AROC Convention/PVGP, Pittsburgh PA, July 2019, Part 1

The Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC) held its 2019 Annual Convention in Pittsburgh PA. Entitled “Cortile della Corsa” (The Courtyard of Racing), the Three Rivers Alfa Romeo Club was the local chapter which sponsored the series of events. Interestingly, our July Convention was directly tied in with the week-long Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP), an annual combo treat of vintage racing and multi-marque vehicle displays.

Let’s get this bit of disappointing news out of the way: while this Alfista was in attendance, his ’67 Alfa GT Junior was not. Four days before the scheduled departure, the car’s right front brake caliper locked up, and although repair parts were obtained, there wasn’t enough time to effect a safe and sufficient repair. So the green stepnose stayed home. Every cloud, though, has its silver lining, and in this case, I drove a modern car with fully functioning climate control in the 99 degree weather. (The brake failure and its ongoing repairs will be the subject of future blog posts.)

I can assure you that the rest of this post will be short on words and long on photos. On Friday evening there was an AROC club dinner at the Pittsburgh Golf Club, with dozens of striking Alfa Romeos looking resplendent on the lawn in the setting sunlight. Saturday was the all-makes show, with literally thousands of domestic, Italian, German, Swedish, and Japanese vehicles on display. Saturday night was the AROC banquet dinner. And on Sunday, club members were treated to a reserved spot along the track to watch some spirited vintage racing. (We also saw race cars driven in anger on Saturday.)

The volume of photos means that I’ve divided this blog post into Parts 1 and 2: Part 1 features photos of Alfas from various vantages during the weekend, plus an assortment of racing car pictures. Part 2 will follow and will include photos of cars other than Alfas.

As always, click on the photos to enjoy full-screen resolutions of them.

ALFAS IN THE HOTEL PARKING LOT

ALFAS AT THE FRIDAY EVE PITTSBURGH GOLF CLUB DISPLAY

Alfa dog

VINTAGE RACERS, ALFAS AND OTHERS

 

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Enzo’s Alfa, and Allen’s Invention

My buddy Enzo drove his 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce to my house this past weekend. He had requested my assistance with changing the transmission and rear axle oil in his car, and I’m always more than willing to assist a fellow Alfisti in need. This is not the first time I’ve worked on Enzo’s car, and in fact, we are both readying our Italian stallions in preparation for the trip to Pittsburgh in July for the AROC (Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club) annual convention.

Saturday was an almost-perfect weather day in NJ, sunny, warm, with low humidity. The sun was perhaps a bit too warm, as I pulled my ’67 GT 1300 Junior out of its stall so that we could work on the Spider in the cool shade of the garage.

The flag indicates that the middle bay is reserved for Alfas only

Enzo had the correct oil with him, 75W-90 GL-5 gear oil, so we decided to start with the gearbox. Jacking up the front of the car under the front spring perches, sturdy jack stands were placed under the jacking points just behind each front wheel. For some reason only known to Alfa engineers, the transmission case drain and fill plugs are on the same side as the exhaust (the driver’s side), so I found it easier to slide under the car from the passenger side and avoid contact with the still-hot exhaust pipes.

Enzo read the printout he had with him from his electronic service manual: “Remove the drain plug; allow the oil to drain out until you see just a drip. Reinstall the drain plug. Remove the fill plug, and add the appropriate oil until it reaches the top of the fill plug; reinstall the fill plug”. It sounded too easy.

Front is raised, drain pan is empty and ready

On my ’67, I knew that the fill and/or drain plugs required Allen wrenches, as I had done this job on my own car a few years back. I also knew that I had a rather good assortment of metric Allen sockets. I grabbed my drain bucket and positioned it under the tranny. At this point, I related a lesson I had learned a long time ago, and possibly had witnessed during my own repair travels.

This is my ’67, showing the rear axle fill plug, requiring an Allen wrench

While the instructions were clear enough, I said, they should not be taken so literally. What if the car owner removed the drain plug, drained all the oil, reinstalled it, and then found out that s/he could not remove the fill plug? ROOKIE MISTAKE!

An experienced mechanic would always remove the fill plug first, just to ensure that it could be unscrewed and reinstalled. Having done that, the repair person would have the assurance that fresh oil could be added after the old oil had been drained. So that is what we planned to do.

