When I had just gotten my driver's license, I most wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo. The Giulia Nuova Super was new in the showroom of the Alfa dealers, but unfortunately it was not within my budget. A second-hand Alfasud was within my budget, but I had my doubts about the solidity of the Suds. A friend of mine had a Simca 1301 Special and that was quite a nice car. It looked good, you got ahead quickly with it and the handling was excellent.

Although the car was completely French I still got an Italian feeling with it. It turns out that the person who greatly influenced the design, one Ing. Montabone, later left for Fiat in Turin. Whether that had anything to do with it, no idea. So I also went to see some Simca dealers. At Auto Klinger in Mainz (I was living in Germany at the time) there was a beautiful red 1301 Special from 1973, then 2 years old, with 30000 km on the clock for DM 4500,-. That's turned out to be the one I bought.

After driving the Simca for over 6 years without any significant problems I thought it was time for something else. At various car shows I had already been introduced to the English convertibles such as the Jaguar E-type, MG B, Triumph TR4 and the Spitfire. An E-type fell through due to budget overruns, but a Spitfire (also called "poor man's E-type") had to be achievable.

An acquaintance knew about a white Spitfire somewhere. It turned out to be a 1965 MK2, already a classic at that time. The car was partly dismantled, but I saw something in it and I purchased the car including boxes full of parts for HFL 3000,-. The assembly of the car was not too difficult and after a few months I drove around in the Spitfire. Driving the Spitfire was a special experience. The construction and technology were quite conservative and outdated, but I really loved the Italian design by Michelotti. For daily use, the Spitfire turned out not to be very practical. For that purpose I had also bought a Triumph Dolomite, also designed by Michelotti.

After about three years, I got tired of tinkering on the spartan Spitfire and decided that I needed a real Italian car. My desire to own an Alfa Romeo resurfaced, but which model? I liked a Bertone best, but after the adventure with the Spitfire I didn't feel like owning a classic car anymore.

I had once seen an Alfasud Sprint somewhere and I really liked it with its Giugiaro-designed body. By then it was 1984 and a relatively young Alfasud Sprint of a few years old was a possibility. However, the Sud Sprint was a rare appearance even then, but fortunately I quickly encountered a beautiful red 1.5 Veloce of 1980. This one still had the steel bumpers and an interior with sand-colored velour upholstery, a nice color combination I found. The Sprint had razor-sharp steering and was quite fast with its 95 hp and 915 kg of weight. The engineering was of a high standard. The car had 2 overhead camshafts, 5 gears and 4 disc brakes, the front ones were mounted next to the gearbox to reduce unsprung weight. Nice detail was the red indicator light that went out when the engine was up to temperature, so you knew when you could really accelerate.

Because I liked the Sprint so much, I became more interested in the Alfa Romeo brand. I found out that the Milanese brand had a rich history and had developed many iconic models designed by famous Italian design houses such as Bertone, Pininfarina, Zagato and Touring.

A good example is the Giulia GT, called "Bertone" by Alfists. This car came on the market in 1963 as Giulia Sprint GT and was drawn by Giorgetto Giugiaro who was then working as a designer at Bertone. Meanwhile it was 1986 and I dared to buy a classic carĀ again and started looking for a Bertone. It became finally a 1973 Giulia 2000 GT Veloce in the color blu olandese with sand-colored skai upholstery, green tinted glass and original factory-mounted Campagnolo rims. I like this car so much that it is still in my possession. The design is of a timeless beauty and every time I take the car out I enjoy the sound of the powerful 2 liter engine that, with its 132 hp, can keep up well even nowadays.

Marc Luijten