In 2018, after 35 years of owning my beloved GTV, I sold it to a collector who lives on the east coast. It was not an easy decision, but the time had come. Why, you ask? When I bought it I was in my 30’s and loved nothing more than to take fast drives on winding mountain roads. I was good at car control. A favorite thing was to enter a curve at speed and, just for the sheer fun of it, kick the tail out, drift the car through the apex, feel the tires bite and then shoot forward out of it. As the years went by, I put a lot of time and money into modifications that improved the Alfa’s power and its ability to stick to the road. Yes, it was restomoded. Except for being a little lower to the ground and having fatter tires, it looked stock, though it was far from it. The mods enabled me to drive the Alfa even faster than before. Rev matched heel and toe downshifts came so naturally, I didn’t realize I was doing it, including when driving around town. As a result, even my Sunday-best right shoes had odd wear marks on the side.
As the car aged, the originality and rust free nature of its body made it more rare and more valuable, and I became uncomfortable leaving the Alfa parked on city streets or in parking lots, especially when traveling. And then there was the “me” factor. When I got into the Alfa I could not make myself drive it like the old guy I’ve become; it always brought out the hooligan in me. So, after finally deciding it was time to let the car move on to its next caretaker, I made sure to give all the grandkids rides, which we recorded on video. After one last wash, it went on a transporter and headed across the country.
It’s not all sad, though. I still need a manual tranny car, just to maintain some semblance of my lost youth, so the Alfa was replaced with a 2008 Porsche Cayman S. I then switched out the Porsche’s cheap plastic gear shift tower for an all aluminum custom unit from Numeric Racing. The sloppy Porsche shift is cured now, but I’m still learning to heel and toe the Cayman.
Below are before and after photos of my first Alfa, a 1959 Spider Nearly Normale with its original 1300 engine. The pictures were taken circa 1966. The new paint job doesn’t show well in the third photo down, but it’s metallic silver. Anyone know what happened to my old Spider, California license NDS 576? Even though Giulietta was only seven years old in ’66, the poor little thing had suffered a dinged front, cancer of the paint on most surfaces (no rust), and the interior was shot. Fortunately, it was in excellent mechanical condition.
Below: The 1967 GTV that’s plastered all over these pages was white when I bought it in 1983. I didn’t care for the original, faded appliance white (Bianco Spino), so in 1984 paid for a bare-metal respray, changing the color to BMW Baltic Blue.. The same car became 501 red, after yet another bare-metal respray.In 2018 I sold the car to a New York man who painted it a very nice shade of blue. The Alfa is gone, but its memories linger on.
I bought the multi-color, primer patched GTC shown below in 1983, stripped it, then took it to a place that dipped the entire shell in a chemical stripper. As you can see, it had a rust-free body. That’s about as far as I got before becoming sidetracked on the restoration of the ’67 GTV. Below is a black & white thatshows how to keep three Alfas in a standard two-car garage: make one levitate (that’s it hanging over the 1971 Spider). The GTC was finally restored in southern California in 2003 or 2004, after changing hands at least twice more. Honest folks, it really is more cost effective to purchase the best car you can afford, rather a beater that needs everything. Just not as much fun.
The 1971 Spider Father-Daughter Project
After the enjoyment of restoring the ’67 GTV, I proposed building a 1971 Spider for our daughter Hillarie, if she would help with the cost and the work. She readily agreed and held up her side of the bargain. The result is shown below, a car she was pleased to drive through high school and college. Some of the photos show her 1750 Spider in the driveway next to my, by now, 1750 GTV. It’s ironic that both cars were originally purchased as parts cars for the GTC that I never finished. I hope the Spider is still being well cared for. We sold it after Hill finished college and was heading out of state to her first teaching job. The “NOSPDRS” license plate was a joke. Our daughter is not fond of arachnids.