Peering at the side of the case, flashlight in hand, I saw that the drain (lower) plug required a regular socket, perhaps 19mm or 22mm. But the fill (upper plug) would need an Allen (hex) wrench. I asked Enzo to hand me an assortment of metric Allen sockets from my toolbox.

None of them fit. Most were too small; one was too large. (This too-large one was 14mm, and I’m certain that I purchased it specifically for my car.) So much for my presumption that my ’67 and his ’91 would use the same size tools. I slid out from under the car, and opened a drawer which consisted mainly of Allen keys, in both SAE and metric sizes. I grabbed a bunch, got back under the car, and tried them one by one. None fit. That’s it, I said. We are finished before we even begin.

My hex key drawer

 

All metric, none correct

With that, Enzo opened his car’s trunk and rummaged through the tool kit that came with the Alfa. He pulled out a hex wrench. “Try this one” he said. I did. It worked. Voila! His Craftsman 12mm Allen wrench he just happened to have with him was the “key”.

“There’s an Allen wrench in here somewhere”

This wrench was about 5 inches long, and working on my back, I didn’t have a lot of leverage to crank counter-clockwise on this thing. “Get me a breaker bar” I shouted. “There are some black iron pipes in the same drawer as my hammers”. Enzo gave me a pipe about a foot long. STILL could not budge the upper plug. I’m not the strongest guy to have turned wrenches, which is why I keep an assortment of breaker bars on hand. But this fill plug was F.T.

Enzo works the breaker bar for a better fit

Enzo said “I have an idea – you hold the wrench and the breaker bar, and I’m going to extend my foot under the car”. Before I could ask him exactly what he had in mind, Enzo pushed hard with his leg against the pipe, and we both heard that satisfying “crack” sound when something that’s uber-tight breaks free. We did it. With the upper plug out, the lower plug was quickly removed with a 22mm socket and ½” drive wrench, and the old, possibly original, gearbox oil was flowing out and into my catch can.

I had forgotten to mention to Enzo the need for fresh copper washers, but I just happened to have a few new ones on hand. I think that every drain plug on every ‘60s/’70s Alfa uses the same size copper washer! The magnetic drain plug had a bit of sludge on it, but it didn’t look like anything to worry about to me. I cleaned off the sludge, and gave the threads a quick gentle scrub with a brass brush.

The drain plug was reinstalled, and Enzo snaked a rubber hose from the engine compartment, down toward the transmission. I held the hose in place at the fill plug, while Enzo poured in about 2 quarts of the gear oil. Once it started flowing out of the top hole, indicating a full tranny, I reinstalled the fill plug. This transmission drain-and-fill, with the jacking, prying, and filling, took us over an hour and a half.

Pan, hose, and rag, after the job

The rear axle, by comparison, was relatively easy. Besides, we were now experts. The jack stands were removed from the front. The floor jack was placed directly under the differential drain plug, and both sides of the car were lifted at the same time. With the jack stands in place at the rear, I noted that we needed the same two tools: a 12mm Allen for the upper fill plug, and a 22mm socket for the lower drain plug. We again needed Enzo’s muscular right leg (probably built up from years of playing soccer) to loosen both the fill plug AND the drain plug, but with that. the rear axle oil was flowing.

This magnetic drain plug had the same amount of sludge, and it too was cleaned and fitted with a fresh copper washer. With the drain plug back in, we were ready to add new gear oil.

To route the fill hose, Enzo pulled the spare tire from its well, and unbolted a drain cap, which then provided excellent access to the fill hole. About 1.5 quarts of oil were added. We buttoned up, cleaned up, and started it up. A short test drive confirmed no untoward noises, and with that Enzo was safely on his way. Let’s hope there isn’t too much more to do between now and our mid-July departure for Pittsburgh.

 

SIDEBAR: THE ALLEN MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Most technicians are familiar with a tool that’s commonly called a “hex key” or “Allen key” or “Allen wrench”: it’s a six-sided hexagonal shape that’s inserted INTO a screw head or bolt head, as opposed to the more-common socket or wrench, also 6- (or 12-) sided that’s placed OVER the outside of a bolt head. The hex/Allen design offers the advantage of a smaller head that can fit in tighter places, and can even be designed to thread down and into a threaded hole or shaft.
A vinyl pouch from the Allen Manufacturing Co. Note use of the word “key”.
“Hex” of course means “six”. But why is this tool also called an “Allen wrench/key”? You can thank Mr. William G. Allen, who, in 1909-1910, patented the design, and began manufacturing both the screws and the tools via the Allen Manufacturing Company of Hartford, CT.
My father worked around production machinery for much of his professional life, and set screws which required Allen wrenches were very common. My father’s extensive collection of Allen wrenches in both SAE and metric sizes are now in my possession, and even include some plastic carrying cases bearing the company’s name.
Allen’s “NO. 9M METRIC KEY SET”
You can read more about Mr. Allen, his patent, and other related bits of information, in this Wikipedia entry on hex keys.

