The Payoff Of Patience: My 1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
Photography by Sam Frost (indoor) and Freddie Davis (outdoor)
Story by Freddie Davis
I’d been looking at car advertisements for years prior, but with my third child off to university, it was finally time to invest in the car I’d been dreaming of owning for so long, with the want extending all the way back to my childhood.
From an early age, the glamour of a 1960s coach-built classic Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale, with its beautiful Bertone body, had captivated me, and when it became time to seriously look for one, I knew that I wanted one of the 25 cars converted to right-hand drive by motorsport ace Ken Rudd, at RuddSpeed. Only 5 of these cars are listed by the Driving Licensing Bureau as having been on the road in the U.K., but they don’t say if they were LHD or RHD versions. Finding one of the very few RuddSpeed cars was going to be a tall task.However, I was patient, and it just so happened that in May of this year, not one of these rarities came onto the market, but two, and at the same time.
I looked carefully at both cars. One was pristine, looking better than the day it came off the production line. It was missing a few small bits though, like door plates and the bonnet liner and light, the Alfa tool kit, and various others. But despite its nice presentation and shine, it had very little known history, and a little poking around on the Internet revealed that the car had been sold at the Brooklands Auctions in June of 2016 for £89,600, and was then put back into auction with Bonhams in December of 2016, where it failed to sell. I have to say I was a bit concerned about this quick turnaround, so I took a look at the other right-hand drive SS.
The 1964 Giulia Sprint Speciale I purchased had a large history file, with all the MOTs, owners’ details, info about all who had owned it for long spells. One such owner, Mr. Coburn, had owned the car for 31 years, and another, Mr. Baker, for 13 years. It was not something that’d been passed back and forth, and it was clearly a loved car.
The SS is still in cracking condition, having only covered 58,000 miles since new. The chrome brightwork has a deep shine, and the paint has earned a lovely amount of patina over the years. The leather interior is still good as new, and makes the cockpit such a comfortable place to be, listening to the 1570cc four-cylinder engine’s throaty bark.
Also in the history file was a four-page glossy writeup about the car in the June 2008 issue of Motor Sport magazine. It also won the Alfa Concours in June 2000, and was part of the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours at Goodwood in 2007.
I have taken the car to the National Alfa Day meeting, and to a concours day at Farleigh House, in Hampshire, where it won the silver cup. Everywhere I go in it, it is photographed, and everywhere I stop with it, people approach, wanting to know more about the little red Alfa. It’s nice to see the car being appreciated, but it’s better to drive it. The seating position is low and flat, and although the glass area is extensive, the bonnet disappears below your sight line. The noise is classic twin-cam Alfa, and the light weight of the whole package makes for a very fun time in the turns.
This upmarket grand tourer from over 50 years ago still starts with the first turn of the key, drives beautifully around town, and cruises smoothly at 70mph with no complaints either felt or heard or smelled. It has strong brakes to slow you back down, and the five-speed’s gear change is effortless, and surprisingly for a thinly-insulated classic car with older rubber seals, there is little to no road noise!
Though I consider it an investment, I still drive my SS; in fact, this May we did the hill climb at Laverstoke Park Farm, home to racing legend Jody Scheckter’s health-focused organic farm. In September, the car will compete in the prestigious Kop Hill Climb, one of the oldest hill climbs in the country dating back to at least 1910. It’s a vintage and valuable car sure, but I am still going to enjoy it!