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Alfa Romeo had officially withdrawn from motorsport in the early 1950s to concentrate on the 1900 series road cars. Clothed by Zagato these were frequently turned into race winners in the hands of privateers. At the end of the decade the two companies collaborated and produced a series of Giulietta based road cars that could be turned into racers by simply adding some numbers. Encouraged by further success Autodelta was setup as a separate racing department headed by former Ferrari employee Carlo Chiti.
The first racer assembled by Autodelta was the 1963 TZ (Tubolare Zagato), which as the name suggests featured a tubular chassis and a Zagato body. Powered by a production car derived four cylinder engine these full blood GT racers scored many class victories in the most demanding of races. Autodelta's next project was less exotic, but equally successful. Alfa Romeo felt it was time to end Lotus' domination of the European Touring Car Championship and commissioned the construction of a competition version of the new Bertone designed Giulia 1600 coupe.
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First shown at the 1965 Amsterdam and Geneva's motorshows the Autodelta prepped Giulia sported the soon to be legendary 'GTA' suffix. The 'A' was short for 'Allegerata', or lightweight; an apt description of the Autodelta Giulia. A considerably slimmed down version of the unitary chassis was covered by aluminium body panels, shaving almost 300 kg off the Giulia's weight. The engine was similar as used in the TZ complete with the twin spark injection boosting the power to 170 bhp, well over 50 more than the road going Giulia coupe.
For homologation purposes a minimum of 500 examples had to be produced, postponing the GTA's track debut to 1966. Fielded by Autodelta, which was now absorbed by Alfa Romeo, and privateers the nimble Giulias proved an immediate success; in the opening round of the championship at Monza GTAs filled the first seven places. Andrea de Adamich scored four victories and claimed the title. A total of 200 wins were scored in the racer's maiden season, followed by hundreds more in the following seasons. Two years later the similarly successful 1300 GTA Junior was introduced for the under 1300 cc class.
In 1969 Alfa Romeo had introduced the larger engined Giulia 1750 GT Veloce road car, which formed a good basis for a second generation GTA. The rules were changed and now stated that a minimum of 1000 cars needed to be produced for homologation, but the derived racer could be modified a lot more. The engined was bored out to displace just under 2 litres and wide wheel arches were riveted on the steel body to accommodate fatter tires. Despite the bigger displacement the cars were officially still referred to as '1750', but the letter 'm' for 'maggiorata' or enlarged was added to the GTA suffix.
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The Giulia 1750 GTAm took over where the 1600 GTA had left off and in the hands of Toine Heezemans Alfa Romeo claimed another Touring Car Championship. Highlights among the GTAm's many victories are back to back wins in the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. From 1971 the competition grew stronger, although the small Giulia's were often able to keep up with the much bigger engined BMWs and Fords. Alfa Romeo turned their focus on sportscar racing and Formula, making the GTAm the last of a highly successful line of racers.
There was no need for a homologation production run so only around forty examples of the wide body Giulias were prepared by Autodelta. Many owners modified their GTAs to resemble the GTAm, so there are many 'replicas' around. Pictured is one of the rare genuine examples competing in the 2005 Tour Auto.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on November 09, 2005