Berlina/Giulia/Giulietta Register Newsletter No. 26 (May 2008)
Notes and Comment
Welcome to Berlina/Giulia/Giulietta Register Newsletter 26. The Register continues to grow; I just created the Giulietta Sedan Register, having just bought one of these charming little cars. In this issue is a piece by Jack Rugh on a longer Berlina drive than most of us have made: from Baltimore to the 2007 Detroit AROC convention and back (about 1100 miles). Also, a report on the successful third Berlina tour, featuring a Giulietta sedan, Giulia sedans, and Berlinas; a full house. As usual, market reports, including a $42,900 Giulia Super.
I’ve been through two cheap rusty 2000 Berlinas since the last newsletter, both of which I resurrected, then sold. As I mentioned last time, I bought a 1956 750 series Giulietta Berlina from Bill Gillham in December. It’s been off the road since 1978. Towed it home, and have been working through the fuel and electrical systems, but it’s not quite running yet. With brakes, it may be driveable. A very original car, complete with a bunch of NOS parts, but needing plenty of cosmetics and putting together. A life’s project? In other news, I took my 2000 Berlina to an AROSC time trial school at Willow Springs in February, where it was a better track car than I expected. It fell slightly behind the 400 HP cars in class on the straights, but did great in the corners. A very balanced, predictable, tossable car. Gave me no trouble in 1100 miles going to and from the school, with two days on the track and getting snow-bound in Tehachapi (on track tires without chains) on the way back. However, my GTV is a better track car, and after much soul-searching, the Berlina is for sale. Too many cars, as always.
The keeper of the Berlina Register, North American Giulia Sedan Register, and Giulietta Sedan Register is Andrew Watry, email email@example.com. Send corrections to your register information or any other Giulia- and Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs. Always seeking articles for the newsletter. The keeper of the international Giulia Sedan Register is Barry Edmunds in Australia, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Berlina Forum: Tech Tips
Cleaning out fenderwells. Periodically it’s a good idea to remove the front fenderwell liners and clean out behind them, especially the ones toward the rear, where a lot of junk can get trapped against the bulkhead in front of the door and down in the lower rocker corner. These panels come out by removing a few sheetmetal screws. Removing the one in front of the wheel also gives you a chance to inspect/clean your lights and wiring. Thanks for this to Emilio, A&A Imports, in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Trunk hinge issues. On a Berlina, once every few decades, peer up in the trunk where the hinges pivot. The hingepin shaft is a hollow rivet, and eventually wears through, causing all kinds of havoc, with the trunklid getting cocked funny by spring pressure. Replace with a 6mm bolt and lock nut if it breaks or is looking worn. I’m unsure if Giulias use the same pin, but suspect so. Giulietta Berlina and TIs are different.
An Excellent Convention Road Trip
by Jack Rugh
Freshly retired, with free time plentiful, I of course had long planned to attend this year’s AROC convention, though unfortunately alone since Terry remains vacation-limited by work. My black, 1969 Berlina was the easy choice of conveyance. The engine was recently rebuilt by Paul Kreis at DiFatta’s. No family springs with Bilsteins on this, rather the original, softer suspension with high stance (think Miss Piggy en pointe) to soak up those bulging expansion joints that grid our interstate highways and to provide a view more varied than truck lug nuts. Finally, putting it politely, my Berlina is in a cosmetic state that laughs off as character builders those stone chips launched by 40-ton rigs at speed.
I ran through my fluid toppings-off, performed maintenance checks, loaded some spare parts, and even gave the old girl a quick wash and Rain-X application to the windshield. Packing my Alfa shirts (we all know the cars run better when the driver displays), and taking my made-in-China (!) Amish straw hat to appear suitably pious in case of an encounter with secular authority, I headed out on Tuesday. This first day I was bound for a crossroads east of Pittsburgh where I grew up and an overnight visit with a cousin. Dinner in a local bar took me back, it did. That rrr’d Pittsburgh accent (“We need to warsh that plate again.”) and creative word construction (“What would you’ins like to drink?”) reminded me that the past is another country, or at least another state, as somebody famous once wrote.
