Berlina/Giulia Register Newsletter No. 21 (November 2005)
Notes and Comment
Welcome to Berlina Register newsletter 21. This is the first newsletter since I have taken over managing the Giulia Sedan Register for North America. I will be merging the newsletter and the Berlina Register website over time to cover and incorporate both types of cars, which I've unofficially been doing all along anyway. I will continue to maintain each Register for the indefinite, probably permanent, future. Barry Edmunds in Australia is the founder of the Giulia Register, and kindly agreed to let me manage the US and Canadian portions, while he continues to handle the rest of the world. Contact him if you need to at email@example.com
Most of this newsletter is member contributions rather than my own work. In the Forum section are three pieces: one from Duncan Gibb on Alfas generally, and sedans specifically, in South Africa, one from Martin Buckley of Classic Cars magazine in the UK about free cars written for Autocar, a UK magazine, and one from sedan regular Damian Magista, reporting on his move from Seattle to Berkeley in his column-shift Giulia TI, which replaces his Berlina, now gone to a new home in Seattle. Lots of cars sold in the Market Report section this time.
In my own stable, I replaced the master cylinder, brake hoses, and brake pads on my Giulia Super recently and now have much better brake feel and performance, with no pulling to the right as was beginning to happen. Car drives great. On my GTV, I've done a bunch in the last year. I pulled the head and had Norman Racing do a valve job with big intake valves, and installed 10548 Euro cams. I also replaced the rear axle with a unit set up by Tom Sahines for 50 percent limited slip, with poly center bushing. Right now, I've got its trans out for new synchros and seals, and probably lightened gears, by Glenn Oliveria, and a new clutch at the same time. Should be back together after Thanksgiving. I've run it in three AROSC schools at Streets of Willow and one time trial at Buttonwillow. Very fun.
In a dangerous progression, I bought a 1975 Ferrari 308 GT4 in July, after thinking about, and looking at them, for years. It's a nice red/tan example, with rebuilt engine and trans, new paint, and new interior. Prices on these Berlina-equivalents are very low, relatively speaking, right now. I love it, and have put about 600 miles on it, having attended to a number of small repairs. It basically was totally rebuilt in the early '90s and then never sorted out. Before I drive it more, I will change the cam belts, as it's been sitting most of the past 12 years since its rebuild, purportedly not good for the belts. But I have to finish the GTV first; it's painful to have to wait.
The keeper of the Berlina Register and North American Giulia Register is Andrew Watry. Phone (510) 526-0391. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me corrections to your register information or any other Giulia- and Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs. Always seeking articles and ads for the newsletter.
South African Giulias and Berlinas
by Duncan Gibb
I live in the coastal city of Durban in South Africa, I am the editor and vice-chairman of the Alfa Romeo Club of KwaZulu Natal (the province we live in) and have occasionally been to the Berlina site and found mention of South African Berlinas. Perhaps I can give a little insight into how things went here and the following we have here.
In the 60's and 70's the motoring industry boomed here and everyone was wanting to go faster. Being a British colony, the influence was British Ford, Morris/Austin, Lotus, Austin Healey but most of the saloons needed extra attention to make them into street racers ... enter Alfa Romeo with the Giulietta ti and the Giulia Super and they were showing the way off the showroom floor! A huge following began and continues to this day.
The cars were originally imported from Italy, both left and right hand drive. From the mid-60's the Alfas were assembled in two places, Rosslyn in Pretoria and East London. Our engine and chassis numbering appears to be the same as the rest of the world as they are the same as a lot I have seen on the register.
From a Berlina point of view, the 1750 Mk1 was launched in 1969. This car had a single brake booster, front indicator/park light assemblies mounted on the front bumper (not on the body). Hub caps were chromed and embossed with the Alfa Romeo logo. 1750 badge at the back of the car incorporated an Alfa Romeo circular badge. This was upgraded in 1970/71 with the Mk2 with two brake boosters, front indicators on the body and a slightly different centre console (ashtray and switches transposed). Interior was various shades of vinyl. Hubcaps were now the chrome with black plastic ring.
