Berlina Register Newsletter No. 44 (December 2018)
Notes and Comment
Welcome again. It’s been a year of overseas trips, the latest to Africa for a Cape Town Alfa tour and Botswana safari. See below. I would urge, go if you can. From Europe it’s not too hard; from the US it’s a trek for sure. But the exchange rate with the dollar and Euro is very favorable, so everything seems dirt cheap. Around the compound, I took on an Italian-market 1967 Giulia Super and garage-load of parts and tools from the estate of a deceased TZ/GTA racer, sorted the car and passed it to a friend. I got to keep the parts as compensation including genuine TI Super wheels for my 67 Super. My Giulia Super plugs on without issue. As with my 67 Stepnose, I installed an Alquati A32 intake cam and it really woke up the otherwise stock 1750. Amazing difference. My 69 Berlina runs better after changing the spark plugs (another one of those “90% of fuel problems are actually ignition problems” solutions), and is now getting some undersides work (brake MC, muffler, trans mount). I took it to Concorso in August and got Best Early Berlina award from Keith Martin. Woohoo! Perhaps foolishly, I also brought on board a 1966 Karmann Ghia, which I towed home from Medford, OR, before California was lit ablaze; I have this VW thing I cannot seem to get over. And I recently rebuilt the engine in my wife’s 1971 Westfalia Bus, now at 195,000 miles. So keeping my hand in on the Deutschwagens.
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
How the Alfa Virus Bit Ralph
By Ralph Adams
Hi Andrew, responding to your query for articles, I thought it would be of interest to know stories of how Alfisti first got into Alfas. Mine was somewhat unusual. Back in circa 1974 I lived at and was on the Fire Dept at Lake Tahoe (south). Riding my Bultaco Pursang dirt bike in the woods there I happened onto a '60 Giulietta sitting wayyyy back in woods (huh?), red and shot full of bullet holes. Never had seen one and while looking it over noticing the machined vented front brakes and slanted twin can 1300; I realized that it was something special. I went to the Forest Service and asked if they knew of it and yeah they did, so when I asked if I could haul it out they jumped at the offer. As I was the fire chief and had mutual aid contracts with them I'm sure helped.
Anyway, I took it to the firehouse and got it running, seems one of the advance return springs snapped and grounded out the distributor leaving the driver(s) stranded. A search of records in Calif/Nev turned up empty so I started a restoration. In any event that is how I got into my Alfas. Started a long string of acquisitions some 15 to 20 over the years, now I'm 87 and owned by only one, a 74 Spider that is fully restored and Euro'd, which I love to drive daily. Also would love to have contact with the original owner and know the story of the Giulietta’s abandonment.
A lot of fun though for a first Alfa. My wife was driving it and needed gas, went into station and at that time the station pumped your gas for you (along with windshield clean and daily paper) Guy asked her where the filler was and she of course didn’t know. They looked all over before finding it in trunk. The low fuel beeper also got her/them.
Berlinas Are Rock Stars, but You Knew That
Those of you of the right age and inclination may remember the British prog band Van der Graaf Generator. Well, they never went away really; they’ve been playing more or less constantly since they first formed in 1967. I was a tad too young for them, but my brother, four years older, was a big fan.
They apparently recall fondly the Berlina they toured Europe in during the 70s, wrote a song about it, and made a video. The video producer got ahold of me to find a suitable Berlina, but then found one himself in the UK. Nonetheless, he kindly sent me this link to the video when they had it completed.
Sedans from the Other Side (in All Respects)
So there we were, bombing down the left side of the road, wind in our hair, sun on our faces, in an exotic vintage vehicle, driver on the “wrong” side, enjoying the African view. Oh wait, that was Botswana, on a safari in the pickup bed of a Toyota Land Cruiser. Eight days in the bush seeing the most amazing animals (in numbers that are not believable til you see it yourself). South African Alfas were still to come. I could hardly wait.
Greig Smith of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and I have been email friends for ages via the Giulietta 750/101 list and the AlfaBB. Greig had been pressing me for years to come to South Africa, enjoy the scenery, hospitality, and Alfas he was kind enough to offer. Finally, 2018 seemed to be the year when the planets aligned and we made it happen. We had the money, my wife wanted to do a safari, you know, as long as we were in the neighborhood, and our grown kids could join us. After interminable Emirates flights by way of Dubai, we alighted in Johannesburg. We took detours through Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, arriving at John Smith’s house in Somerset West (near Cape Town) to join Greig and the gang for their biennial Giulia Tour 2018 of the Cape area east of Cape Town to Mossel Bay.
