Alfa Romeo is planning a 50th birthday party in Milan, Italy for the sporty Giulietta.

The international gathering of Alfa Romeo collectors and fans will run from 15 May to 30 June.

The Giulietta set a benchmark for a compact, sporting car that offered excellent performance in a stylish, modern body and established the coupe in Alfa Romeo's range.

The Giulietta owes its name to one of Italy's leading poets and intellectuals, Leonardo Sinisgalli, who suggested the name to Alfa Romeo after seeing an early model. It was the first Alfa to have a name, rather a combination of numbers and letters.

The car was created under the guidance of Francesco Quaroni with Rudolf Hruska in charge of production. Technical design was the responsibility of Orazio Satta and Giuseppe Busso, two engineers who produced a tiny 1.3 litre engine that was big on heart and performance.

The exterior was styled by the legendary Nuccio Bertone, a name synonymous with both design and Alfa Romeo.

In May 1954 the Giulietta was presented to the press at the historic Alfa Romeo headquarters at Portello before making its official début at the Turin Motor Show as a two-seater called the Sprint.

Alfa commissioned just 1,000 cars from Bertone, never expecting that more than 700 orders would be taken during the show alone.

Bertone subsequently progressed from stylist to car manufacturer while Alfa Romeo began a trend that it would develop in the future: collaboration between in-house design centres and external stylists.

In the 1950s Alfa Romeo was at a cross roads and its new found success centred on the Giulietta. Alfa Romeo wanted to launch standard production models and at the same time have a model that would provide - as we would call it now - the 'crossover' from its motorsport success into its road cars.

The Giulietta enabled Alfa Romeo to capitalise on its its 1950 and 1951 Formula One world championship wins with the 159 and this, in turn, added an extra lustre to the image of the newly launched 1900 sedan range.

When designing the Giulietta, engineers managed to achieve a marriage of leading edge mechanicals with manufacturing economies, employing refined components like the light alloy twin shaft engine and a suspension system similar to that which had already give the 1900 exceptional road-holding qualities.

From 1954 to 1965, nearly 40,000 units of the Giulietta Sprint were manufactured with the 1290cc engine or, for the 1963 Giulia Sprint, with a 1570 cc unit.

The Giulietta saloon arrived for 1955 at the 37th Turin Motor Show and the hundred thousandth unit came off the Portello production line in February 1961.