We were very fortunate due to being in Africa that all cars were fitted with sidedraught Webers (some 1300 Giulias had Solexes and the later 116 series had Dellortos) and had the thin stainless bumpers with stainless and rubber overriders. The car became an instant hit with its 100 mph cruising speed as well as being spacious and having awesome braking. A lot of wrecked Berlinas were robbed of their engines, which were fitted to Giulias to turn them into a pretty untouchable racer.
The aftermarket rims available were the Turbinas (incidentally in my experience the Cromadoras were the die cast with sharp edges and the Campagnolos the sand cast!). More common and desirable however were the Momo mags.
In 1973 the 2000 Berlina was launched and a lot of the 1750 owners upgraded. All 2000 Berlinas were fitted with limited-slip differentials. A fair percentage of the 2000 Berlinas and Juniors were fitted with automatic transmission. Personally I think the interior and exterior styling of the 2000 was not as appealing. In 1977 the Berlinas were phased out for the advent of the Alfettas.
Another interesting thing is that during the economic sanctions imposed by the world on neighbouring country Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa sold Giulias, Berlinas, and Suds there. The cars were sent with no engine or chassis numbers so that the source could not be traced. The Rhodesian cars were stamped with a 4 digit engine number and left with no chassis number. On the demise of Rhodesia a lot of people emigrated to South Africa bringing with them the cars I have just described.
In 2003 a racing series called the Alfa Trofeo was launched by a Johannesburg Alfa dealership which as a one-marque series for any Alfa up to 1985. This was the year Alfa Romeo pulled out of South Africa for political reasons. This has brought out a large number (20-30) cars in beautiful condition, some in full race trim, some in road trim to stretch their legs. Most competitive are the Giulias with Juniors and the odd Berlina in hot pursuit. We have master tuners here who are capable of squeezing 200 hp out of a 2000 engine.
I am restoring a 1971 1750 Berlina from three cars, two Rhodesian ones and a South African (fitting considering I was one of the immigrants). I have one lovely body shell with no accident damage and minimal rust and two rotten cars with beautiful original trim.
The car will be rosso with black upholstery and the Momo wheels. I have both the original four-digit 1750 engine and a 2000 one, I will fit the 2000 but will also rebuild the 1750 to keep for 100% originality. Subtly lowering the car by 2" back and front changes its whole attitude without detracting from it's originality.
by Martin Buckley (also printed in Autocar)
On average I get given a car for nothing about once every two years. I=m probably on my tenth now since passing my test 20 years ago.
I don=t go looking for them, these orphan motors; you won=t find me hanging around with pensioners just in case they decide they=d like bestow their unwanted old nail on me, or loitering around scrap yard gates or checking "Birth marriages and deaths" columns in the local paper on the off chance some poor dear has popped her clogs and left a mint low mileage E-Type Jag in the garage that I can buy for a song off the grieving relatives.
I=m sad, but I=m not that sad.
The thing is they just sort of find me--and very few, if any, have been cars I have actively wanted. It just doesn=t work like that.
Still, it=s an appealing concept this free car business, fraught though it is with moral and practical difficulties. For the free car novice all I can do is offer a few hints, tips and experiences. The first rule of the free car world is don=t ever fall in love with one. These vehicles exist to be used, abused and discarded.
Using up any emotional currency, never mind the genuine folding stuff, is bad, bad news if the car is free. Even if you find yourself emptying an ashtray or putting some free air in a tyre beware. That way disaster lies and suddenly you have a "project" on your hands. Consider my latest freebie, a 1970 on the >H= Alfa 1750 Berlina, as a case study.
For those that don=t know this is a mildly desirable vehicle, the least trendy of Alfas' rear-drive '70s classics styled in the Italian breeze block brutalist school.
