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A New Caretaker

Howdy, from The Great State of Texas!

Up till now, we’ve all been following the life of this beloved jewel through the eyes and hands of her previous owner.  Sunny California is a perfect place to be for classic cars, rallies, and concours events, but it’s time to move on.

I’ve been blessed to be the next caretaker of this gorgeous 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider Veloce.  Her previous owner has done so much to extend her life and improve the driving experience that to be honest, she’s just ready to roll!  You can really feel her stretch out her legs and tell you she wants to go as she growls sweetly before shifting between 4500 and 5000 RPM.  What a sound that little inline four cylinder makes!  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty to do, but just about all the major bits have been taken care of and what remains will be a perfect list of tasks to help me gain the experience and appreciation for the work that goes into the care and feeding of a beautiful classic Italian sports car.

So with that said… I hope you’ll stick with me and follow along as the 74Alfa spends time cruising the backroads and small towns of Texas.

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Arrivederci

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

ranchero5

1963 Ford Ranchero Deluxe, 260 cu.in. V8, 3-speed on the column

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At least it’s the same color!

It’s still for sale, stay tuned…

 

Where were we?

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…

 

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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

trailer

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

after

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.

 

Alfa Concorso 2013

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…

Concorso

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Bumper Fix

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…

start

Here’s what the two sets of rubber parts look like.  Note the hole for the tit.

rubbers

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.

removed rubber

Here’s one side finished.

one side done

And, finally, back on the car.

finished

 

I must be crazy

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…

 

Alfisti

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

Marco Fazio