The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA 1600
In the 1960s, Alfa Romeo revised its motorsport strategy. After winning two Formula 1 World Championships - in 1950 with Giuseppe "Nino" Farina and in 1951 with Juan Manuel Fangio - touring car races gradually became a more and more important field of activity. Alfa Romeo was quite successful in the 1600cc class with the Giulia TI Super model. But that changed when the Ford works team entered the stage with the Lotus Cortina and fully exploited the freedom within the regulations for the first time. In terms of engine performance, Alfa Romeo could keep up, but the Cortina was more than 100 kilograms lighter. With an engine output of around 150 hp, this was a considerable advantage. Autodelta, Alfa Romeo's motorsport division, was already working on an antidote at this point. As a basis for the new development the Sprint GT, presented at the end of 1963, was an obvious choice from the available model range. Due to its successful combination of design and driving characteristics, it already enjoyed the full admiration of experts as well as the general public. Nevertheless, it was only slightly lighter than the Giulia and therefore much too heavy for a winning car.
Alfa Romeo recalled earlier successes with the Giulietta Sprint Veloce Alleggerita from 1956 and transferred this lightweight recipe to the Sprint GT. In order to reduce the weight even more this time, extensive changes were made under the skin. All exterior panelwork was in exotic, 1mm-thick Peraluman 25, which consisted of aluminum, magnesium, manganese as well as zinc and had been developed in the in-house department "Servizio Esperienze Carpenteria". The roof was attached to the standard Giulia Sprint's steel sub-structure by trademark rivets. Besides the complete outer body shell - apart from the sills - all the following parts were made from Peraluman: the outer door shell, the bonnet, the boot lid, the air deflector, the dash board support panel, the spare tire tray, the rear inner panel, the number plate bracket and the bracket for the optional oil cooler. The interior with its lightweight bucket seats was clothed in dark gray leatherette and the noise insulation was reduced to a minimum. Perspex was used for the crank windows in the doors and the rear side windows, while the wooden steering wheel gave the rather solid-looking interior a sporty look. So many parts were special to the GTA, from the unique dash to the thin brightwork on the door cards made from polished alloy rather than chrome-plated steel.
Combined with the lightened interior trim, a dry weight of only 745 kg was achieved – 205 kg lighter than a standard Sprint GT.
The resulting new version of the Sprint was named "GTA" and really deserved the "A" standing for "Alleggerita" - in English "lightened".
Under the alloy bonnet sat a high-revving, twin-plug, 1570cc four-cylinder in similar development stage as the ones installed in the TZs. The twin-ignition cylinder head technology was common in motorsport racing but never before used in a relatively small, series production road car engine. The block was made of aluminum, while the valve cover, the front engine cover, the bell housing, the rear gearbox cover and the oil sump were cast from the magnesium alloy Elektron.
The GTA was a real racing car and Alfa Romeo had paid attention to even the smallest details during its development. The 1965 spare parts catalogue listed 357 specific GTA parts. The rated output of the road going GTA was 115 hp at 6000 rpm and the top speed was now 185 km/h, only 5 km/h higher than that of the Sprint GT, but acceleration and handling were significantly improved due to the low weight. In terms of colors, only Rosso Alfa AR501 and Biancospino ARO13 were available.
When the Giulia Sprint GTA was presented publicly for the first time at the Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1965, hardly anyone suspected that this inconspicuous car, standing between a Giulia SS and the Sprint GT base model, would dominate touring car racing for years to come. At first glance, only the cloverleaf stickers on the front fenders and rear panel were noticeable, but a closer look also revealed the simple radiator grille, the minimalist aluminum loops as door handles and the Campagnolo alloy wheels. The big difference that made the GTA a true racing car was the scrupulous lightweight construction and, in contrast, hardly visible from the outside.
From now on, Alfa Romeo mainly focused on the increasingly popular European Touring Car Championship and the future clearly belonged to the Giulia Sprint GTA. A total of only 493 Giulia Sprint GTA 1600 were built during five years of production.
