Around the time I became a teenager, in the late 1970s, one poster among a tapestry of car-related pictures dominated my bedroom wall. It showed the 1979 Ferrari range, from the ‘entry’ 308 GT4 through the 308 GTB, 308 GTS and 512 BB to the 400i GT. Below each image were the vital statistics, and to this day I can remember every number – which either shows the prescience of Ferrari’s marketers, grasping that callow youths might actually go out and live their dream 40 years on, or simply that they could hook in yet more fledgling ambassadors to the brand.
Well, four decades later, I’m still Ferrariless, and while I would never call myself an ‘ambassador’ for Maranello, I do still harbour a soft spot for the models I grew up with – and perhaps you do, too.
Which got me thinking. Set to one side the mystique around Ferrari and others of its ilk and you had a range of cars that was, in theory, the pinnacle of automotive performance and dynamics at that time. But it’s also true that, as we near a time of mandated electrification for new cars, current internal-combustion-engined cars of all types are at their absolute zenith, too. Their rate of development has been furious over the past 30 to 40 years, but because it has been incremental, we sometimes lose sight of the sheer enormity of what car makers have achieved.
So, to prove the point, I’m taking my teenage fantasy (well, a slightly younger version, in the form of the 328 GTB, launched in 1985) and pitting it against a family saloon. Okay, I’ll qualify that: the Alfa Romeo Giulia you see on these pages is hardly a cooking commuter car, but neither is it a rip-snorting Quadrifoglio. It has a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine delivering drive to its rear axle and happily returns 30mpg-plus without breaking a sweat. It can also accommodate five people and their luggage with ease and deliver them to a destination 500 miles away in air-conditioned comfort in one fell swoop. Oh yes, and it costs just a smidgen over £40,000. Not cheap, I grant you, but nowhere near supercar money.