by Stuart Light
My love for Italian automobiles goes back to my years as an undergraduate college student. One of my professors was a team manager of the Ferrari North American Race Team (NART), allowing me a unique opportunity to spend time in the pit area at the Daytona 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour races. From that time on I was hooked on the speed and handling of Italian sports cars. In the early 1970s as a Production Intern at Car & Driver Magazine, I spent lunch hours talking to legendary writers such as Brock Yates, Don Sherman and the late great Jim Williams. When Car & Driver publisher Marty Toohey learned out that I was $aving to buy a TVR he instead convinced me to purchase an Alfa Romeo. Marty picked up the phone and called the President of Alfa Romeo USA, Aldo Bozzi and ordered a red 1750 Spider for me. Three months later the ship arrived in Port Newark with NO red Alfas on board….sooo I chose one in “Fly Yellow” instead.
I was excited when I got the call to take delivery of my Alfa Spider. I checked out the Spider from top to bottom. Then came the hard part, learning to drive a manual transmission. I got the hang of it in 20 minutes, and drove my home 32 miles without incident. I haven’t owned ANY automobile with an automatic transmission since.
Three years later at the same dealership, I traded in the Spider for a LeMans Blue 2000 GTV, which I owned for 5years. Then after a 7 year hiatus from Alfas, I purchased a new GTV-6 in December of 1986. My GTV-6 in color code AR369 Blu Posilippo was documented by the Alfa Romeo factory as a USA only color. The Alfa Romeo Owners Club (USA) documented it as one of 36 Alfa Romeo GTV-6 automobiles produced in that color code. Its rarity enabled me to acquire Antique Automobile status by NY State DMV 5 years early. I am proud to say that I still own it today.
In 1998 after a 10 year search, I purchased a 1963 Giulia Spider (color AR514 Firenza Red). Previous to my ownership, the Giulia engine, was modified with high lift veloce cams and a pair of side draft 40DCOE Weber carburetors. At 1950 lbs. and approx. 120bhp it is perhaps one of the fastest Spiders of that era.
It’s not easy being an Alfisti in the USA today. Parts for older Alfas are becoming hard to obtain. In Italy heads turn when Alfa Romeos pass, so I’ve been told. Alfa Romeo left the USA in 1995 so many don’t know what they are. Those of us here who own them do so for the thrill of driving, not for an image.
Each time I start an Alfa Romeo engine, I feel the ghosts of Nuvolari, Campari, and Ascari come alive. The emotions I feel every time I drive an Alfa are ones not just based upon speed and handling, but also the romance between an Alfisti and an automobile.
As I have often said “Once you drive an Alfa Romeo everything else is just transportation”.