We’re on the final leg of the NW Passage, a tour put on by the Oregon Region of the Porsche Club of America and sponsored by SCM. We started in Portland, Oregon, went to Leavenworth, Washington, then Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and spent the final night in Walla Walla, Washington. On Monday we headed home to Portland.
We often talk about the need to take your old cars out and just drive them. Whether they are fully restored or have just been maintained and refurbished as necessary, it is only through use that you come to understand them — and discover their needs.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far about our three 1967s — the GTV 2-door coupe, the Giulia Super 4-door sedan and the Duetto spider.
While the GTV needs the most fettling, it is the best driving car of the three. Due to having a stiffer chassis than the Duetto and lighter weight than the Super, it has the perfect combination for the twisty roads we have been on.
Here is its to-do list: First, it still has a vibration at between 40 and 50 mph. Although the driveline has been balanced, and all u-joints and the carrier bearing and rubber replaced, the shake is still there. It’s a mystery.
The horn isn’t working, the brake lights only come on when the pedal is pushed hard on a panic stop and the oil temperature gauge doesn’t read properly.
The right rear tire rubs slightly over bumps when the car is loaded — a function of the shorter springs and the wider tires. The front turn signal assembly came loose and we took it off the car completely to avoid having it fall out on the highway. And finally, the driver’s side door handle still takes too much effort to open the door.
Aside from the vibration, which is a head-scratcher, the rest of these things are minor.
The Giulia Super has been everyone’s favorite car. With its four doors and back seat, it appeals to those looking for a practical sports car. Add in its powerful (compared to the Duetto and the GTV) 2-liter engine, aggressive, lowered stance and raspy exhaust and you have a grocery-getter that can handle the twisties while keeping up with the sports cars.
It has only a few issues. Its steering is loose and needs adjustment. Some drivers think the brakes are over-boosted, although I like them. The horn isn’t working. One of the valves is a little noisy — not unexpected in an engine that has barely 2,000 miles on it. Some exhaust fumes are getting into the car, a common problem with Supers due to their squared off “Kamm-tail” body work. Working with the trunk seals should cure that. And finally, it has been consuming a little more oil than I would like, but I am not sure how much a function that is of the new engine settling down.
And then there is the Duetto. Its striking shape and flashy red color attract attention wherever we are. The most stock of the three Alfas, with its original 1600-cc engine, it revs easier and more eagerly than the 1750-cc GTV and 2000-cc Super. On a sunny day in eastern Washington, it’s the perfect vintage convertible for driving, top down, through the countryside.
Its list is short as well. The heater fan (which was recently rebuilt) is not working, The steering feels very heavy and seems to have gotten heavier during the trip. There is a lot of wind noise when the top is up, which is coming from the seal of the top against the rear edge of the window. And only one of the horns seems to be functioning.
So there you have it. Three 50-year-old cars and 1,000 miles, and a very manageable list of things to attend to. The fundamentals of all three cars are strong. They accelerate and brake well. They don’t overheat and their oil pressure is excellent. They fire right up in the morning and all three seem to be getting reasonable gas mileage in the 20 – 25 mpg range. As you would expect, the big-engined Super takes the most fuel, and the small-engined Duetto the least.
In short, all three of these classics are really “cars” that can serve the functional purpose they were created for — to transport you and a friend in sporting fashion through the countryside. It’s been a glorious trip.