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

alfa 2

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

Headlights

No Bumper

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.

 

Back on the Road

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.

new wheels 2

New Seats

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…

old seats

The new seats

new seats

 

So Close

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

4 new wheels and tires

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…

 

Rust!

Up until today I thought my car was virtually rust free.  Today I pulled up the floor mats from under the old seats in anticipation of installing my new seats soon (more on this later).  Under the mat on the passenger side I found a significant rust hole

passenger side 2

The driver’s side has a much smaller hole in the same location.

drivers side

I’m worried that the seat rail puts considerable stress on that area and could fail, especially on the passenger side.  I think I should fix this before putting the new carpet in.  Stay tuned.

 

Tools

I suppose it’s my fault that I didn’t have a 10mm crowfoot wrench to tighten down the new distributor, but in 50 years of messing with cars I’ve never had a need for one until yesterday.  This morning I got online and searched all the usual places, Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.  They offered them online, but none of the local stores carried them.

Except one, Harbor Freight.  I usually don’t like buying tools at HF since they are all made in China and not of the highest quality, but I have to give them credit for having more variety than even Sears.  I also bought a mechanics creeper while I was there, another reason not to go there, it’s too tempting.

I put the 10mm (smallest one) crowfoot on my long extension and could finally easily tighten down the clamp bolt on the distributor.  The engine started right up and I went for a drive.  The power seems a little better and acceleration is very smooth.  And, no more points!

crowfoot