It pains me to list all the awful Alfas that filled the decades to come: the Alfa 6, 90, bloody Arna, 155, 146, 166, 147, Brera, Brera Spider, Mito and 4C, to name too many but by no means all of them. There had been a few glimmers early on, but after the 75 and its SZ derivative died, they were few and far between. The 164 was a decent effort in its day, but probably only because it shared development costs with Fiat, Lancia and Saab, and I’m not counting the 8C, because in all important regards it’s a Maserati under the skin.
What I’m saying is that it has been 30 years, three decades, aka almost my entire career to date, since Alfa last did the one thing it once could have been guaranteed to have done before anything else, and that is to produce a car that’s not just decent to drive but brilliant. A car to set an alarm for and head off in without destination for literally no reason other than that you can.
But the Giulia GTAm is that Alfa. I know, it’s preposterously expensive and I wouldn’t even buy one, because if I wanted an impractical two-seater for that money, I’d have a Porsche 911 GT3. So how can it also be my favourite car of 2021? Because it still made my heart soar, not just for what it did on road and track across two days of hard driving in North Wales but for what it meant. For an Alfisti of my vintage to drive a new Alfa that delivers a driving experience worthy of all that name means to me is to watch your best childhood friend whom you’ve not seen in half a lifetime and feared might be dead walk up to your frontdoor and ring the bell.