Alfa shows us it’s got some street cred.
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img via IMCDB ::: Alfa Romeo Spider
BEN, Ben, Ben…
Jeeze. In a more modern age, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) – at the ripe age of 21 – would not be deemed well at all. Of course he’d think he was love sick. Love makes people do crazy things. That and an illicit affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft).
But “they” (and we) would say he was obsessed. A housebreaker. A stalker, even. He’d be slapped with a restraining order. A judge would order psychiatric counseling. The Robinsons would sue. The college would issue campus alerts every time he ventured onto the green lawns.
And all those things would be the lesser of the evils that could’ve – but didn’t - befall our hapless protagonist in that seminal ’60s flick The Graduate. It’s the movie that put Alfa Romeo on the road map of the American car consumer. And how fitting.
Because you’d have to be love sick to fall for a beautiful machine as unreliable as a ’60s Alfa Spider. A passionately unstable auto for passionately unstable people? All those sweet Italian curves bellying an automobile of approximate build quality. The film sorta makes reference to time an owner would spend on the side of the road when Benjamin finally runs out of gas after driving through the night – to get to the chapel, in the nick of time, to stop the wedding, piss of the parents, and the would-be groom, grab the girl of his dreams, who somehow sees the clarity (and not insanity) of the situation despite the most ridiculous of circumstances.
The Graduate is essentially a story about a young guy who risks the men in the white coats in an against-all-odds escape from a prescribed life he doesn’t want. In the process, he rescues a beautiful girl from the same fate. Though how they figure out things after the chapel is anybody’s guess.
For starters, Ben has to retrieve his poor Alfa somewhere near Allen Street. And it still needs gas.
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img via eBay / BaT ::: 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV
THEY say that any true automotive aficionado owns an Alfa Romeo at least once. And that the joys you experience as an Alfa driver are unquantifiable because the frequent repair bills generally are. That was true of the old Alfa Romeo anyway – the ones you remember from La Dolce Vita and The Graduate. These cars were poorly made and woefully impractical but even when you found yourself stranded on the side of the road for the umpteenth time, you couldn’t help but look down the hood and say to yourself, after cursing a blue streak, what a great car. Che Bella macchina.
This Cali-based 1974 Alfa 2000 GTV comes from that adventurous (foolhardy?) era of Italian motoring. There is nothing remotely practical about her. High maintenance? Probably. As pretty as she looks you know she’s gonna be a basket case. But the way she winks at you from afar and then whispers sweet nothings in your ear – you have to have her anyway.
After all, being a true automotive aficionado is not for the faint of heart.
Not entirely convinced by the Alfa 4C concept’s looks. Too much Lotus in the overall shape, headlight treatment, and even the way the C-pillar seems to form a lopsided pyramid over the rear wheel haunches. All you need to do is juxtapose the 4C with the classic Alfa (@ 00:46) to say to yourself, hmm, that new design’s not quite right.
Cool Parisian showcase, though…
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Maserati | Autoblog ::: Maserati “baby Quattroporte”
OR maybe Maserati’s being unwillingly pushed closer to the fire pit by callous Fiat bosses looking out for the bottom line. Either way, the latest news from Maserati regarding product coming down Modena’s pike isn’t encouraging.
There’s been talk of a”baby Quattroporte” and “baby GranTurismo” that in the next two to four years will play happy encore roles to the 1980s Biturbo generation and act as a brand extension bridge between Alfa Romeo’s top end and Maserati’s sub-€100K bottom.
All that would be fine except Fiat is going to have the baby Masers use the same platform as the 2012 Chrysler 300C (below).
History’s iPod has an insipid repeat mode for the worst tracks. Anyone remember the Chrysler TC by Maserati? Bad as that badge engineered bastardization was, this time, there’s a new twist.
In a hey-they’re-doing-it-too pass straight from the Jaguar playbook, Maserati will offer a twin-turbo, 400 horsepower V6 diesel engine co-developed with ChryCo. The catche of premium performance and the economy of diesel mix about as well as e85 and brake fluid. And so much for trickle-down Ferrari magic.
Somebody’s going to get burnt by a smoldering trident.
By Gunnar Heinrich| IMG AlfaRomeo.com
Heaven knows why your online and not out on a long drive somewhere.
I know. If you’d had your druthers you’d be behind something sleek and fast, pouring into each corner, exploring new places, conquering preconceived notions or simply developing new ones with each discovery.
But the fact is, you’re here. And doubtless bored.
So, what to do?
Why not engage in alfaromeo.com’s clever cross-branding-active-marketing exercise that’s terribly hip ‘n with it in channeling 1970s-80s rudimentary arcade nostalgia?
If you liked Space Invaders -that old time-passer from Taito Corporation- you’ll likely delight in using an Alfa MiTo MultiAir to shoot frickin’ laser beams at polluting aliens represented cleverly by chimney stacks, gas pumps, and barrels of toxic waste.
Be warned, they fly in pixelated formation and shoot back! My best score so far – its been a half-hearted effort, mind! – is 00330.
