Back in 2003, when the Alfa’s engine was newly installed, I drove my car without the hood for about a month. It took that long to fine tune the engine.
The new Weber 45’s, combined with new rubber bushings on the firewall-mounted throttle linkage, gave us fits. And one Weber had a sticking throttle shaft because some fool (me) painted the throttle rod, which made the bar fatter, which meant the rod wouldn’t turn freely against the stiff new rubber bushings, which meant the throttle stuck open when the pedal was pumped to get gas to the big Webers.
It was during this hoodless time that I met a nice California Highway Patrol Motorcycle officer. Didn’t notice him waiting at a stop light as I powered through a right turn with Webers howling at full throttle, drifted onto a wide four-lane expressway, and left rubber roaring up an overpass. The conversation, when an angry young officer caught up, went like this: “DO YOU KNOW HOW FAST YOU WERE GOING! DO YOU KNOW HOW FAST!” “Umm, not really officer, I got carried away when I saw I had a green light. My car has a new engine and I haven’t been able to drive it for months.” “Should you be pushing a new engine that hard,” he asked with more of a statement than a question. “Probably not, Officer.” Looking at the hoodless engine compartment and beginning to cool off a bit, he responded, “You just shouldn’t go around corners that fast.” “Gee, officer, I’m sorry.” “Well,” he said, “I’ll give you a warning, but I’d better not see you do that again.” “Thank you!” And to myself, “Bummer, now I’ve got to find a new favorite corner.” After all, he didn’t say I couldn’t drift through corners; he just said that he’d better not see me do it.
Second motorcycle officer story, this time a Santa Clara, California, cop. I was heading home after work in the GTV, driving at least 15 mph over the limit and anticipating hitting the above favorite corner on the green light (Okay, so I’m a slow learner). Then, much to my horror, I saw a cop aiming his instant-on radar at me from a driveway. I slowed and waited for the expected pursuit, but it didn’t come. Curious, I did a U-turn, went back, and pulled in next to the officer. Me: “Can I ask for another favor?” Cop, grinning: “What’s that?” “Can you tell me how fast I was going; my speedo’s not too accurate?” Still grinning: “Faster than the speed limit.” “And you didn’t come after me?” “Nah, my buddy’s got one of those; I like Alfas.”
Third cop story. Our son has a good friend who has been a Santa Clara motorcycle officer for years. We like him and, now that we live in a different state, only see him when we happen upon him during his work day. Once, when back in town, we pulled in next to him as he watched traffic from his motorcycle. My wife got out, rushed over and gave the somewhat embarrassed officer a big hug. He and I have a different relationship, though. Knowing how I liked to drive the Alfa, he once told me — with a grin — he was looking forward to catching up with me when he was on duty. I shot back, “Catch me if you can.” Thus began a long-running game of cat and mouse. More than once, I barely made it into our driveway before he putted past the house. I kind of miss that game. He never caught me, but he had fun trying and I had fun avoiding him. Made the evening commute home — most of which was through his territory — a lot more interesting.