Benchmarks – The Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlina

Is this really the progenitor of the modern sports saloon?

Image: classics/honestjohn

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Driven to Write in March 2015 as part of the Benchmarks theme.

In the early 1960s, the average British driver on an average income would have ended up with a leaf-sprung wheezer, comfortable maybe, but hard-pushed cruising above 70 on expanding and unrestricted motorways, a handful in a panic stop and an entertainment-free and potentially scare-laden prospect on corners.

If you had a bit more to spend, and fancied something with sporting pretentions, then pretentions were certainly on offer with bits of real wood, a bigger carburettor, a rev counter and oil pressure gauge, fog and driving lamps and maybe a chrome strip up the side.

In the UK, an affordable, mass-produced car, offering five seater bodywork on a coil sprung, rear-drive chassis, a free-revving, light alloy, twin-cam engine, a 5 speed gear box and disc brakes all round would have been a dream template for a future sports saloon, maybe for the 1980s, even the ’90s. But not in Italy, where all this was available in the 105 Series Alfa Giulia Berlina.

Image: newsportscarsgallery

In 1932 Alfa Romeo faced bankruptcy and came under government control. Hitler dreamed of a People’s Car but, although the financial situation in the 1930s severely affected European manufacturers of prestigious vehicles, Mussolini’s pet car company specialised in coachbuilt and costly vehicles for the very rich, including himself. The government might have been contemptible, but the engineering was sublime, culminating in one of the undisputed greats, the 8C 2900. Following the trauma of the Second World War, Alfa Romeo was still under government control, but by no means the same government.

The Italian Republic was formed in 1946 and, from 1950 until the late sixties, Italy saw enormous economic growth. Politically, although the Christian Democrats became the dominant party, the Socialists and, crucially, the Communists still remained influential forces, particularly in local government. Thus, although there was no populist incentive for an overall swing to the Left during this boom period, there was also a strong disincentive to divide the country again by alienating large sections of society. Therefore, here was a car company with a glorious engineering history, whose past products might be admired, but many of whose past clients were despised, still owned by the state and with a chequered history. The world had changed radically. What should it make?

The new Alfa Romeos of the early 50s look quite ordinary now, but beneath the skin they did justice to Alfa’s exotic heritage. They wanted to be something special, but Alfa was still finding its feet. First came the 1900 in 1950, Alfa’s first true production line model, a well-styled but rather heavy looking large saloon whose most distinctive feature was an entirely new twin-cam engine.

1954 Alfa Romeo Giulietta berlina. Image: Autoevolution

This was joined in 1954 by the smaller Giulietta which, although more convincing, retained the rather staid styling. This car, designed under Orazio Satta Puliga, introduced, in 1290cc form, a smaller twin-cam engine that would remain in production in various forms for 40 years, even finding its way into Alfa’s commercial vehicles.

Comparing it with the heavy, asthmatic units then found in most of Europe’s vehicles, one must conclude that only the parochial car-buying loyalties of the time prevented buyers in the showrooms from being outraged at being presented with such half-hearted innovations as Ford’s ‘Cross Flow’ overhead valve technology of the mid-sixties, this coming from a manufacturer that only got rid of their last sidevalve engine the year that the Giulietta’s ultimate successor was introduced.

That successor was the Giulia, again designed under Satta Puliga. Launched in 1962 in 1600cc form, it went on to be available throughout its life with various twin-cam petrol power outputs, from the 77bhp of the basic 1300, to the 97 bhp of the 1600 Super, as well as the 110 bhp of the early and rare Ti Super homologation special.

Image: veikl

It spawned more popularly endearing and enduring variants, the Giugiaro designed Sprint GT and the Spider that remained in production until 1993, but the saloon is really the most interesting and admirable version. The 105 Berlina followed the artless three box style that Italian builders developed in the early 1960s, with a practical, near vertical side glasshouse ensuring comfortable accommodation in a relatively short body.

Fiat had launched their 1300/1500 the year before and Lancia their Fulvia Berlina the year after, Fiat probably had the most conventionally attractive cars of the three manufacturers, with a slight American influence. Lancia and Alfa both applied their own logic to the designs, coming up with cars that were distinctive, but are seldom described as elegant. The Giulia is handsome enough from the front, but uncompromisingly practical at the rear where boot space and aerodynamics were the priority.

