Berlina Register Newsletter No. 5 (April 1998)

Notes and Comment

Welcome to the latest edition of the Berlina Register Newsletter. In Newsletter No. 4, I reported that I had got my Giulia Super just about on the road, and would be selling my Berlina as soon as that happened. Well, things change. I do have the Super on the road, but after four straight months of late-night effort, I've grow weary of the enormity of the project. It's registered and insured, but for now I'm just letting it sit, as I'm sick of working on it. I'm currently undecided what I'm going to do; I for sure will sell either the Super or the Berlina, but I haven't decided which. To me, the Super is the better-looking and more fun car, but it certainly needs more work and restoration care than my Berlina, on which I've already done most of that work. I don't know if I'm up for another years-long project. So we'll see what happens. For now, I'm using the Berlina as my daily driver and the Super sits.

In product news, a couple people have offered donor dashboards so that International Auto Parts can make molds to produce 1750 and 2000 dash caps. I haven't talked to Joel Hailey at IAP lately, so I'm unsure of the exact status of this project, but it does seem to be moving along. Brian Wermeyer, formerly of Centerline Products in Boulder, Colorado, has a good account of some ambitious projects on his website, including how to install Aftermarket Reproduction's [(310) 322-8028] new lenses in 1969-style Carello side marker lights for Berlinas, Spiders, and GTVs <>, and how to make your own oil filter for a Spica injection pump <>.

In my own Berlina news, I've done a few repairs lately. I had Roger's Autoworks in Oakland put in a new clutch (I couldn't face another clutch job after just having done one myself on the Super) and a new clutch master cylinder at the same time. Shortly thereafter, the clutch fluid supply hose from the reservoir to the clutch MC perished, so I replaced that. It made a nice gooey mess on the inside of the fender, where it ate off all the paint. In addition, I finally did a distributor tuneup, and adjusted my fuel injection a little. The car runs much better now. And I recently fixed a flaky gas gauge by just tightening the gas tank hold-down screws, apparently restoring a good electrical ground to the circuit. My GTV continues to chug along, passing its most recent smog check, and needing a new oil pressure sending unit recently. My wife and I just bought an 85 BMW 535i to replace her 72 BMW Bavaria. What a car (the 535i). Anyone looking for a good-running project Bavaria with tons of spare parts?

For those of you with Internet access, the Berlina Register homepage is up and working. It's at <> It contains mainly the text of Berlina Register Newsletter 1 ("All About Berlinas") with graphics and photos and such added. Thanks to Dan Przybylski, editor of the Alfa Romeo Association's newsletter Overheard Cams, for giving the Register a web home.

In this issue, we have two personal Berlina accounts from Register members, J. Michael Hemsley, and Jean Skeels. Thanks very much for these, and I encourage everyone to send in whatever they like about Berlinas; I'll print anything: first-person accounts, tech tips, bragging about your car, whatever. The Register is up to about 75 cars, with the first Automatic Berlina to join. Originally from Germany, it now resides in Dallas. In the next issue I will print a roster of all the cars on the Register.

The keeper of the Berlina Register is Andrew Watry, 1284 Monterey Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707 USA. Phone (510) 526-0391. Email: Send me any corrections or additions to your register information, or any other Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs. Free Berlinas and parts gladly accepted.

Mailing Costs and Advertising Policy

The Berlina Register is a part of the Alfa hobby for me, which I enjoy, but it costs money, and I have two sources of funding other than my own wallet. First, please feel free to send postage stamps that I can use for mailings, or nominal amounts of money (a dollar or two) to cover postage and printing costs. Second, there is the Berlina Classified Ads section below. For non-businesses, a small classified ad listing cars or parts for sale or wanted is free. Just provide all relevant information to me. For businesses, a small classified ad of cars, parts, or services is $3. For a larger business ad, such as an 8 x 11 insert, contact me and we can work something out.

Berlina Personal Histories

Hemsley's First Alfa

by J. Michael Hemsley

Long, long ago, when the Earth was still cooling, and I was a college senior about a month from graduating, being commissioned in the Army, and getting married, I saw a car I needed to have. You need to understand that I was really, really poor. But my fiancé had a car, and I figured that was the key to getting this much more better car. She had a 1962 Buick Special (one of those with a V8), and I really wanted the Giulia Sprint GT I had seen on a used car lot. The Alfa was a 1965, and it was one year old at the time. Well, I pondered the problem for awhile and finally found a shop that would take a look at the car for me. I knew nothing of cars, much less Alfas, except that I liked sports cars. After finding the shop that seemed reliable and interested in helping me out, I went off to get the car. As I drove onto the lot, the Alfa was driving off. Sold, the salesman told me ... sigh. I went into the Army, where I was making real money for the first time in my life, and after six months went way into debt to buy my first new car, a 66 Shelby GT-350.

The Army took me to Germany, where I rallied the Shelby and watched a lot of racing. Early in 1968, the local Alfa dealer in Pirmasens had a new GT arrive in his showroom, and I was in love. It was the first of the 1750 GTVs, it was mustard, and it was gorgeous. I needed that car, so I went in to talk with the salesman. The price wasn't bad, so we worked out some numbers, and the deal was nearly done. Then he told me the car could not be taken to the US ... doesn't meet the new safety rules effective that January ... sigh. I bought a Lotus Europa (should have kept the Shelby) ...

