Berlina Register Newsletter No. 20 (May 2005)

 

 

 

Notes and Comment

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††††††††††† Welcome to Berlina Register newsletter 20.Not much car news from me this time, other than that I parted out a 1974 Berlina in February.Useful parts went all over the country from it. In the Forum section I talk about the unique aspects of factory air conditioning from that car.The feature this issue was kindly written by Rik Zuurbier, from the Netherlands, about his Berlina and Giulia experiences.The 2005 AROC convention is coming up in a couple months, and if all goes according to plan, I'll get to see and drive Damian Magista's column-shift Giulia TI there.Hope to see some of you I haven't met.

††††††††††† In market activity, several Berlinas recently sold for unexpected prices.Bobcor in Florida sold a nice Euro car for $9,100, and a Register member in LA sold a restored car to an SF dealer for $11,301.Granted these were nice cars, but those kinds of prices have not been seen before on Berlinas.A tired, complete project car in Illinois, minus engine and trans, went for $3,350.All these were on ebay.A trend?A bubble? I don't know.Shortly after these sales, a decent 1974 rubber-bumper car in remote Susanville, CA, went for $2,500 on ebay, more in line with what I'd expect.Time will tell if the first three were just crazy or a reflection of a new appreciation.

††††††††††† The keeper of the Berlina Register is Andrew Watry.Phone (510) 526-0391.Email:watry@prodigy.net.Send me corrections to your register information or any other Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs.Always seeking articles and ads for the newsletter.

 

 

Berlina Forum

 

††††††††††† I recently parted out a giallo piper 1974 US Berlina with factory air conditioning.I'd heard such a thing existed, but had never seen it before.I will list here the various aspects of the AC system, and attendant changes to the car.At first I thought it might be a dealer or aftermarket add-on, but on close examination many of the changes could only have been done at the factory, which convinced me otherwise:

* The AC unit/heater is a single combination box that fits where the regular heater unit goes, behind the dash and above the trans hump.It is big, and a very tight fit.The AC vents and controls stick out almost to the shifter.It includes two extra firewall holes for the AC hoses to pass through and a hole in the tunnel for the condensation drain.All holes were cleanly done, stamp-cut with a perimeter of removed sound-deadening.

* AC compressor mounted where battery would normally go, on heavy mounts.AC hoses come through firewall near starter, and cross over to compressor behind engine and then along left inner fender.Presumably the car would have a two-belt crank pulley and probably an idler pulley to drive the AC unit, but this car's engine was gone so I can't say.

* No battery box in engine compartment, and thin, long battery box and battery tiedowns spot-welded on right side of trunk shelf, with provision for a plastic battery cover like on late SPICA spiders.Tarry sound-deadening is not applied where the box goes, and in fact was folded back and cut off before painting.The positive battery cable goes through a stamped hole in the rear seat support, runs down behind the seat and out through a hole in the floor, under the car to the starter.This cable has two stamped steel covers over it under the seat and in the wheelwell.

* Slightly tinted glass all around.It's hard to tell it's tinted until you compare to regular glass.

* Center console cut away at front edge to clear AC unit, done cleanly with vinyl covering factory folded and stapled on the back.No heater fan switch on console, but instead a small Alfa emblem clipped where the hole would be.AC and heater controls are on the AC unit.

* Possibly an electric radiator fan that comes on with the AC compressor.This car had one installed, but I can't say for sure it's original.

††††††††††† The same setup was used on GTVs, where it appears to have been more common. I've seen several aftermarket AC units on Berlinas before, but this is the first factory unit I've seen.

 

 

A Life of Alfas

by Rik Zuurbier

 

††††††††††† Iíve been driving 105 series Alfas for over 15 years, starting out with what was only just affordable. In Holland, that meant grotty Giulia Supers, lots of work needed, but drivable. After a while I bought a í66 Bertone Coupe. After some time I found a í70 Berlina 1750 with rotten sills and interior, with its head gasket gone and one burnt valve. As it cost only $500 and I thought it really cool, it became the next car on a long, long list. It was the coolest car I ever had, and I did many many miles on it, finally turning it into a track day car, getting my racing license in it.

††††††††††† Thatís when I found out that, like in the States, Berlinas offer much more value for money than comparable Giulias, let alone Giulia Coupes. So, after some time, more and more lonely Berlinas found their way towards me. Cars were broken up, restored or part restored, and a hoard of parts stacked up.††

††††††††††† A couple of years ago I finally found a really good Blu Olandese 2000 Berlina. This car was further perfected using my own stock of parts. In Holland many classics run on Liquid Propane Gas, being much cheaper to run , because classics over 25 years are road tax exempted. Road tax is based on what fuel the car uses, i.e. a car running gasoline (1.20 Euros a litre) pays less than a car running on LPG (.40 a litre). Being tax exempt, running on LPG makes for really affordable driving.