Image: oldcarmanualproject

Technically, except in the engine, it does not stand out like Citroen’s DS of 1955 and, on paper, it does not even compare well with the car the DS inspired, the Rover 2000 introduced a year after the Giulia. Its engineering was not truly radical but it employed generous, well-considered solutions and was devoid of any cynicism.

The Alfa was denied an independent rear, making do with a well-engineered, well-located, coil sprung, lighweight live axle. Looking back, this might seem to go against its position as an innovator, but it was a car that was designed to be driven quickly and safely. Discounting Jaguar’s magisterial twin coil rear suspension, introduced on the E-Type and Mk 10 at the start of the 60s, the other independent set-ups seen on rear-driven saloons of the time were variable, to say the least.

Both Mercedes swing axle and BMW’s semi-trailing wishbones could be quite unpredictable at the limit. The Rover 2000 had a De Dion set-up that was effective, but was designed for comfort with good roadholding but a lot of body roll, in the style of the DS. The Triumph 2000’s independent rear was commendable, especially bearing in mind its selling price, but it too was primarily there for comfort. Viewed in the context of the time, Alfa’s choice seems prudent both financially and practically.

The Giulia’s distinctive tail-up position when unladen, as well as relatively high roll angles when cornering, testify to its long-travel suspension since, although good handling was a priority, comfort was not a distant second. One can argue that Europe’s roads were generally rougher than today’s and that this was just a necessity, but one can also argue that to produce a car that could be inhabited by the family, but would not cosset the family, would have been anathema to Alfa’s designers.

Its original intentions are further testified by the fact that the first models had a column gearchange and a bench front seat. Quite soon the front seats were separated and a floor mounted gearstick appeared as an option, becoming standard soon after. The sensible strip speedometer with a tiny rev counter next to it lasted a bit longer until both these instruments became two large round dials in the 1600 models then, later, across the range. Only the clumsy under-dash handbrake remained for many more years as testament to the original layout. Thus, the Giulia’s everyman ambitions are most obvious on early versions where maximum capacity as family transport was a priority.

Image: acduzati

As we write history with the benefit of hindsight, this still underappreciated car can be presented as the prime forerunner of today’s performance saloons and hatchbacks. If you want to take that view, it’s hard to argue. True, the BMW 1500 was released at the same time and you could also point out that the Giulietta, laid much of the groundwork but, although we can identify much in the Neue Klasse BMW that evolved into the 3 and 5 Series we know today, the single-cam engined, 80 bhp 1500 still had a way to go. Likewise the Giulietta, though first to feature Alfa’s small twin-cam engine, its rather staid styling and an equally staid driving position were at odds with twitchy steering – somehow the balance still wasn’t quite right.

Image: stelvio.dk

Today we would readily label it a sports saloon and, indeed, if you are looking for a nice Giulia, it might take a while to find one that hasn’t had its suspension lowered to suit that image. But the example shown above, a highly modified example of a rare 1963 TI Super, though looking every inch the racer and undoubtedly part of the Giulia’s identity, is not what the Giulia was really about. When current, the Giulia didn’t fit into an easy contemporary niche, so who was it made for? Who were the Giulia’s target customers, their personas in today’s marketing terms?

Basically they were whoever wanted one which, fortunately for Alfa, was 600,000 people. The Giulia wasn’t the product of marketeers and, for all their praiseworthy attributes, Satta Puliga and his immediate successors seemed to lack the focus to produce a coherent Alfa Romeo range to both complement and succeed the Giulia. Sadly that problem has never been solved.

If we consider the company that, deservedly enough, took over Alfa’s crown as a maker of saloon cars for the enthusiastic driver, probably around the 1972 launch of the Alfetta, a worthy but flawed car, and the first 5 Series, a remarkably similar vehicle in both conception and competently styled anonymity, the trajectories of Alfa Romeo and BMW crossed; one ascending, one descending.

