In February 1965, the racing version of the Alfa Romeo GT 1600 was presented, distinguishable by its acronym "GTA" where A stood for "lightened".
The car differed externally from the Giulia GT, which was the base of its project in a few details of the bodywork, but under the light Peraluman 23 aluminum alloy cladding there was a well-tuned and elaborated engine, and also the rest of the equipment was clearly built following the rules of the racing car.
The Alfa Romeo GTA offered to the market was 200 kg lighter than the Alfa GT from which it originated and had a slightly more powerful engine than its sister (115 HP vs 95 HP of GT), but which in the track version rose to 160 HP, and transformed the little coupé from Portello into a formidable opponent on the circuits.
The competition debut happened in 1965 at the Trento-Monte Bondone hill climb race where the GTA easily won in the GT group up to 1600 cc. And that was the birth of the myth of the GTA, the car built and destined to win always. The care and preparation for competition was entrusted to Autodelta, a small factory that already cared for and developed the brand's sports cars, the TZ and TZ2 models, with which Alfa Romeo reaped successes on the racetracks.
In 1966, Autodelta, owned by the brilliant Tuscan engineer Carlo Chiti and the Chizzola brothers, was absorbed by Alfa Romeo and transferred from Feletto Umberto (Udine) to Settimo Milanese in the proximity of the mother company. Ludovico and Gianni Chizzola, unwilling to move towards Milan, left Autodelta and Carlo Chiti was appointed general manager and also counselor of Alfa Romeo’s board.
It was a prosperous period for Alfa and the factory was skillfully led by the new CEO Giuseppe Luraghi, who with great intuition managed the difficult Italian puzzle that the Portello factory, owned by IRI, represented in the industrial reality of Italy, a country that with renewed vigor sought for its place in Europe and in the world.
The factory, heir to a glorious past, guarded the tradition that more than any other on a planetary level, identified its name with motor racing, and Luraghi, mindful of past triumphs, felt that the link Alfa Romeo had with the track was indissoluble and also the guarantee of the survival of the brand.
Those days were happy moments of the Italian industrial renaissance when, with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, entrepreneurs in the automotive sector discovered the value of auto sport as the best way to offer their brands to the market awakened by the conquered prosperity.
The publicity that arose from the successes on the circuits and the dusty rally tracks crowned the cars which, beyond their usefulness, demonstrated something more... a permanance level previously reserved for custom-built cars. This is how automobiles classified as Touring cars were born, offering sometimes outstanding qualities, a sort of family car which, however, could enhance the driving qualities, road holding and liveliness of sports cars.
Alfa Romeo was in the past the factory that produced unbeatable racing cars, high-end cars and sometimes even the cars that were intended for wealthy middle-class customers, characterized by innovative technology, which over time had carved out a place at the top. In the immediate post-war period, however, it became clear that in order to guarantee its survival, the now state-owned factory, had to asure the profit from mass production. In that search for balance between the quality that the name guaranteed and the need to keep finances on the positive side of the balance, new projects were born which in the years to come will guarantee the indisputable success of the Milanese factory.
In the immediate post-war period, it was still the legacy of the glorious past brought to Olympus by names like Ferrari and Jano that guaranteed the return and conquest of the two world championships, but these were projects born towards the end of the 1930s, and only repurposed for major sporting events with little improvement. There were Jano's disciples, young engineers on the rise, Satta, Busso, Garcea, Surace…involved in the work of the Special Experiences Service, that created the new energies that resulted in construction of the brand new families of engines and cars, Giulietta and then Giulia which with the reduced displacements required by the market, were the winning response of Italian ingenuity and the ability to rediscover new ways in European and world reality.
Alfa Romeo, in order to entrust the fate of the Portello factory to the manager Giuseppe Luraghi, gave the necessary entrepreneurial lifeblood to the reality that Alfa already represented, and it was under his wise and balanced management that the factory experienced its best moment, expansion and financial stability. Giuseppe Luraghi, the new managing director who took over the helm of the company, was open-minded man and a brilliant interpreter of the times. An atypical manager, a good writer and poet, he was also a good painter, and he did not respond to the stereotype of the skilled captain of industry immersed in the strategies of profit. In addition to the difficult task of stabilizing the precarious financial situation of the factory, he managed with his innate charisma to mitigate union discomfort, and carry forward development, keeping at bay the intrusiveness of politicians ready to use the factory for their own purposes and interests. He was an extraordinary strategist who managed to understand market demands and plan the future of the factory, without forgetting, however, tradition and a glorious sporting past. Personally, in love with auto sport and mindful of past triumphs, he felt that the bond that Alfa Romeo had with racing had to be preserved, maintained and strengthened. Thus, with the success of the lucky Giulietta and Giulia models, he matured the decision to support the production cars with the real sports car capable of competing at a high level in the Touring car category, which at that time increasingly inflamed the European public. Thus, was born an "affordable" racing car which, under the favorable auspices of the stars, won in the decade to come everything that could be won in auto sport. The new true sports car, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Gran Turismo Alleggerita, was presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1965, a non-prominent motor show and therefore perhaps an inadequate setting for the car who would become an immortal queen, a true Italian masterpiece. Alfa Romeo GTA was the progenitor of a family of racing cars destined to conquer the leading role in the world of racing at a global level. In a sequence of continuous sporting successes, the Giulia 1600 GTA, Giulia 1300 GTA Junior, and the limited series of Giulia GTA SA with the supercharged engine were born. To this list we must also add the Giulia GT Am, which although not "lightened" and not part of the same family, was closely related and the dominating car of competitions. In the next chapters, we will dedicate a detailed description of the performances and the peculiarities to each car of the noble GTA lineage.