Hagerty Video: Driving the Alfaholics Giulia Super R 270: The Family Restomod | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

Driving the Alfaholics Giulia Super R 270: The Family Restomod | Henry Catchpole - The Driver's Seat

Posted: 2023-07-19 15:00:01
Author: Hagerty
After reviewing the Alfaholics Giulia Super R 270, Henry Catchpole thinks this might just be the one car to rule them all. Why? Well it has both verve and versatility. It is a restomod, so you have all the glorious interactivity and tactility typical in such a creation – think Singer, Eagle, Kimera and a whole host of others, including Alfaholics’ own GTA-Rs. But then add more than a dash of practicality. With back seats and a decent boot, this is suddenly a car that will happily tackle a whole host of tasks not normally associated with restomods.

Despite being gorgeous to look at, there is also something wonderfully (and intentionally) unassuming about the Super R. The original 1.3 badge remains on the back, despite the Twin-Spark engine under the bonnet being a whole litre larger. A glance through the glass will reveal an original steering wheel and seats that look perfectly period, even though they have been upgraded. It looks quite prim and proper, but the 270 in its name refers to 270bhp/ton, so the performance on offer is anything but understated.

This is a car that thrives on any road, but also stacks up on track. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise really. The Banks brothers, who (along with their father Richard) are the brains behind Alfaholics, have been hugely successful in historic racing and their experience on the circuits of the world has directly informed the upgrades that they offer. So, when you’re oversteering through a long left hander and thinking how wonderfully balanced the car feels, it’s no coincidence.

And there is another appealing side to this particular restomod. Because while you’ll have to join a very long queue and pay a pretty penny for a complete, turn-key Alfaholics car like this one, you do have the option of the DIY route. You see, Alfaholics sells parts. All the parts. So, if you already have a Giulia saloon you can pick and choose upgrades to suit your own particular budget and predilections. It makes this car more than just a pipe dream for many.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– Welcome to what I like to think of as the family restomod. This is the Alfaholics Giulia Super-R. You might be familiar with Alfaholics’ GTA-R coupes with their beautiful jewel like, yet technical titanium suspension, married to barking Twin Sparks with individual throttle bodies. Well, now there is this little saloon, which has exactly the same delicious performance orientated underpinnings as a GTA-R but clothed in a more practical Q-car,

School run-friendly four door body. I love the fact that this car, well, it looks so prim and proper and really quite unassuming and it still has the 1.3 badge on the back. I love the fact that it’s also retained so much of its originality inside. So if somebody who is walking past

And its parked up on the street, they’d look in and think, “Oh, that’s a nice old Alfa.” But it doesn’t scream sporty. These are the Sport Road seats but they’ve been trimmed just like the originals. Yes, this is Alcantara up here, but it doesn’t look out of place.

And yet it’s got more than enough performance to, well, shock quite a lot of people I think. I love the juxtaposition of the exterior of this car and the performance that it has. It’s like putting a Jane Austen dust jacket on a Mick Herron thriller. (laughs) “Pride and Prejudice” with Jackson Lamb. I think it’s impossible not to be happy in one of these. And you don’t have to be going quickly either. I spent some time just pottering down the motorway, about an hour on the M5 last night. Most enjoyable motorway trip I’ve done, I don’t know,

I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun just sitting in it. All the lovely sensations being in this car. I mean, there must be goldfish bowls with more obscure views out. It feels so light and airy in here. There’s so much space despite it being so small. And because it’s small, I know this is obviously left hand drive or the correct side, for a lot of you watching, but not here in the UK. But because it’s so small it just fits down the road perfectly, so it doesn’t feel intimidating at all. It’s so easy to place.

The ride in this, it’s definitely performance orientated. It’s not uncomfortable, but the children in the back, they’re gonna know that they’re in something that is, well, not your run of the mill saloon. But it is a saloon. So, before we wade further into fun things like handling balance and shorter gear ratios, I think it’s worth a quick pause to delve briefly into the practical nature of this Super-R. Fairly obviously, it has some back seats. And, well, this is in a position for me to sit comfortably in the front and, yeah, I’m all right back here. There’s, obviously, because of the shape, almost got a decent amount of headroom for somebody that’s six foot five. Meanwhile, in the front. All mod cons.

There is an inductive charging pad for your mobile phone. It has a relatively decent sized boot, complete with, oh, some lovely matching luggage, although I’m sure non-matching luggage will fit as well. Alfa did actually do a station wagon version of the Giulia and how cool would that be?

The next challenge I think for you, Alfaholics. And finally, lovely bright LED headlights, because even an old car it is nice to see where you’re going at night. Love these grills, too. Look at that. You know what else is practical and fun? Of course you do. A Hagerty Driver’s Club membership, which includes things like a magazine, fun. Roadside assistance, practical.

And access to a host of discounts, both practical and fun, just like this brief interlude to the film. Thank you for not skipping it. It means the world. Now, I’ve mentioned the engine of the Super-R in passing, but to be more specific it is an all aluminum 2.3 liter four cylinder,

Running Jenvey throttle bodies and a full MoTec ECU. It puts out 240 brake horsepower at 7,000 rpm, which is plenty because the standard Giulia Super was light. But this has that Alfaholics titanium suspension still based around a solid rear axle, which saves an impressive 34 kilos.