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

AROC-NJ Hosts Luncheon Event, April 13, 2019

The New Jersey Chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC), under the able leadership of Chapter President Enrico Ciabattoni, held its first event of 2019 by organizing a luncheon on Saturday April 13. Our hosts were the fine folks at Driving Impressions, a Dover N.J.-based business which sells racing accessories in the front, and has ample garage space out back.

Nice SWAG in Driving Impressions’ retail store

We had a small but enthusiastic turnout of about a dozen, consisting of a mix of AROC-NJ members with some local friends. The lunch (Italian food, whaddya expect?) was grand, but we were really there to get together to talk about our #1 passion, cars. There was lots to talk about, starting with the cars on either side of the lunch table. The service bays were occupied by Italian cars OTHER than Alfas, and there were interesting non-Italian toys too.

Love Italian food? Check. Love Italian CARS? Two checks.

One corner of the garage is rented to a tech who specializes in Porsches. A 928 with its drivetrain removed was high up in the air, and next to it, on the ground, was a 356 coupe which appeared to be in original condition. It actually gave off the vibe of one of those barn-find 356s I’ve seen at auctions that hammer for 300 large.

A 928 in for service. Not for the faint of heart or the light of wallet.

 

 

This Porsche 356 coupe appeared to have never been restored

 

Interior of the 356

 

Three Italian cars competed for my attention: a current-generation Fiat 500, with turbo and other goodies under the hood, claimed to be the fastest 500 on earth (based on a magazine article I was shown, so it must be true); a Fiat 600, with its cheeky water-cooled four-banger out back, appeared to be in the throes of major reconstruction; and a Lancia Delta Integrale, all ‘80s squared-off inside and out, lounged in the corner, looking like it was daring the turbo 500 to a duel.

Fiat 500 racecar

 

A Fiat 600 in for a refresh

 

A quick peek outside revealed the 3 classic Alfas which dared make today’s drive. It stayed warm and dry, so it was an ideal day to cruise in our classics. Alas, no modern Giulias or Stelvios made the trip.

Alfa Romeo Spider

 

Alfa Romeo Nuova Super 1600

 

Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr

With the AROC National in Pittsburgh fast approaching in July, there was some discussion among the Alfisti about who was attending, who was driving there, and who might want to caravan. Your author has volunteered to lead the caravan; now I just need someone to agree to join it.

In spite of the relatively small turnout, it was a great day. First, we all needed to shake off the winter cobwebs (from ourselves as well as our cars). We also want to continue with local events as we gear up for summer (and July at the AROC Convention, which will be held in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix). Stay tuned for more exciting Alfa events as the year progresses.

 

Italian and non-Italian friends play well together

 

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

NJ Alfa Club Spring Driving Tour thru Hunterdon County

It was reported the other day that in New Jersey, there has been rain on at least one, if not both days of the weekend for the past ten weeks. The corollary to that is that the weather forecasters have been batting about .210 (if they were ball players, they would have been sent back to the minors by now).

So it should not have come as a surprise to awaken on Sunday June 10 to showers, even if 24 hours prior they had not been predicted. It was two months ago that the NJ Chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club (AROC) selected this date for its spring driving tour through Hunterdon County. But Alfa drivers love to cruise so much that a little moisture wasn’t going to deter us. We met as planned at the Readington Diner on Route 22 in Whitehouse at 10am, and after a brief driver’s meeting, ten people in six Alfas were off.

1967 Alfa Giulia sedan

 

1967 Alfa (Giulia) GT Jr.

 

Alfa 164 (V6, FWD)

The half-dozen vehicles were neatly divided into two groups of three: in the ‘older’ group were two ’67 Giulias, a sedan and a coupe, along with a 164 four-door sedan. Alfa Romeo’s current model lineup was thoroughly represented by the 2nd group of three: a Giulia sedan, a Stelvio SUV, and a 4C Spider. The factory couldn’t have planned that better if it tried.

