This past Saturday marked the 44th annual Old Spider Tour.
Each year, the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon (AROO) celebrates the early Spiders by having a tour. The tour commemorates club founder Bob McGill’s purchase of his 1958 Giulietta Spider, new, from Rambo Motors in Portland. He traded in his MGA and never looked back.
Early spiders, the 750 and 101 series, take the lead. Alfas of any type and age are also welcome.
The route was created by Erik Roe. AROO legend has it that he participated in his first Old Spider Tour when he had his learner’s permit. As that was 44 years ago, we assume that by now he has acquired his license.
AROO President Chris Bright was on hand to distribute the commemorative window clings SCM and his company, Collector Part Exchange, produced for the tour. After all, it’s not a real event without some sort of sticker.
There was a tidy assortment of Alfas of all ages and styles in attendance. I drove our 1991 S4 Spider along with SCM Senior Editor Rory Jurnecka. Prior to joining the SCM staff, Rory had worked at Motor Trend and Automobile magazines, and I looked forward to spending time with him.
While I will address whether the S4, with a ZF automatic, is a “real” Alfa at another time, suffice to say that Rory and I had a fantastic time on the undulating roads.
Both of us have driven modern supercars ranging from McLarens to Bugattis. Cars like that can easily be driven faster than is wise on public roads. I find no joy in that.
We agreed that the 120-horsepower, 2-liter Alfa engine, which has its origins in the 1950s, produced enough power to accomplish the job at hand.
At 60 – 70 mph, the car felt secure with minimal body roll, and the brakes slowed us enough for the turns. We weren’t the fastest car on the tour, but we weren’t the slowest either.
Part of my definition of a satisfying driving experience is being in a car that has “just enough.” In this case it was just enough performance to cruise at safe speeds on interesting roads. At the same time, we engaged in an interesting conversation about the past, present and unknown future of enthusiast-based communications, in whatever forms they may take.
The weather cooperated. We even spent part of the day with the top down. Then after a visit to Skamania Lodge so Rory could see the host hotel for the upcoming SCM 1000, we put the top up for the 60-mile run home.
Although it felt somewhat sacrilegious, we even turned on the a/c and enjoyed a cool cockpit.
Also on the tour was the SCM 1967 Duetto, driven by good friend Steve Hunker. Aside from turning a hubcap into a frisbee that disappeared down an embankment, the car performed flawlessly.
Any time we can enjoy the cars we love and good friends and good weather all at the same time is a reason to celebrate. Thank you, Erik, for another fantastic day. Next year, my son Bradley will have his permit, and perhaps be ready to follow in your footsteps.
Or should that be tire tracks?