Leaving early Wednesday morning, after breakfast at the roadside cafe where years ago my father and uncles played liars poker on weekend mornings, I took back roads around Pittsburgh to join the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Running into heavy truck traffic, heavy even for Pennsylvania, I later realized that the turnpike interchange I used was the eastern-most interchange for which there is no toll westbound to the Ohio turnpike. Like Alfa people, big-rig drivers remain in touch with their thrifty side. In any case, the turnpike drive was a hot cruise at speed limit in reasonably light traffic until I neared the Detroit area. There, on I-275, truck dodging began in earnest, followed by my rather confused map-reading-while-driving that somehow worked out right despite the complexity of the local streets. Pulling into the convention hotel I saw my first Alfas of the trip, and the sights and sounds of the Alfa parking area quickly raised my tired spirits, though I was beginning to realize that I had brought Baltimore’s hot summer weather with me. It stayed through the convention.
What can I say about the convention activities? The parts market was fun, and yielded a couple of true bargains. The Spica tech session was informative and lively. The Saturday concours was a feast for the eye, especially the famous BAT cars from the fabulous fifties. But most of all it was a chance to meet and chat with familiar names in our Alfa world such as Black, Benson, Boniface, Sandeman, Sahines, Ingram, and so on. A special treat for me was a visit Saturday morning from old Ann Arbor friends who have a long-dormant 1976 Spider. They developed such enthusiasm from the concours and an after-lunch walk around the hotel parking lot that they started talking about joining the club and attending the Chicago convention next year. Saturday night I was right there to see Harlan Hadley’s simultaneous eyebrow flight and jaw drop when he won the banquet’s best door prize: a rebuilt, lightened transmission for his Milano. Also most memorable was Friday dinner at Duggin’s Irish on famous Woodward Avenue with Frank Smith, Harlan, and Harlan’s friend John from Oklahoma. Watching the street rods and restored American iron cruise Woodward, I could usually name the make and decade. But John could name the make, model, year, engine, options, number made, tell us whether the paint was an original color, and in the affirmative give its factory name. One is humbled by encyclopedic knowledge in any field! Finally, Alfa conventions naturally pump up Alfa enthusiasm, and I repeatedly reflected on what should be done appearance-wise about my Berlina. After removing the spray-can black, should it be returned to the original verde oliva (aka pond slime green), or should I get a decent repaint in black and continue the faux-Amish look?
I left the convention at sunrise Sunday, hopping on I-75 for an easy ride through downtown Detroit in light traffic. Between rain in Toledo and more rain in Pennsylvania, and with the Berlina apparently limbered up by the trip out, I ran east with the fast dogs on a dry Ohio Turnpike. Not Frank Smith speed, mind you, but fast enough to collect a couple of those tingles in the underwear that speed can provide. The first was blowing by a newish, arrest-me-red CorvetteCthe boomer driver presumably was within a point or so of losing his license. Second was a tricked-out WRX whose driver, in reversed ballcap, seemed astonished by this wingless convent car flying by with nothing more than an angry-kitten purr from its petite 2” tail pipe. (I should have had my Amish hat on, backwards, for that one.) But again, no other Alfas sighted, until I pulled into my garage.
A wonderful trip, and the Berlina performed beautifully. Troubles? I had a couple: Approaching the convention hotel I thought I heard variations in engine rpm that indicated a slipping clutch. But driving the next day convinced me that the problem had been neurons in my auditory cortex worn out by the hot, droning drive across Ohio. And on the return, leaving the hotel at sunrise, my oil pressure read 40 psi. This was a worry as I cruised at speed through Detroit until I discovered that turning off the lights brought the oil pressure immediately to a normal 55. Like the proverbial blind date, a Berlina is all personality… did I mention that I love this car? (previously published in AROC Capital Chapter newsletter)
Sedans to St. Helena Tour
The Berlina/Giulia Sedan/Giulietta Sedan Register “Sedans to St. Helena” tour on Saturday, March 22, was an enjoyable day for all. A joint tour with the Alfa Romeo Association, the tour drew 19 participants and a half-dozen well-wishers seeing them off in Berkeley, plus a few more in Suisun.
