SCM sales executive Jeff Brinkley was driving the GTV to the US Bank Kirkland Concours d’Elegance at the LeMay Museum (now that’s a name that could use some tightening up). About 15 miles outside Portland, the Alfa began to sputter like it was running out of gas and he coasted to the side of the road. After sitting for ten minutes or so, the car fired up and got another five miles before it offered a repeat performance.
Jeff, an experienced hot-rod builder, found a local shop that installed a fresh inline fuel filter, after the Stewart-Warner mechanical pump Rugh had installed near the tank. Problem solved? Well, for six miles until it happened again.
At this point I was just about to leave Portland for the LeMay, in Tacoma. Rather than ride with Wendie in her new-to-her 2007 Maserati QP, I fired up the 1972 BMW 2002 tii and headed to the rescue. By the way, my BMW-oriented Facebook fans showed no mercy and reveled in the German car coming to the Italian car’s rescue.
When I arrived, I noted that the electric pump was ticking steadily, with the key on but the engine not running, even after pressure had built up – unlike some pumps where the pump stops ticking after an initial burst. A quick call to Dave Rugh confirmed this was normal. Next I pulled the fuel line off of the Webers, and nearly doused myself as the gasoline squirted out of the hose. No problem with fuel pressure.
We left the car stored at a Sears auto repair center (thank you, Sears). Wendie arrived and picked me up, while Jeff (along with IT manager Marc Emerson, driving the SCM Suburban) continued to the LeMay.
The next day, after a very successful concours where I assisted Ed Herrmann with the announcing duties (and where Best of Show was awarded to SCMer Aaron Weiss driving a 1932 Marmon V-16), Wendie, Bradley and I met up with a AAA driver who brought the GTV back to our house. My plan is to get it to a local repair shop in the next couple of days.
But here’s the issue. What would cause the GTV to act like it was running out of gas? The fuel pickup in the tank is new, the fuel pump is ticking, and there is plenty of fuel coming out of the line. Hans Wurl of Vintage Racing Motors thought it might be a defective coil, but then he reasoned that that would cause the engine to stop completely, not sputter.
The Alfa has Marelliplex ignition, and was recently tuned with new plug wires and plugs.
I must say that my idea of classic car fun doesn’t include coasting to a halt by the side of a busy freeway, and traveling five miles at a clip between rests.
Got any ideas? Post them below, and I appreciate your help. Free SCM hat to anyone who pinpoints a solution.