A friend from Birmingham--lets call him "Steve"--with an insane number of old tat to his name (more than 50 he can recall, many of which he has bought but never collected) decided the 1750 was a missing link in my motoring education.
His grotty white example--taxed and tested mind--was on the house with the proviso that I should remove it as soon as possible on the basis it was one less car for his delightful neighbours to destroy in the night.
The trouble was I bonded with that Alfa and struggled to stop myself showing it affection. Luckily we only got as far as a fumble in a jet wash booth before the brakes disappeared and I sent it back to Steve, realising I=d had a narrow escape.
No, with free cars you want an uncomplicated relationship. Like the Audi 100 5E I was given by an old lady.
That Audi had "ABUSE ME" written down its golden flanks. Velour trimmed and smoking like a wood burning stove the harder I drove it the more that car liked it. And while I had bottomless pockets for some pitiful Italian shed I=d bought with my own money I begrudged every drop of petrol I poured into that faithful Audi.
I guess it would still be going now if I hadn=t run it out of oil one day. So would the smart green Volvo estate I had a year or two ago if I hadn=t bumped it into a telegraph pole at 3 2 mph. Those things don=t move, even for free Volvos.
Donated by a motor trade pal who couldn=t be bothered putting it in an auction it was of such minus-value status that even a broken headlight rendered it landfill. It highlighted another potential moral snag in the world of gratis motoring; having to be eternally grateful.
I think the guy who gave me that old shed slips it into the conversation every time we speak and I have to look humble about the lovely Volvo he graciously bestowed on me. The truth is there were only two good things about that Volvo; the MOT and the tax in the screen. I relived him of the headache of outing it in Loot and having to deal with an endless stream of unsavoury wasters that very cheap cars tend to attract.
They ring on stolen mobile phones at 7:30 in the morning or from Essex boozers at closing time. Just remember that if you know the person whose letting you have car never feel that you need to be too grateful: you are probably doing them favour.
Relatives are of course a good source of zero-cost vehicles. My gran gave me my first car, a Hillman Husky Estate with no brakes. I=ve rustled a couple of dead Lancias out of my dad in the past but only my blessed mother could give me a car (in this case a Rover 827 Vitesse) in lieu of a deposit on a flat and then ask for the money back after I sold the car. But, as the Americans say, let=s not go thereY
None of this is calculated to be life-affirming stuff, to make you feel sexy and confident like the people in the new car adverts. Nobody wants to shag you when you=re driving that free hearing-aid beige Datsun Sunny automatic donated by a friendly car dealer. Driving that travesty even the dossers shunned me; I can recall sitting at some traffic lights with the exhaust pumping white plumes of pungent burned ATF fumes (sucked straight from the auto box) as I watched the face of a vagrant turn away in disgust.
But what became of the poor old Alfa Berlina? Well, it's still got no brakes, so now Steve wants me to have another of his cast-offs in lieu of the Alfa.
It's big, it's thirsty, it's out-of-fashion and it's worth sod all--the classic traits of the free car. It=s a Mercedes 300TE estate which, oddly, I actually want.
Seattle to Berkeley: The TI Odyssey
by Damian Magista
After accepting a new job position at our sister art school in San Francisco, I had to get rid of one of my two Alfa sedans. It was a tough choice but I decided to let my beloved 1970 1750 Euro Berlina go. She sold for $2,400 to fellow Berlina enthusiast, Ross Mackay. Ross worked at Group 2 and now works at Ferrari of Seattle, so she is in good hands. Ross bought it three days before I had to leave Seattle. It was a huge relief.
This left me with my 1964 Giulia TI column shift, and yes I am crazy enough to drive her the 700+ miles to my new home in Berkeley. Before I left I brought her into Group 2, who went through the brakes. As they were doing this a couple of the brake hoses disintegrated. They were all replaced with braided steel. Group 2 chopped the springs for me, setting her at the correct ride height. They also mounted new Vredestein tires for me, which are excellent both in looks and performance. I highly recommend them for older Alfas.
