Two weeks ago, Bill Gillham sent me a brief email: “Your car is ready for you to come and pick it up.”
After more than a year — and a six-figure resto bill, our 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce is ready to come home.
The notes from Bill had been getting shorter and shorter. “Tracked down another oil leak.” “Have all the electricals functioning,” “Replacing all bushings in suspension,” and so forth.
He added, “We have followed your directions, so it is restored to handsome driver status rather than as a concours car. But the deeper you look, the better it looks.”
I still don’t have the car. It’s a 60-mile straight shot down Interstate 5 from Portland to Bill’s shop in Jefferson, Oregon.
Keep in mind that this was ground-up restoration, with the car reduced to a bare shell — and every component replaced or renewed.
My plan is to drive to Jefferson and give the car a test drive, probably for an hour or so. A bright spot is that the mechanicals have not been touched. The Conrad-Stevenson engine was strong when I brought the car to Bill. So there’s no mechanical break-in process involved.
After the test drive, if the Alfa has no further needs (which is hard to imagine after such a comprehensive restoration), I will ask Bill to trailer it to SCM World Headquarters in Portland. This is rainy time in Oregon, and I can’t imagine anything more stupid that picking up a freshly restored car and driving it for an hour — on the freeway — in the rain.
Once the Spider Veloce is back in Portland, I can take it out and start to enjoy it — weather permitting.
I had no idea going in that the car required so much work. The mechanicals and interior were fine, so it was all paint and metal work.
So you might ask, how did this end up costing so much money? Bill has a simple answer: “You used the car up in the 30 years that you’ve owned it.”
Once the paint was removed, previous ham-fisted body repairs made their appearance. Rust showed up in nearly every part of the car. Not serious, terminal rust (except in the inner rockers), but corrosion that had to be dealt with sooner or later.
I’ve been asked many times if the value of the restored Veloce justifies the amount spent. Well, yes and no. I peg the car at $125k to $165k — if it looks as good as I think it will.
However, the market value of this car is irrelevant. My will directs that the car will go to my daughter Alex. She’s grown up with it, and she loves it more than any of my cars. So what I have really done is ensure that when she gets the car, it will be in tip-top shape. Inheriting a car that needs $100,000 of paint and metalwork isn’t much of an inheritance at all.
Weather permitting, I’ll see and drive the car this week. I wonder if I’ll feel it is the same car — has it become an overrestored “Stepford Wife,” version of the original artifact? Will it have the same feel as the car I’ve driven for 30 years or be something completely different? Perhaps it will be better, but it will definitely be different.
The only way I’ll find out the answer to these questions is to get behind the wheel. And that’s about to happen.