This is my favorite subject next to airplanes! I bought my first Alfa Romeo in 1970, little did I know that it was going to change the course of my entire life. I bought a Giulia Spider Veloce. What I didn't know at the time was that it was a rare car. I met Chuck Lee because of the car, who not only taught me about how to be a mechanic on such a fine car, but also taught me what it means to own an Alfa. Its truely a love affair.
When my rings broke coming back from Los Angeles one night on the way to Lompoc, CA. it was Chuck who showed me how to overhaul an Alfa Romeo engine that was perfect in every detail. I walked, slept and breathed the marque for 6 months while we wound our way through the mistakes that everyone else had put into the car in its short life. What I got out of the deal, was a car that had been rebuilt with parts from Italy not the local dealer, and ran a perfect 50,000 miles with out any problems. Every time I changed the oil, I would check fluids and find them where they were supposed to be. No leaks! From there I met my former wife, developed a family and had an extramarital affair with my cars along the way.
I earned my way through college working on Alfa's after having worked at Peterson Motors in Santa Barbara, CA. for 6 months. That training in addition to what I learned from Chuck Lee helped me open my own business called the ALFA DOCTOR. In addition I started a couple of Alfa Chapters of the AROC in both Monterey, CA (1973) and Santa Barbara, CA (1977-79). I believe now that both chapters have merged and are the Central Coast Alfa Romeo Club.
My former wife Lisa and I raced, rallied, and autocrossed the spider and GTV at the club events and time trials as well as, competing at the National Alfa Club Conventions. Some where in the ALFA OWNER you will find a couple of covers showing our cars and several articles that I wrote for that publication. We were editors of the Alfa Romeo Owners of Southern California newletter for a couple of years as well as the editors for the newspapers that were in conjunction with the chapters I started.
I was fortunate enough to travel to the factory in 1977. Mecca for any Alfa Owner. For 3 days I was allowed to wander around the museum, take pictures and just soak up history. What was read about in books was there before me. It was all complete. I was ecstatic to have the privledge of meeting Luigi Fusi, curator of the Alfa Museo Storico. He showed me his projects that were being developed. One was the Count Viscotti Coach. At that time it was just a metal frame and some of the aluminum covering applied. Sitting inside was a new cast block just for the car. Its remarkable what people can do! In addition he showed me the twin engine 1750 race cars both the Tipo A and Tipo B that he had built. The A was finished and the rail laid for the B. All being built from the original blueprints! In a back section of the old Milan factory where all this was taking place was a Alfetta race car that had been found in South America, nothing more than a shell, fuel and oil tanks and parts of the engine. I'm sure that this car resides in the museum now.
In 1986 at the Monterey Antique Auto Races was the salute to Alfa Romeo. Its 75th Anniversay. I again was reacquainted with all my friends I had met over the years and the cars I knew as well as had never seen before. Gene Yunt, friend and associate, let me use his GTA Jr. to travel to the event. Nothing, absolutely nothing will compare to driving over mountain back roads in a GTA! Not only that, but sharing that entire weekend with cars of legend imported from the factory museum. I hope that I can be around for the companies 100th Anniversary with my Alfa's present.
I would like to publically thank all the people that have helped me or have known me over the years of being associated with such a fine car.
What you will find below is some opinions of mine that are on Alfa Romeo marketing. They are mine only but held in sentiment in many circles.
Alfa Romeo pulled out of the market here in 1995 because of the lack of sales, which started with Hoffman Motors back in the 50's. The people that own an Alfa are very loyal. Yet, it is considered a niche car with limited sales, therefore the cost of federalizing a car doesn't justify the small sales. Alfa Romeo sales peaked in the late 70's with the introduction of the 6 cylinder engines, but for the most part the annual sales hovered about 3000 cars. The last car sold here was the 164. A front wheel drive 6 cylinder luxury sedan.
What was lacking was a suitable replacement for
the Spider that was introduced in 1971. From this time to present
the car remained virtually unchanged in the platform, but was changed in
trim, options and federal standards.
long the way we got several various models of sedans and coupes.
It was always the hope of the Alfisti that we would have gotten the Alfa Sud imported to the United States. Several cars were brought over for federalizing, but the car was not "economically competitive". Its unfortunate that many people never got the chance to drive an awesome Alfa! Part of the problem was also the assembly line at Pomigliano D'Arco. It was frought with numerous strikes for untold number of reasons.
Instead we got the Alfetta, introduced here in 1975 through 1979. What started as a great marketing idea really never came to fruition...the cars quality at its introduction suffered alot. The car was Americanized to appeal to a broader audience of potential buyers. You either loved the car or hated it. The press hated it...to many problems. The drive shaft was unique...3 rubber couplers rather than a drive shaft with ujoints. They kept breaking. The trim was a downturn in its appearance...lots of plastic. Over the life of the car...everything deteriorated.
The car was exceptionally prone to rust. The reason being that the cars were assembled and painted. Then set on dollies out side! They were exposed to the elements before they entered the assembly plant for installation of components. So if you find an Alfetta with out rust consider yourself very fortunate! I would say that this is unfortunately Alfa Romeos worst car. Others might disagree, but isn't that why we have so many cars? Over the course of the model years, the car kept getting better in quality and performance. Yet it couldn't over come the earlier image that the press gave it. My Alfetta Sedan had the coldest A/C of any car that I have ever driven!
What I would like to have seen is a Giulia Super with a fuel injected 1750/2000 engine and upgrade of the interior. Instead we got the Berlina. Not a bad car, but it wasn't a Super! Also the GTV in my opinion could have been sold for another 3-5 years with various improvements.
Just as we get the bugs out of the Alfetta, we are introduced with the GTV6. It was what the Alfetta should have been. It was a great performer and not prone to the same problems.
If your not familiar with Alfa Romeos, go talk to an owner. Be forewarned, you might find yourself involved in conversation for a very long time.
I have owned several of the various models over the years and have wrenched on numerous other ones.
If you would like to know more about the history of Alfa Romeo from 1911 to the present CLICK HERE
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This page is dedicated to the memory of Charles "Chuck" Lee ,Howard Jackson, and Nort Newman
"Their friendship I will always value"