Alfa Giulia sedan

 

Alfa Stelvio SUV

 

Alfa 4C Spider

From the diner, we drove about 4 miles on Route 22 before turning south. From that point on, 100% of the driving was on two-lane secondary roads. We wound our way around Round Valley Reservoir, and meandered through the towns of Stanton, Barley Sheaf, Cherryville, Quakertown, and Pittstown before descending into Frenchtown, on the NJ/PA border. The rain at this point was nothing more than a nuisance, and made me long for intermittent wipers on my ’67.

About 12 miles south of Frenchtown, we pit-stopped at Prallsville Mills, a charming collection of historic outbuildings and the site of numerous artistic events. We hung out there for about 30 minutes, because for this group, next to driving and eating, our favorite activity is talking.

Our group at Prallsville Mills

 

The two ’67s

 

New to old, in a row

Back on the road, we turned left and began to head east, passing through Sergeantsville, Ringoes (named after John Ringo), Unionville, and Reaville. We briefly entered Somerset County, driving through Cloverhill and Montgomery, before circling round, winding through Wertzville, and finally turning south toward our destination, the town of Hopewell in Mercer County. We covered just over 70 miles in slightly under 2.5 hours, including our break.

Lunch was at Antimo’s Italian Kitchen, and it was charming. Our wait staff catered to our every need, and the food was delizioso. Perhaps best of all, new friendships were formed, as several of today’s participants were on their maiden voyage with the Alfa club.

 

Both of these cars are Alfa Romeo Giulia sedans! Can you tell them apart?

The roads were lightly traveled; the scenery was verdant and historic; the overcast skies kept the temperatures reasonable; and no one broke down. What else but to conclude that our NJ AROC Hunterdon County tour was a roaring success?

 

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

NJ Alfa Club Fall Foliage Driving Tour, November 11, 2017

On Saturday, November 11, 2017, the New Jersey chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club (AROC) held its Fall Foliage Driving Tour, starting at Fullerton Alfa Romeo in Bridgewater, and ending at Duke Farms in Hillsborough.

The day dawned sunny but quite cold, with sunrise temps below freezing. The wind, which had been a factor the previous day, was all but nonexistent, which made the cold more tolerable. The thermometer moderated as the day progressed, and it turned out to be a beautiful day for a driving tour.

The dealer did a great job hosting us in the a.m., with plenty of coffee, bagels, and other breakfast treats available. Early arrivals were there before 9:30, and during the subsequent hour, 17 cars and close to 30 attendees streamed in. While there, we enjoyed alternating our gazes between the new Giulia sedans & Stelvio SUVs, and the classic Alfas parked outside.

After a brief driver’s meeting, we were off and running. Our first leg had us heading north/northwest, through Oldwick and Long Valley. After an hour on the road, we arrived at our planned rest stop in Chester NJ. The intent was to give participants a chance to wander the streets of this quaint town, filled with antique shops, bakeries, and the like. But true to the Italian spirit, almost everyone stayed in the parking lot, hovered around our Milanese metal, and swapped stories (mostly lies about horsepower).

The view out our rear window

By 12:30, the second leg of the drive began, and we were on the road again, now headed back south. We briefly doubled back on Lamington Road (Route 523), then turned south/southeast, through Whitehouse Station and Readington. We arrived at Duke Farms exactly at 1:30, which was a good thing, as our catered luncheon was scheduled to start at that time. By complete coincidence, the second leg was also an hour’s length. Both drives were blessed with relatively light traffic, colorful autumnal leaves, lots of sunshine, and no breakdowns.

The view out the front (we were in the lead car)

Duke Farms is the property formerly owned by tobacco heiress Doris Duke, and it has quite the history. As an aside to this driving tour blog post, if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth stopping by.

The café staff, led by Debbie, went overboard with our catered meal. We walked in to find a smorgasbord of sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit, plus cookies and coffee. A section of the dining room was reserved for us, and we continued to catch up with old friends and/or make new ones, all while stuffing our faces.

We love to drive, we love to talk, we love to eat!

Our chapter president, Enrico, declared the event a success, and there was widespread agreement among the chapter members. Based on today’s turnout, we are all counting on AROC’s NJ Chapter to hold more such events in 2018.

We somehow managed to keep 17 cars (mostly) in a row

 

Arriving at the Chester rest stop, two new Giulias

 

A GTV-6 coupe

 

A ’67 GT 1300 Jr.

