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I’ve always loved German cars.
The engineering, the build quality and the dependability, yet they also have a simmering Teutonic passion I can relate to.
My first car was a VW Beetle 1200 ‘Jeans’ edition with denim seats. I loved that car so much I used to sit in it on the drive just admiring the painted dash.
Then there was a beautiful 1973 Turkis blue BMW 2002tii.
I had it restored by Jaymic in Norfolk in the ’90s, but leaving it parked outside took its toll, and I realised it had to go.
I still search the internet for that car – I know it’s out there, but where? (Note to self, time to send in an appeal for the ‘Look familiar’ section of C&SC.)
So how come I ended up with a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT?
My godmother had been a pioneer of female rally driving in the ’30s, and as a small boy I used to sit for hours poring over her sepia-tone photographs of rugged Welsh mountain passes and tests on the Brighton seafront.
A bygone era of motorsport. She was my hero. And when Olive ‘Bob’ Bailey passed away, she left me some money.
I explained to my wife that it seemed a shame to put it into the mortgage, and that I fancied doing a historic rally as an homage to Bob. Amazingly, she agreed!
In the early ’90s, a good friend of mine, Ian Ellis, had begun working on and restoring Alfa Romeos in Sussex. Over a beer, we discussed what the ideal rally car would be, and it seemed sensible to get something that Ian could look after.
He suggested a 105-series Alfa as a good blend of classic, rugged, yet sophisticated.
A few weeks later he told me that Alfaholics, at that time a joint venture between Richard Banks and Richard Norris (the latter now of Classic Alfa fame), had a 1965 105-series Sprint GT that had come over from Italy as a hillclimb car with FIA papers.
When the Sprint arrived at Ian’s, we realised that it needed a lot more work to prepare it for rallying. It was too low, too loud and too hard… but gorgeous.
In fact, it needed so much work that we couldn’t get it ready in time for the 2005 HERO London to Lisbon rally so I ended up doing that in a 1967 Alfa Duetto with my co-driver/navigator Jim Thomas.
We did manage to get the Sprint GT ready for the Scottish Malts the following year.
Then we did the Three Castles Welsh Classic Trial for two years (including a third overall in ’08) before Jim became a parent and rallying was suspended.
Since then, the car has made a pretty good fist as a track-day and hillclimb car, not to mention trips at home and abroad with fellow Alfisti.
Last year, a few of us went to Spa for the Myalfa Group annual track day. The little Sprint GT coped amazingly, only let down by my lack of courage.
The body is pretty original. It was Bluette, but became Alfa Rosso 105 sometime around 2000. The car appears never to have been apart and has original inner sills.
Ian has replaced the left outer sill and the wheelarches. It is still incredibly solid, but the right sill will need to be done soon.
It is stripped out with a cage, but as I get older I think the time is arriving to soften it a bit – some Dynamat, carpeting and maybe seats that fold, so I can at last get into the back to clean the rear ’screen and store some bags!
The engine has hotter cams, giving 139bhp, and it runs Dunlop brakes and Classic Alfa road/rally suspension.
I’ve kept the original fixed top arms to keep it true to Appendix K regulations, ready for when Jim comes out of retirement.
There’s an aluminium foam-filled petrol tank for safety, and it drives incredibly well for a 55-year-old car, very tight and solid.
The twin-cam has wonderful induction noise and on 185/70 R15 Avon CR6 ZZ tyres it slides beautifully on track yet still rides well on the road.
It’s hard to believe I’ve had this car for 17 years – probably longer than Guido Massino of Turin, who bought it new on 5 June 1965.
But I do still love German cars – oh, and Italian, British, French, American, Swedish…
Thanks to Three Castles photographer Tony Large
- Owned by David Stroud
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