Nouva Giulia diesel. Image: favcars

The Giulia actually continued in production until 1978, too long of course, but, quality issues notwithstanding, and unless you bought the awful Perkins diesel engined fuel-crisis special, ownership of a Giulia was never a bad thing. It was a car that you could move up to from a Fiat 600, and it was a car you could keep in the garage next to your Ferrari 250GT. It was far more than the inspiration for today’s self-centered sports saloons. It was a car that was good enough for anyone.

52 thoughts on “Benchmarks – The Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlina”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I love Alfa Romeo. Absolutely adore them, I really do. When my 156 (this car’s descendent?) finally had to go after seven years it was heartbreaking.

  2. Good morning, Sean. One of my dad’s friends was a salesman for Alfa Romeo when these were launched. On one of there adventures they drove a Giulia at highly illegal speeds. My dad told this story with a twinkle in his eyes. Maybe that’s why the Guilia has been one of my all-time favorites.

    To a lot of eyes this may appear as a simple three box saloon. It’s not an eye catching sort of shape, but to my eyes there is a certain rightness about the shape that makes it eye keeping. The interior is good too.

    1. Correction: the interior is first rate. The seats are simply excellent, making the most of the limited space and turning it into a truly comfortable high-speed saloon.

    2. You are right. I was downplaying. It’s excellent indeed.

  3. An Alfa red Giulia 1600 Super was the first car I actually owned by myself. It was an interim 1968 model which still had fifteen inch wheels and floor hinged pedals (with single circuit braking system) but already the 103 PS 1,600cc engine.
    At that time the Giulia was the one alternative to a 02 BMW for people who wanted or needed four doors and wanted to avoid the BMW’s slightly rowdy image. The 1600 Giulia sold for about the same money as a BMW 2002 – and it was just as fast, thanks to its far superior aerodynamics.
    The Giulia was seen as a quality product, this changed only after the Alfasud’s quality problems tarnished Alfa’s reputation and rubbed off on other models.
    The 1,600cc Giulia was a great risk for Alfa in Italy because it was at or beyond the upper end of the market for mass produced cars. And indeed sales numbers only really took off after the introduction of the 1,300cc version which made for more than ninety percent of Giulia production.

  4. My father bought a powder blue 1300Ti, trading in our family Beetle for it, some time around 1966. He did it without my mother’s knowledge or consent. Apparently that seemed to create some problems… Anyway, he was so proud of his “Ti” as he called it. Unfortunately, the overriding memory I have of it is that it constantly refused to start. Sitting in the back seat as my father tried over and over to start the car, the sounds of the starter motor gradually getting slower and slower while Dad got angrier and angrier, are etched into my brain. If it did fire up eventually (not guaranteed by any means), it would cough and splutter for ages until the engine was warm. At which point, Dad would finally be able to show off what flooring the throttle could do, which somehow made it all worthwhile for him. He loved that car, warts and all. An opinion which wasn’t shared by my mother, who constantly compared it to the Beetle, which was utterly bulletproof of course. I’m not sure if that model of Giulia was endemically unreliable, but certainly our example was. For context, this was in Rome, in warm sunny weather. I dread to think how it would have behaved somewhere like the UK!

    1. There were lots of myths around starting a Giulia (or any other old Alfa).
      The most common recommendation was not to use the choke at all but prime the engine with the accelerator pump by pressing the throttle three to six times and keep pumping on the pedal while starting the engine. When it had fired up it was highly recommendable to let it idle for some thirty seconds at around 1,500 to 1,800 rpm with the help of the hand throttle.
      The only cold induced problem I ever experienced with a multitude of Alfas was that in really cold weather the engine would never warm up properly. In cold condition the engines should not be revved higher than 3,500 rpm which meant that the seven litres of oil in the cast aluminium and amply ribbed sump would never reach operating temperature. Which in turn meant that you could not use proper revs and the heater would not work. As there was no oil temperature gauge you had an eye on the oil pressure (provided as standard in every proper Alfa) and as soon as the oil pressure started to drop at low revs you could use entertaining throttle openings.