The Berkeley contingent charged east on I-80 to meet the larger group in Suisun, and after caffeine, a driver’s meeting, and a severe scolding by Starbuck’s barista for blocking the parking lot with unsightly Alfa sedans, the group set off up Suisun Valley Rd. Winding up Wooden Valley, then passing Lake Berryessa, traffic was light, the weather was beautiful, and the cars were doing well. After a brief stop in Angwin (an Adventist community which shuts down on Saturdays), the group spiraled down through Deer Park into the Napa Valley for a burger lunch at Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena. Lots of wine-tasting limos, shiny convertibles and hotrods, and the Napa Wine Train (powered by a pair of Alco FPA4s for you railfans) to watch while eating (our cars were of course the best).
After everyone had their fill and a quick emergency fix to the starter on Jeff Barhoum’s Alfetta, the group headed south toward Oakville and crossed over on Oakville Grade Rd. into the Sonoma Valley. Again, beautiful weather and reasonable traffic prevailed. Finally, after about 110 miles, forming up in the entranceway to Sears Point Raceway (Infineon to some), the tour group took pics, swapped tales, got hassled by security, and then headed their separate ways. David Swig kindly let me drive his column-shift Giulietta TI up the hill to the Infineon go-kart track; a lovely, low-mileage, delicate but capable car, which kept to the tour’s pace without difficulty. Who says a 1300 Normale can’t keep up with “modern” traffic (lead by a 1960 1300 Veloce)? David assures me he never exceeded 7000 rpm.
Thus, each Register was represented by a participant (Giulietta Sedan, Giulia Sedan, Berlina); a first!
And now to the awards. The Tough Luck award goes to Luigi Oldani who, having installed the gas tank in his Giulia TI literally the morning of the event, had it fall out on Trinity Rd. due to excessive rust and failing pop rivets. His girlfriend and support crew were right there for him and with rope, bungees, and cardboard, reinstalled the tank and limped home. The Most Improved award goes to Nick Paige, whose Sprint Veloce now runs on all four cylinders (and sounds like a proper Veloce); he and Glenn Oliveria replaced a very burned exhaust valve since the last tour and installed proper 1300 headers in place of its 1600 headers. As tour director, I am exercising my prerogative: the Most Charming award goes to David Swig’s 32,000-km Giulietta TI, a lovely car and an inspiration to me to take bigger steps restoring my own Giulietta Berlina. However, from comments I overheard, the People’s Choice award must go to Aaron Curtiss for his Citroen DS21 in a color not found on any Microsoft pallet. Aaron double-podiums with the Most Brave award for taking a car dependent on French hydraulics more than five miles from home. The car did great and is a testament to Aaron’s efforts. Finally, the Original Intent award goes to Ario Bigattini and his family for using their Giulia Super as Alfa intended with mom, dad, and two kids in the car on a nice country drive. Excellent.
Well-wishers at the Berkeley departure who could not go the distance included Chris Off in his newly resurrected red 1974 Berlina, David Johnson in his 1972 Berlina, and Conrad Stevenson in the locally well-known former Griswold Giulia Super panel wagon.
This was the third Berlina Register tour, planned now to be a twice-a-year event.
