After five years and just 2,000 kilometers, our 1971 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato is gone. In a happy moment for all, it went back to SCMer and longtime Alfa enthusiast Gordy Hyde. I bought it from him five years ago for $60,000.
I spent these years and over $20,000 attempting to get a vacuum-operated hand clutch to work. But despite the best efforts of experts, it never really shifted like a 105-series Alfa should.
If you weren’t using the vacuum assist, the Junior Z was a regular three-pedal car. But as my stroke has limited the use of my left leg, I needed some assistance with the clutch. (The vacuum-assist was a bolt-on system, by the way, and required no modifications to the car.)
With our 1975 Porsche 911 S Sportomatic inching — dollar by dollar — towards being usable, it became easier to let go of the Z. Ultimately, the 911 with a factory Sporto transmission is more satisfying to drive than the Alfa with the aftermarket vacuum clutch.
Once I figured out it was time to say goodbye, I had to decide on an asking price and a method of selling.
I got two sets of valuations. One was from fellow Alfa fanatics who declared that this rare and collectible Zagato was easily worth $75k or more. The other came from those who are actually in the business of selling cars. They thought I could net $55k.
The key word there is “net.” One of the secondary businesses that has grown up around the Bring a Trailer phenomenon is dealers and resellers who, for a range of fees, will list your car and manage the transaction from soup to nuts. They provide an invaluable service, but at a cost. The top-tier resellers have invested thousands of hours and dollars developing the way they prepare their listings and will follow a sale as your advocate from start to finish.
If you want these guys to hit a home run in an online auction for you, you have to pay to play. On a $70k sale, a 12% commission alone takes $8,400 off the top. A few hundred dollars will have been spent for detailing and a few hundred more for professional photography. Extras and commissions can add up; pretty soon I’m edging closer to $55k.
Could I have listed the car myself? Sure. But prepping a car for sale online is work and it takes time, which is why these experts provide such a service. It is not for everyone.
When I decide a car is going to go, it’s because I want it gone, not because I want to play “test the market.” Knowing I could always turn to a reseller, I decided to try a direct sale at a “real money price.” So I put a note on Facebook offering the car at $55k.
Heading back home
There were many comments to the tune of “That’s so cheap!” However, I got one phone call that mattered. It was from the former owner, Gordy, who said, “I’ll send the deposit by Zelle. I’m excited to get my car back.”
I’m excited for him to have it. While I haven’t driven it much, I did have a later 4.1 limited-slip differential installed. It is much better for freeway cruising, especially with the tight, 0.86 fifth that all Juniors have. I had our Alfa guru Nasko put on an Alfaholics Fast Road Suspension Kit, which lowered the car just a bit and gave it a great stance.
These are the types of things I had done to all seven of my Alfas when my collection was at its largest. I find they make these cars most satisfying to drive. My dream was I would be able to overcome my deficits and be back driving the Z, but life doesn’t always let us have what we want.
While I am sad to see the Junior Zagato go, I got a fair price for it, quickly, with a minimum of hassle. Gordy is getting back a better car than he sold, at a reduced price. The market has spoken.
It’s win-win. I have money to put towards the 911, and the Alfa is back home where it belongs.
Welcome Next Gen
We keep developing things to make our SCM 1000 tours unique. The fantastic back roads, spirited driving, fun people, local food and wines, and evening discussions have made each of the six tours we’ve run successful.
We’ve been asked to broaden the eligibility requirements to make this experience available to more SCMers who are eager to join us.
The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) categorizes all cars over 25 years old as antiques. Following this lead, we are going to open up SCM 1000 eligibility to collector cars built in 1999 and earlier. This will enhance the event by bringing in new cars and new people that better reflect what you see in the pages of the magazine.
The SCM 1000 is still limited to just 45 cars. To maintain the spirit of the event, every application will be personally vetted to ensure the right mix of sports cars, classics and exotics. Registration is now open at www.scm1000.com. We look forward to seeing you at the Running Y Golf & Spa Resort in Klamath Falls, OR, on June 9, 2024.