Amidst the stolid carpark fare of Gaydon’s National Motor Museum, this little gem gleamed.
I can’t be certain about the year, but the mesh side grilles flanking the scudetto and the presence of the ornate chromed side repeaters on the front wings suggests this is a late-series Sprint. The car was pristine, looking delicate and almost fragile amidst the bloated moderns in its midst.
Created in something of a hurry, the Sprint’s genesis is a tale in itself. The story goes that lacking the funds to complete the Giulietta berlina’s development, state-owned Alfa Romeo management instigated a share issue in the form of a lottery to raise money, the prize being one of their new cars. However, the berlina wasn’t ready in time and as investors and lottery winners alike became increasingly irate, Portello turned to carrozzeria Bertone for help. Created in a matter of weeks and originally schemed by Bertone’s Franco Scaglione to feature a hatchback, the Sprint saved the day, but created a whole new set of problems as demand for the pretty coupé soared. Bertone couldn’t initially cope with the volumes demanded; forcing them to enlarge their operations, inadvertently catapulting them into being a manufacturer in their own right. The rest, as they say…
The Giulietta Sprint predated the berlina by a year, remaining in production from 1954 until 1962. It was directly replaced by the Giugiaro-designed 105-series Sprint in 1965. Achingly beautiful is an oft-used piece of journalise, but one that could have been coined to describe the Sprint’s pert form. Personally, I’ll go with exquisite.