Acquisition of the 1967 Alfa Romeo – Part 3

Sometime during 2012, my friend “Pete”, the owner of the 1967 Alfa Romeo which I desired to purchase (read up about Pete and me in Part 1 and Part 2), had gotten more serious about his readiness to sell the car. Allow me to explain. Pete had started to tell me that “other people” who knew of the car were expressing interest in it. While Pete did not explicitly state that he would sell the Alfa out from under me, I did realize that if the moment I had been waiting for since 2005 were here, I was not ready! I had neither the garage space nor the spare coin to make the Alfa mine. Action was needed.

At that time, there were five motor vehicles in our household: my wife’s 2012 Ford Focus, my 2003 Volvo V70 (both daily drivers), and my three collector cars: the 1957 BMW Isetta, 1968 Ford Mustang California Special, and 1993 Mazda Miata. One of the collector cars would need to go. To be fair, I had made some half-hearted attempts to sell the Isetta. A few years prior, I ran ads in national collector car magazines offering the car for a price in the high teens. No takers. Instead of the Isetta, admittedly an acquired taste, it seemed that the Mustang would be easier to sell, as it would appeal to a broader audience. I had owned it for nine years and was ready to let someone else enjoy it. The details regarding preparing the Mustang for sale will be saved for another blog entry. The decision was made that I would drive the Mustang to Hershey in October of 2012 and put it up for sale in the car corral. That was done, and the sale completed.

The 1968 Ford Mustang California Special in the Hershey Car Corral, Oct. 2012
The 1968 Ford Mustang California Special in the Hershey Car Corral, Oct. 2012

Two weeks after Hershey, Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast of the U.S. Immediately after that storm, Pete and I began an email exchange that over a period of several months led to some incredible decisions. I will let the emails themselves tell the story.

______________________________________________________________

Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2012
Subject: Rain rain go away
Hi Richard,
I am not sure how you fared in Sandy. I know Pam has talked to Margaretanne and she said you did get some water rise. Hope nothing was damaged.
We had minimal storm damage here although the wind was enough to uproot some trees in the woods behind us.
Alfa is protected! Still has your name on it.
Pete

________________________________________________________________

Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Subject: RE: Rain rain go away
Hi Pete,
Amazingly, and thankfully, we “survived” Sandy. We never got the expected flooding (thank goodness) with only one inch of rain. However, like in many other areas, the wind knocked down literally hundreds of trees. We were without power for 4 days; work was shut for 2; and even after power came back, we had no internet or cable for another week. So I’ve not been on the computer much.
All my cars did fine. Of course, I’d still like to get the Alfa. Here’s my request: I’d like to buy the car in the spring, if you are so willing to hold onto it for one more winter. Let me know, since winter is almost here, if we can arrange a purchase at first thaw next year.
Best wishes,
Richard

__________________________________________________________________

Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2012
Subject: Re: Rain rain go away
Richard,
Happy to hear you received minimal damage. I spent hours picking up limbs and tree debris. We were only out of power for about 6 hours.
There are several people who have expressed an interest in the Alfa…. I can think of no one who I would rather transfer title to the Alfa than you.
You need to give me a price that you are willing to pay for the Alfa. Money is not the reason for selling as you well know. The Alfa needs to go. Can I wait? I suppose so.
Take care, it was great seeing you at Hershey,
Pete

___________________________________________________________________

Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Subject: RE: Rain rain go away
Hi Pete,
Thanks for the update on the Alfa; I went back and looked at my photos. We first visited you in 2005! I cannot believe that it was 7 years ago when I first drove that car. Of course, you would have others interested in it, and I deeply appreciate the fact that you understand that I would keep it and treasure it (and drive it!). Not totally certain of values myself, I did some research, and want to offer you a number which is fair to you and to me – $XX,XXX seems right for its condition and value. Can we make a gentlemen’s agreement (deposit is no problem) that I will finalize the deal by April 2013?
Best,
Richard

___________________________________________________________________

Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Subject: RE: Rain rain go away
Greetings Richard,
If you are comfortable with that offer than it is acceptable to me. I would like to see you have it sooner, but let us say whenever you have the room or sold the Isetta or by end of March 2013, whichever comes first. There is no need for a deposit.

Pete

_______________________________________________________________

Next were several phone calls to verify details, as this series of emails starts in January 2013:

Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Subject: next steps
Hi Pete,
Happy New Year! I want to get the ball rolling on the Alfa business, as we’re having a mild winter so far. I am ready to send you a check for $XX,XXX. Once you get the check, I’d ask you to send me the title, properly endorsed, so that I can get license plates and insurance. At that point, once we have a clear dry weekend, we’ll come out for the car, and I’ll be able to drive it home legally.
Let me know if this all sounds good to you. Thanks.
Richard

_________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2013
Subject: Re: next steps
Richard, Greetings and Salutations,
I would be happy to comply but I had been planning on bringing the car to you when you were ready. I have numerous extras that go with the car and if I can “borrow” my car carrier from the person to whom I sold it, I could transport it all to you at one time.
I would hate to see you drive away from here only to have the car break down before you get it home. Shit happens with antique autos as you are well aware!
Thanks,
Pete

__________________________________________________________________

Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Subject: RE: next steps
Hi Pete,
As they say, “the check is in the mail”. You may even have it by now. I also mailed 2 copies of a Bill of Sale; one for each of us. I’ll need a completed one to register the car.
Let’s stay in touch re: the weather and a free weekend, and we’ll see what comes up!!!
Thanks for everything,
Richard