    2. The choke had to be avoided on cold starts, especially if the engine was fitted with Weber 40DCOE which dump massive amounts of fuel when choked. Dell’Ortos and Solexes were much more lenient in that regard. The priming practice described by Dave is preferred, only with less pumps from my experience (2-4 times) to avoid flooding the carbs.
      Nord engines were generally designed to run cold, a matter accentuated by the large finned aluminium sump, and the 7lt oil capacity. Normal engine temperature rarely exceeds 82C, and this was the threshold for OEM thermostats (either screw-in or later drop-in style). As long as the oil pressure gauge works properly, the reading should drop to ~1bar on idle to determine that the engine is thorougly warm, something efficiently achieved by driving not exceeding 3000rpm. The gearbox always needs more time to warm up and not grind the syncros.

    3. Imagine selling a new car nowadays and telling the customer the way to start his brand new car in the morning, how to avoid flooding the engine, how many revs are ideal in cold weather and remembering him to use winter/summer spark plugs or thermostat.

    4. Nowadays you have to work your way around the electronic nonsense in modern cars.
      Start engine, switch off start/stop system, switch off ‘pre sense’ alarm braking, switch off parking beep. It’s like starting a helicopter.
      We never used different spark plugs for summer or winter. But we always used the painfully expensive Golden Lodge HL surface discharge plugs because the engine would not run cleanly with any other, not even Bosch or Champion of comparable type.

    5. Here’s a Golden Lodge 2HL in all its glory, including ricambi originali packaging

    6. Nowadays, NGK is the preferred spark plug which gives similar, or even better discharge characteristics, suitable for a hemispherical chambers. Most use the B6ES or the colder B7ES, for all seasons. Remaining stock of NOS Golden Lodge/2HL still exists, but it is hilariously expensive. Most collectors buy them just for decorative reasons, and run their cars with NGK.

  5. Good morning Sean and thanks for bringing us a car from my youth that was an exotic rarity in Ireland, one that would stop the teenage me in my tracks. The comparison with contemporary BMWs, the Neue Klasse and ’02 series, is very apt. The comparison of the subsequent trajectories of both companies would make a fascinating subject for a thesis, although the contrarian in me would pick today’s Giulia over the 3 Series on style alone.

  6. This Giulia is as attractive now s it was when it was new- and surprisingly aerodynamic as well.
    Sometime in the mid-eighties, the older brother or a friend who lived in my street had a white one (I can’t remember what engine it had but it certainly wasn’t that Diesel) so a few times I got to enjoy a ride in it, although his “enthusiastic” driving style would sometimes lead to potentially dangerous situations.
    My “Déja Vu” eye has been at it again: from the shape of the C pillar and thereafter, and the shape of the bootlid and rear end, could the by comparison awful 1959 Edsel have influenced the Giulia’s appearance?

  7. A seminal model for post-WWII ALFA, and the yardstick with which every subsequent sport-sedan was evaluated, sadly never coming close to it in terms of overall competence. Although quality was a step-up from the 750/101 Giulietta, and handling characteristics were resolved with neater rear axle placement and alignment, assembly and fit-and-finish suffered, mainly because the Giulia marked the switch from the antiquated and small Portello to the new modern and highly automated Arese factory on the outskirts of Milan, and the indiffernet quality of supplied interior parts. The Giulia was the first and only 105/115 derivative completely constructed and assembled there, with various quality results. All other models (Coupe, Spider, Junior Z, Montreal) were subcontracted to Bertone, Pininfarina, Zagato and even Marazzi, sometimes yielding superior quality regarding chassis engineering and assembly. It clearly targeted the ’60s middle class, but offered more than just room for family and luggage. It was placed in the upper echelon of its class, rivalling the (much more resolved) Fulvia Berlina in price.
    Personally, my late grandfather bought a white one new in 1965 in posterity Greece (a “Super” as he recalled), after a myriad of lesser FIAT models. He sold it after just two years, because he couldn’t drive it without flooding the carburetors, as a result of short-shifting it. My father repeated the mistake with his first car, a 1977 Autobianchi A112 Abarth. Also, he was complaining of the eagerness of the dealership to charge for extra parts on each maintenance visit (“hotter sparks during winter months, cooler in summer”). He subsequently bought a Ford…
    I’ve worked on a number of Giulias as a restorer, and I currently have a fully restored 1968 1750 GTV, settling to it after owning a 1973 2000 GTV, a 1977 2000 Spider and a 1973 2000 Berlina. However, I strongly believe that the Giulia was the ultimate 105, especially in 1600 Super guise. Poise, eagerness, practicallity, and style.

