Where it all began

2011-01-28 09:42

The Italian job and personality
Driving through the streets of Garsfontein, just outside of Pretoria, in a 30-year-old original Alfa Romeo Giulietta Group One paints a true picture of an Alfinista – an Alfa ­enthusiast. Its pristine ­condition makes passers-by take a second glance.

 Krige Bolton is the proud owner of the Giulietta and the 1978 Giulia Super. These two immaculate beauties are parked in his double garage, covered with blankets and car covers, while his daily drive parks outside .

The Giulietta originally ­belonged to Bolton’s father, who was the second owner. He sold it to his son in 1995. Bolton says he wants to keep the car in the family as it is one of only 200 built.

Alfa Romeo SA was at that time run by Vito Bianco who decided to take the development of the first Giulietta into his hands without ­official permission from the company’s head office in ­Italy.

The original Giulietta made its debut locally in 1979. In 1982 the modified Group One was launched in SA. Strangely enough, the Giulietta stirred more interest locally than it did anywhere else in the world.

Bolton has only spent about R10 000 on his Giulietta, excluding the usual ­service and maintenance costs since he bought it.

The car has more than 220 000km on the clock and while most mechanics might run away rather than having to deal with a 30-year-old Alfa Romeo, Bolton says its running costs are relatively affordable – he even uses some Fiat Uno parts.

The Giulietta Group One had a distinct, sharp edge added to it and its styling was different to what other manufacturers had in mind.

It also features the Quadrifoglio Verde (four-leaf clover) badge on the fenders.

Roger McCleery saw the hidden potential in the Giulietta. He was the brand’s marketing manager during the 1980s and summoned local Alfa specialist Sampie Bosman of Bosman’s Auto Unique. A development programme began and
production got under way to improve the performance of the Giulietta. And so the Group One was born.

The Rosslyn plant had ­engines delivered to ­Bosman’s Auto Unique where the heads were removed, the ports cleaned and the compression ratio changed before everything was reassembled. The result – 105kW of power compared to the 90kW of the stock model.

The Group One gave the Giulietta that extra street cred with a wooden, sporty gearknob, leather steering wheel and front spotlights for a more aggressive look. Other items include electric driver mirror, GTV-styled headrests and the silver grill.

Romeo’s Giulietta fails to answer call
Alfa Romeo’s all-new Giulietta is the latest darling of the motoring ­industry, but I must be the only petrolhead not falling headlong for the Italian car.

I was rather disappointed when I initially saw the car online, followed by a year-long hype about the launch. I was expecting something spectacular and completely new. Instead, it looks like its other siblings in the stable.

Look closely and it’s awfully similar to the ­popular Mito and the rear-end shares traits with the latest Bravo.

I’m not saying it isn’t bellissimo because it is still a beauty with a sharper and longer bonnet than the Mito. The V-shaped grille flows into the aggressive front spoiler which shows off a new design of the classic shield. The lines are generally more curvaceous. The front headlights feature LED technology and day-time running lights.

Based on a new platform, it was launched with three models in the range – the 1.4 turbo-charged 88kW Progression entry-level model; the 1.4 MultiAir 125kW; and the range-topping Quadrifoglio Verde 175kW 1750 TBi.

Features in the Progression model include climate ­control, Blue&Me (Bluetooth) connectivity, six airbags, ­stability control, hill assist, Start&Stop function as well as electric windows.

The 125kW MultiAir Distinctive model has 17-inch alloy wheels, dual zone ­climate control, audio steering wheel controls, a front armrest with storage ­compartment, cruise control, fog lights and chrome inserts. The dashboard is also
distinguished by a stylish insert painted in magnesium grey, Ghiaccio White or Alfa Red.

TomTom made its mark with the Renault brand, and the Dutch company has now joined forces with the ­Italians with the Blue&Me-TomTom system. The system adds navigation functions to the Blue&Me portable ­navigation system.

The Quadrifoglio Verde? (four-leaf clover) is probably the most beautiful car name you’ve ever heard. It makes you want to speak Italian.

It is a legendary brand which has competed on tracks across the world. The clover is set on a white background in a triangle on the front fenders.

The model has a lowered suspension for a sportier drive, 17-inch special alloys and an enhanced braking system with callipers painted Alfa Red. Even the interior displays sporty leather and microfibre seats. The 1750 TBi is responsive on the throttle thanks to the large amount of torque coming from the engine.

All the three models are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.

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