_____________________________________________________________________

Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013
Subject: Re: next steps

Good evening Richard,
This weather is brutal, I will certainly need a decent day to load and transport it, providing I can borrow the trailer when I want it.
I know you say the check is on the way but do you want me to wait on the title transfer (and check cashing) and let me cover the car until it is in your hands? You had best make sure your insurance would cover me transporting the car. I am just being ultra cautious.
You friend,
Pete

____________________________________________________________________

Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013
Subject: RE: next steps
Hi Pete,
I have not thought this through as thoroughly as you have – perhaps it is better that you keep your insurance on the car during the transport – however, can you still go ahead and cash the check? In my opinion, you can, as the ownership does not transfer over to me until I have a signed title in my hands. I don’t want you to hold up your money.
Let’s hope things get milder weather-wise. I’ll write more in a few days.
Richard

______________________________________________________________________

Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2013
Subject: Re: next steps
Hello Richard,
Check arrived today, thanks. I can still borrow the car carrier but certainly now is not the time. I have asked my insurance Co. for coverage info and this is what they said – the car carrier is covered by the insurance policy for the tow vehicle. The car being transported is covered by the owner’s policy. Would you prefer to proceed with the title transfer now?
Call me if you want to discuss this further,
Pete

________________________________________________________________

In this next series of emails, Pete raises another transportation option:

Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2013
Subject: Your thoughts
Richard,

If you want to go with a closed carrier to your house I will split the cost.

Best,
Pete

__________________________________________________________________

Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Subject: RE: Your thoughts
Dear Pete,
I’m still very open to the option of coming out with Margaretanne and driving the Alfa back here! You’ve driven it round-trip to Hershey, which is about the same time and distance as a one-way trip for me. We just need a clear dry day with no salt on the roads. Is there anything about the car that you know of that would prevent it from making that trip?
If I were to do that, I’d want to be 100% legal. That would mean getting the title from you so that I could register the car, and come out with the correct plates. In a lot of ways, this solution is the “cleanest”. February has some open weekends for me, however, March weather may be more favorable. Let me know what you think.
Thanks so much!
Richard

______________________________________________________________

Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Subject: RE: Your thoughts
Dear Richard,
The Alfa has always been a fair weather car for me. The car was put in hibernation last November and I have had it out twice since then to exercise it when the temperature was a balmy 50-60 degrees. The Alfa has a respectable heater but I am concerned about starting and running it at extended highway speeds over 60/65 when it is very cold out.
My longest trip last year was to Reading PA for an AACA meet and that was in April/May and on Route 30 to Lancaster and North to Reading at speeds of 55/60 max with no problems. That was the weekend I had planned on borrowing “my” car carrier but at the last moment it was not available.
Regards,
Pete

_____________________________________________________________________

Another phone call to iron out details, and we are in the final stretch of deciding how to move the car:

Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013
Subject: your Alfa
Hi Richard,
Nice chat last night. Last weekend, anticipating your reply regarding the title and bill of sale, I did deposit your check. Hope that is O.K. with you. Do you want the title now or do you want me to keep the car covered under my insurance policy until you get it? A lot depends on whether you will actually drive it away or we transport the car either on an open carrier or enclosed.
If you want the car now, I would gladly split the cost for an enclosed transport.
Regards,
Pete

_____________________________________________________________________

Sent: Monday, February 18, 2013
Subject: RE: your Alfa
Hi Pete,
Intercity said that they would work with us.
I’m ready to pull the trigger if you are. Questions:
• You said you had some extras to go with the car. Are these things you’d put in the car, or should I plan on making a trip out to you separately?
• Any tricks to starting the car?
• We still need to figure out title and insurance. Should we both have insurance on it during transport?
Let me know your thoughts on all this. Thanks!
Best,
Richard

________________________________________________________________

We had agreed to let a known collector car carrier (Intercity) ship the car, with Pete and I splitting that cost 50/50. I then got this very nice and very unexpected email from Pete, summarizing what drove him to purchase the car in the first place:

Hello Richard,
I was enamored with Alfas back in the late 60’s when two of my close friends had Alfas. I was married with 3 children and they were both single. It took a lot of convincing before I made the purchase. I first drove a ’66 Alfa 1600 TI sedan. I put a deposit on it and subsequently the owner informed me that the Alfa had an engine fire. Not wanting to deal with that calamity, I pulled my offer and kept looking. I drove a Mercedes 200 sedan, new ($3000.) I took a BMW 2002 TI sedan home for the weekend and almost went with that. Then I answered a classified ad in the Washington Post for the GT Jr. One of my Alfa friends went with me and after a test drive he said if I don’t buy it he would! That was 45 years ago.
Take care,
Pete

__________________________________________________________________

On Saturday, March 9, 2013, an Intercity Lines transport truck pulled into the parking lot of the Wawa convenience store (yes) two miles from my home. The Alfa was unloaded, and I drove it back to my house. The grin on my face says it all.

March 9, 2013: The Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr. arrives in my driveway.
March 9, 2013: The Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr. arrives in my driveway.

The process of purchasing a valuable collector car from a family friend was done at such a high comfort level that I wish it could be this way for all future transactions. This was a car that I had known about for eight years; I had numerous opportunities to drive it; the owner provided me with its full ownership history; he allowed me to select and pay the car’s “fair market value”; and he covered 50% of the transport cost.

I was the proud owner of my first Alfa Romeo, and the fun was truly about to begin.

 

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

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