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.