We follow along as a 1963 101.12 Sprint Coupe gets a high quality whole-body makeover
Text and photos courtesy of Bob Hoye, Institutional Advisors
Bob has long held a fascination for sports cars, particularly Alfa Romeos. Beginning just after World War I the company designed and built cars to win the most trying road races in history – the Targa Florio on the back roads of Sicily and the Mille Miglia, which was a thousand-mile race from Brescia to Rome and back.
The first “Mille” event was run in 1927 and from 1928 to 1947 Alfas virtually dominated when in 1948 the mantle was passed on to Ferrari. Ferrari started with Alfa Romeo as a driver in 1920 and in the 1930s ran the company’s racing team. After World War II Ferrari started on his own with some of Alfa’s engineers.
In the immediate post-war period Alfa decided to supplement the building of high-priced cars with the introduction of the Giulietta series with a coupe, open sports car and small sedan – all based upon the same platform and drive train. Designed by one of the most successful racing teams in history the series were intended to be relatively high-production cars that would win the 1300cc class. They, and particularly the Sprint coupe, did win class and, in the endurance races, even winning a couple of classes above.
Coachmaker Bertone designed and built the Sprint with production beginning in late 1954 and with minor variations continuing until 1964. In rallying and road racing the Giulietta series were consistently successful. The design was the first modern sports car with a stiff chassis and a compliant, but wellcontrolled suspension. It was intended for fast travel over any kind and condition of road.
In the 1956 Mille Miglia the Sprint won its 1300cc class and right up to and beating the 2-liter Maserati. The only cars ahead were 4.5-liter Ferraris and 3.0-liter Mercedes and a prototype OSCA.
Over many years, Bob enjoyed Alfa Romeos as daily drivers as well as for a brief season of SCCA competition. Five years ago Bob returned to the mark with a 1962 Giulietta Spider, which is the open sports car. In Graphite Grey and Red interior it was in very good condition and Bob had the engine and drive train up-graded.
On the quip that it would be nice to have a coupe on the colder days, Bob started looking for a Sprint in early 2009 and most of the good ones on offer were Red. In September one dismantled for restoration was found in San Jose and it was shipped to Auto Restore in Vancouver. Work began in late October of 2009.
This left picture shows the Sprint in white as it arrived at the shop. The body is straight and the interior is a mess.
The photo below it shows the car after it was stripped and mounted on a dolly for the trip for the media-blast used to get rid of old paint, rust and sound-deadening asphalt. Media used was pulverized brick and talc, which revealed perforations in the passenger floor wells. These will be patched with new steel.
The third photo down shows the car after body prep and paint, which is Midnight Blue.
Performance depends upon acceleration, speed, handling and braking.
Alfa featured the biggest and best drum brakes ever built for a light sports car. For a few years these were superior to disc brakes. The second set of photos shows the left front suspension with the enormous brake drum with helical cooling fins. These were 13.5 inches in diameter and 3.5 inches wide. The highest performing models include three leading shoes, a set up not used by any other manufacturer. The swept area of the brakes was greater than on the 3-liter Ferraris or the Mercedes 300 SLR. The three photos below show the front suspension before and after.
Below is an interior photo during hand-scraping, prior to the media-blast.
Here’s the same area after the blast and paint. It also shows the metal segments used to replace the rusted out parts of the floor. This is being coated with “Bullet- Proof” paint that is as tough as its name. All metal underneath was treated as well.
The engine was dated as 1967 and not original to the car (SNO note: Horrors!!!). Another engine and five-speed transmission have been rebuilt and up-graded. Restoration of the rear axle included changing the final drive ratio from 5.12 to a 4.56. I had hoped to get a 4.3 but the manufacturer could not guarantee that it would be quiet enough when not on a race track. Also, the latest limited slip is installed and set up for highway use.
The gearbox has taller ratios for first, second and third, with fifth keeping the tall .79 ratio. Considering the final drive ratio, gearing should be very good for climbing mountain roads. Fortunately the backing plates needed to fit the “big” brakes were found and the rest of the work was cosmetic.
Interior metal has been covered with Hushmat which reduces noise and heat transfer. Note the restoration of the window-winding mechanism.
Here are two photos of the car as it nears completion in November of 2010. Note that the side view shows the new wheels, which are replicas of the original “works” magnesium ones built for competition. These are of modern structural design and in aluminum weigh some three pounds less than the standard steel wheels. Magnesium replicas are available but at proitive cost.