Till now we have been following the cars in “The Red Sea Sharks”. Tintin and Captain Haddock met their old friend Gen Alcazar, who had been acting very suspiciously. They also had little Abdullah delivered at Marlinspike as his father, the Sheikh was apprehending a revolution in his emirate. Tintin and Haddock realised that Alcazar was in town looking for war surplus weapons which were being sold clandestinely by Dawson, a retired police officer. Later Tintin and Captain Haddock found themselves in the Red Sea and most of the balance of the book has no cars to mention. Towards the end, one of Captain Haddock’s nemesis, Joylon Wagg arrives at Marlinspike. He wanted to cheer things up for Captain. Being he President of the ‘Vagabond Car Club’ he organised the final trials of a rally at Marlinspike. The last frame shows a a nice collection of cars from the era. We will take cars from this frame – those which we have not discussed earlier – one by one. The first car is a red Alfa Romeo Giulietta Berlin.
The Giulietta was also called the Series 750 and 101. This was a family of cars that were manufactured by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 1954 to 1965. The series spawned a number of cars and body shapes like:-
- 4-door saloon
- 2+2 Coupe
- Spider (convertible)
- Sprint Speciale
The first car in the series was a 2+2 coupe which was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. It was designed at the famous design house Bertone by Franco Scaglione. The 4-door saloon depicted in the Tintin book was launched year later in 1955. In addition to Bertone, two other iconic design house from Italy contributed to the design of this beautiful car, they were Pininfarina, who designed the Spider and Zagato which designed the coupe. All these cars had a unibody or monocoque construction.
These cars were powered by 1,290 cc (78.5 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated inline four cylinder petrol engines. These engines breathed through two valves per cylinder, operated by Double Overhead Camshafts (DOHC) and produced 52 BHP at 5,200 rpm. These engine also produced a healthy 93 N-m (69 ft-lb) of torque at 3,000 rpm, which, along with the power, was transferred to the rear wheels using a 4 speed manual gear box. Though by length Giulietta fit snugly into the present Indian “Small Car” definition being 3,990 mm (157.1″) long its engine (1,300 cc) betrayed it. It was 1,550 mm (61″) wide and 1,400 mm (55.1″) tall.
This small car weighed in at just 870 kg (1918 lbs). The 52 BHP engine could push this mass to a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph). 0 to 100 km/h came in at 19 seconds while 0-60 mph was achieved in 17.5 seconds. It could complete a drag race (quarter mile) in 20.9 seconds achieving a terminal speed of 103 km/h (64 mph). All this speed was controlled by hydraulic drum brakes on all for wheels. The front suspension comprised of control arms with coaxial coil springs and hydraulic dampers. The rear suspension had a solid axle mounted using coil springs and hydraulic dampers.
Zagato built the Sprint Zagato (SZ) specially for competition. These cars were built using the chassis and mechanicals from the Sprint Speciale. These cars had plexiglass to reduce weight and disc brakes. These cars were very successful in racing both at national level in Italy as well as international level. They won the “International Championship for GT Manufacturers” in 1962 and 1963. It also won the Tour de Corse in 1957.