“We don’t need Alfa Romeo anymore.”
From all corners of the Alfisti world, we hear these slow grumbles turning into a chorus of disenchantment, as the ground breaking Italian marque veers into grey areas like: manufacturing in China, joint developments with Mazda (MAZDA!), rebadged efforts intro’d in the USA with lacklustre results under the Dodge moniker, and the intrepid Canadian missing every new date he claims he will introduce the brand in North America. But, notice I did not use the past tense in describing the ground breaking attributes of the venerable Italian brand. I don’t, because first: I believe Alfa needs to be part of the future of the automotive world. And, second, I’m excited to explain to the non-believers a rich history they have probably overlooked or missed important details.
First, let’s examine the passion of the Alfisti ourselves (I must admit this is the one club I’ve joined and enjoyed in my life, in the Woody Allenesque conundrum of never wanting to join a club that would actually have me as a member.) The Alfisti will accept you and trust me, you want to join. The brand is fanatically followed and admired by a certain type of goofball, automotive enthusiast, who probably knows as much about cars, as he does about F1, Joe Strummer, urban gardening, or Donald Rumsfeld. Alfisti are passionate, not just about cars but about life.
Let’s start with the only Alfa I ever owned, a 1982 GTV6. Did you know the GTV6 was chosen by a panel of experts (those idiots at BBC Top Gear) as the classiest James Bond car ever? EVER! It was. In fact the lads at ‘Top gear’ in Engerland, believe you can’t count yourself as a real gear head, until you’ve owned an Alfa. I have a theory about that too.
When I owned my Alfa, I paid for repairs until I was broke. I didn’t care. But, I was broke. So, I had to start doing my own fixes. The biggest job I ever undertook was changing a beautifully cast water pump, that I was able to get to, by pulling almost all of the ancillary components and top of the engine out of the car. And, I had to do it quickly as, of course, this was my daily driver (as it should be with Alfas) and I was fixing it in a warehouse of my employer at the time (who was none too pleased, but hey, I’m a mechanical engineer with long hair, they kind of expected that kind of shit from me).
So, I lived and I learned. Most of the repairs were done by a great shop in St. Louis. My mechanic and I, became great friends, even so far as he knew the impact my Alfa was making on the social scene in the CWE (but that’s a completely other story…) The friendship crashed a bit when I scuffed up a resto he was working on. But he is the kind of wild enthusiast who keeps the fire burning. And, the kind of mechanic who knows the price of maintenance on inboard mounted rear brakes was never meant to be cheap.
What a great bit of kit, though, when you think of what that car offered. A V6 that generated 250+ HP, a rear mounted (Alfetta style) gearbox, the above mentioned rear inboard brakes, and styling unlike anything else on the road.
And while the GTV6 is the first on my list of reasons “Why Alfa Romeo must not die”, it isn’t my last. Next on the list is “styling” as alluded to above. While the Italians are noted for styling, sometimes Alfa’s contributions are lost on the non-Alfisti. The next post will explain how every Alfa Romeo is an important new design concept.
More to follow.