Perfect time waster for those who have it to waste on this fine Saturday. Which means you.
Tap the link | Alfa MiTo Space Invaders Game
WHERE were we?
Ah yes… convoys, Ferraris, and Autumn View Farms.
Not to be confused with online listings for “Autumn View Farms” in ME or MD, but rather Autumn View Farms of Warren, Massachusetts.
Nestled sweetly between soft ridgelines near crystal lakes about 20 clicks from the Connecticut border at Staffordville, Autumn View is a horse farm owned and operated by a Mr. and Mrs. Smith (truly).
Today, this corner of the Bay State is the platform for an amazing showcase of Ferraris, Porsches, Alfa Romeos, BMWs, and the like.
The Smiths have a clear appreciation for thoroughbreds.
Which helps explain why their lovely equestrian setting has capped another season of Ferrari owner get-togethers for the second year in a row.
The September sunshine is giving the fields a summer cast that contrasts with the dark deciduous forest of yonder hills.
There’s a long, loose stone driveway (that no one is using!) which leads to a pleasantly low-key house and cuts left to a large brown barn. Inside the barn are immaculately kept stables with gorgeous horses giving the attendant crowd sidelong glances; occasionally reaching through the bars snorting appeals for carrots or oats.
The horses have an easy life at Autumn View. As do the thoroughbreds that have assembled here. Behind the house, two rows of Italian and German autos point uphill.
Ranging in ages, like a popular FM station – playing your favorites from 70s, 80s, 90s and today – one exotic after the next makes an entrance in a grand parking parade.
Like some die-hard Cranberries or Sheryl Crow fan, I keep wanting the same 90s tracks at first – the F355s and 348s. Sigh, childhood. Memories. Ferrari Challenge Series at Lime Rock. Road & Track.
To my mind’s eye, the 355′s were perfection. In red, the 90s Berlinetta was the quintessential Italian mid-engined sports car. Achingly beautiful. Idiosyncratic. Supremely well proportioned.
Charms in banana yellow.
Seduces in jet black.
But speaking of mellow-yellows, I encounter Jay who proceeds to tell me about his yellow on black 355 f1. He bought it from a Floridian last year and brought it up north to New England’s inhospitable clime. As we take in the pleasing view of a Ferrari V8, he tells me that every few years the belts need changing as part or a routine service.
He suggests that if this routine was carried out by Ferrari, the bill would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,000. Unlike more conventional setups, the belts are wound towards the firewall – not an easy reach.
So, having never before worked on a 355, Jay did what seemed sensible for a mid-winter’s service: he propped the car’s body off the ground with, gulp, floor jacks and removed the five hundred pound powerplant from beneath to change the belts himself.
The work proceeded slowly over the course of cold winter days, he says, and was only accomplished through the online advice he got from the helpful chaps on FerrariChat.com.
Crazy, I say. Wasn’t he worried of catastrophic failure?
Yes. But, he gives my astonished inquiry a what’s-an-adventure-but-a-disaster-avoided shrug of the shoulders. Indeed.
Listening in on this conversation is Frank. Wearing a black Ferrari cap, he’s a mild mannered ’06 F430 owner who, bless his soul, made sure his redhead came with a six-speed notched gate shifter.
I ask Frank if he’d consider getting his F430 in the same yellow as Jay’s F355 and Frank’s mildness melts into a flat rebuke.
Red’s his choice.
Speaking of color, there’s a lovely dark blue 355 spider at this party and its not a hue I’ve seen on a Ferrari anywhere outside of Albion. The British are generally a bit off with their automotive color palettes, it should be said.
The 355′s owner is Manolis, a young Greek-American who’s eagerly passing out glossy event cards for his site Supercarroadtrips.com. His previous car was an AMG SL and like many, he frowns on how Mercedes designers bastardized the facelift.
An R129 generation SL makes a subtle entrance.
Anyway, pulling a reverse Clarkson, he traded in his Benz for the Ferrari which you see here. I ask him why he doesn’t start a car club in Hellas?
The costs are too great there, he insists. Unlike America where the good life can be had at a discount, in Greece, Manolis warns, you have to be a multi-millionaire to own and operate Ferraris. Not just a millionaire.
Anyway, Manolis’ mission is to unite exotic car owners here in America with tour events similar to the one we’re enjoying today. He admits that the events are tricky to coordinate and that the participants seldom say “thank you”.
I wonder aloud how many people will thank Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
I find myself lured by a bright red Boxer in the corner field.
A product of the 70s, the 12 cylinder two seater seems to reflect a wilder, carefree time. The Boxer possesses a certain raw edge that Ferrari seems to have spent the subsequent years refining into softer, more coddling cars.
It stands in modernist contrast adjacent to a classic Alfa GT.
The afternoon rolls on and antsy to drive (or simply show off?), the bulk of the posse decides to head for town.
There’s a golf cart polo match later in the day (which turns out to have been much fun had by many). But we’ve had our fill in what’s been a tremendous day.
Saying our goodbyes, we slip back down the loose stone driveway.