  8. The Giulia had an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.34, which is nothing short of sensational for a 1962 family saloon.
    Seeing the brick-like shape, it shows there must be a very careful work by the stylists.

  9. As a small boy I had an opportunity growing up with Giulia 1500cc 5speed in early 1970s, and already admired it’s virtues then.

    A lovely piece of thorough engineering.

  10. I look at those interior pictures and think ‘delightful’: the colours, the shapes. Similarly the exterior, which is basic in its fundamental shape (so much so that my mom consistently cried out ‘that’s a Lada!’ whenever we came across one) but has many details that draw the eye and keep drawing it, as Freerk also mentions. No doubt a good deal of those details have to do with earodynamics.

    Alfa and BMW really shaped the ‘sports saloon’ category and one can wonder whether the later iterations of these cars would have kept more of their family focus if Alfa’s trajectory hadn’t nosedived. One can argue that only a minor subset of the Giulia’s qualities have made it into what we percieve as the template for sports saloons.

    1. Apparently, watching the movies, ´70s Italy wasn´t the safest place to live (neither was Spain).
      We can´t complain too much.

    2. Giulia vs Neue Klasse…brilliant!

      Those hand-grenades were a bit rubbish, though…

  11. Alfa, as carmaker, is (was) a one-trick pony, and the 105-series cars were that one trick.

    Everything that came later was structurally flawed or badly executed or just badly assembled … quite often all three of them. That, in the light if this, Alfa still has such a devoted following says a lot about the rightness of the 105-series cars.

    1. When I look at Alfa’s back catalog and see the P3 Tipo B, 33 Stradale, Tips 158/159 Alfetta, 6C1500, 6C1750, 8C2300 and 8C2900 I have to disagree.

    2. Hi Freerk,

      thank you for your comment. You seem to agree with me?

      Indeed, all very fine cars you mention, but none of them were volume products attainable for the broader public and especially the „C“ series cars where very expensive. It’s fairly easy to build „legendary“ cars if you have a wealthy clientele and can sell at prices – see Ferrari. Plus all of them preceded the 105-Series (or were contemporaries, as the Tipo 33).

      Again, I’d say nothing that came afterwards even closely lived up to the benchmark set by the 105-series Giulia. It was the one and only time Alfa Romeo got things right.

    3. I don´t think Alfa Romeo is a one trick pony, but the truth is, after the 105- Series, very few Alfas haven´t been dissapointing, or fatally flawed. Alfetta, 164, 156, any other?

    4. Then I’m really brave and say that if there was one Alfa that was deeply and terminally flawed it was the Alfetta. Had it had the originally intended double wishbone rear suspension, its clutch up front at the engine and a Porsche-like rigid tube between engine and gearbox instead of the troublesome driveshaft it could have been a completely different and infinitely better car but as it was much less than the sum of its parts.

  12. Wonderful article Sean on quite a remarkable car, many thanks. My beloved Saab 96 was allowed to be parked at a former Alfa garage for some time. Allowed because of the garage owner, a mr. Dolfin (also writer of car-based novels, in Dutch only) had rallied a 96 in a previous life. The room was full of around 12 mostly Guilias and its derivatives, including a Montreal and a minibus, all in pristine shape and some prepared to rallye by mr. Dolfin himself. Still regret i never dared to ask to take one for a spin but just being there in that garage and listen to the stories was pure bliss…

  13. A bit off-topic (but of my own interest 😂): I once bought a one owner 1990, 15.000 mile, 33 twin double weber’s 1.3.
    The owner told me: ‘the choke doesn’t exist. Never ever touch it, winter or summer. It will mess with the carburetors. Just use the ignition key and nothing else’

    So I did, and it worked flawless for the next 40.000 miles in my possession, starting first time even at zero ⁰C and returning 45mpg at 70mph (!)

