From College Cruiser To Street-Driven Track Car, A Beloved Alfa Giulia Sprint GT Has Done It All
Photography by Jayson Fong
I’ve long wished to go back in time to get a glimpse of car culture when it was standard fare for owners to drive what we now consider classic cars to the circuit, race them and then drive them home again. Today’s environment is a little bit different; although historic racing features the same cars, the increasing professionalism in these events, rising car values, and drivers consequently saving the aging cars’ reliability for the track rather than the road, driving to and from the circuit is a practice that is becoming less common for classics. However, this 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT that has been under the same ownership for over 30 years is bucking the trailer queen trend.
Owned by Geoff Turral since 1984, I’m told that the the story behind this car starts at an Italian restaurant in Bedford, England. Then a teenager and a keen car fanatic, it was in the kitchens surrounded by an enthusiastic and car-crazed Italian staff that Geoff developed a passion for cars from their home country. After owning a Fiat 500 as his first runabout, Geoff acquired this Giulia Sprint GT while he was a student—the perfect car to get him to uni and back. Never having the urge to change the bodywork on his step-nose to create a GTA look-a-like like many others were doing at the time, the car has never seen any restoration work, and today it remains as genuine as road-going race cars get.
However, before assuming any competitive duties, the Giulia spent many years in Geoff’s garage as company cars took over his daily commute. But when his Fiat-Abarth 750 race car was flipped and damaged in an incident on track, his determination to continue racing led him to prepare the old Giulia that was waiting in the garage while the Abarth underwent repairs.
Although it’s now running an Alfaholics close-ratio gearbox and suspension, Geoff’s intent was to keep the car in as close to its road-going trim as possible (while still adhering to FIA historic regulations of course) and it retains its original character with bumpers, a roll cage that’s integrated into the rear leather seats, and the original steering wheel, while an extra virgin olive oil catch can and markings for the true 60mph on the gauges represent some personal touches that we love to find in club racers like this.
Always reliable and up to the task (it’s usually maintained during race weekends with a simple toolkit in a bag in the boot), the Giulia has allowed Geoff to continue racing with the HRDC in the Pre-’66 series, and when the Abarth was restored, the Giulia also became the towing vehicle to circuits around the UK before both cars formed on the grid on race day.
On the circuit, the Giulia’s character shines and with its free-revving 1570cc heart, it’s all about momentum and handling-based fun. A car that is fundamentally “Slow-witted, but oversteers everywhere…but not at high speed” as Geoff puts it, his faithful Italian coupe, easy to get used to and often shared with friends, dices with other cars from the era in the historic racing calendar in the UK. Offering a refreshing perspective on competing at this level, Geoff has seen that driving a car like his Giulia—one that effectively forces him to be uncompetitive—“changes your attitude toward racing, where you know you’re not going to be anywhere near the front, so as a result, it becomes that classic technical exercise where you put laps together and compete with yourself.”
A car journey that has done the full circle of life, the decision to take the sports car from his youth racing for the pure pleasure of doing so has seen Geoff continue to indulge in his love for cars long after his years in the restaurant listening to the fervent co-workers waxing on about Alfas and Lancias. From racing with the HRDC and appearances at Goodwood for the Revival and Members’ Meetings where race numbers have been put on its sides and the car was shared with stars like ex-Formula One drivers Arturo Merzario and German great Jochen Mass before being driven home again, Geoff and his Giulia are a modern representation the 1960s gentleman driver ethos. All about having fun and driving with pleasure both on and off the circuit, I’m all for this variety of vintage race car, for who wouldn’t want to see more of them on the open road?