The GTA offered here, chassis 613420
According to Alfa Romeo's historical archive, the GTA 1600 offered here was completed on June 7, 1965 and was only sold on April 8, 1966 to its first owner Giuseppe Ferraro from Verona, who immediately registered the car with the number "VR154311". On September 15, 1968, Ferraro sold the GTA, still in Stradale configuration, to the second owner, Paolo Vanotti from Padua, and the registration was changed to 'PD167931'. Vanotti immediately had the GTA race-prepared by Alfa Romeo’s Motorsport department Autodelta and took part in numerous Italian races with the car until 1970. He managed to win the Triveneto championship in 1969. All races are documented by wonderful period photos, which are part of the extensive dossier.
In March 1971, Vanotti advertised the car in Autosprint magazine due to the cessation of his racing activities. However, it was not sold until September 11, 1974, at which point the GTA came into the possession of Roberto Zanoni, who had the car converted to wide wheel arches and took part in a few races the following year. Zanoni sold the GTA on November 28, 1983 to Dr. Ettore Delle Carri, a friend of Ing. Chiti, who had the car overhauled at his friend’s company Autodelta and returned to its original narrow body configuration. In the following years, he took part in a few classic car events. On November 22, 1990, the Alfa Romeo passed into the joint ownership of Renato Della Valle, a former offshore boat racer, and Luca Grandori, the editor of Autocapital magazine and founder of Club Italia. At this point, the registration changed to "MI8A1600". Exactly eleven years later, on November 22, 2001, the GTA was sold to the Ferrari collector Giuseppe Zannoni from Modena, who shortly afterwards, on June 11, 2002, resold the car to Giuseppe Tomasetti from Parma. The latter was an active gentleman race-driver in historic motorsport with his Maserati 150S. He used the GTA at the Modena Cento Ore 2005 and 2006. The last change of ownership within Italy took place on April 13, 2007, when the GTA was bought by Massimiliano Bettati from Reggio Emilia. He had numerous works carried out on the car, all of which are documented, and drove the GTA at events such as the Cento Ore, Vernasca Silver Flag and Coppa Intereuropa. On May 22, 2018, the Alfa Romeo was finally sold to the current owner, an experienced Alfa Romeo collector from Switzerland.
In the following years, the GTA was fully rebuilt without any regard for costs, in order to make it as competitive and light as possible. The project was managed by Carlo Rosponi of Formula GT in Munich. First, the GTA was completely dismantled down to the bare body shell. The body was revised and repainted at Carrozzeria 2000. At the same time, the entire power train was overhauled and brought up to the highest standards of Alfa racing specialist Formula GT’s development (engine dyno 172 PS).
The aim of the entire project was to use as many of the original parts as possible and to make them equally light and refined.
Even the smallest parts have been checked/improved/revised/optimized and lightened. Original parts such as pedals, windshield wiper mechanism, steering with all components, intake manifold, door mechanism, gearbox mounting, chassis parts as well as rear axle and mounting plates were lightened, sanded and hand-finished (powder-coated, galvanized, nickel-plated). The entire electric wiring was re-done from scratch and optimized for reliability, simplicity and lightness (each individual cable is labelled, which makes troubleshooting enormously easier). After several years of constant optimization, chassis 613420 today weights in at just 729 kg in „ready to race” configuration: with Dunlop tires, 6.5 l engine oil, no petrol except in the carburetors (car starts), 8 l cooling water, fire extinguisher installed.
The car’s outstanding capabilities were impressively demonstrated when the owner, together with Peter Praller, head of Formula GT, won the class at the Peter Auto Sixties' Endurance in Mugello in April 2022.
All work carried out on 613420 is meticulously documented by invoices and hundreds of photos. The dossier also contains 60 wonderful large-format period racing photos from 1968-1975, several old FIA passports, Alfa's "Certificato di Origine", copies of old registrations and an excerpt from the Alleggerita book. The vehicle has a Swiss veteran title.
This 1965 Alfa Romeo Sprint GTA 1600 represents the rare opportunity to acquire a fully sorted example on which all the money has already been spent, with fresh FIA papers and capable of more victories at the highest level of historic motorsport.