    Sorry, this was not the subject 😉

    1. Good morning Gustavo. Nothing wrong with a bit of deviation: we thrive on it at DTW! 😁

      Although in no way revered like the Alfasud, the 33 was an interesting and good looking car, although, in my view, the facelift complied with the ‘Fiat Charter’ in making it less attractive. Here’s a low-spec pre-facelift example on steel wheels in an unusual but not unpleasant colour:

    2. I always preferred the ‘son of 164’ looks of the newer 33 over the blocky old version.
      The early 33s were an example of Alfas made for people who wouldn’t buy an Alfa in the first place.
      It took everything that was good in the Alfasud and watered it down (excessively long gearing combined with rev hungry engines with not much torque, much less agile handling and above all steering that couldn’t hold a candle to the ‘Sud’s) and the only benefit it offered over the ‘Sud was less corrosion achieved by automated production processes.
      The facelifted cars at least (re-)introduced some agility in the handling (and power steering) and finally got more power from the engines, even if the 1.7 and particularly the 16V is nowhere as robust as the smaller ones.
      The 33 to have for me is a late 1.7 8V with carburettor engine.

    3. Hi Dave. I’m rarely convinced by facelifts intended to make a car look more similar to a newer model. In this case, the front end of the facelifted car is a bit ‘beaky’ for my taste. That said, it was a very comprehensive makeover, involving a new rear three-quarter panel to remove the previous uptick in the bodysides crease behind the rear doors. Old vs new below:


    4. Making an old model look like a newer one was what Audi always did with the B segment car after a new C segment model appeared and it newer worked.
      But making the 33 look more like a 164 instead of the acquired taste of a 75 was a good idea.
      It might have had a strange nose but a much more attractive rear (this sounds weird…).
      Maybe my perception is influenced by the fact that it was a much better drive reintroducing at least some of the ‘Sud’s driving fun after the clumsy first attempt.

    5. My mom had a facelift 33 with twin double Webers, but I drove it more that she did. And indeed never use the choke. There were times when the car sat for a week or two and it was difficult to start the engine and keep it running, but once you got the hang of it, it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed driving it a lot and was sad to see it go.

  14. Hello Daniel

    No doubt, regarding the 33, the first one is the real one!

    But the facelifted car had one major advantage over the original-it didn’t rust…

    And, IMHO, as far as facelifts go, the 33’s is not bad at all 🙂

  15. Following the digression:
    Here every 33 was marketed with alloy wheels as standard, and thus it made me look at it as a special/sporty berlina.

    Something I allways found strange was looking at other markets pics and seeing them on steel wheels.

    This to say that in the 33’s particular case, maybe the car profitability could have increased if it had been allways and everywhere marketed with alloys fitted

    1. Are you from Portugal, Gustavo?

      I remember visiting Lisboa in 1990 when I was 14, and I spotted a lot of 33s there. It surprised me that every one of them had alloys. In Spain only the 16v had them as standard, so the rest of the range had steel wheels with hubcaps. These fell off after a few months, or were stolen. And if you chose your 33 in red, the paint lost its shine after 3-4 summers. Not very classy.

    2. Hello b234r,
      Yes, and you are my neighbour, aren’t you? 🙂

      You are quite right, our tax system being until 2006 similar to Italy’s (based on displacement), italian cars in general and Alfas in particular were most suited to us.

      I’m from Lisboa, and around that time 33s were among the cheapest cars available on it’s class (as Civics among the GTI’s) and a real sales hit.
      These cars had the best bhp per currency unit ratio.

      Cars were subject to double taxation (general 21% tax on top of specific car purchase tax), which is illegal acording to EU rules and resulted in hefty anual fines paid by Portugal to the UE (crime compensarem, though)

      Cutting it short, cars with basic specs were already so expensive, that selling them with good equipment levels made little differece.

      So, every Rover 213 had 4 power windows and mirrors, every Civic 4th gen. had aircon and every Alfa 33 had alloy wheels (five of them).