After loading the TI up with the remainder of my items, I hit the road. The TI's engine was rebuilt about 10k miles ago, has a crankshaft from a TZ , 1750 pistons, and a brand new single-downdraft Weber I installed to replace the old cranky Solex. This combo resulted in an extremely smooth running 1600 (well, technically 1700) engine.
The car did very well on the freeway. You have to rev it much higher due to the 5.12 rear axle. I felt very safe in the car as it instantly responded to any input from me. I felt safer in the TI than the Berlina, oddly enough. The car was easy to drive and I liked the fact that I could roll down the front passenger window while in the driver's seat.
When stopping for gas I'd get questions about the car and lots of looks. Somewhere outside of Eugene, a big black SUV pulled up to me on the freeway, and the driver said something. I've had people do this before so I yelled back that I couldn't hear him. He yelled back, "My friend thinks you and your car are hot!" As he was saying this, the young lady in the passenger seat leaned forward and smiled at me. Flattery will get you everywhere.
I stopped in Grant's Pass for the evening. The starter solenoid on the TI is hanging up so you have to whack it a couple times to get it to operate. This was issue number one. Not really a big deal, just a pain in the butt. The next day I left for the second leg; midway though the pass the TI started making a nasty sound. It was coming from the transmission area. It would come and go but it was worrisome nonetheless. I also began to notice the temp gauge was reading a bit too high. I stopped and checked the engine oil. It was fine. I also checked the water and it was low. That would explain the heat issue (I should have checked this before I left). Unfortunately the tranny sound was still there.
I soldiered on and rolled into Berkeley and my new home. The TI had made it with a few little problems but nothing that took me down. Keep in mind that the TI had been sitting in a garage most of the time I had it and had previously been sitting in a garage for about a year before I bought her. It's a testament to either my ability to throw caution to the wind or the superior engineering of Alfas.
I have since taken her to Roger's Autoworks in Oakland to have him check out the tranny. Fortunately it was just low on gear oil. I still have to deal with the starter and the now-leaking right rear brake cylinder. I'll also be replacing the 5.12 rear with a 4.56 LSD axle. This will get rid of those rear Dunlops and give her a little more breathing room on the freeway.
She's a fantastic little sedan and I'm glad I kept her.
Berlina/Giulia Market Report
C 1965 Giulia TI. Grey/black car that had been sitting for years. Radically lowered, with a Veloce 1600, and bucket seats out of some later car, this car was a cobbled hotrod that had a tough life and was very beat up. Lots of floor and trunk rust, awful interior, big dent in the trunk, poor engine, full of junk, the list goes on. $1,600 private sale. Berkeley, CA. Five years ago this was a $500 project car I considered that maybe made sense to resurrect at that price. With five more years' decay and neglect, at this price, it doesn't make sense at all. Perhaps only good for parts at this point, or to use the shell for a serious race car. Putting it back on the street would be a life's work. Seller really pulled the wool over the eyes of this buyer (10/04).
