“Dad, there’s a big clunk from the front of the GTV.”
That was my daughter Alexandra’s message to me as she headed home from Durant Vineyards in Dayton, Oregon.
We were on the 15th Annual Wine Tour, held as a prelude to the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance.
I enjoy this casual drive every year, as it gives me a chance to get several of my cars some much-needed exercise. SCM Editor-at-Large, good friend and co-emcee of the Forest Grove Concours, Donald Osborne, along with Frank Garofolo, drove our 1967 Giulia Super.
Alex and friend Ross Meinhart piloted the 1967 GTV. My navigator was Karen Sundstrom. A regional rep for Putnam Leasing, she was in the area contacting clients and came along to see the sights.
At 7:30 on a bright, sunny Oregon summer morning, we left downtown Portland for the 45-minute drive to Forest Grove. Seeing this trio of classic cars on the road together was a treat. The Alfas also enjoyed a chance to stretch their legs at 70 mph.
This was Donald’s first time driving the Super since we had the moderately modified 2-liter engine installed. He noted that he enjoyed passing cars that were 50 years newer as he went up Highway 26 in 5th gear.
The Tour began in downtown Forest Grove. At 8:30 a.m., 60 classic cars lined up while the owners kicked tires and told tall tales.
I enjoy the variety of “semi-exotics” on the tour, ranging from a Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 to an AMC Pacer.
We took off at 9 a.m. and headed to Bald Peak State Scenic Viewpoint. All three Alfas were running great. I enjoyed hearing them running through the gears. The engines, 1,600 cc in the Spider Veloce, 1,750 in the GTV and 2-liter in the Super, each has their own distinctive sounds.
Lunch was at Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge. When Alex called to report the banging sound, she had already pulled over in front of Firestone Farms on Highway 99.
As we were poking around trying to determine what was going on, a car pulled up and two gentlemen jumped out.
“Hi! We’re SCM subscribers from Chicago, out here looking at farmland,” one of the guys said. “We saw your Spider Veloce and the GTV pulled over and we recognized them immediately. Can we help?”
They were Mike Ryan (1959 Spider Veloce) and Stephen Fraser (1958 Spider Veloce). Fraser mentioned that he has consigned a 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Continental coupe at the Bonhams auction in Monterey this year. We told him that we would be glad to bid the car up to $5,000 as our way of thanking him for stopping.
Then they spotted Alex. “Hey, are you Keith’s daughter? We’ve been reading about you in SCM since you were born!” They had a nice chat, and Alex explained that she has been in Alfas that have broken down and left her by the side of the road for all of her 25 years.
I had to get back to Portland, as I was emcee of the Concours Dinner that night. Alex didn’t seem surprised when I told her I was leaving her there, waiting for a tow truck to take the car to our mechanic, Nasko.
She did mention that she had one of my credit cards and that she was planning using it to buy a very nice dinner that night with Ross. She also said she needed a new suit for work, and it just so happened that Nordstrom was having an end-of-summer sale.
This repair was already getting expensive.
The car got to Nasko. Alex had her dinner at the high-end seafood restaurant Jake’s — and she found an outfit she liked.
Nasko called Monday morning to report that the sound was coming from a front wheel not properly tightened and a loose wheel bearing.
I’m headed to Monterey in the GTV in early August, with SCM’s styling analyst Robert Cumberford as my navigator. I’d much rather have this problem now than after we had set out on our journey.
Sorting out old cars to make them reliable takes time, energy and money. But the rewards are large. There’s nothing quite like seeing three vintage Alfas, full of friends, caravanning down two-lane roads through the Oregon wine country.