In a new series called, Defining a Segment, we take a look at cars that are not given the credit they deserve. Classic car buff Winston Mace takes a closer look at the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super.

In the realm of automotive history, certain vehicles stand out not just for their aesthetic allure but also for their on road performance. The 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super is one such icon. It can be considered the precursor to the modern super saloon. Long before the likes of the original BMW M5 graced the roads, the Giulia Ti Super set a standard that would outline the segment for decades to come.

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Sixties Innovator

It all began in the early 1960s when Alfa Romeo sought to redefine the concept of a family sedan. The result was the Giulia Ti Super, a vehicle that seamlessly blended practicality with race-inspired engineering. At first glance, its understated elegance belied the beast within. However, beneath its refined exterior lay the heart of a thoroughbred racer.

Underpinning the Giulia Ti Super’s performance was its advanced engineering. A 1,6-litre inline-four engine may not have boasted the brute force of later super saloons. But what it lacked in displacement, it more than made up for in agility and handling. With dual overhead camshafts and twin Weber carburetors, a crankcase made of aluminium and a five-speed gearbox, it delivered a spirited 82 kW, propelling it to a top speed of over 195 km/h – a remarkable feat for its time. And it was extremely rare. Only 501 units were built almost all exclusively in Biancospino White with the Quadrifoglio emblem on the side panels.

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Racing Pedigree

However, what truly set the Giulia Ti Super apart was its racing pedigree. In an era dominated by heavy, lumbering sedans, Alfa Romeo dared to defy convention. The Giulia Ti Super was born on the racetrack, honed through countless hours of testing and refinement. Its lightweight construction, independent front suspension, and rear-wheel-drive layout endowed it with a nimbleness unheard of in the saloon segment. It was the first mass produced car to come with a five-speed gearbox. It also featured a differentiated body shell which drastically improved occupant safety.

In 1963, the Giulia Ti Super won its category in the Tour de France auto taking the racing scene by storm. It proved its mettle time and again, clinching victory after victory against formidable adversaries. Its dominance on the track solidified its reputation as a true performance icon. As a result earning its place in the annals of motorsport history.

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The Original Super Saloon

While the Giulia Ti Super’s racing achievements are undoubtedly impressive, its impact transcends the confines of the racetrack. It laid the groundwork for a new breed of high-performance saloon. It set a precedent that would inspire generations of enthusiasts and manufacturers alike. Its influence can be seen in the lineage of iconic super saloons that followed, including the revered BMW M5.

While the Giulia Ti Super cemented its legacy in European motorsport, its most significant contribution lies in its role as the progenitor of the super saloon genre. Alfa Romeo dared to envision a sedan that could thrill and exhilarate in equal measure long before the term gained widespread recognition. In doing so, it paved the way for future generations of performance sedans to push the boundaries.

The  BMW E28 M5 is often heralded as the archetype of the modern super saloon. Its arrival in 1985 came more than two decades after the Giulia Ti Super first graced the scene. While the M5 undoubtedly raised the bar with its potent inline-six engine and track-inspired dynamics, its lineage can be traced back to the pioneering spirit of the Giulia Ti Super.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super rightfully deserves its place in automotive history as the original super saloon. With its blend of performance, elegance, and racing pedigree, it set a standard that continues to influence the segment to this day. While subsequent models may have pushed the envelope further, they owe a debt of gratitude to the trailblazing spirit of the Giulia Ti Super.