Too much to say to go into the five-day driving itinerary, but the event was roughly 1500 kms over five days, using Swellendam and Eight Bells (near Mossel Bay) as bases, with daily loops out, returning to base at night. Roughly 15 Alfas, many of them South-Africa-built cars that differ in all kinds of interesting ways from Milan-built Alfas. Greig arranged for John to provide my family of four with a RHD SA-built burnt tangerine Giulia Super, right in my wheelhouse (see above, with my family). We also got to enjoy Greig’s maroon RHD Giulietta TI (see below) and his red LHD Giulietta Spider (with 1600 and five speed) that literally had its engine installed days before the event. Greig and his dad burned the midnight braai to get all the cars ready. Finally, we did many miles in an SA-built RHD GT 1600 Junior that was a nice color-cousin, if not twin, to the Super (see last photo below).
The cars were great. The RHD tangerine Super was a blast, much like my own daily driver, but more sound, being an unrestored later car with fewer miles on it. It’s largely original other than a repaint. White vinyl upholstery was an SA-only feature. The TI was a wonderful, engaging car, game if a little taxed when filled with four folks and luggage, following cars with bigger engines and fewer people. But you row along with the gas pedal and shifter (it has a five speed), and the view is wonderful, along with the cozy TI interior. The Giulietta Spider was a strong runner, plenty of power in its Webered 1600; it could really cover ground. There is a lot of passing on the two-lane highways we drove; at one point I was about to pass a truck while driving the Super, but Joost Hillemans, in the Giulietta stormed by us both before I could even get my foot down. Really enjoyable.
If the cars were great, the roads and the scenery were greater. South Africa is not comparable to the United States in very many ways, but the roads we drove reminded me of the old two-lane US highways (think US 50 and Route 66) in the West before the Interstate era. Yes, there was construction here and there, but the roads were utterly empty by US standards and in excellent condition. The signage was clear and consistent, and the drivers seem well-trained compared to the US; folks drive intelligently and competently. A refreshing revelation.
The scenery was the best. Again, I guess I may over-compare, but the Cape area is an extremely varied landscape in a small geographic area that kept reminding me of different parts of the western US. Wine country (like Napa) around Stellenbosch, Monterey-ish coastal tide pools (and penguins) at Bettys Bay, desert to match the Mojave near Klaarstroom (the Meirings Poort pass is a creek-following route with no climb to get through the hills, just amazing), mountains and folded sedimentary rocks like you’re never seen, and innumerable mountain passes that remind of Utah and Colorado. All within a day’s drive of each other. Don’t like the landscape? Drive another hour and you’ll be in something else. Really remarkable.
Not to ignore the participants. Greig and John were great hosts and leaders. About 20 other South Africans, plus Joost and Helen Hillemans from The Netherlands, Reed and Beverly Cearley from Indiana, an ex-pat South African who flew from New Zealand (now that’s a loooooong trip), and me and my wife and kids from California, Seattle, Washington DC. A nice international crowd, friendly, varied, extremely enjoyable. A wide array of experience and viewpoints, and that’s the broadening essence of travel, right? Not to mention great lodging and so much food at every meal, we rolled out of daily lunches and dinners. Don’t go if you want to lose weight!
1967 Giulia Super. Grey/tan, imported from Italy years ago. Strong 2000, hydraulic clutch and rebuilt trans, cloth seats. Fully sorted car that looks great. Good quality paint, excellent interior. $24,500 private sale, San Francisco. Private sale to me from a family that needed to unload this car quickly to clear a house. Family had three Supers, all charismatic, not all in good ways. Good solid car, came with parts, tools, extras. Strong engine, stunning interior, nice paint, some old minor body issues under the paint. Price was maybe 10% more than the car was worth, but the extras made up the difference. Plus I was being nice. 7/18 [I passed the car along for the same price three months later after having gone through the brakes and fuel system. I kept a bunch of parts and tools that came with it.]
