The Alfa Barfmobile

Navigators on board and ready

We’ve talked a lot about ways to get and keep young people involved with classic cars.

I believe you have to get them used to old cars while they are children, and one good way to do this is to include them in your old-car activities. Both my children, Alexandra (now 24) and Bradley (8), have been strapped into vintage sports cars nearly from birth. Bradley actually came home from the hospital at two-days-old secured in the back seat of a vintage Mini Cooper.

This weekend was another chance to get kids involved. Bradley’s friend Grayson slept over on Saturday night, and we were up early Sunday to drive the SCM Giulia Super on the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon’s Valentine’s Day tour. (Yes, it was a week late, but with Italian cars, any sense of time is relative.)

The tour was an opportunity to exercise multiple cars, so I invited vintage-Volvo fanatic Dean Koehler to drive SCM’s 1967 GTV. Steve Hunker — an Aston, Lotus and Porsche owner — drove the 1967 Duetto. I asked SCM and ACC Contributor Michael Pierce to drive the Super, as I enjoy being a passenger in my own cars from time to time. He’d never driven it before.

I recall reading a road test of the GTV, Duetto and Super in Road & Track when they were new and just arriving in dealer showrooms. Imagine, Alfa put essentially the same chassis and drivetrain under all three bodies: a two-door convertible, a 2+2 GT and a four-door sedan. Each car got Webers, five-speed, four-wheel disc brakes and more. I put all three cars on my bucket list.

To a kid who had just sold his Bugeye Sprite and upgraded to an MGA purchased from a wrecking yard for $250, the Alfas might as well have been Bugatti Veyrons. Today I’m quite pleased to own this 1967 Alfa Romeo trifecta.

All three of my cars benefit from Rugh performance springs, Bilsteins and larger sway bars. The Super has an added rear bar. The Duetto has its original 1,600-cc engine, while the GTV has been upgraded to a 1,750-cc, and the Super to a 2-liter.

While not perfect cars, they are all in fine fettle and a joy to drive.

Our navigators in the Super on this day were Bradley and Grayson. Each was armed with his own clipboard, ready to provide directions from the back seat.

Bradley has been my navigator for several rallies, and he enjoys looking for street signs and watching the odometer. For him, it’s not about being in an old car. It’s about doing something fun with adults that happens to involve old cars. He looks forward to the car events and is already asking when we can do one in his 1960 Bugeye Sprite.

The tour started from a Starbucks in Beaverton, OR, a suburb of Portland. The 56.9-mile route was pleasant and winding, and we moved along briskly. Pierce was enthralled with the Super’s high seating position and good visibility, along with its easy acceleration and flat handling.

We were about a mile from our destination (the Babica Hen Cafe in Dundee) when suddenly Grayson said, “I feel sick.” He proceeded to toss his cookies — or, more accurately, the partially digested bacon and eggs I had made for breakfast — all over the back seat of the Super.

Bradley had a sympathetic reaction and vomited as well. I was reminded of the Best of Show confetti cannons at Pebble Beach. Pierce tried to pretend he didn’t notice the strange-but-familiar sounds and smells filling the car.

Soon enough the boys were done, and they immediately felt better. The vinyl seats wiped down without hassle, and no spray made it onto the carpets. On the way home, we made sure Bradley and Grayson didn’t spend much time looking down.

The boys declared that it was a great day and said they were ready for another rally. I decided to dig out the rear-seat dog cover that came with the Super for the next event, just in case.

The end result of the day was a pleasant two-hour drive, with coffee before and a lunch afterward. The barfing boys were just a little sideshow that enlivened the journey. I’ll have them on plenty of rallies in the future, until it’s time for them to drive their own vintage cars.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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