of Spa and the Trans-Am title, and all the Alfaholics lived happy ever after!
*Do to the Alfas domination in the lower division, the company kept walking away with the titles, while Ford and BMW fought it out in the over two litre Division with nothing to show for it.
Foot note: GTA ETC Champion drivers include Andrea de Adamich (1966; 67), Spartaco DIni (69), Toine Hezemans (70; 71 ), Gianluigi Picchi (71), Carlo Truci (70), Horst Kwech / Gaston Andrey (66 ) Trans-Am series and Ignazio Giunti (European mountain champion).
Again people serve to confuse 2 entirely separate models.
The Guilia GTA and GTAm are of different origins; The GTAm is ONLY of the 1750 series origin and is steel body with lightweight opening panel and many mechanical specialties by the race department, Autodelta. This is not only described in the Fusi “bible” and other specialist books, but is also the FIA/CSI homologation papers for the European Touring Car Championship in the period.
A 1300 or 1600GTA stepnose with wide arches and a bigger engine IS NOT and CANNOT constitute a GTAm, (any more than attaching some alloy panels to any other Guilia GT and calling it a GTA!)
Audtodelta produced around 20 to 25 known examples, of which I own one, known from it’s departure from the works to its place now. Some “kits” of parts were also supplied to to race teams and dealers in various parts of the world in period, so some “built-up” cars to the specification also exist, and these are known and recognised. This number is about 10 to 12, so less than 40 of the model in period ever existed. Those of us who are priveledged to be the custodians of this acclaimed model guard the heritage and will defend its name title to the true and correct position.
Thanks for straightening this out.
Every source I’ve read says the Am or GTAm DOES stand for America, to quote the book “Giulia Coupe GT & GTA” by John Tipler; “…some would have it that the ‘m” stands for “maggiore,” or greater, which is to say, enlarged. However, the official version, which can be found in the Alfa magazine il Quadrifoglio, October 1969, and indeed the contemporary homologation papers, is the “Am” part is an abbreviation for “America” because the car used a version of the Spica fuel injection fitted to US-specification cars. …”