Is this really the end? It could be. With some regret, my ’74 Alfa is for sale. It’s not that I don’t love the car or that it has let me down. No, rather it’s the arrival of a new vehicle that has forced me to make room in the garage. I’ve owned the Alfa for four years now and have had many wonderful miles in it, but in this area there are 10 events for American cars for every one featuring foreign cars.
It was clearly time to diversify the garage and add some American flavor, Here’s the result
1963 Ford Ranchero Deluxe, 260 cu.in. V8, 3-speed on the column
At least it’s the same color!
It’s still for sale, stay tuned…
Okay, I’m a terrible blogger. So sorry.
The Alfa and I had a period of love/hate. It all started when I noticed some sort of nasty liquid around the battery. I replaced the battery, but still more nasty liquid. I pulled the radiator, had it overhauled with a new core. Same result. Only left was the water pump. One think led to another and we ended up here…
Yes, that’s right, the engine came out. I broke a stud that holds the water pump to the engine. Unfortunately, it also holds the timing chain cover. Anyway, I took it to Alfaman in Novato
and in 10 days he tore down and rebuilt the engine and transmission. Actually, we only cleaned up the pistons and valves, but completely rebuilt the tranny. Along the way we ditched the electronic distributor I had installed and went back to a mechanical distributor with the ’71 curve (best!). Here’s the finished result
I could not be more happy with the results. The car is a joy to drive. I’m really surprised how tight the transmission is. The old one was very vague, now it’s actually crisp, even considering the long throw.
It just so happens that this year the national Alfa Club show is headquartered in Rohnert Park, CA. Well, RP is right next door to Santa Rosa so I was definitely going. They have tours, track days, and social events all week. Today was the Concorso.
I had thought about entering the non-judged section, but wasn’t sure my car was ready. I drove over mid-morning after the event had already started and I was surprised at the range of cars. I really should have entered. My car would not have won anything, but wouldn’t have been the worst looking either. There were several ’74s there, both judged and not.
There is no way to attend an event like this and not love Alfas even more…
I’ve never liked the rubber “tits” that the feds made Alfa add to the front bumpers in 1974. The re-pops are over $1K so I decided to give Larry a call at APE and see if he had any. He didn’t have a set of clean pre-74 bumpers, but he did have a set of rubber parts without the holes for the “tits”. $60 sounded a lot better than $1000, so I thought I would give it a try.
Off with the old bumpers…
Here’s what the two sets of rubber parts look like. Note the hole for the tit.
It wasn’t too hard to remove the old part, but getting all those rubbers tabs fully seated was a chore. Here’s a shot with the rubber removed and the underlying plastic exposed.
Here’s one side finished.
And, finally, back on the car.
My last post was about what it means to be an Alfisti. Today I tested whether I was a true Alfisti or just a poseur (okay, this is my SECOND Alfa, so I’ve got some cred). Today I went to look at a ‘parts’ car.
Now, no one needs a parts car. That’s a given. But, when you see a 74 Spider for sale locally on Craigslist for only $975 with pictures that are more or less ‘barn find’, it’s worth checking out, no? My friend Gary agreed to come along for adult supervision (and provided the wonderful new header photo).
My vague plan was to see if the car had enough stuff on it that I could re-sell on CL, etc and end up with a free engine and transmission that I could rebuild for eventual transplant. Bottom line, it probably does have enough sell-able parts (good bumpers, wheels, switches, steering wheel, door panels, and so on).
So, the big question is, is it worth it to try to rebuild the engine myself (last one I did was 1977) or pass and spend the bucks when I have to on my car. I’m leaning pass, but need to sleep on it.
I must be crazy…
There is something about owning and driving an Alfa that is different than other cars. I’ve owned British and Japanese sports cars, but nothing is like driving an Alfa. It’s really an emotional thing that’s hard to explain.
The Alfa organization is fantastic about supporting owners and fans, or Alfisti as we are known. For example, the factory maintains a database of all cars ever made and will share that information with owners. The man in charge of this effort is Marco Fazio and here is a video where he explains what it means to be an Alfisti. The last 30 seconds are better than I could ever explain.
I wrote him to find out more about my car and here is the reply
I decided to install IAP’s headlight relay kit. To get at the wiring, I had to remove the front bumper assembly. This also gave me the chance to see why one of the rubber tits sticking out front was loose (no good reason, just loose bolt). While I had the bumper off and lights out, I thought a picture was appropriate.
The kit itself was a waste of time. The harness wasn’t really designed with a 74 Spider in mind and I wound up pretty much taking the kit apart and just using the parts. Now the switch on the steering column only carries the relay coil current, not the headlight current. Separate relays for high and low beams.
Also noticed while I had the bumpers off that the car probably tapped something at one time. The mounting point for the driver’s side rubber tit showed a little deformation and holds the tit out slightly from the bumper. I really like to get rid of these bumpers and have a call in to Larry at Alfa Parts Exchange for replacements from a ’71 or earlier.
Now that the seats are done and the car is back home, I lost no time in putting the new wheels and tires on the car. The old style wheels, called ‘turbina’ by the alfisti, were impossible to clean and not all that attractive to begin with. The tires that came on the car when I got it were some Michelin Mud & Snow tires of unknown vintage and oversize to boot.
The news wheels came from Alfa Parts Exchange from an unknown donor. I had them power coated, polished the sombrero hub covers, and ground years of dirt off the lug nuts. I also replaced the center caps with repros. Finally, I mounted new Vredestein 165HR14s all around. 165HR14 is the stock tire size and only available from vintage tire shops.
I think it turned out pretty good.
The new seats and carpets are finally done! After estimating two weeks, Carlos took two months to complete the work, but I think it was worth the wait. The seats really do look better than new. What’s more amazing is that they are completely hand crafted from many, many custom cut pieces carefully sown together.
The old seats needed a little work…
The new seats
Once I got the wheels back from powder coating I went ahead and ordered tires. I’m committed to staying as close to stock as possible, so I went with the Vredestein 165HR14 Sport Classics. I ordered them from Universal Vintage Tire (no problems) and they arrived yesterday. I went right out and had them mounted and balanced on the new wheels
I really like how they turned out! Now, you may be asking where’s the car? It’s still in Carlos’s shop having the seats re-done and carpeting added. Patience…