 

A Giulia 1300 Ti sedan

 

A ’66 Duetto

 

A police escort protected us from on-the-road citations

 

The 505-hp engine of the Giulia Quadrifoglio

 

Alfa 164

 

GTA-look

 

Another 164

 

Chatting in Chester (sorry)

 

Follow the leader

 

A rare shot of the driver driving (courtesy of my wife)

 

Duke Farms

 

Arriving at Duke Farms, we found plenty of parking

 

The cafe service was outstanding, with plenty of food and drink for all

 

Alfa men gather to argue the firing order of the Busso V6

(Special thanks to my wife Margaretanne for accompanying me, and taking all the on-the-road photos.)

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.


FUN FACT OF THE WEEK

The original name of the company we know today as “Alfa Romeo” was A.L.F.A., which is an acronym. In Italian, it stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which translates as “Anonymous Lombardy (Region) Manufacturer (of) Automobiles”.

During World War I, an industrialist named Nicola Romeo took over control of A.L.F.A., which was then in liquidation. He immodestly changed the name of the company to Alfa Romeo, with “Alfa” no longer an acronym. A recession during the 1920’s forced Romeo out of the company, but the name change stayed.

None of this stops people from continuing to spell the car name as “Alpha” (as if the car were Greek!).

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, October 22, 2017

You know it’s late in the collector car driving season when the 8 a.m. arrivals at your starting point are still in the shadows, waiting for the morning’s yellow rays to rise above the concrete and steel horizon.

Minutes before departing, the sun finally made its way over to us

And so our final Sunday morning breakfast drive for 2017 began, but we knew the day’s weather would be in our favor. Those of us in the Northeast are coming off what may be the best week of weather we’ve had all year: sunny, dry, daytime temps in the mid-to-high 70s, with the thermometer dropping into the 40s and 50s at night. And all this in late October to boot.

Even though we saw each other last month, there’s still lots to yap about

For our October 22 drive, we had 14 travelers occupying 11 cars. While the turnout was a bit less than our last motorcade, many of our regulars showed up, drawn in part by the attraction of a favorite destination: The Silver Spoon Café in Cold Spring NY.

The route to Cold Spring is an easy one, and includes Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park. It’s a shame that we didn’t give ourselves a chance to stop and admire the view. At such an early hour, the water, smooth as glass, acted like a mirror for the fall foliage. The scene would have made a lovely backdrop for our myriad group of sporting machines.

We arrived at our destination in under an hour, and the attentive staff at the Silver Spoon had a table for 14 waiting for us (calling ahead and being patient when they say “we don’t take reservations” can still provide your desired result).

The Silver Spoon staff hustled to serve 14 or 15 hungry drivers, and the sometimes erratic service was not entirely the fault of our intrepid waiter. Plates remained unclaimed as diners endeavored to remember what they ordered! Even with the delay, the food was excellent, washed down with coffee by the gallon.

While waiting for the food, we …. looked at cell phone photos

As is customary, as the meal ended, the crowd lingered in front of the restaurant, with no one in any great rush to depart. The warm October sunshine will do that to you. It sounds far away to say “see you on our first drive in 2018”, but it will be here soon enough. We’re also hoping to organize an off-season trip to a museum as we did last winter. For this scribe, it’s now time to put the babies away for the year. I’m pretty sure I still have some Sta-Bil in the garage.

Don’t let the jackets fool you – by late morning, it was 70 degrees

 

1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr.

 

1972 Chevrolet Nova

 

Porsche 911 #1

 

Porsche 911 #2

 

Porsche 911 #3

 

BMW Z3 roadster

 

1967 Buick Skylark convertible (earlier posts identifying this as a ’66 are incorrect! Thanks Ralph)

 

1966 Dodge Coronet

 

Ford Mustang GT/CS

 

1953 Jaguar XK-120

 

C4 Chevy Corvette

 

See you next year

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

The 2017 NJ AACA car show

The New Jersey Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America held its annual car show as it always does, on the first Sunday in May, which this year was the 7th.

Last year, the show was moved to the Mennen Arena in Morristown NJ, so 2017 was only the club’s second time here, after being held in Florham Park for the last 5 or 6 decades.

Last year’s inaugural event at the new location is remembered for only one thing: the cold rain, which kept all but a hardcore 30 or so cars from showing up. With weather the one variable outside the club’s control, we all presumed that the odds would work in our favor and we would be blessed with a perfect spring day.

Not quite.

