Berlina Register Newsletter No. 42 (Nov. 2017)
Notes and Comment
Newsletters have not been as regular as I’d like, but that’s life. One constant is that the cars come and go. Tiger is back from paint, waiting for attention while I work on other stuff, including a 1900CSS. Boy do I want one, but that alone won’t let me afford one. Had a 71/72 Spider from a small lot of cars that Alfa morphed from 1750s to 2000s in late 1971 (see pic below; 2000 tipo plate with 1750 VIN; exciting stuff for the anorak!), brought it back to life. Was amazingly good, considering it sat out for 10 years. Got two free cars recently, a 69 VW Bus from Portland and a 79 Spider from LA; we do our part. Have not hosted a tour in a couple years but will schedule one in early 2018. I promise.
Note the wild new typefaces in use here. I work on the GiuliettaLetta now for the Giulietta Register and upped my game a tiny but measurable amount after being shamed by how good the ‘Letta is. Featured exclusive content this time from Bay Arean Aaron Curtiss about the astounding improvement that a front end rebuild made on his Super.
The keeper of the Berlina Register, North American Giulia Sedan Register, and Giulietta Sedan Register is Andrew Watry, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send corrections to your 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 Giulia105@optusnet.com.au
Alfa Sedan Online Resources
A small roundup of online resources here. Most folks reading this will know I created a website, www.berlinaregister.com, which includes detailed information on Berlinas, Giulias, Giuliettas (sedan variants), plus the register documents. I update the register and post the newsletters there. I haven’t updated the text much in years.
The Alfa Bulletin Board (www.alfabb.com) covers all things Alfa, largely devoted to older cars and based in North America. Has tons of useful info, ads, correspondents, and commentators. It includes a Sedan forum for Giulias and Berlinas, including restorations, revivals, what have you. Very useful if you have the time to pore through it all (hint, use the Search feature for specifics). Giulietta sedans are grouped in with other 750 and 101 cars.
Ian Jephcott in the UK sent me a note to say “we have mentioned Facebook before. Just for info, this link to the Berlina page may be of interest ....” https://www.facebook.com/groups/Giulia.Berlina/ I myself am not a facebooker, but if you are take a look.
All the commercial sellers (Classic Alfa, Alfaholics, Centerline, OK Parts, AlfaStop, Vicks) have websites with useful info, in addition to parts to fit the cars.
Your Suspension Could be Better
by Aaron Curtiss
I have owned my 1967 Giulia Super (VIN AR*348109*) since 2006. It was a Craigslist score out of Cupertino, California, where it had been sitting untouched for at least five years, “taking up space” in the owner’s words. The VIN and license plate are very near to Andrew Watry’s own Super, which was also from this part of California, so they are close relatives. Like Andrew, I use mine as daily driver, grocery getter, and occasional road tripper. Unlike Andrew, I am not as inclined to get into really heavy wrenching, so most of the maintenance I have performed has been in the form of writing checks, and those light and easy tasks I am comfortable doing myself.
Since 2006 I have probably owned a dozen or more cars, motorcycles, and scooters of various (and dubious) vintage and provenance, so the Super, while never neglected outright, also never received the full attention it deserved. After a couple of big moves over the past few years, I have been motivated to curtail my habit of buying quirky rescue cars and to focus instead on the quirky rescue cars already in my possession, which at the moment include a 1962 Giulia Sprint 1600 and a 1967 Ford van.
To that end, and after a year of driving with an increasingly squeaky balljoint in the front end of the Super, I finally dropped the car off at Jim ‘Alfaman’ Cestarollo’s shop in Novato. I had taken my Sprint there last year for a long list of suspension and other fixes and was very pleased with the quality of the work done and the attention to detail. After a thorough examination, Jim determined the Super needed a full rebuild of the front suspension, a rebuild of the rear trailing arms including the cone bushings and trunnion side disks. It would also need a new set of tires (the Vredestein 155-15s on it were nearly 10 years old), adjustments to the Koni shock absorbers, and a dozen other minor fixes he recommended doing while the car was there. Most interestingly, he discovered that the chassis leg where the steering box is mounted had become separated (Ed: this is common; check yours), which was greatly affecting how the car steered. Jim’s succinct diagnosis: “this car drives like shit.”
