Keith’s Blog: Half a Century with Alfas

Last weekend, the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The four days were chock full of activities, mostly thanks to Lisa McNabb, the energizer bunny of the club.

I first joined the club in 1969, when I came to Reed College. Over the years, it has been my support group as I have dealt with my hopeless addiction to and infatuation with the cars of Alfa Romeo.

On Friday, ex-GTA racer Stu Moss organized a 200-mile tour on the flanks of Mount Hood. I rode with Doug Hartman in his meticulously restored 1969 GTV (he made me give him $100 as a cleaning deposit before I could bring my beloved morning latte into his four-wheeled jewel).

One of the great joys of car tours is that you end up on roads that you would never take otherwise. And you always visit places that are new to you. In this case, it was Little Crater Lake, a spring-fed lake in Mt. Hood National Forest. It has a constant year-round temperature of 34 degrees, and it is crystal clear.

Saturday saw a gathering of the snake-and-cross faithful at Russ Paine’s house, where more than 20 vintage Alfas gathered before a wine tour in the Willamette Valley. I drove SCM’s 1967 Giulia Super. We created quite a visual spectacle as our rainbow-colored assortment of 50-year-old cars sped past the vineyards.

Our lunch stop was at the Agrivino Italian Fine Dining Event Center, where owner Dario Pisoni served us perfect risotto and rigatoni. We went around the room and introduced ourselves, talked about our very first Alfa — and what we paid for it.

Mine was a 1963 Giulia Spider Normale that had just had a 1,700-cc kit installed at a Rambler dealer in Santa Barbara, CA. I paid $900 for it, and that included a set of Weber DC03s in the trunk.

The evening ended with a dinner at the McMenamins in Wilsonville. There was a screen showing excerpts from 50 years of Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon history. It seemed like all of the men had more hair and smaller waists back then…

Sunday was our “show and shine.” Approximately 30 vintage Alfas — and a couple of new ones — were on display.

I drove the SCM 1962 Sprint Speciale. This was its first public outing. I bought the car three years ago at an Auctions America event in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I paid too much, and bringing it back to life has taken longer and cost more than I imagined (why is no one surprised by this?).

However, the feeling in my gut was that I had to buy this car. It had been stored in a museum for 30 years, and it was numbers matching, straight, rust-free and never hit. The doors shut crisply with a satisfying clunk.

It’s still a work in progress, but it is personally satisfying to think that I have brought this car back to life.

Class winner and People’s Choice award recipient was Dave Salvador with his beautiful 1961 Giulietta Sprint Normale. Salvador’s cars are always immaculate. He has put over 40,000 miles on this car during the decades he has owned it.

The weekend is over, and our cars are all tucked away. I reflected that this would be the only 50th Anniversary Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon celebration I will experience.

In the end, the cars are just an excuse to bring like-minded people together. In this case, it’s boys and girls (now men and women with grandchildren of their own) who appreciate the engineering and stylistic achievements of a little company in faraway Italy.

This weekend, we celebrated our Alfa Romeos, and we celebrated each other and our friendships.

 

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.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin

4 comments

  1. It was a wonderful event. I did 2 tours totaling 432 miles on 2 days, saw some amazing cars whose owners were not fazed by a little rain (Oregon in June), and enjoyed meeting new people and old friends. I have a new Alfa and now feel the need for a classic like I had in the 80’s.

  2. My wife and I used to go to Concorso Italiano in Monterrey , early to mid 2000’s…entrance fee was ok..$90-110..etc We live in Michigan…now it’s gotten very expensive..($185).. it seems these shows are elevated for the very wealthy..(we are comfortable)… I just can’t see paying probably close to $ 400 for the two of us…the goodie bag cost a lot now…I know u personally don’t set the price but we won’t make it this year..just my 2 cents…btw I am an Alfa guy..had 2 164’s…currently driving my ’83 Spider veloce…any response will be appreciated…regards, Andy Perri

    1. I’ll reply. So an extra $200 for a awesome time in Monterey makes it an event for only the “very wealthy”?
      I don’t know how old you are but if it’s over 60 you’re running low on time. Will the cost difference change you’re life style? You can’t take it with you, spend the extra 200 bucks and have a great time with your wife.

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