Pine Tree Green she stood there, shimmering in the early spring sun. Juliette. Love at first sight. She just had to become mine. A 1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1.6.
Shortly after my black Alfa 155 got stolen in front of my house in Amersfoort, I set out for a new car. Once bitten by the Alfa Romeo bug, there was no way back. Ever since the trips to Italy in my youth one car has been my favourite, the Alfa Romeo Giulia. That slightly boxy model with the characteristic ‘dent’ in the bootlid. Weapon of choice for the Italian police for years on end. ‘When I grow up, I want one of those’, I used to think when I saw those tough policemen hurling by. By now I had grown up and was looking for a new car. The thing was, is it a good idea to buy a 25 year old Alfa Romeo as a daily driver? One telephone call to the Alfa members club was sufficient to set my mind at ease. Including that golden tip.
The very next weekend me and a friend drove down south. There she was, ‘Pino Verde’ with a cognac simili interior. Good paint, lowered a bit and sporting some wide GB rims. A stunner. I didn’t have to look twice to realise this was ‘my car’.
‘Christian’, the vendor introduced himself. ‘It’s a nice little car, originally from Rome and imported by the previous owner personally. She’s been resprayed, lowered and a new engine is fitted. It used to be a 1300, now it is a 1600. Would you like to take her for a spin?’
I was taught Alfa engines needed a careful approach, make sure they’re warmed up properly before you start trashing it about, so I prudently stayed under the 3000 revs limit. The engine ran smoothly and the five speed gearbox shifted with ease. That test drive didn’t take long, Juliette just had to be mine. I talked the price down with another 500 Guilders and agreed to pick up the car a week later. After a long week me and 12.500 Guilders (approximately €5.500) in cash returned to St. Oedenrode. The ride back to Amersfoort was a hoot. Pre-Facebook thumbs all around and an ear to ear smile on my face that wouldn’t fade. I just bought my dream car, I yelled internally.
Juliette and I became a steady couple as we got along very nicely indeed. She never let me down, not even on cold December mornings or rainy days in March. Juliette was always ready. Still she preferred the warmer climate of her native country. In the summer of 1999 she became the trusty companion of me and my brother for five long weeks. Cruising the country lanes from Trento to Venice, the Adriatic Rivièra, Rome and finally Florence, she just loved it. On our way to Bologna she started to mutter for the very first time in our relationship. A tear in one of the cooling hoses! Topping up the radiator regularly and a firm eye on the temperature gauge helped us to get back to Trento safely. The local mechanic managed to find a fitting hose in his completely incomprehensible stockroom. Problem solved. Back on the German Autobahn I started to appreciate Jule’s need for speed. 180/190 Km/h was no problem at all, although she just loved rumbling along at 130/140. Those twin double Webers managed to squeeze about 120 HP from that beautiful aluminium lump. Roadholding as tight as Brazilian bikini bottoms. Nothing could disconcert Juliette. No wonder her sisters were so popular with the Italian police force, the Alfa Romeo Giulia remains a fast, agile car with the best roadholding of its class.
Two years after that trip I decide to move to Italy. I take everything that fits into Juliette and leave for Rome. Alas Juliette’s stay in Rome lasted no more than three months. On a cold Friday night in January 2002 some hoodlum pushed us of the road, I need to swerve, Juliette touches the curbstone with her left front wheel. We turn around our axis two times only to be stopped by the curb on the other side of the road. Facing the wrong way. Unscathed I get out of the car, but it doesn’t take long to realise Juliette isn’t that lucky. It hurts, it hurts a lot. It must have been destiny that Rome was where she was first bought and Rome was where she finally got scrapped after all those years. Juliette was followed by a legion of other Alfa Romeo’s; a 1983 Alfetta, a 1974 2000 Berlina and a 1975 Spider. Today I drive an Alfa 147, but never will I have such a brilliant car again. Juliette was one of a kind.
Angelo van Schaik