††††††††††† A towbar was installed, nice ICE, and last year a set of GTA replica wheels. Nicely lowered, it makes a proud package, and many Alfa drivers compliment me on the car. Earlier this year I had a bonus, in buying a literal wreck of a Berlina, which came with a completely new interior set.†† So an old set of seats and rear bench went to an upholsterer, and the car came back really transformed. I had a middle armrest made up, and the car was resplendent in dark blue with a light tan artificial leather interior.

††††††††††† However, having had several other Alfa 105s in the meantime, I had one complaint. Due to running on LPG the car wasnít really crisp and fast.So when I had a trade in on a modified Giulia with a wild Twin Spark conversion, I knew what I had to do.The engine of an Alfa 75 TS (in US, a Milano) is a modified version of the old Nord engine. So it isnít very difficult to convert it to running in an older 105 series. Instead of opting for a set of 45 Webers, I decided to go the whole way and run it injected.So now I have a Bosch-injected Twin Spark, with a custom made tubular header, special cams, pistons (JE), and modified chip.The car runs the original Nord water pump and tach drive assembly, original radiator etc., and has the computer hidden inside the passenger compartment. Underhood appearance was made to look stock by the use of original Alfa fasteners, clamps, and so on.

††††††††††† Even right now, in the middle of winter, the car starts without priming, without first having to push the throttle several times. Just twist the key and whap! A low rumble through the 60 mm exhaust system and absolute instant throttle response. This car is FAST! On the straightaways in fifth, driving 80 Kph at 2200 revs, all you have to do is push the pedal to the metal to get instant GO!No hiccups, no carb surge, just instant movement. Fun is driving in the right lane at 100 Kph where 120 is allowed, and checking out the rear view mirror for up and coming Beemers and suchlike. When they come up on your bumper, just pushÖ People canít imagine how a 32 year old Lada look-alike can beat their 5 series BMW just like that!(I donít think it a Lada look-alike, others doÖ)

††††††††††† The car's suspension is set up in a mildly sporting way, to cure understeer and give better steering response by way of a stiffer stabiliser bar up front, red Koni shocks and stiffer springs. At the rear the rear stabiliser is removed, stock shocks and lowered springs do the job just as they should. Uprated rubbers are used in the rear trailing arms and triangle. Next to do about the suspension is to fit adjustable upper arms to the front, so as to increase camber a bit. Thatís all I will do to the suspension, because the purpose of this car is not sporting, but to be a comfortable and fast daily driver. For going really fast, Iíve a 69 Bertone which is much more modified.

††††††††††† Just as I follow in the US from Berlina newsletters, Berlinas are very rare here in Holland, with maybe 100 or so still on the road. Since quite a number of Alfisti are active around where I live, I frequently have the pleasure of meeting one on the road. Of the 10 or so Berlinas around here, all of them have been in my workshop at least once, and people know where to find me for parts and advice. Iíve my own network for parts and can actually get just about any steel body part new, except rear quarter panels. The only thing hard to get are interior parts, or complete, decent interiors. The value of these cars preclude people from wanting to invest in stitching up a new set of seats. Especially door panels are getting rare as the famous henís teeth.

††††††††††† As pointed out in Newsletter 19, there are some differences in the versions delivered in several countries. As far as I know, Dutch versions are basically the same as Italian. Cars where delivered without door mirrors. German cars indeed have an aluminium builder's plate inside the engine compartment, as do French cars. Iíve only seen pictures of cars with headrests on the rear bench, but I believe this is US only (Ed: no rear headrests in the US). Same for the impact bumpers.Air conditioning was used in Italian cars as an option, but if it was the same as the US aircon I donít know.

††††††††††† Automatics were sold in Germany, also in the US (Ed: not that I've ever seen), but Iíve never seen an original Dutch automatic (would love to have one thoughÖ) As far as I know there are two different automatic rear axle ratios. 15/41 and the other: ?? Right hand drive cars always have floor mounted pedals I believe. Injected (Spica) cars were US only. There were several choices of optional alloy wheels available, mostly the multi-spoke 5.5J 14 inchers.

††††††††††† As far as I can see in my own stock there was a huge range of colors for the interior. Leatherette or velours, colors known are light beige, tan, tobacco, blue, burgundy and black. All 2000 versions had headrests up front, mostly with the wooden supports. Any system as to why some cars have steel supports to the headrests is beyond me. Some cars have green tinted glass, some have Jaeger instruments, some Veglia, but it doesnít look like there is any system in this as regards to year and/or model. Iíve seen at least three different kinds of ash trays on the 2000 consoles.

††††††††††† 1750 cars donít have an LSD, although I have read this was an option. All 2000 versions I have had had LSD fitted with, if memory serves me right, 10/41 axle ratio (Ed: maybe 4.3?). A shorter axle ratio was available for Switzerland and Italy for mountain driving (same ratio as US Spider?).Weber, Solex, and DellíOrto carbs were used , with, according to me, a preference to Solex (being the least performance oriented maybe?) All Berlina versions use the long fifth gear. The only specific accessory Iíve ever found for a Berlina is a set of grille covers for winter use. This comprises of three molded rubber pieces for inside the Alfa emblem, and beside it. These have sliding covers so as to provide more or less air towards the engine. Quirky but useful, especially now in December.