The part of me that doesn’t care about money was relieved to hear just how much work the Super was going to receive. I drive it so much it feels like a second skin, so I hadn’t fully perceived the slow degradation of its handling, the increased play at the steering wheel, the amount of correcting I had to do as the car wandered while on the freeway, etc. I had suspected something wasn’t quite right with the steering in particular, as the car always felt like it preferred turning right. That is an odd thing to observe, but it made sense with the tear in the frame where the steering box mounted: in one direction, the frame would stretch out and absorb the movement of the steering box rather than acting on the steering assembly; in the other direction, the frame had less room to bend so the steering would feel more correct. According to Jim, this is not an uncommon occurrence with our Alfas, but it was the first I had heard of it. (Ed: from the pic below, I think the crossmember was tearing out, also common)
When the work was done and I picked up the Super from the shop, I was obviously prepared for it to drive noticeably better and looking forward to the improvements; in reality it felt like I was driving a completely different car. The annoying squeak was gone of course, but every other characteristic of how the car handled had changed, and for the better: steering response was immediate, vibrations were all but eliminated, tracking was straight and true, and hard cornering was a point-and-shoot operation. Bumps and dips were much more attenuated by the properly adjusted Konis (full “hard” up front, slightly softer in the rear). Taken in aggregate, these changes actually took some getting used to, as I found myself oversteering on lane changes and other mundane operations that were etched into my muscle memory.
I offer this story as a lesson learned. As we all know, these cars handle remarkably well for their vintage; because I was so familiar with my particular Super I had been lulled into passively accepting its less than perfect handling. Jim also commented on a lesson he learned from working on the car, which is the importance of tires in the overall handling equation. After all the suspension work and alignment was done, he wasn’t able to get the car to track straight until the new tires were installed. It was expensive work but well worth it, especially given how dramatic the improvement was.
Berlina/Giulia Market Report
1967 Giulia Super. Green/tan car, basically complete but off the road for decades. Said to run and drive, not well. Missing some odds and ends, sticky brakes, visibly rusty along the bottom edges, trashed interior; a complete restoration project. $6900 ebay, Monterey CA. As with many ebay listings, poor pictures and no description of the undersides. Came from the East to Seattle, so expect plenty of rust. A lot of money, if you ask me, for a license to strip it down and totally rebuild it. Hard to imagine buying something like this without inspecting it first. 10/16
1961 Giulietta TI. Blue/grey car from Italy, brought to the US a couple years ago. Very clean car, good body and mechanicals. Stock condition including column shift and 1300 engine, almost all redone. Charming car, but a very bright non-original blue, perhaps better suited to a Pinto. $25,678 BringaTrailer, San Francisco. Offered by a dealer, for sale for months at a higher price, no action. Giulietta sedans have been slow to gain appreciation, and prices have generally remained low; a limited number of folks want one. While not an original patinaed car, this was an apparently solid car you could use anywhere, regardless of the galvanizing color. I’d say right on the money for about a solid a car as you could expect. 11/16
1969 US 1750 Berlina. Giallo piper car with black interior. Rusty project car with a big hit in the right rear and a cracked engine. Velour interior. $1000 craigslist, Corvallis OR. 1969 Berlinas are great things, but this was likely just parts. Rusty, plus creamed rear, plus cracked block/head. Not much to work with and never-ending cost to fix. If you could get $1000 in parts out of it you’d be lucky. 11/16
1970 Giulia 1300 TI. Very nice white/black car, pepped up from stock with GTA wheels, Rugh suspension, 1600 Super engine. Iconic white low-level hotrod. Sound body, good older paint, nice interior. $25,555 BringaTrailer, Sonoma CA. Well cared for and updated by a race shop, not used much. Nothing really to change or complain about; some might want more power to go with the tough stance. Strong price by $5000ish for a 1300, this is unusual in the US, but it was a very solid car that had the curb appeal of a hotter car. BringaTrailer is becoming the only good place to sell solid interesting cars at good prices. 11/16
1972 2000 Berlina. Fully restored blue/tan car. German-market car alleged to have been a prototype for the US market, then sent back Europe. Hard to verify. High-quality cosmetic restoration, a few issues in the paint, but a stunning car. Very nice redone interior, seats, carpets, doors, headliner everything. Running gear redone and strong. Engine ran OK, good power, but a few noises and low oil pressure. $15,500 private sale, Oakland CA. Cheap for a restored car, but there were a few issues here and there. Chassis had some fixed rust, and paint did have couple issues. Buyer knew all this, got it from a dealer who needed to move it quickly. Restoration must have cost more than sale price; cheap by perhaps $5000. 12/16
