We are at the beginning of the summer season of celebration. Whether it’s with Aston-Martin marking a century of motoring distinction; celebrating the class, style and excellence associated with the “Automobiles de Prestige” in the numerous and exclusive Concours d’Elegance; or perhaps simply indulging in enjoying your automobile on a country drive on a balmy afternoon reaffirms your choice of transport.
With the recent buzz surrounding the Lamborghini Anniversary and the Mille Miglia, I thought that this issue should have a bit of Italian flamboyance and timeless style. Here are two masterpieces that have little exposure outside of their respective dedicated groups, yet the amount of attention that they receive on the road confirms that they are definitely works of art.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale
In the decade that brought us passenger jets and Sputnik, the motor industry began to take aerodynamics seriously. In 1953 Alfa Romeo approached Guiseppe “Nuccio” Bertone commissioning three concept vehicles to research the effects of drag; the Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica [BAT] cars were born!
Franco Scaglione, had only two years experience in automotive design, yet his university studies in Aeronautical Engineering and time spent sketching clothing for Italian fashion houses after the Second World War give him the ideal foundation for creating these innovative vehicles. With the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale, Franco turned his concepts into a production reality.
When the Sprint Speciale entered production in 1957 it had the lowest drag coefficient of any car. This was not bettered for more than twenty years. Combined with a five speed gearbox, low kerb weight and feisty twin-cam engine, the Sprint Speciale was certainly designed with sporting intentions.
Take one out on the road today and once you acclimatise to the countless admiring glances, you will soon realise that this car feels like a thoroughbred. The engine and close ratio gearbox spur you on to race around the speedometer. The ease with which the compact Alfa maintains the legal limit makes it obvious how much a part the aerodynamics play in the driving experience.
Our beautifully restored Alfa Red Sprint Speciale is resting in the showroom waiting for you to take it by the scruff of the neck and discover this hidden gem.
In 1962 Alfredo Vignale designed a successor to the first Gran Turismo Maserati. Commemorating their victory in the famous American 12 hour race, this beautiful car was named ‘Sebring’. Retaining the short-wheelbase chassis and race-derived straight six, the Sebring was clothed in a steel and aluminium body that was more aggressive in appearance than the 3500GT.
The Sebring was far more modern than its Italian contemporaries. Cherry picking the best components from Europe, such as the cutting-edge Lucas fuel injection, 5 speed ZF gearbox and Girling disc brakes, an accomplished tourer with sporting credentials was created. Series I cars were built between 1962 and 1965, with only 348 leaving the factory. The delicate external detailing was lost on the Series II as Maserati homogenised the design with the Quattroporte.
Our Series I Sebring was found by a well-known collector in Italy in 2005 as a barn find, having previously changed ownership over 34 years before. The restoration was completed in 2009, retaining the original colour combination of Grigio Inglewood and Nero Hide. With the collection focussing on earlier vehicles we had the opportunity to purchase this rare automobile.
At the time of writing this, there are no other Series I Sebrings on the open market anywhere in the world, with fewer than 195 estimated to still exist, it is unlikely that this situation will change.
Much like the Sprint Speciale, heads turn wherever you drive when you are out on the road. The timeless elegance shines through, right until the point at which you drop down a couple of gears and let the glorious engine sing!