C 1973 US 2000 Berlina. Mechanically solid maroon/tan car that drives and handles well but needs paint, headliner, dash help. Seats are good. Fresh engine, good suspension, Campy mags. Driven 3,500 miles home without incident. $3,500 Alfa Owner ad. San Diego, CA. While initially price seems a little high considering cosmetics, price paid is less than the cost of the rebuilt engine at Calif. prices, so pretty much a fair deal. And this seems to be the way the market's going. Plus, it made the San Diego to Boston cross-country journey "without a burp," and now there's one more nonrusty Berlina outside California, which is a good thing. (10/04)
C 1973 US 2000 Berlina. Maroon/tan car that appeared very nice in ebay ad. Not much information was given, and few pictures were posted, but car looked solid. $5,889 ebay. Spokane, WA. Given current price trend, this seemed like a fair price for both parties for what appeared to be a very nice, stock car. I personally would not have spent this kind of money without making an in-person inspection, considering how thin the ebay posting was on details. (5/05)
C 1973 US 2000 Berlina. Grey/black car that appeared complete but tired, and needed some care. Overall looked straight, had good interior, trunk, and dash. Claimed to run well, but had been unused for some time, with trans popping out of reverse, some rust in door jamb areas (common), and flat paint. $1,625 ebay. Concord, CA. If the structure was essentially solid, this had the makings of a reasonable car. Being laid up for years often means high bring-back-to-life costs, with new seals, hydraulics, electrical components, fuel system flushing, $325 DMV back fees, etc. Plus popping out of gear might mean a trans going-through. And it obviously needed paint. Nonetheless, for a home mechanic, not a bad buy at current values. For a checkbook mechanic, quickly becomes a $5,000 Berlina that still needs paint. (5/05)
C 1973 US 2000 Berlina. Tired white/black car. Rust, dents, non-running engine, interior OK but tired. Alleged rebuilt trans and clutch. Seller was threatening to scrap it if he didn't get his price. $760 ebay. Albuquerque, NM. In former times, this would have been the classic "free Berlina." However, with interests and values elevated lately, probably not a bad price for a reasonable parts car. Interior and trim looked good, and lots of odds and ends can be sold. Probably not a candidate for restoration, due to lots of rust and needs in every area, unless someone really wanted a life-long Berlina project. (5/05)
C 1973 US 2000 Berlina. Silver/tan car. Complete, operable car with respectable exterior and interior, alleged rebuilt head. Paint fading with some scrapes, and some advanced rust in door jambs. No pics of underside to judge rust there. $1,800 ebay. Los Angeles, CA. If the underside of the car was solid, and the body around the windows was not rusted, this is a decent price for buyer and seller for a useable Berlina. Door jamb rust was a bit alarming without more pics and explanation, but it's also very common. With recent frenzied Berlina prices, I thought this might go higher. (7/05)
C 1967 Giulia Super. Maroon/black car, been in California since new, still with its original black plates. Totally straight body with no rust, but a horrid maroon/brown metallic that has faded badly. Cheap grey interior replaced with good used black set, but metallic silver headliner still needs addressing. Mechanically sound with good engine and rebuilt brakes. Car sat for many years in a Bay Area carport with a twin, was found and sold by APE about five years ago, then passed through several hands, including mine, going up in price each time. $5,000 Alfa Digest. Woodside, CA. An unbelievably solid car, that has defied the years in terms of dents or rust. Too bad about the world's ugliest paint and headliner, but the new owner should remove the glass anyway to paint it, so it's easy to do the headliner at the same time. A pretty fair deal for the buyer. Put on a $3,000 paint job and have a really nice car without too much work. (8/05)
C 1971 Giulia 1300 Super. Silver/tan car from Europe, brought into the US, formerly having a propane fuel system, not unusual there. Overall solid car, perhaps a bit tired mechanically and cosmetically, but looked reasonably together in the ebay pictures. $5,500 private sale begun on ebay. Atlanta, GA. If the car can get by without paint and upholstery or big mechanical work, this is about right in the ballpark for a typical driver Giulia sedan these days. Paying for paint, interior, and/or an engine, if needed will quickly turn this into a $10-15,000 car. If the owner can sort out on his own, a reasonable deal. (9/05)
