The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 July 2003

The Alfa male

Kim du Toit would love to have a Giulia.

And can you blame him? I can't. Yeah, the engine is ancient — the 1.3 DOHC four goes all the way back to the '54 Giulietta — and yeah, it's built with all the craftsmanship you expect from Italian cars, which is to say none, and what's more, it's not even gorgeous. (The Duetto convertible version built by Pininfarina is gorgeous, but that's not the one he wants.)

Not that any of that matters when you get it out on the road. The little engine revs like crazy and the suspension keeps you on curves that would throw more mundane vehicles into the guardrail. Or so I'm assuming, anyway; that's been the case with every Italian car I've ever driven, even the bottom-feeder fwd Fiat Strada. There's only 90 hp to play with, but the car weighs barely more than a ton, even a couple hundred pounds lighter than BMW's reborn Mini Cooper, so quickness and litheness are baked into the package.

Alfa is coming back to the States, perhaps by 2007, and they're promising a "full range" of cars, to include something vaguely SUV-like, but the idea will be to position Alfa as a premium Eurobrand, so there's not much chance of a budget buzz bomb in the Giulia tradition, even if they still built one. Which they don't.

Posted at 12:19 PM to Driver's Seat

Heh, this brings back memories. A few years back, I had a 78 Spider, which I ended up pushing more times than I care to remember. Parts special-ordered from California at exhorbitant prices, battles with Florida's emissions laws and a father-son Italian mechanic shop whose main English seemed to consist of the phrase "One hundred dollars."

Man, I loved that car.

Posted by: bert at 12:28 AM on 9 July 2003