While nowhere near the washout of 2016, this year still required participants and spectators alike to deal with cloudy and somewhat cool temperatures for this time of year. At least the promised rain held off until about an hour before the show was done. In spite of the threats, turnout was decent, with some unofficial estimates putting the vehicle count at close to 200 cars. Spectators turned out in decent numbers too.

I was proud to have my Alfa Romeo, fresh from the AACA museum, on display, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was one of three Alfas at the show, joined by a rare Euro-spec Nuova Giulia sedan, and a one-owner Milano. The Italian car feast was rounded out by a Lancia Fulvia coupe.

’67 Alfa GT 1300 Junior

 

’78 Alfa Nuova Giulia

 

’87 Alfa Milano

 

Lanica Fulvia Coupe

British cars included an Austin-Healey, a stunning MGB-GT, and two Lotuses (Loti?), an Elan and a Europa (yes, all Lotus model names begin with the letter E).

AACA rules allow cars to be shown once they reach 25 years of age. So on a rolling basis, each new calendar year means that there is a new “class” of eligible cars. For 2017, 1992 and older cars can be shown, so it was a pleasure to see this beautiful ’92 Mercedes Benz 500SL on the showfield.

1992 Mercedes Benz 500SL

Of course, American makes dominate the display, including the so-called orphan manufacturers (those whose marques no longer exist). Below are some examples of these, including Pierce Arrow, LaSalle, Crosley, DeSoto, and Pontiac (still strikes this writer as odd to see Pontiac’s name with the others).

One does not need to be a member of AACA to enter a car into the show. One of the draws for members and non-members alike is the chance to win something, as this show is one of the few in the area which is judged (to AACA standards). The NJ Region recently switched from trophies (aka dust-collectors) to tool and duffle bags, to make for more practical prizes. It’s the generosity of the sponsors who help make it possible to have awards.

NJ AACA sponsors

Here’s hoping for better weather in 2018!

 

1960 Corvette

 

A trio of 2-seat T-Birds

 

Detailing before the judges arrive!

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2001 New England 1000 Rally

My excitement was barely containable. For the FOURTH consecutive year, I would be driving in Rich and Jean Taylor’s wonderful vintage car rally, along with about 50 like-minded car enthusiasts. My good friend and rally partner Steve would again be joining the troupe, with one significant difference: we would each be taking our own cars. Steve would be teamed up with his girlfriend (now wife) Carol in their Sunbeam Tiger, and I with my fiancé (now wife) Margaretanne would drive our recently-acquired ’72 MGB. Oh boy.

Packing the Tiger's trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket
Packing the Tiger’s trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket

 

Cover page of our route instructions; the rally at this time was still sponsored by M-B
Yogi provides all the driving philosophy you need

 

They can’t say they didn’t ask for it. As alluded to in an earlier post, after three straight years of hearing us rave about the rallies, the ladies wanted in. We departed from Steve’s home in Morristown NJ and caravanned to the rally starting point in Lake Placid NY. My B, purchased just a month prior, was relatively untested, and I’ll admit to some trepidation about its roadworthiness (Lucas electrics and all that). However, Steve’s British car (aside from its Yank lump) had been a bastion of reliability all these years, so I did my best to cast aside doubts.

 

En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area
En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area

Arriving at the Mirror Lake Inn on Sunday May 20, the field of rally vehicles did not disappoint; if anything, this year’s variety of cars got more interesting. The number of domestic vehicles was greater than previously seen, and included a ’64 Corvette Sting Ray, ’70 Ford Mustang, ’63 Dodge Dart, ’61 Chrysler 300G, and ’62 Ford Thunderbird (ALL convertibles).

Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally's start
Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally’s start

The European sports cars continued to dominate the field, and we became almost blasé at repeated sightings of Mercedes 300-SLs, Porsche 356s, Aston-Martins, Jaguar XKs, and Ferraris. The BMW 507 seen earlier returned; and of special note to me, our friend Dave Allison, who had previously entered an Alfa Giulietta spider, a Porsche 356, and a Lotus Elite, showed up with a 1971 Austin Mini. His conclusion? Of the four, the Mini was his favorite to drive!

 

Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)
Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)

And drive we did; as always, it’s almost exactly 1,000 miles over four days (that’s why it’s called the N.E. 1000), not including our mileage up and back. Fears about the MGB were totally unfounded; we suffered no ill effects from driving an almost-30-year-old car (not counting a very fiddly convertible top). For my wife, truth be told, getting up early and adhering to a rigidly-scheduled day was not her idea of a vacation, but she did admit that the concept and the camaraderie made it fun.