Then the Army sent me to see Southeast Asia. When they finally returned me, I was assigned to teach ROTC at Eastern Washington State College outside Spokane, Washington. There was a cool group of sports car freaks there, including some racers. I soon found myself with a Lotus XI sports racer and a Chevy Carryall. That meant the Europa and the Volvo I had ordered while in Vietnam had to go. The Europa because I didn't need two Lotus (Lotuses? Loti?) and the Volvo because I didn't need two trucks. I looked at a variety of cars until I saw a 69 Berlina sitting in the showroom of Spokane's brand new Alfa dealer. The owner wanted a 71 GTV, so the car was for sale. My wife and I wondered if the Alfa was the right sedan for us and our growing family, and after some days decided on getting it. I saw the dealer at the local auto show and told him of our decision to buy it. He told me it had been sold the day before ... sigh. This time, though, I did the right thing. I told him to get me a new 1971 1750 Berlina, and he did. It was the first new Alfa he sold ... the guy who sold the other Berlina had some problems and was delayed in getting his GTV.

That Berlina was my first Alfa, and it convinced me that Alfa Romeo sedans were particularly nice cars. The Berlina was convincing enough that I sold the Lotus XI (for $900 ... sure wish I had it today) and bought a Giulia Super to race. Today, after 13 Alfas, I still rank the Berlina and Super among my favorites. That Berlina was our primary car for a number of years, taking the entire family from Spokane via the Pacific Coast Highway to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, when I was transferred. I finally sold it to Egidio Rosanova, probably one of the nicest Alfa mechanics, and dealers, I have known. I wonder where it is now?

I Married a Berlina

by Jean Skeels

The first time I ever say the Berlina, I didn't know what it was. What a surprise ...

I was living with two other people and Felix had come down from Northern California a couple of times with this car and I had paid no attention. It was just Felix coming down for a visit. He was always great to have around, but I was more interested in my car, (a Karmann Ghia) which I was fixing up with visions of restoration. I knew Felix had given a ride to my

roommates in this car of his, but I didn't feel as if I was missing anything.

So, Felix was down for another one of his visits and asked me if I wanted a ride in his "new" car. I said, "Sure, let's see what this thing can do." We drove the back roads from Thousand Oaks to Point Mugu. After lots of twisting turns and up and down shifting, we finally arrived. (I was later to find out that this was the kind of road Alfa drivers live to drive their cars on.)

We hung out at Point Mugu for some time talking about this and that when all of a sudden, out of the blue, Felix proposes to me. Yikes, I was broadsided!!! I never saw it coming.

On the trip home, my interest was greatly enhanced by the fact that I realized I was going to marry an Alfa. I figured, if I was going to live with them for the rest of my life, I'd better find out more about them. Felix was at no loss for words when it came to describing the wonders of the breed. Admittedly, the Berlina seemed slightly more graceful than a Yugo (which I later found out was a Fiat in disguise), when I first saw it, but it began to grow on me. Well, at least it did when it was running.

There was a time when the prospect of it ever running again seemed very far away. I despaired of ever having my car all to myself again. But, the day finally came when the engine and transmission and fuel injection and the this and the that all were fixed and the car was once again a "daily driver."

This all happened just in time for the second Berlina (the parts car) to come home. After all, it was just too good a deal to pass up and one never knows when they might need some of this stuff. (Our storage room is full of this car.) And, the local Alfa repair person was willing to take parts off this car in exchange for doing some work on the daily driver. What a deal!

The second Alfa needed a car cover, it was an eyesore. Well, to be fair, the front looked good, but the back was a mess. So, I bought a car cover for it. (The neighbors were starting to complain.)

And, truly, the Alfa repair man did help cannibalize the parts car in exchange for work. So, all of the good stuff about the car found a home and the wrecker got the rest.

The Berlina has been running most of our time together, only occasional lapses. It is pretty sturdy and one day, with the right body work, might even be called good looking. It isn't as cute as a GTV, but is is more practical. You don't have to worry about the sump guard or sump pan hitting anything. When you open the hood, there is room around the engine and you can see stuff. Heck, you can even see the ground!

Yeah, the Berlina has grown on me. It may not be my first choice in cars, but I'll take it over a good many of them out there. Besides, it has sentimental value. It is the car that drove Felix to proposing to me.

Berlina Classified Ads

For commercial sources of Berlina and other Alfa parts, see "Berlina Parts Sources" from the first newsletter of March 1997. I am kind of a Berlina information clearinghouse myself, so contact me if you have specific needs.

Steve Koenig (916) 274-8904 is looking for amber tail lights (both sides), and a new metal windshield frame piece (meaning the trim?), for a 2000 Berlina.

Michael Williams (916) 452-3399 is looking for a glovebox interior for his 2000 Berlina and the rubber hold-down strap for the vapor recovery tank in the trunk.

Tomas La Costa <TLACOSTA@DRCO.COM> seeks a 1750 Berlina, a Giulia TI with column shift, and any model of 1900.

William West Clark (408) 757-2644 has 1969 and 1972 parts Berlinas available.

Mark Thornton (206) 367-4208 is looking for straight stainless bumpers, a u-joint steering box, and performance suspension parts for his 2000 Berlina.

Andrew Watry (510) 526-0391 wants a tan (pigskin?) driver's door panel for a 1969 1750 Berlina, in good to perfect condition, and two good Michelin MXV tires, size 185/70-14. I have two NOS Michelin XWX 185/70-15 tires and three Michelin ZX 155-14 tires for sale or trade.

Samuel P. Partin III (501) 327-6370 has Berlina glass, trim, Spica parts, and seats for sale, and is looking for good outside front door handles with locks.