No matter how I try to manage my collection, I seem to end up with eight to 10 cars.
I sell three and I still have 10. It’s a mystery.
Where do I park them? Luckily, three or four always seem to be in a shop somewhere. (Free storage!) I will rue the day when they are all fully operational and need shelter.
Prior to my stroke, I had seven Alfas. Subsequently, and still wrestling with the challenge of three-pedal cars, I sold our beloved 1967 GTV (in 10 minutes via a post on Facebook), our 1958 Sprint Veloce (on BaT), our 1962 Giulietta Sprint Speciale (through a mention in my blog) and our dear 1967 Giulia Super (to an SCMer after he drove it on the SCM 1000). They all went to great homes.
I have added a 1991 Alfa Spider S4 automatic. I found it on eBay, with a CARFAX-documented 21,000 miles. While I generally hold my nose and stay far away from eBay due to the undisciplined nature of the listings, this one caught my eye.
It was being sold by a long-time SCMer. It was in Palm Desert, and AROO member Doug Zaitz looked at it for me. He gave me the okay and I pulled the trigger. I think I paid around $21k for it, which seemed about right for an unloved automatic with these low verified miles.
I recall consummating the deal on my phone while sitting in our Citroën DS21 as it was being winched onto a flatbed after failing to proceed on Interstate 84. (Chip Starr at Race Car Resurrections quickly diagnosed the problem as a clogged mainjet, and the car has run brilliantly since.)
The S4 went straight to Portland Alfa guru Nasko. He was pleased to see it had Bilsteins and had been well taken care of. Never hit, never rusted and never painted. The A/C compressor was out, but $2,500 later, that was taken care of.
Senior Editor Rory Jurnecka and I drove it on a local Alfa tour. We were both pleasantly surprised at the fun factor it offered, even with just two pedals. Fortunately, the Alfa brakes and suspension, dating from 1966, were mediocre enough that the mildly tuned 2-liter engine could still get us going fast enough to scare ourselves.
This leaves my three other Alfas. Fred Lux fitted a vacuum-operated hand clutch to the 1971 Junior Zagato (upgraded from a 1300- to 1750-cc engine). I drove it for a day on the SCM 1000, and once I master the clutch, I think it will suit me. I also optimized the car to my tastes by swapping out the 4.56 rear end for a later 4.1, and had Nasko install an Alfaholics Fast Road suspension.
Former owner Gordy Hyde drove it on this year’s SCM 1000 and asked if he could buy it back. “It’s not for sale,” I replied. “At least not today.”
While Bradley has not yet driven the Junior Z — his permit test is coming up — he has expressed an affection for its lines. He has good taste. We will see how this shakes out between his starting to drive and my adapting to the hand clutch.
The other two cars are more problematic, in terms of my being able to drive them. The 1967 Duetto is completely correct and stock, down to having the original bowling-ball vinyl on the seats. It has never been rusty. The nose panel looks to have been replaced many years ago with a factory piece. I have the ownership chain down to its original purchase from Rambo Motors in Portland. I believe I am the third owner. I also have a photo of the odometer turning over (for the first time, according to service records). True mileage is 112,693.
For everyday driving, a ’67 Duetto will always be my favorite. Perhaps that is because I had one my junior year in college (white over black). I put 25,000 miles on it driving between Reed College in Portland and my home in San Francisco.
I enjoy riding in the car when someone else is driving. That’s good enough for me to keep it. Plus, Executive Editor Jeff Sabatini is quite fond of it.
Our most valuable Alfa is the one we have had the longest, the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce. It’s been in the family over 30 years. It is 100% stock and matching numbers. It may be one-of-one Giulia Veloces in Grigio Mare with a lipstick red interior.
It’s a car I bought, sold during a divorce, then bought back once the financial dust had settled.
Conrad Stevenson in Berkeley built the magnificent engine 25 years ago, and five years ago Bill Gillham performed a $130k paint job, rust-repair and bodywork restoration. (No, that didn’t include any mechanicals or interior work.) It is kitted with a suspension by Dave Rugh.
It’s a live-wire car, and the harder you push it, the better it works. It’s Rory’s favorite.
I love this car, but I may never be able to drive it again. My daughter Alex loves it as well, but I have to ask myself about the complicated ownership responsibilities that go with it. I don’t have to sell it, so it can sit while I ponder this.
I had thought this series would have wrapped up by now, but I still have one car that has not been covered. We’ll finish “Car Knitting” with an update on the SCM Lotus Elise next week.