Typical queue waiting for our time out
Typical queue waiting for our time out

 

And this was the line behind us
And this was the line behind us

 

The future Mrs. Reina takes her tun behind the wheel of the B
The future Mrs. Reina takes her turn behind the wheel of the B

The return trip was uneventful. I kept the MG for the remainder of 2001, but with the BMW Isetta finally being show ready, I wanted to focus on only one collector car. Besides, the newish ’93 Mazda Miata in the garage offered plenty of sporty top-down driving whenever I wanted, so in the spring of 2002, I sold the B for exactly what I paid for it.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2001 rally, Steve and Carol relocated to California. Due in large part to our geographical separation, it would be another four years before we again entered a vintage rally together, driving a yet-to-be-purchased vehicle. Stay tuned for that story.

Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup
Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup

 

Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)
Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)

 

Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars
Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars

 

Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out
Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out

 

The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6
The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6

 

Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG
Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG

 

Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa

 

Aston Martin DB-5
Aston Martin DB-5

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #1
Alfa Romeo GTV #09

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #2
Alfa Romeo GTV #39

 

BMW 507
BMW 507

 

Dave Allison's Austin Mini
Dave Allison’s Austin Mini

 

Jaguar XK-150
Jaguar XK-150

 

Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider
Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider

 

Porsche 356
Porsche 356

 

Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB
Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The AACA Museum Hosts “Amore della Strada” Opening Reception

On the evening of November 18, 2016, the AACA Museum in Hershey PA officially opened its “Amore della Strada” Italian machinery exhibit with a reception at the museum. The public was invited to attend, and turnout was large, making for crowded aisles. The doors opened at 6pm, and your $20 admission included antipasti, beer, and wine. Those who owned cars on display were admitted “gratuito”.

Italian cars come in colors other that red!
Italian cars come in colors other than red!

There were approximately 20 Italian cars, and perhaps a dozen or so Italian motorcycles. The museum is arranged in such a way that there was no practical way for the curators to place all the special exhibits together. Therefore, they were arranged in smaller groups of 2, 3, 4, or more, and placards with each vehicle provided sufficient history regarding the make and model. Owners who were loaning their wares for the five-month duration of the show were dutifully acknowledged. (Last week’s blog entry covered this author’s drive to deliver his ’67 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior to the exhibit.)

Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree
Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree

Fiats and Alfa Romeos seemed to comprise the bulk of the vehicle displays, and some might agree with me that it was a refreshing change of pace for an “Italian Car Show” to NOT be dominated by late-model supercars from the Big 3 of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. (Of these three makes, I counted only two Ferraris.)

 

Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider
Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider

Among the Fiats, we saw three 124 Spiders, two X1/9s, and an 850 Spider. The X1/9s were a study in contrasts, as the bright green one was a first year example wearing the original bumper-less design, while the white one from 1987 wore no Fiat badges at all, as it was manufactured and sold by Bertone, and badged as such, since Fiat left the U.S. market after 1982. The only Italian prewar car on the floor was a delightful 1937 Fiat Topolino (Little Mouse).

Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)
Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)

 

1974 Fiat X1/9 - note lack of battering ram bumpers
1974 Fiat X1/9 – note lack of battering ram bumpers

 

1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed
1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed

 

Nose of '87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge
Nose of ’87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge

 

 

Fiat 850 Spider
Fiat 850 Spider

The four Alfa Romeos included two Giulia coupes, one early step-nose and one 2nd generation design, a rare Montreal Coupe (with a factory V8), and the last Alfa sold in the U.S. market (until Sergio’s recent resurgence), the large front-wheel-drive 164 sedan.

 

 

Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal
Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal

 

Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black
Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black. Snake eats man; it’s part of the Alfa legend.

 

Yes, there were speeches too
Yes, there were speeches too

The show included vehicles that required an explanation how they passed the entrance exam, as two of them had big American V8 engines, and one had a British 4-cylinder lump. The DeTomaso Longchamp and Italia Omega are vehicles belonging to a class long known as ‘hybrids’ (decades before that term was used to describe a gas/electric vehicle).

Most car aficionados have heard of the DeTomaso Pantera, sold here by Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the early 1970s. The Longchamp is the squared-off, four-seat sister to the Pantera. The one on display featured a Ford 351 Cleveland engine mated to a 3-speed automatic. I’ve seen many a photo of Longchamps, and this was the first one I’ve ever seen in the metal.

