Here’s Your Chance To Own An Alfa Romeo ‘Hero’
Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Who doesn’t love a hero car—a vehicle coveted across the automotive realm for its significance. Be it racing, movie cameo, a famous owner, or a performance milestone, it’s hard to dislike the big contenders. With popularity comes increasing demand, which often leads to inflated price tags. Some vehicles are insanely expensive because their rarity and pedigree, while select mass-produced autos are pricey simply because nearly every enthusiast seems to want one—being ‘air-cooled’ seems to help with this.
The feeling a dream car is out of reach can be a bit discouraging. Too exclusive or too expensive can make the one hard to obtain, if not impossible. If we can’t afford them, what are they good for? Why do we savor them?
I think it boils down to one thing: inspiration. We all have a car, or several, that just do it for us. It clicks one day. You see it parked on the street and it stops you in your tracks. You’re stuck in traffic and you catch a glimpse of it pass by in the incoming lane. “Oh, I must have one.”
Rationale takes a back seat: it doesn’t matter if it’s notoriously unreliable, unavoidably rusty, ludicrously priced, or pure crap to drive. “Love at first sight” sealed the deal, and we’re hooked, issuing unreasonable amounts of research on our new idol. All in hopes that one day… some day… we’ll have _________ in the garage.
For me, that car was the step front Giulia Sprint GT coupe—A car that resembles this 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA Stradale… if just superficially. When I was a kid, some silly commercial wrecked me.
“Dad, what is that! A Ferrari?” My father chuckled, “That? That’s some POS Alfa Romeo. You don’t want that.”
Too late—the damage was done. Unfortunately, like many of you, the dream was far out of reach, but that didn’t stop me from feverishly reading about the 105 cars. It wasn’t long before I discovered what the GTA is: the ultimate Alfa Bertone coupe.
Already a serious performer, the standard Giulia Sprint GT was a great base to build upon. Alfa Romeo’s performance house, Autodelta, took standard GT coupes and replaced their steel bodies with riveted aluminum panels—turning the cars into alleggerita (lightened) versions, hence the adopted ‘A’ post GT.
The competition department didn’t stop merely skin-deep either; the standard GT twin-cam ‘1600 cc’ inline-four received a number of tweaks to include a “twin-spark head” (two plugs per cylinder). The GTA engines were also fitted with a magnesium-alloy valve cover, timing cover, and bell housing. The GT grill was replaced with lighter mesh, the “Alfa heart” centerpiece was swapped out for a smaller 6-bar unit, two rounded front grill sections were added for more air, and lighter 14-inch steel wheels were mounted over Dunlop disc brakes.
Inside, the GTA cabin was treated to front buckets for additional bolstering, a wood-rimmed wheel, and dark grey upholstery—this example sports an added roll cage complete with Willans harnesses and a fire extinguisher for “insurance”. With the exception of the windshield, the Italian tuners even traded all the glass for plexiglass—you could buy an Alfa Romeo 105 with plastic windows from the dealer!
The Audodelta treatment resulted in increased power to around 170 horsepower (for the 1600 model such as the Stradale you see here). The fat trimming shaved approximately 400 pounds, depending on the spec. The end result was a ~1,700-pound ~100-hp-per-liter coupe that became a European Touring Car Championship legend, winning in 1966, 1967, and 1968.
Here’s the reality: I’ll likely never afford a GTA and most won’t, but that doesn’t make it less of a hero.
It makes it more of one, and here’s why: It’s racing portfolio, minimalistic but purposeful construction, and race-ready demeanor have inspired thousands when restoring 105 of all models—including myself. Alfa fanatics have been replicating the GTA look for decades, and having a hero to look up to for inspiration is worth far more than the GTA’s monetary value.
– Documented genuine GTA Stradale
– Fitted with a correct-type 00502/A engine
– FIA paperwork
~170 horsepower, 1,570-cc DOHC twin-plug inline four-cylinder engine with dual Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, wishbone front suspension, live rear-axle suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 92.5 in.
Chassis no.: AR 613565