C 1970 German 1750 Berlina. Cream/black. German-market car brought to US many years ago. Mechanically solid car with some tired cosmetic and interior areas. Webered 2000 engine, Euros cams, 4.3 axle, very fast. Former AROSC time trial car in 70s. Lowered, good suspension. So-so older body work, done in Tijuana, that has lasted OK but is not at all to factory specs. Rust in floors. Whatever, a great driver. $2,400 private sale. Seattle, WA. This car is hard to beat as a fun driver with the great engine, long axle ratio, and set-up suspension; a real sleeper. With so-so cosmetics, price is about right for both parties. Would make a great track car; I've driven it many miles and it's fun. (9/05)
C 1967 Giulia Super. Red/grey German-market car that's been in US a long time. Overall good condition with excellent mechanicals, nice looking, but a few rust and body issues in the lower extremities. Nice interior, very complete, overall the car presents quite well. 1750 with Webers, recent valve job, sport springs and Bilstein shocks. $10,000 Alfa Digest. Portland, OR. A great looking and driving car, maintained well, that can be cosmetically picked apart in specific areas if you look too closely. Nothing awful, but some sill, wheelwell body work is not the best quality. Price maybe a bit high, but buyer is in Hawaii, and how many Supers can he find there? (9/05)
C 1969 US 1750 Berlina. Red/black car, apparently mostly solid, with an average older paint job, and that had not been used much recently. A bit of rust in doors, and needing repaint. Seller thought valve job was warranted, but car runs well after Italian tuneup. $3,000 Craigslist. San Jose, CA. Car looked good in online ad, but as is often the case, cosmetics were not as nice in person. Nonetheless, a good running 1750. Price perhaps a bit high, considering what repairing door rust and repaint might cost, but 1750s are generally worth more than 2000s, and the trend seems to be towards higher prices. Buyer is former ARI employee and knew what he was getting into, and can deal with it. (10/05)
C 1971 US 1750 Berlina. Maroon/tan car in excellent condition. Fully sorted mechanically with good engine, trans, suspension, and new 4.10 rear axle. Good looking exterior, and redone interior that is maybe just a hair off original. Overall, looked great in ebay listing, and comes as daily driver from long-time Berlina nut. Not really anything to fault on the car. $9,500 ebay. Irvine, CA. This is the second high-end Berlina from this seller in the $10,000 range in the past year. He puts nice cars together, and $10,000 now seems to be the ballpark value of a really good Berlina. Much better condition that the $10,000 Giulia Super two items above. (10/05)
C 1967 Giulia Super and 1974 US 2000 Berlina package. The green Super is a stripped but complete project currently in shell form, and the red/black Berlina is a very rough track car intended as a running gear donor for the Super. The Super is a long way from being on the road, and the Berlina is pretty sad, having had some unfortunate track experiences. $3,380 ebay. Portland, OR. A major project, probably only something that makes sense for a professional (who bought the cars and knows Supers well) or very serious hobbyist. I was greatly surprised at this price; there are many many thousands of dollars/hours to be spent here. I guess Super values have gotten to the point where this is viable. A couple years ago I would not have expected any significant bids on this kind of project.
C 1966 Giulia TI 1300. Green/tan car that looked to be in good original condition overall. Paint looked nice, interior was complete with good seats, perhaps floor mats dingy. Some new items including tires, shocks, trunk mat. Engine compartment kind of a mess, still had original 1300. Not a performance machine, but it's easy enough to drop in a bigger engine if you care. $5,450 ebay. Cape Ann, MA. It appeared in the decent ebay pictures that the structure and overall condition of this car was pretty good. Charming bottom-of-the-line stripper model in green with rubber floor mats, early TI metal dash, two headlights, little trim. Probably very slow, but what you're looking for in a Giulia is a good structure, and completeness, and this car seemed to have them both. Seemed like a pretty good price for the buyer. This was at least its third time on ebay, so it's not certain the deal was real.
For sale: odds and ends Berlina parts. Several doors, hood, trunk lid, wiper cowl, some trim, electrical, grille pieces, stainless spears, kick plates, etc. Andrew Watry; email@example.com or (510) 526-0391
Wanted: Good tan door panels with armrests for 1967 Giulia Super. Andrew Watry; firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 526-0391.