The car labeled as a 1967 Italia Omega is more familiarly known to me as an Intermeccanica Italia. Based on my reading of the car’s placard, the history of this car company is convoluted at best. (Indeed, none of the several import-based compilation books in my library make any mention at all of this company.) The vehicle in the museum was an attractive convertible, using a front-mounted Ford 302 V8 paired with a 4-speed manual transmission.

The 1961 Triumph Italia on display is one of 329 built. While the design is certainly in the Italian mold, the sheetmetal hides what is essentially the drivetrain and chassis of a stock Triumph TR-3.  One of the outstanding features of the Italia is that it is the handiwork of a young Giovanni Michelotti, who would later pen the restyle of the TR-4 into the TR-6.

1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals
1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals

Scan through the photos below for shots of other vehicles which were on display. (And as always, click on any of the photos to enlarge them.)

Among the motorcycles, which are not my primary interest, I could not help but be drawn to the 1958 Iso Moto, built by the same company that originally designed the Iso Isetta. Like the Longchamp, it was a first for me to actually see one of these in person.

The “Amore della Strada” exhibit runs through April 22, 2017. There’s plenty to see at the Museum besides the Italian stuff. If you’ve never made the trip, this is a good excuse to do so. If you have, the Italian cars are a nice addition to what you may have seen before.

 

1960 Fiat Autobianchi
1960 Fiat Autobianchi

 

1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine
1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine

 

1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France
1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France

 

1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis
1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis

 

This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom sheetmetal reminiscent of the Alfa BAT cars
This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom bodywork reminiscent of the Alfa B.A.T. cars

 

Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room
Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room

 

Yes, it's an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo
Yes, it’s an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

NJ Alfa Romeo Club Cruise, November 6, 2016

From the '60s through the '90s, the family resemblance is there
From the ’60s through the ’90s, the family resemblance is there

The New Jersey Chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club held an informal Sunday cruise during the afternoon of November 6, 2016. Five club members, led by our chapter head Enrico Ciabattoni, gathered at our starting point at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel NJ. We pushed off around 2pm and cruised to various spots in Monmouth County, including Atlantic Highlands, Sandy Hook, and Colts Neck.

Alex and Carly's '66 Duetto
Alex and Carly’s ’66 Duetto

 

John's 164
John’s 164

The oldest car in today’s contingent was the 1966 Duetto driven by Alex and Carly. Richard’s 1967 GT 1300 Junior was just a year newer. The eighties were well-represented by two GTV6s, Enrico’s and Bill’s. The newest Alfa for today was John’s beautifully-kept 164. Alas, no new Giulia sedans showed up to surprise us. However, Enrico’s wife and daughter did a commendable job driving the sweep car in their Honda Odyssey. Thanks, ladies!

Richards' '67 GT 1300 Jr.
Richards’ ’67 GT 1300 Jr.

Plenty of time was allotted for photo ops (what with such gorgeous cars!), and a personal highlight was stopping for pictures at the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the country. The cameras were not always aimed at cars; the vista from atop the Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook in Atlantic Highlands provided glorious views of the New York skyline and lower bay.

The Alfas line up in front of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse
The Alfas line up in front of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse

 

The tremendous view from the Mount Mitchill Overlook
The tremendous view from the Mount Mitchill Overlook

Our day ended at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck, which also gave us a chance to pick up some produce (Enrico was spotted heading for the Italian chestnuts). Since it was the first day back on Eastern Standard Time, the rapidly-diminishing daylight had this scribe heading for home before sunset.

The six-cylinder cars hang out together
The six-cylinder cars hang out together

 

And you thought Subaru Foresters were small cars....
And you thought Subaru Foresters were small cars….

For those who doubt the reliability of Italian machinery: combined with this morning’s breakfast run, Richard’s Alfa was driven a total of 260 miles today, much of it buzzing along the highways of New Jersey at 70 mph, fending off soccer moms in the SUVs. Not bad for a 49-year-old car.

Carly snaps, and has a great line of sight with the top down
Carly snaps, and has a great line of sight with the top down

It was wonderful to be out with fellow Alfisti and to delight in the sounds of 4- and 6-cylinder engines in full song. We hope to get the group back on the road in early 2017.

Until next year....
Until next year….

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.