I’m not sure why I’m such a car nut. There were no car enthusiasts in my family. The only purpose of a car was to go from A to B. The first time I saw the Alfa Romeo Giulietta was in a french movie called „The Things Of Life“ from 1970 in which the car plays a major part. The story of the film revolves around an accident caused by the main character.
That was actually the first time I saw this car. In the 50s and 60s these cars didn’t make their way onto German roads. I’m Roger Leyens and I’m driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint 1600 built in 1963. It wasn’t always my dream, but at some point I remembered this car and I thought: “That’s the right car for me, I have to own that thing.” It took me quite some time to find one. I went through half of Italy to check out different cars. Finally I found a Belgian owner who originally bought it for himself because he loved the car as much as I did. But that guy had one big problem… he was 6’2” and didn’t quite fit into the Giulietta. I have the right size for the car and so I decided to buy it. It really was love at first sight: it had the right color, the right engine, it started right away. it talked to me… and then it was my Giulia. The car was in a miserable state when it was shipped back to Europe from the US, where it was first registered.
It then found its way to a Dutch collector, who restored it according to his taste. When people ask me: “What kind of car do you own?” And I answer “A Giulia Sprint”, most of them think that i am talking about it’s successor, which has a different body and was a complete redesign and is known to many as “Bertone Coupé”. My car is its predecessor, but was also called “Giulia Sprint”, at least in its last year of production, namely 1963. Before it was called “Guilietta Sprint”. I’ve always admired the Alfas. This admiration started when I was involved in motorsports in the early 70s. The Alfas outnumbered the other cars and they clearly dominated the competition.
I would have liked to have one myself back then, but they were already pretty expensive at that time. It was expensive enough to turn our everyday cars into racing cars. And the Alfas outran us most of the time on the Nürburgring because they had a big advantage, namely their 5-speed gearboxes. We only had 4-speed gearboxes, but our cars also had their own advantages, which is why we sometimes still won against them. But the Alfas had one thing that was always fascinating, …that wild engine sound. I remember a night endurance race, where you had to swap drivers after a certain amount of time. After a while we noticed that my co-driver’s lap times weren’t good enough, but we really wanted to win. I don’t know how it happened, but in the end I wasn’t called back into the pit anymore, only to refuel and to change tires. That’s how I ended up driving through the rest of the night. At the finish line I couldn’t move a single muscle anymore.
I took my hands off the steering wheel and they just fell down. I wasn’t able to get out of the car anymore. So my pit crew lifted me out of the car and sat me down on the pit wall. It took around 5 minutes before I was able to move my arms again. But the important thing was that we had won the race. Over time, participating in competitions became more and more difficult and expensive. Thankfully today, there are classic car rallies, in which I nowadays compete once in a while. The nice thing about it is that my son also shows great interest in classic cars. He seems to have inherited this passion from me. We form a nice father and son team and compete in classic car events together. That’s double the fun, with my son AND my car. Of course there are a lot of cars that are more valuable and rare but for me, and that’s all that matters, this Alfa is the perfect combination of the engineering of its day and a beautiful body. Built in Italy, that’s passion and technology in perfect harmony.