By Robin Godwin
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
I’m not what’s commonly known as an “Alfista,” I’m merely a collector who likes a particular style of automobile and the corresponding classic contemporary models. I was first introduced to the Alfa Romeo Giulia four-door sedan in the early eighties while stationed in Germany. A friend had one, a little rough perhaps, but still a very handsome sedan. I mostly observed it in his driveway, with the hood (bonnet) up, apparently with an unending requirement for maintenance.
The first release was the Giulia TI (for Turismo Internazionale, an Italian racing series), in 1962 with a 1570cc twin cam four cylinder motor. Production continued until 1977, using various designations that usually referred to engine size. Visually, the basic car changed little except for headlight configuration. The TI had twin headlights, two regular size and two slightly smaller. The Giulia 1300 four cylinder (1290cc) was introduced in 1965, with single headlamps, and the Nuova Giulia was introduced in 1975 with twin headlights all the same size. The Nuova also had flat hood and trunk lids, and, in my opinion, lost some of the original style in the transition. Of course there were lots of other differences between the vehicles over the years, but these generally are not evident in 1:43 scale models of the time.
I bought my first model Giulia in 1989, Mebetoys #A7, TI in Carabinieri guise. It comes in other police guises as well as a regular civilian sedan with colour variations. It’s not my intent to detail all the variations, (and I probably couldn’t come close anyway), but this model launched me on a quest to acquire at least one version of all the contemporary, as in 1960s original issues, 1:43(ish) models, all but one of Italian origin. I was recently very lucky in acquiring the last model on my list – an INGAP Giulia TI in plastic. I’ll cover these early models in a general sense, but won’t progress to the many Progetto K Alfas of the 1980s and 1990s, or any of the current diecasts or resins (covered recently by Alex Marsden in the September 2018 issue of Diecast Collector magazine).
I acknowledge that early Giulia models have been covered before in the collecting press: Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann covered the TOGI Giulia in part 4 of their excellent ongoing series on TOGI history in MAR Online. This was a contemporary model with an introduction date of 1963, but I don’t collect “big stuff” so it will not be further covered in this article. Frequent MAR contributor, Bruno Boracco, while editor of Miniauto & Collectors magazine (an Italian model magazine, which no longer seems to be in print, did a profile on Giulia TIs, including the early issues, in issue 5, 2002. At least I assume it was Bruno as the article was unattributed). [Ed: Bruno has been closely involved with the Italian Piccole Grandi Ruote web site which covers real and model vehicles in recent years]. A nagging feeling in the back of my mind tells me that someone, perhaps Bruno, also did a photo summary of the Giulia for an early print issue of MAR, and doubtless I’ll find it just as soon as this article is posted. Release dates are sourced from Paolo Rampini’s superb Golden Book of Model Cars 1900 – 1975 and I’ll cover models from the following companies, which are all Giulia TIs except as noted later in the text:
- INGAP (Industia Nationale Giocattoli Automatici Padova)
- Politoys/Penny (plastic and metal models, and the Penny is 1:66 scale)
- Edil Toys
- French Dinky Toys
The last addition to my small collection was the first to be issued in 1963, a Giulia TI by INGAP of Italy. INGAP was founded as a toy company in 1919, but produced mostly plastic and tin toys. Many collectors will be familiar with their set of smaller scale cars, probably around 1:65 scale, which were sold in sets. The larger Giulia was sold as one of a “serie 77” consisting of six cars in 1:41 scale. I’m not sure if they were ever sold individually. It was true to form in plastic, with rubber tires, and mine exhibits the slightest evidence of wheel melt (an incompatibility between the plastic rim and rubber tire), but after 55 years it likely won’t degrade any further. This is quite a good model from a company not previously known for “collector scale” toys. These are exceptionally hard to find outside of Italy and now command high prices, as do all the Giulias I will be discussing here.
Colours I have seen are a creamy beige (shown on hobbyDB), my red car, and a light blue one illustrated in an article by Andrew Ralston in Model Collector October 2011 (along with the box and the other five cars in serie 77). I’m not convinced that the racing decals on my red version are factory issue, as they seem overscale. I suspect they were added by a collector. But I’ll continue to search the internet for a while to see if another one pops up with decals before removing them. Despite most continental European model cars of 1963 having interiors, this model is lacking (as are the other five in serie 77). Except for axles, wheels and tires, it is a four-piece model – body, base (including rear bumper), windows, and a one-piece, silver painted bumper/front grill/headlight unit, which, in all likelihood, locks the base to the body. Body shut lines are indented, and the overall shape is very good, until you look at the tail of the model. The rear bumper is crudely overscale, and there has been no effort whatsoever to model the taillights. One would think that the brittle plastic used in construction would lead to warping or cracking over time (and it still might in strong sunlight), but my example is as true as the day it came out of the mould. INGAP also produced a 1:15 scale tin clockwork Giulia in its Eurotoys range, but this is beyond the scope of this article.