Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GTA 1600

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That Bertone managed to squeeze four seats (all right, the rear is a little cramped) into such an elegant coupé form as the Giulia Sprint GT is a mark of typical Italian skill. And being from the land of opera, art and the love of speed, it was a gem to drive, even though it was built on the shortened floorpan of the bread-and-butter Giulia saloon. Naturally the coupé had barely left the showrooms when it began to tackle the racetracks in ever faster versions, and the peak was the GTA – outwardly identical, but radically, trimmed, tucked and tweaked by Alfa’s sub-contracted race team Autodelta. That’s what Jeremy Cottingham has for sale – and while many GTs have over the years been fettled into quasi-GTAs, Jeremy has the paperwork that shows this one was built in 1965 as an A – standing for alleggerita or ‘lightened’ – and came from Autodelta with the alloy outer panels, thin steel inners, plexiglass side windows and hole-punch mag-alloy wheels that merited the name. 

This example has the earlier 1570cc motor (a 1300 came later) with its many mods: mag-alloy components, larger carbs and twin-plug ignition among them. The GTA came in two flavours, road (115bhp) and race (160bhp); with its close-ratio gearbox and stripped interior the GTA’s eager nose was clearly aimed at the circuits, and this one was a proud member of the works Autodelta stable, entering touring car races across Europe. Even better, it was raced by double touring car champion, sports car and Formula 1 racer Andrea de Adamich, scoring several victories including in a 1967 ETCC race at Oulton Park, giving it a ‘home’ connection.

In earlier races the car ran in fairly standard (for a GTA) form, but over the years has been further modified with even wider wheels and the arches to cover them, making it look more like the later, larger-engined and fuel-injected GTAm which would go on to add even more laurels to the Alfa Romeo badge. 

There are few things more thrilling to hear than that sharp gargle of a set of Dellortos snorting BP’s finest brew, along with the bark of a race exhaust, and when they are combined with a vehicle of this calibre, race-track thrills are guaranteed. For homologation Alfa had to make 500 GTAs, so they’re hardly common, and few of them can have such an impressive back story as this.

FACTFILE

YEAR – 1965

ENGINE – twin-cam four, 160bhp

TRANSMISSION – close-ratio five-speed

SUSPENSION – front, double wishbones, coil springs; rear, live axle, trailing arms

TOP SPEED – 140mph

PRICE £POA