Oh, and there’s a carbon bonnet on this car too. The end result is a curb weight comfortably under 900 kilos and a power-to-weight ratio of 270 brake horsepower per ton. Equivalent to a current BMW M2 or Porsche 911 Carrera T. Not that it’s all about numbers, it’s much more really about character. What is not to love about that sound. And it’s quick, too. It really is. I think this is just as quick as you need. And when you start pressing on There’s so much flow to it. But it’s not difficult to drive. That’s the other thing I love about these. It really isn’t intimidating. It’s as friendly as it looks from the outside. I suppose the clutch can feel a little bit fierce when you first get into it, but, again, you very quickly get used to it. You just accept the fact you need a few revs. And it’s a car that makes you

Want to put thinner soled shoes on. Not necessarily because you need it, but just because it’s nice having all that feel through the pedals. This has also got the original steering wheel in here, this big steering wheel, which does give a different feel compared to a GTA-R just because, well, just having a bit more sort of, bit more work to do. And this beautiful thin rim here. It feels a bit like

You’re controlling a bus in some respects. I don’t mean that sort of, you know, derogatory sense, but because you’ve got this big wheel and then this gear lever, of course, sprouting from the floor, which is so sort of idiosyncratic, but also lovely to use. I love the fact that you come into corners like this and turn the nose in so hard, and as soon as you do you feel that tail start to move, even before you get on the throttle, you just feel it moving around behind you. Fabulous. Pick your lines all while staying on your side of the road, of course, because you’ve got all this room ’cause it’s such a lovely narrow little thing exacerbated by the fact that we’ve got no side mirrors. You just don’t need them. This makes me so happy. It really does. (laughs) And although a fully built car like this is a lot of money, a disappointing amount of money if I’m honest. I love the fact that Alfaholics will sell you all the bits, so that if you don’t want a compete build, if you are happy to put up with a car

With an older interior or body work that’s not just so. Perhaps you don’t need all the engine mods, perhaps you don’t need all your suspension in titanium. You can do bits and pieces here. You can have an approximation of this. You can get some of the way there. Alfaholics was founded as a mail order parts company for 105 Alfas. And fundamentally it remains one today, with all its own performance parts manufactured in the UK. So, if you want, you can pick and choose as your budget and time allows and build your own version of this car. Talking of subtle upgrades.

In period the Italian police used Giulias as their Polizia patrol cars, but somehow I think this would be just as suited to someone on the wrong side of the law. – Try putting your foot down, Tony. They’re really getting rather close. – There’s something quite gangster about this as well, because it has that sort of Q-car feel. I suppose the Lotus Cortina was used in the Great Train Robbery, so this would be the Italian version used by the mafia, I suppose, the family. Brings a whole new meaning to the family restomod, doesn’t it? Imagine you have just done a bank heist, you’re gonna have to drive like you’ve stolen something. And this let’s let you. Oh, this would be a fun getaway car. It might seem somehow even more incongruous, inappropriate even, to have this car on a racetrack. But, actually that’s what the Alfaholics cars were born out of. It was Andrew and Max Banks going racing and wanting to bring all their know-how, all the updates they’d done to their race car to a road car package. That’s where these GTA-Rs and now the Giulia Super-R, That’s what they’re born out of. So this is absolutely at home here. I love the fact that in this car, I suppose a bit like on the road actually, it’s a car that makes you look through the corners because it’s actually got a really good front-end. So you tend to turn in quite early and then just concentrate on the rear on the throttle.

Thinking about that all the way through the corner. It’s so much fun. Proper drifts, just sliding. Little corrections all the way through the corner. And unlike some sort of historic cars that can feel great through the quick corners and then a bit like they’re tripping over themselves in the tighter stuff. Not a bit of it with this. I know there’s a lot of sort of movement going on with the wheel here. It feels really kind of controllable, actually precise. Despite the sort of soaring wide wheel. It’s just because you can eke out every last bit of the circuit. It’s quick as well. Listen to that top end. Ah! The only thing perhaps you do have to just be aware of is the braking because we’ve got these Michelin Primacy tires, 185/65s and whilst, yes, they give you that lovely slip sideways in the corners. The flip side to that I suppose, is that in a straight line under braking,

You do just have to be aware of it because to be honest, they can’t really sort of live up to the hardware that’s doing the stopping and it feels like an old Alfa. Like I say, we’ve got these controls, we’ve got this big wheel and this long gear lever.

But, also the pedals, you know, it’s not a set of track pedals, so they do just take a little bit of thinking about. You know, it’s not floor hinge. They’re not absolutely perfectly placed for me, but I kind of like that ’cause it keeps the character in the car. Oh! Let’s slow down for a minute. This is wonderful. Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps there’s something about it that speaks specifically to me that makes me so excited about it. But I can’t really think of a road, a journey, a situation where this car wouldn’t make me happy. And perhaps even more pertinently, I can’t think of a speed at which this car wouldn’t make me happy. You smile just looking at it parked up. In slow traffic it still communicates through the gear change and steering. And flat out, well, it’s sublime. The Alfaholics Giulia Super-R. The family restomod.

Perhaps the ultimate restomod. It’s just brilliant.