1973 Giulia 1300 Super. Something of a neither-fish-nor-fowl car. Built in Georgia by a guy who put Giulia components together willy-nilly. Made to look like a first series Super. Now white/black, originally blue/black. Webasto sunroof, 1990 Motronic 2000 engine and trans. Not running, but not far from it. Some sorting to have a complete operable car. Everything there, but all of it in “eh” condition, most of it modified. $5700 ebay, Indianapolis. On the surface, a cheap price, but who wants a 1300 Super posing as an early 1600 Super, color change, hole in the roof, Bosch Spider engine, that doesn’t run? A lot of work remains here, but a fair price for what it is for someone who’s handy. 12/16
1972 Giulia Super. Stunning blue and tan car, looked as-new and original throughout. A few upgrades including electronic ignition. Recent valve job. Really, as close to a new car as I’ve seen. $22,500 BringaTrailer, Spain. If as good as presented, an incomparable car, and a bargain if you were located conveniently. In the US could easily have been $10,000 higher, but how many buyers are there from BaT in Europe? Don’t know, but someone got a stone deal. 1/17
1974 US 2000 Berlina. Blue/tan rubber-bumper car. Complete, overall solid condition. Cheap repaint showing its age, very minor rust, good interior but poor rear seat and a few headliner holes. BWA mag wheels, new tires, Sachs shocks, rebuilt engine, Ingram injection. A dialed-in driver. $6000 private sale, Berkeley. My car, which I brought back to life last year. A very strong driver, cosmetics need bringing up. I did a million small fixes, basically everything worked as it should and it drove well. Maybe could have brought more on BringaTrailer, who knows. I’m happy. 2/17
1967 Giulia Super. Red car with black interior, good running and cosmetic condition. Mostly stock appearance, upgrades include 2000 engine, leather seats, TI Super wheels, slightly lowered suspension. Everything on the button and ready to go. $25,000 AlfaBB, Vancouver BC. A well-known car, had been owned by 3-4 West Coast Alfisti for long periods. Specification could not be beat for a strong driver, had good care, and cosmetics were strong. A steal by $5-10,000. Very smart buy. 2/17
1967 Giulia Super. Red with black seats, in one family from new. Overall a good solid original Super with organic wear and strong mechanicals. Still has 1600 engine (burns some oil), 14” 2000 wheels, recent suspension work. Paint getting old, well-earned patina. Fair number of stickers and whatnot, easy enough to remove. $28,000 BringaTrailer, Longmont CO. How many one-family Supers can there be in the US? Nice honest car, spent much of its life garaged, might need a bit of work to bring fully back to life. Price is pretty much on the money for a strong, stock car. BaT continues to be a good venue. 2/17
1973 Giulia 1300 Super. Stock, nicely presented white/black car, brought to US from Italy by dealers importing Giulias and Berlinas. Standard equipment throughout, original 1300 engine, stock ride height, everything. Functions well, some minor running issues, but a good driver with solid chassis. Body recently repainted, some evidence of rust repair but good quality work. Interior mostly original, beginning to show its age, nicely lived in. $22,000 private sale, San Francisco. Not a lot of 1300 Supers in the US, and really not many left in stock condition. Nice solid driver, smooth and easy. Time will tell about the bodywork; underbody is heavy with sealer. Price highish for a 1300, but there aren’t many Supers around, and it came from a dealer. So fair price for all concerned. 2/17
1974 US 2000 Berlina. Nicely preserved maroon/tan car sold new by Pete Lovely (private F1 entrant) and used by him as a daily driver. Stored for years, brought back to life and cleaned up. Appeared to be a strong survivor class car with nice old paint, solid mechanicals, mostly stock though lowered, rubber bumpers changed to stainless, and modified GTA exhaust. Much history included, appeared to be on the button mechanically. $16,017 BringaTrailer, Laguna Niguel CA. Nice preserved Berlina with unique history and solid mechanicals. I’d have wanted to see in person before spending this money, BaT listing was not as clear on some points as it might have been, though car didn’t show much to be nervous about. Fair price, marginally a bargain for the condition and provenance. 3/17
1967 Giulia Super. Metallic grey car with brown interior, comprehensively repaired and painted, if not a total down-to-the-shell restoration. Seller started with a sound complete car, brought everything up to spec including mechanical rehab, upgraded suspension, rebuilt engine, leather interior, new paint, BWA wheels, etc. $33,000 BringaTrailer, Seattle. About as solid a car as you could ask for without a complete bare-shell stripdown. Seller did most of the work, documented it on the AlfaBB, so it was a transparent transaction. Price seemed low for the resulting car, perhaps folks weren’t take with the color or the newness? Had 1000 miles on the rebuild, probably was shaken down OK. I would not have been surprised at $40,000. I’ve done projects like this, you make about a dollar an hour if you count your labor. 4/17