Berlina/Giulia Market Report
1976 Nuova Super. Red with red interior. In the ebay listing, looked like a great car with solid body and nice paint with just a few faded and rusty areas, nice interior, and appropriately uprated with a 2000 engine instead of the original 1300, a bit anemic by US standards. Alleged to have only 25,000 miles. Goofy aftermarket steering wheel and shift knob, but otherwise a nice looking car, maintained/restored to a good standard. $9,900 ebay, NY. In spite of the condition mentioned and shown in the ebay listing, a fair amount of discussion centered on this car on the AlfaBB about its current condition not matching the pictured condition by any stretch of the imagination. One or more people who saw it in person claimed the body was full or rust and filler. Not having seen it myself, I can’t say. If the car was as clean as it looked in the listing, it seemed a relative bargain at the sale price. If the body was not as presented, it could a long expensive road to get it right. Hard to know who to believe here. Update: Deal was apparently not consummated, as car appeared on ebay again almost immediately, and again and again; who knows if it ever sold. 11/07, 2/08, 4/08
1972 US 2000 Berlina. Silver/tan interior. Rusty car that sat in Oregon for years. Rust in door bottoms, rockers, and rear wheelwell, but floors and basic structure better than expected. Made driveable easily, with good engine, trans, and running gear. $1,000 AlfaBB, CA. Cosmetics were bad, mechanicals good. Good bumpers, glass, trim, reasonable interior, and Spica and engine are great. No one local wanted a beater driver Berlina, so it went to Florida as a parts car, shipping probably costing more than the car. 10/07
1967 Giulia Super. Grey, red interior. Completely restored, superb car, alleged to be as good as new in every way. Complete with black California plates, lowered, replica TZ wheels. Utterly dialed in, and over-the-top. Engine, trans, and much mechanical work by Conrad Stevenson. Allegedly $77,000 in receipts for work done. $42,900 dealer, CA. A huge price that generated a lot of talk on the AlfaBB, Digest, and elsewhere. Originally listed at $55,000, sold after a couple months. This dealer is known for exemplary cars and comparable prices, having sold a Berlina for $16,000 long before anyone got above $10,000 for one. This car was as nice as they come, though I would not call it an attempt at originality, with a non-stock color, wheels, seat material, and the like. I think the price is an aberration in the current market, though maybe that’s where the cars are headed. I saw this car on a tour, and it looked and drove beautifully. Worth it? That’s up to the owner. 1/08.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. Maroon, tan interior. Complete, operable car that had been sitting some years. Straight, functional, but getting rusty around the bottom and windows, and tired interior. Ran well, and drove decently with minor brake and tuneup work. $400 ARA newsletter ad, CA. More than a parts car, less than a driver, but could be a decent beater driver with a couple days’ work. Surprisingly straight and original, with almost completely original paint. Rust is on the border of what makes sense to fix. A pretty good deal for the buyer. Engine and brakes sorted, and cleaned up extensively, then flipped on ebay for $710. Still a good deal, considering how strong the engine is. Surprising low ebay price still mystifies me. 1/08
1968 1750 Berlina. Grey/tan Euro model 1750 with Solex carburetors. Excellent condition all around, owned and cared for by a loving Giulia/Berlina owner. Had been owned and restored by Bobcor earlier in life, and was most likely perfect all over. $10,000 private sale. MA. If this car was still in the post-Bobcor restored condition, a pretty good price for the buyer. I would have expected several thousand more. Prices and sales seem to be off right now in the US. 2/08
1966 Giulia Super. Blue race car developed over many years by Mike Valant, talented engineer and mechanic, and son of the late Gary Valant, founder of Valco. Very sophisticated car with Schwitters transmission, remote shifter, suspension mods, full roll cage, wide rear fenders, etc. Sold as a roller with no engine after a spun bearing. $12,000 AlfaBB, CT. I would call this a bargain for someone wanting a high-quality, well-developed track car. You couldn’t build it for double this cost, and you get the benefit of Mike’s experience in the deal. Someone got a steal. Drop in an engine and go. 3/08
Berlina wanted. Who wants to trade a really nice Berlina for a really nice 1973 2000 Spider? No projects or rusty cars. Fred Puhn. (619) 475-1155; email@example.com