††††††††††† Well, thatís some information from me about Berlinas. If anyone out there wants to know about the TS conversion, send me an email. And if there is anyone who knows of a complete automatic Berlina somewhere near or in Holland, no matter how rotten, please let me know!†† If you need specific Berlina parts, give a yell (Rzuurbier@zonnet.nl). If I donít have it, Iíll know the guy who does!Keep on driving! Letís make the roads just that little more beautifulÖ.

Berlina Market Report

 

†††††††††† * 1972 US 2000 Berlina. Very original one-owner green/tan car that was well cared for since new but had faded paint. Some suspension mods. $1,500 private sale. Oroville, CA. Other than "patinaed" paint, this was an original, excellent condition car sold by the estate when the original owner died. Extremely good deal for the buyer for this unmolested piece of Berlina history.(11/04)

†††††††††† * 1974 US 2000 Berlina.Giallo/black parts car, hit hard in front, with windshield area, door, and rocker rust.Factory AC.Complete except for engine, trans, driveshaft. Free. Novato, CA.Car has a good number of usable parts, including interior, brakes, axle, Koni shocks.Too far gone to resurrect, but useful for parts to keep other Berlinas on the road.Free is always the right price for a Berlina. (1/05)

†††††††††† * 1969 US 1750 Berlina. Good condition green/tan three-owner car, driven 20 years by Alfa shop owner. Repainted nonstandard forest green, with velour upholstery.Rebuilt engine, generally good mechanicals. $4,200 Berlina Register ad. San Francisco, CA.A good usable car with solid mechanicals.Departures from stock (color, upholstery, Bosch wheels) detract from originality, but may be to buyer's taste.Price a bit high, but solid condition should give years of good service. (2/05)

†††††††††† * 1969 Euro 1750 Berlina.Excellent, restored grey/tan car. Restored and imported by Bobcor. Carbs, full Euro spec; excellent throughout. $9,100 ebay. Pompano Beach, FL.Looked to be an exemplary car; Bobcor has brought in several like this.Price is quite high for a Berlina, but you couldn't find a better one.Prices for really good Berlinas may finally be on the rise; this is Giulia sedan territory.(3/05)

†††††††††† * 1974 US 2000 Berlina.Good overall condition white/black car with strong mechanicals, slight body wear, and aged suspension. SPICA car, converted from rubber to stainless bumpers. $1,000 private sale, Ontario, Canada.Extremely good price for a strong, rust-free, usable car.Slightly tired, but easy enough to sort out. Excellent deal for the buyer. (3/05)

†††††††††† * 1969 US 1750 Berlina. White/black complete rolling car lacking engine and trans.Appeared in good condition; stored indoors for years on abandoned restoration. $3,350 ebay. Northbrook, IL.†† This car, which appeared overall to be complete and decent other than the missing drivetrain, would be a good project for someone with running gear ready to go.Regardless, the price seems extremely high for what is a basically a project, considering the work required and the resulting value.Ebay fever? No decent Berlinas outside of California? I don't know what explains this, unless Berlinas are finally on the rise. I would have expected this to be under $1,000. (3/05)

†††††††††† * 1972 US 2000 Berlina. Excellent restored green/tan car, just completely gone through by Alfa mechanic. $11,301 ebay. Irvine, CA.Car looks extraordinary and apparently needs nothing.Another very nice car on ebay bid to a formerly unapproachable price.Unless this, the Bobcor car, and the white roller above are all aberrations (they were all on ebay within a two-week period), I have to conclude Berlina prices are, for now, on the rise. (3/05)

†††††††††† * 1974 US 2000 Berlina.Maroon/tan daily driver.Complete and mechanically solid with lots of recent repairs.Cosmetics below average, with peeling paint and seats coming apart.Apparently not rusty.Aftermarket wheels, plus originals included. $2,500 ebay. Susanville, CA.Car appeared to be a solid driver, with no mechanical issues, but cosmetics will take some thousands to sort out.Bordering on a high price for condition considering the cosmetics, but not by much.Reasonable purchase, considering current trend toward higher values. (4/05)

 

Berlina Classifieds

 

Wanted: Pair of round front amber marker lights/lenses for a 1969 U.S. model 1750 Berlina.These are larger than the European models.Contact Robert Downey at mabawa@bellsouth.net.

 

Berlina parts for sale: I still have big and small Berlina parts from several parted cars, including lights, hood, doors, trunk lid, front glass, back glass, taillights, spears, C-pillar chrome air vent covers, red 1969 marker lights, cowl/wiper covers, wiper motor, lots of misc. bits. Looking to clear out garage so inquire with needs. Andrew Watry; watry@prodigy.net or (510) 526-0391.

 

Wanted: Good tan door panels with armrests for 1967 Giulia Super. Other colors considered if full set. Andrew Watry; watry@prodigy.net or (510) 526-0391.