The Alfa Romeo Club of Oregon (AROO) held its annual Valentine’s Day Tour last week.

For my 16-year-old son Bradley, it was his first time driving a manual-shift classic sports car on a tour.

My driver-training philosophy has been to have him become competent driving automatics in a variety of situations, from commuter traffic to freeways. He’s gone to Pro Drive “skid school” and to the Tire Rack Street Survival class.

He’s also had seat time driving a Porsche Boxster S with a six-speed manual.

On the classic side, he’s driven our 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 SIII coupe and our 1972 Mercedes 250C (both automatics) hundreds of miles on SCM 1000 tours.

Despite all this, it wasn’t without trepidation that I, as a concerned parent, watched him set off in our 1967 Alfa Duetto. With only lap belts, the car is bereft of most safety features  — no padded dash, no safety bumpers, no side impact beams, no anti-lock brakes and no air bags. I felt like I was entering him into a demolition derby driving an eggshell.

But every reward in life comes with risks. In this case, the reward was watching him master the idiosyncrasies of an analog car.

There were adventures along the way. He called to say his wipers and turn signals had stopped working. They had worked the day before when Editor-In-Chief Jeff Sabatini retrieved the car out of storage, so it sounded like a fuse-related problem.

Since it wasn’t raining, I told him to continue on another ten miles to the rendezvous.

Good friend and AROO board member Steve Hunker was there. He and Bradley opened the hood, pulled off the cover for the fuse block and, sure enough, found one blown fuse and one that had popped out of its holder. Fortuitously enough, there were spares in the glovebox, indicating this may not have been an isolated incident.

My son’s sense of accomplishment was genuine. He had a problem, diagnosed it and solved it. Plugging in an OBDII reader to clear a CEL would not have been the same.

The rest of the 200 miles progressed uneventfully. At the end, he filled the car with clear gas and it went back into storage, ready for the next adventure. Another package of spare ceramic fuses has been ordered.

This was more than a road trip — it was a rite of passage.


  1. Keith. As you ease your son into TSD rallying, like we used to compete in , in our younger days , get him UNDER the dash to check all wire connections of the gages and teach him to tie down all loose wires with plastic connectors so there is no
    “Harmonic” separation of the wires to the Gages, caused by external vibration. This was John Surtees driving “secret” and why he always finished a race …! This will give your boy more confidence as he grows into TSD rallying ! See you at the NorthWest Classic ! Rand

  2. Keith, I think that is great that you are able to share these events. I was wondering though, that over the last few months in sharing these stories on who you use for your insurance. I am on my 2nd collector car carrier and both have had age restrictions which have limited how I can share this with my 18 year old. Thanks again for letting us share in these moments.

  3. Ah yes, as I recall I always carried a bag of spare fuses, a roll of duct tape, a set of points and condenser and a can of WD-40 + assorted tools in the boot of my 68’ TR 250. It seems as though they had to be replenished rather frequently.