While driving with Miles Collier in the Northwest Passage tour, we had a discussion about 4-cylinder Alfas versus Porsche 356s.
Miles felt that a well-sorted 356C would be every bit as delightful as one of the 105-series Alfas (1967 GTV, Duetto and Super) we were driving.
I’ve driven a few properly-prepared 356Bs and Cs, and I do find them pleasant. They are nimble and hold a line well through the turns, have enough power and brake adequately. I’m not fluent enough in their rear-engined handling to push them the way I can extend a more-predictable Alfa, but I’m sure I could learn. And it’s not as if I’m going SCCA racing with one.
But Miles raised some interesting points. He noted that I’ve been driving Alfas for nearly 50 years, and it’s taken all of the knowledge and contacts I’ve accumulated over that half century to get my little collection of six Alfas selected and put “on the button” for my driving pleasure.
He said it would be no small matter to created a collection of four to six 356s — and get them driving properly. While there are far more 356 specialists than there are Alfa specialists, it’s still a formidable challenge to find the right people to work on your vintage car — where their idea of a “right car” is the same as yours.
Further, he said there would be considerable expense involved. Let’s say the final three Porsches would be a 356B and 356C coupe, and just one 356B cabriolet (to keep costs down). That could easily be a $200,000 proposition. And a 356 Speedster or Convertible D alone would set me back over $300,000, which is real money.
I don’t think selling my Giulia Super for $35,000 is going to get me there.
In the end, I’d have to sell two or more of the Alfas I so diligently looked for — and even more diligently prepared. Then I’d have to find and buy the right 356s, and begin the process of fettling them to get them into the same “ready-to-go” condition as the Alfas.
This could easily be a 5-year process (and an expensive one).
This is my conclusion: The die has been cast with my core collection. For whatever reason, Alfas spoke to me in my teen-age years and they’ve spoken to me ever since.
I know exactly how I want to prepare them, and exactly whom I want to do the work.
Miles suggested I just find someone to loan me a good 356 for a touring event and trade them that experience for borrowing one of my Alfas.
We’ll never be able to drive all the cars we have as much as we want, and Miles believes I’m better off enjoying the small group of cars that absolutely reflect my passions — instead of veering off into a completely new world and starting over.
Perhaps I’m missing something here, and a foray into the world of rear-engine, air-sucking cars would be good for me. Or, perhaps I should recall the old — slightly paraphrased adage — “A car in your garage that you own is better than picking up something unknown on Bring A Trailer and starting over.” What would you do in my situation?