Wanted: a new car for an 18-year-old.
Does this call for a trip to the local Vauxhall dealer? Or a used car supermarket, perhaps? Well, for me, it was a trip over the English Channel, through France and into Italy, where I found my dream car: an Alfa Romeo Giulia. Yes, a 46-year-old family saloon car – the obvious choice.
Modern cars are all very well, of course, but I admire classics, relishing the need to contend with unassisted steering, the absence of driver aids and skinny tyres with little in the way of adhesion. You get the idea.
When I began my search for such a thing, I was looking for a relatively cheap, usable car with a lithe, athletic chassis – of which there are many. I soon became enamoured by Alfa Romeo's 105 series, which was in production in many forms from 1962 until 1978. It seemed to tick every box and came with a dose of style and character that only the Italians can seem to muster.
A revvy twin-cam engine, five-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive sounded perfect. Less perfect are the soaring values of 105 Spiders and Coupés, as I soon discovered when I delved into the classifieds, but it seemed that the regular Giulia saloon had been left behind somewhat.
It’s an unusual-looking thing, the Giulia. So faithful to the three-box shape, it stands on soft, long-travel springs and looks somewhat ungainly, despite sharing its underpinnings with the stunning Bertone-designed Coupé and Pininfarina-penned Spider variants.