      And, in the 33’s (and every Alfa since the 80’s) case, I think they lifted the cars image quite a lot, the use of steel wheels being unimaginable around here and degradating the car ‘status’

      The way I feel it, since the early 80’s, Alfas on steel wheels are Fiats with ideas above their situation, while Alfas on alloys are still Alfas, although made available to the people

    3. The effect of paint turning pale – bleached pink in case of red – and looked as if there was a layer of white dust over it was called ‘chalk effect’ by paint manufacturers and was a consequence of the banning of cadmium as an element in the pigments. Worst affected were red and yellow hues, it was just that yellow didn’t show the effect so obviously (German Post/DHL yellow vans looked really bad – their colour changed anyway because cadmium had been essential for their particular old colour that couldn’t be replicated without the poisonous metal).
      All kinds of remedies have been tried, mostly the introduction of a layer of lacquer over a coloured base coat which until then had been the concept of metallic paint only.

  16. Regarding Spain, we envy your new cars purchase price and your petrol prices (mostly 20 cents per litre lower) since at least when you visited Lisboa in 1990 😉

    1. Right now I have a 1992 issue of “Auto Motor” magazine in my hands and the price list includes a few small engined cars I didn´t know they existed (Audi 100 1.6 and 2.0 16v, ZX 1.1, Tipo 1.1, Vectra 1.4 and R21 1.4) and some omissions (no Alfa 164 3.0 V6, Audi 100 V6, Tipo 1.6, 1.8 or 2.0, or Golf 1.6 or 1.8). I imagine that cars whose engines were bigger than 1.6 litre should be heavily taxed.
      That 33 1.3, with its free revving engine and smart alloys, for 2,1 million escudos (about 10,800€), was cheaper and a lot more atractive than a crude Escort 1.3.

      Well, we always complain about car and petrol prices…at least we managed to avoid heavy taxation in cars due to displacement. Mind you, back then we didn´t have too much money to buy powerful cars. Today we don´t have it still, but 10 year loans have solved that…

  17. It’s increasingly rare I see a Giulia on our roads, but I got lucky last night.

    1. I saw one 6 years ago 🤣

      It was never popular around here, which is a mistery since the coupe sold very well.

      I guess having the same car with a sporty shape and enough room for two Kids was more apealling than a forma door saloon with reminiscences of late 50’s USA

  18. B234r,

    I have no idea how do you have in your hands a 30 years old portuguese car magazine! My admiration to you …

    Other examples could be added: Citroën bx 1100, Peugeot 405 1400, etc.

    One of the ‘jumps’ in taxation was, I guess, 1750cc, which meant a 1721 cc Alfa 33 16v was way cheaper than a Golf Gti 8v, 205 gti 1900, etc. And, again, a Civic 160hp as well…

    Our game was allways how much power one could have for each c.c.

    The reason so many Escorts 1300 were still sold was mainly due to low fuel consumption and ease of maintenance comparing with the 33…

    1. According to my family, to keep a ton of old car magazines isn´t so admirable 😉

      In Spain a displacement- dependent tax is the annual road tax, paid to the local council and based in “Potencia Fiscal”; that unit of measurement is based on engine size and number of cylinders, not bhp; so my old four cylinder, 2.3 litres, 225 bhp Saab 9000 Aero road tax was almost half of my six cylinder, 3.2 litres, 220 bhp W124 320 E tax . It´s not so expensive as in other UE countries, through.

      Renault turbos sold very well here as it was (is) a very popular brand and they are built in Valladolid. Curiously the 164 2.0 Turbo V6 was sold here next to the 3.0 V6 and 3.0 V6 QV, but only for a few months (I suppose Fiat España realized it didn´t make sense).

    2. Around anual road tax is also payed to the municipality, but the rules changed mid-2006.
      After July that year, it became related to CO2 emissions. A Honda Jazz after that month pays around 300 euros yearly.
      Before that month, the same car tax costs about half of that amount, being taxed the old way, engine size related.
      And the older the car, the less it pays: my old dogs cost me around 20 euros each (2 gsa’s, one r9 turbo); 35 euros (316 e30, e36) and nil: my gs was sold before 1980

  19. Regarding the 164, no 3000 v6 but… a lot of 205hp 2000 turbo ones (2000cc being another step on taxation)
    So, turbo’d engines where a must, and Renault was who beneficiated most during the eighties: 5, 9, 11, 21 where everywhere

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