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Lot 655: 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA Touring Car Racing Saloon

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

During the mid-1960s touring car racing achieved new heights in the FIA�s European Touring Car Challenge competition, which saw tremendous duels fought between factory and quasi-works teams from Alfa Romeo, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMC, BMW and many more. In the 1600cc class Italy�s quasi-works Autodelta organisation represented Alfa Romeo with their beautiful Bertone-bodied GTA models.

At least 1,000 similar units had to be produced to qualify for FIA homologation into the International Group 2 category. Leading GTA authority Tony Adriaensens has found that at least 147 contemporarily-produced GTAs would have been the rarer right-hand drive models such as this, their chassis serials ranging from �752.501� to 752.648� which of course embraces this particular example�s identity.

In 1965 the Giulia Sprint GTA was unveiled at the Amsterdam Motor Show. The GTA bodyshell was formed in Peruluman 25, a lightweight alloy of aluminium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. Dry weight was only 745kg and the 1570cc dohc engine featured dual ignition, greatly enlarged valves and with dual side-draught Weber twin-choke carburettors it developed some 115bhp at a raucous 6,000rpm.

Two prototype GTAs made the type�s competition debut in the 1965 Monza 1,000Kms and that August saw a first International victory in the French hillclimb at Mont Dore. GTAs would then taste victory at the Monza 4-Hours (filling the first seven places); the 1966 and 1967 European Challenge Championships; the Sebring 4-Hours; the American TransAm Championship; and the European hill-climb title.

This particular car was delivered new to Alfa Romeo dealership owner and racing entrant Tommy Clapham, who had it driven by Geoff Breakell of Keighley, Yorkshire. He won the BRSCC Snetterton two-hour endurance event on 9 July, 1967. (as reported in �Motor� magazine and �Autosport� - including a photograph � the following week. Remarkably, the front page of the �Daily Express� of Monday 29 May, 1967 featured that day�s Oulton Park meeting, under the heading �Roses car bids to beat Italians�, relating how Messrs Clapham and Breakell were taking the fight to the Alfa team. The story shared the front page with �A proud welcome � well done Sir Francis� greeting Sir Francis Chichester�s completion of his single-handed round-the-world voyage.

The present owner � respected preparation specialist and racer Nick Smith of Swallow Engineering fame � acquired the car in need of work in the late 1990s, its previous ownership list featuring Tommy Clapham, David Prophet, C. Roberts, and Nils Peter Nielsen. He restored the car to racing specification, retaining much original componentry including the sliding block rear suspension and magnesium cam covers. We understand the car is effectively to Autodelta spec with some Autodelta items incorporated. With most circuits running clockwise, right-hand drive as provided here is the ideal configuration. The car is accompanied by FIA papers issued in 2001. The engine was �freshened up �topped and tailed�� earlier this year, the block being replaced while the original head is retained. The 1.6-litre engine is presently giving approximately 175hp and runs on two Weber 45DCOE Twin choke carburetors. Smith actively campaigned the car in the early/mid 2000s in both the UK and Continental Europe

The car is accompanied by an extensive documentation file, including a copy of the original Alfa Romeo GB order sheet, V5 registration, the FIA papers and published articles relating to the car. It is described as being in �generally good to very good� condition overall.

Surviving examples of the Alfa Romeo GTA line quite rarely come to the market and they are much sought after in competition form, not least because in addition to being tremendously competitive within their class they are also the most tremendous fun to drive and in which to compete. The great American motor racing writer Henry N. Manney III once described the standard Alfa Romeo racing driver of the 1960s as having been a member of �the hairy arm brigade�, and the ear-splittingly raucous GTA was most certainly one of the most macho and delightfully indiscreet of all contemporary competition saloon cars. What�s more, with its delightfully well proportioned Bertone-styled bodywork it was also � by some way � one of the very best looking.

We very much recommend the closest inspection of this Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA. It promises some very competitive and enjoyable Historic motor sport, and as an acknowledged modern classic from the Milanese marque it surely embodies strong inherent value.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
Lot Number655
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£65000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£73000
Condition rating0
Registration numberLWY 39D
Chassis number
Engine number18977
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors