In the mid-60s, the UK’s coupé man looked to the continent for something special as the Mini dominated the British motoring scene. This essay explores the iconic coupés from three Italian car manufacturers of the time – Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Fiat. The article compares and contrasts the Alfa Romeo GT Junior, Lancia Fulvia Coupé, and Fiat 124 Sport.
The Alfa Romeo GT Junior is a corker that made its debut in the 1960s. It features an all-alloy 1570cc twin-cam engine, five-speed gearbox, servo-assisted disc brakes all round, and independent front suspension, which was top-of-the-line for its time. However, it was the Giugiaro-designed Bertone styling that made the car stand out. The car reviewed in this essay is a 1970 entry-level model that comes with a pre-’74 bodyshell, which is simple yet proportionate. The bonnet frame’s subtle step and the moody-looking front end with single headlights on either side of the large central Alfa grille are incredibly striking. The driver-focused dashboard binnacle and prominent Jaeger Italia gauges, along with the aggressively canted gearlever, indicate that this coupé was built to be driven, and that’s exactly what you’ll do. Sporting GTA-style velocity stacks, the twin carbs fire with staccato barks, and it takes some work to get the 12.6 secs 0-60mph sprint up, but it is worth it. With inherent balance, plucky handling, decent brakes, and a punchy engine, the GT Junior is a classic car that is best driven hard.
Next is the Lancia Fulvia Coupé, which harks back to a time when a certain Turin giant had not yet swallowed up the brand. The Fulvia Coupé is based on the 1963 front-wheel-drive Fulvia saloon model. With raised compression, an increased capacity of 1216cc, twin Solex C32 carburettors, an all-synchromesh, initially four-speed gearbox, and disc brakes as standard, the Lancia shares several similarities with the Alfa Romeo GT Junior. However, the Fulvia Coupé has a completely new body that was created in-house to keep costs low. The result was a visually satisfying car with a dainty refinement, including a stainless-steel-trimmed rear end with an angular shape in stark contrast to the Junior’s curvaceous backside. This coupé is more demure than its Alfa Romeo counterpart but is equally deserving of admiration.
The Fiat 124 Sport is a beautiful car that looks like a modern interpretation of the Fulvia. It has a Pininfarina-designed body, and the car reviewed is a 1968 model with a 1438cc engine, a four-speed gearbox, and disc brakes on all wheels. It is an agile car that is easy to handle, but it doesn’t have the raw power of the Alfa Romeo GT Junior. With its front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, the Fiat 124 Sport is a pure driver’s car. The interior is not as driver-focused as the Alfa Romeo or Lancia, but it is still pleasing to the eye, with comfortable seats and ample space.
All three coupés have a distinctive Italian style that makes them stand out from the crowd. The Alfa Romeo GT Junior is the most powerful of the three, with its twin-cam engine, while the Lancia Fulvia Coupé is the most refined. The Fiat 124 Sport sits somewhere in between, with its beautiful body and well-balanced handling. Each car is unique and deserving of attention, and choosing one over the others
As I settle behind the wheel of the Lancia Fulvia Coupé, I can feel my heart racing with anticipation. The graceful lines of the car are like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I can’t wait to see how it handles on the open road.
As I rev the engine, I can feel the power at my fingertips, ready to unleash at my command. The canted 45º V4 roars to life, and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear as I put it through its paces.
Compared to the Alfa Romeo GT Junior, the Fulvia feels more refined, more elegant. It’s a car that exudes class and sophistication, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun to drive. The all-synchromesh gearbox shifts smoothly, and the disc brakes provide ample stopping power when I need it.
As I take it through a series of hairpin turns, I can feel the car hugging the road like it’s on rails. The handling is precise and predictable, allowing me to push the car harder and harder with each passing mile.
But what really sets the Fulvia apart is its V4 engine. It may not be as powerful as the Alfa’s twin-cam, but it has a character all its own. The engine is smooth and revs eagerly, giving the car a lively feel that’s hard to resist.
As I pull into a rest stop and turn off the engine, I can’t help but feel a sense of admiration for the engineers who designed this beautiful machine. It’s a car that’s more than the sum of its parts – it’s a work of art on wheels.
But as much as I love the Fulvia, there’s still one car left to test – the Fiat 124 Sport.
As I settle into the driver’s seat, I can see that this car is a little different from the others. It’s less flashy, less dramatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting to drive.
The Fiat’s styling may be more understated than its Italian rivals, but it’s still a handsome car with clean, simple lines that are easy on the eyes. The interior is well-appointed, with comfortable seats and a dashboard that’s easy to read.
But what really impresses me about the 124 Sport is its driving dynamics. The car feels light and nimble, with a chassis that’s well-tuned for sporty driving. The steering is precise, and the suspension is firm but compliant, allowing the car to handle corners with ease.
Under the hood, the Fiat’s engine may be the smallest of the three, but it’s still a willing performer. The 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine revs smoothly and eagerly, delivering a satisfying surge of power when I put my foot down.
As I take the Fiat through a series of curves and corners, I can’t help but marvel at how well-balanced it is. The car feels like an extension of my body, responding to my every command with effortless grace.
In the end, it’s hard to choose a favorite among these three Latin beauties. Each car has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each one offers a driving experience that’s hard to forget.
But one thing is for sure – these cars are more than just machines. They’re works of art, expressions of human creativity and ingenuity that continue to inspire and captivate us today. And that, perhaps, is their greatest legacy of all.