Remember this? The photo is from Laguna Seca, 1985, at the Monterey Historics, California. Alfas were the featured marque and very nearly circled the entire track two rows wide. My GTV is second from right.This picture was used in Overheard Cams, the monthly publication of the Alfa Romeo Association of Callifornia. It was during one of our snail’s pace laps that I put son Ted in my lap and let him steer. Below is a a grainy enlargement showing him at age 9, waving from the driver’s seat.
Six years later Alfa was again the featured marque at Laguna Seca and Juan Fangio the featured driver. Here, in a gorgeous 1953 6C 3000CM are, from left, Juan Fangio II, Juan Fangio, and Alfa factory engine whiz Guido Moroni. Notice the look I’m getting from Fangio. Apparently, he didn’t like anyone in front of him, in a car or on foot.
Below, Fangio wheels the Alfa Museum’s Tipo 159 around Laguna Seca in 1991 at age 80, sans helmet and traveling fast enough to get into the dirt and nearly spin it at one point. I regret having no recorder that day. The sound of that magnificent race engine and the smell of Castrol R and methanol was intoxicating. The closest I can get is this recording made at the Palo Alto, California, concours several years ago: Alfa 8C-35 .
We jumped in Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine to find this black & white shot of me and the ’59 Giulietta in Yosemite National Park, California, circa 1967. (Historical note: I used a Rocky & Bullwinkle reference here.)
Below is another of the Giulietta Spider. Unfortunately, it’s the only interior shot I have. Love the very sharp turquoise indoor-outdoor carpet. This is a poor college boy interior and it shows.
The GTC levitating over the ’71 Spider I built for our daughter from a stripped shell.
In the driveway is the stripped down GTC that preceded the Spider and ’67 GTV, which were to be its parts cars.
Son Ted’s Milano looked rather large and modern parked ahead of my GTV. Both look tiny next to a very tall story-and-a-half Craftsman house.
Ted’s Milano went away and, a while later, feeling Alfa loss, he bought an Alfetta. Why? I don’t know. Who can explain the actions of youth? I thought we’d done a good job of raising him. He still had the Alfetta when he married. On that day, he and his wedding party posed in the driveway, giving it a push. It seemed like an appropriate photo.
A few years later, we were still living in our wonderful 1903 Craftsman home in SillyCon Valley, when son Ted bought a 1974 GTV. We posed them at the curb. His is on the left. Mine is … the other one.
Below: Admiring the view on Yosemite’s Tioga Pass, circa 1998, when the 1967 GTV was still BMW Baltic Blue. I never realized how small the GTV is until I saw my 6′ self next to it in this picture. The bottom photo is on Highway 395, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, heading home from fishing at several favorite streams and lakes in the area.
During the 2012 Columbia River Concours Tour, we stopped by Pearson Field, in Vancouver, Washington for a photo opp.
Gary’s ’67 GTV with Steve Smith’s ’89 Spider Graduate and ’59 Sprint Coupe. In the background is an Italian-American, a white Jeep Liberty with VM Motori turbo-diesel engine.
How do you tow your Alfa 1,000 miles, from Callifornia to its new Pacific Northwest home? Behind a Jeep Liberty with an Italian motori. Drops the Jeep’s mileage to a palty 24 mpg from its usual 32-34 mpg on the interstate, but it does the job.
Touring the northern California coast and Gold County back roads with friends and the Odd Couple of the auto world, our GTV and their Z06 Corvette. Having one of those snarky black machines in the rear view mirror for several hundred miles is like being tailed by a hungry shark. The parking lights glow like sinister yellow eyes. It’s nerve racking, I tell you. Nerve racking!
Touring Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with the Northwest Alfa Club, 2007.
Enjoying a tour southeast of Salem, with the Oregon Alfa Club, 2009. Winding back roads, rolling hills, pretty farms, covered bridges … it’s a great place to enjoy an Alfa.
Part of the car’s history, the Alfa Romeo Association (ARA) of Northern California’s sticker, applied circa 1983 and still looking good.