Bradley and I just completed the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon 45th Annual Old Spider Tour. For me, it was a two-day, 400-mile tour.
While it celebrates Giulietta and Giulia Spiders specifically, all Alfas are welcome. It was hosted this year by Alfa restoration guru Bill Gillham and his wife Marian. They put a lot of time and energy into the route, and it showed.
Our 1991 S4 was the newest Spider on the tour. In the lead were nearly a dozen 750/101 Spiders. Other Alfas included a Duetto, some S2 and S3 models, a 4C and more.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be driving on this tour in an Alfa Spider with an automatic transmission, and that I really liked the fact that it had air conditioning, I would have suggested you change your medication.
But there we were, with a two-pedal car, cruising along at 60 mph with a nice cool interior. We were a part of the pack. If I had been in a more modern, powerful car like our Mercedes SL55 AMG, I’m sure we could have gone much, much faster.
But I don’t think we would have had any more fun.
Bradley continues to develop as a driver, finding reflexes and instincts that only come from time behind the wheel. My way of judging his progress is that I now rarely smash my phantom brake pedal to the floor when he approaches a stop sign.
At 55-70 mph, Bradley and the autobox S4 were in their element. He could accelerate on the straights and back off on the corners.
As we were not trying to set a lap record, but rather develop good driving habits, our goal for him was to find a comfortable rhythm.
Alfa Spiders with autos have a slightly lower rear-axle ratio than manuals. That makes them a little sprightlier off the line, but increases the rpm at freeway speeds. We always seemed to have just enough power.
The next morning, we visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium then headed north on back roads to home. I have upgraded the stereo and we took turns listening to each other’s Spotify playlists.
As we cruised along, I thought about all the years and miles I have spent in Alfas. I confess that it was pretty sweet to have my son driving an Alfa, at a good clip, with nice tunes playing.
Bradley talked about how much he loved the car. Can a dad hear anything more satisfying?
Life unfolds in mysterious ways. I could never have anticipated how much pleasure this S4 auto has brought into my life.
You, sir, are a lucky man. Keep going! Thanks for sharing this with strangers.
Great dad nice son
I always appreciate your written work Keith. As a Dad who had my daughter later in life, I went through the experience of assisting with her driver training, along with a professional drivers ED. course. Isn’t it amazing how much we took our skills as experienced drivers for granted and are humbled as our children go through the learning curve, remembering just how complex the task of driving is, and yet they learn, progress and grow. An important life experience revisited.
Wow, what a great time to have with your son! Just attended a funeral for a friend of mine, Father. He gave the eulogy and was mentioning the great times they had on road trips as well. You’re a lucky man to be making such memories with your son!
The one picture of Bradley in the jaws, should be captioned, ” I think we’re gonna need a bigger Alfa”
Best Life Ever!!
Those times with you and son or daughter are ones that are imprinted in the minds of both the parent and child for all their lives. When my son David was 18, we completed the restoration of his Series IIA Land Rover and attended the Land Rover National Rally in Moab Utah. The 1200 mile trek each way, plus running some beautiful trails in Moab is something that we will never forget, and brought us that much closer. We still talk about it to this day.
What a GREAT story! Who cares about the auto and the a/c when you’re making memories like that. My father was in poor health (bad heart) and died when I was 12. I have no experiences of having a baseball catch, going fishing, seeing what Dad did for a living or learning how to drive. When I see others having these experiences, I feel like my life is empty by comparison. You almost didn’t have this opportunity Keith, but for the grace of God. Enjoy and cherish all of the memories – even if you’re driving a Yugo!