1972 US 2000 Berlina. Gold/tan beater-driver, which understates the mechanical condition. A high-level beater, much work done, and changes from stock. Bosch L-Jet engine, Bosch Spider wheels, velour upholstery, new brakes, lots of work done. That said, the body had typical/bad rust spots along the lower edges and wheelwells, and the interior was shabby with carefree mods made in the past. Still, a car you can drive anywhere, which the owner did. $1500 AlfaBB, Blaine WA. Owner sorted all the ills, had too many cars, sold in on the BB in 15 minutes at a very fair, even low, price. Flipped on ebay immediately for $3300. First price is a stone bargain; ebay price about market-correct. Is the car worth it to bring up the cosmetics? Only your haredresser knows for sure. I’d leave it as is. 4/17
1973 US 2000 Berlina. Faggio, tan interior. Two-timer on ebay, bid to a higher amount the second round, rarer than an intact Giulia Super grille. Repainted to decent quality, mechanicals alleged to be up to spec with sport springs, sorted injection, Bosch Spider wheels. Interior fair to poor, mix of colors and conditions with decayed vinyl. Usable but needed redoing. $10,500 ebay, Denver. Looked nice enough as a driver, but full interior is a lot of work and can set you back some. Where to find good door panels? Ebay listing lacked any photos of floors, rockers, so you take it on faith that it’s not rusty and/or poorly repaired. Fair enough, maybe a couple thousand high considering the interior. 5/17
1973 US 2000 Berlina. Metallic green, tan interior. Nice enough car, complete, serviced, driveable. Nonstock seats and multi-colored interior. Exterior looked OK, coach-striping is unusual on a Berlina. Extremely dingy interior, engine, trunk, undersides, though only localized rust. Alleged former race engine, good other mechanicals, and lowered suspension. $7400 BringaTrailer, Lancaster PA. Decent looking car, lots of corrosion on exposed parts of engine compartment and undersides, like it had been wet and covered. Some failings in prep as well. Car sold for $9000 to this seller a couple years ago, so he took a bath here. Price seems fair, even a bargain if body proves solid. Race engine is a bonus. BaT continues to be the selling place of choice; seller’s fee is now a flat $99. Seller really didn’t prep the car well or give confidence with his answers; he left money on the table I think. 6/17
1969 US 1750 Berlina. Maroon with tan interior, operable but dingy all over. Older paint, weird repairs to interior of trunk including strengthening struts. $6100 BringaTrailer, Lancaster PA. Kind of a sad case, but an early 1750 is a desirable car. This one had lots of home mods from an old California racer, not all good. I saw this car 10 years ago and said no thanks. Fair enough, I guess, for a driver, but more than I’d pay. 7/17
1967 Giulia Super. White with grey interior. Engine ran, but car had been off the road 20 years, not operable. In the family since almost new, sitting had rendered most systems in need of much help. Some rust, bad paint, torn seats, cracked dash, dead brakes, etc. $7500 BringaTrailer, El Cerrito CA. Attractive as heck; like an abused puppy you want to mother it. BaT followers loved it. But jeez, it needed everything when you looked closer, and was too rough to just fix mechanicals and drive. Figure on a total restoration. In that case, original cost is immaterial. Market value, exactly what I expected. 9/17
1972 2000 Berlina. Blue non-US car with grey velour interior. Attractive medium blue metallic with cloth seats, not seen in the US market. Generally solid, gone to seed a bit from what had been a very nice car. Small rust spots, interior starting to shred. Mechanicals reported as excellent. $7300 ebay, Miami. Euro 2000s are attractive cars, a lot less frippery on them than US cars. I saw this car in New Orleans 15 years ago, loved it, but it’s deteriorated a bit. Still, a nice driver with attractive cosmetics. Seller assured you could “drive it cross country,” which seemed believable. And fast too probably. Extreme bargain, I think (29 bids to get to $7300!). 9/17
1970 1750 Berlina. Stunning metallic olive car with tan/orange cloth velour seats. Incredible period piece in largely original condition, imported from Sweden a few years ago. One repaint in original color, but minimal body repairs and all-original interior. Mechanicals all on the button including much recent suspension, brake, and head gasket work. Really nothing to do except drive it. A couple rust spots but not really worrying. $25,000 BringaTrailer, Benicia CA. Cream of the crop of Berlinas if you ask me. 1750, carbs, hanging pedals, charismatic original color, low-back velour seats, on and on, just the best. I knew of this car years ago, inspected it for a friend this time. As good a Berlina as you could want. Bid to $21,000 on BaT, didn’t meet reserve, seller made a post-sale deal. Pricey but market-correct for the best Berlina going. 9/17
1965 Giulia TI. Originally light blue, now green/blue, tan interior. Functional driver with poor paint, some rust to repair, and one cylinder with lowish compression. Upgraded with ATE brakes, Weber carbs, much recent work to various mechanical systems. But basic shell needed some work and perhaps engine too to be a real driver. $7500 BringaTrailer, Aptos CA. Aside from the one low cylinder, you could probably drive this indefinitely and not deal with the body issues. On the other hand, there was visible rust, which eats from the inside out, and poor paint. So there’s work to be done to get to a nice car. Price surprised me a bit, I figured closer to $5000. 9/17