1967 Giulia Super. Green car with tan interior, very nice paint and interior, just detailed, looked to have no issues. 1750 engine, hydraulic clutch with pedal box, uprated springs. $27,500 AlfaBB, Everett WA. Right in the ballpark for a good first series Super, might have been a bargain by a few thousand. Looked great in the pictures. 8/18
1966 Giulia TI. Bluette car with tan interior. Largely original, still had single-carb engine, original interior other than a Super dash installed. BWA mag wheels and upgraded ATE brakes. Good overall condition, a little frilly with white side molding, side market lights, mudflaps, cold-weather grille cover. Included original steel wheels and other parts. Many years in Arizona, appeared very straight and rust-free. $16,250 BaT, Phoenix. An unmolested TI is a rare thing in the US. Car had been repainted closer to LeMans blue than bluette, was a polarizing hue. Mudflaps and winter grille blinds atypical in Phoenix, but what the heck. A solid market price for a TI. The key point here was an apparently very sound shell and interior. 8/18
1971 Giulia Super. Originally green and tan, now a race car so interior color is largely irrelevant. Rough Italian market car that came to the US 20 years ago, turned into vintage car with 2000, roll cage, Milano brakes. Went through several hands, backdated to be vintage-legal with strong 1600, correct brakes. Mild but effectively modified suspension. 15” repro GTA wheels, “GTA” cooling slots in nose. Nice paint, slightly flared rear fenders, no bumpers. Usable friendly race car that’s street legal. $30,000 BaT, Los Angeles. A strong price for a race car, but the cosmetics were good, car was dialed in and on the button, could be driven on the street and the track. Fair deal all around. Build costs on race cars almost always exceed their value, which I learned when this was my car a few years ago. 8/18
1969 Giulia 1300 TI. White car with grey interior, not much information on ebay listing. Had dual Dell’Ortos, appeared to be a totally restored shell. 35 bids, someone was excited about it! $18,200 ebay, Portugal. Right in the ballpark for a good 1300 TI, the most common Giulia variant and what you mostly saw on the roads of Europe. In the US you’d lose money restoring a 1300 to this level, but in Portugal maybe it makes sense. 9/18
1967 Giulia Super. Red car with 70s-nylon-carpet-based interior. Mostly complete, extremely rusty, been sitting since 1990. A few mechanical parts came with, nothing you couldn’t buy off the shelf. Missing bumpers and some interior trim. A tremendously ambitious restoration project. $5700 ebay, Minneapolis. A lot of money for a license to cut out the lower third of the body, bottoms of the doors, etc. And create an entire interior. Too rusty for a running restoration, so I’m not sure how this makes any sense. 29 optimistic bids; folks love a hopeless project. 9/18
1972 Giulia 1300 Super. Stunning metallic olive car from Italy, tan seats. Stock all over with nice paint, redone interior, new floors, basically anything needing attention was done. Two fastidious owners since it came to the US some years ago. Beautiful car. $28,000 craigslist, Berkeley CA. A car I knew for the few years it was on the West Coast, just spectacular in appearance and function; a testament to its owners. Yes the price is high for a 1300, but it is a Super and as a later car, almost identical to a 1600 Super other than the engine. Want more power, drop in a 1750. This is over “market price” but really fair considering the condition. 10/18
1971 Giulia Super. Faggio with tan interior, originally German market car brought to the US recently. Very good condition, basically all stock, nice interior, good shine, new tires, good mechanicals. Minor scratches in paint and slight deterioration to the door panels. $36,500 Fantasy Junction, Emeryville CA. Strong price by private standards but relatively a bargain from a retailer dealer. I’d call this underpriced by a few thousand. Nice car. 11/18
1973 Giulia 1300 Super. Green/tan car, came from Europe to the US a few years ago with a pretty paint job that covered quickie rust repair. Buyer worked through its issues on the AlfaBB, you could see the rust rebloom in real time. Alas, he eventually solid it for $2700 on BaT. Now, listed by a dealer, no work done but nice studio lighting maybe? Good functionally but rust just everywhere. $6800 ebay, Arlington TX. A ton of work to do just to keep the car in one piece, much less preserve it. So I say a very good price for the seller. After shipping and whatnot, he probably still barely came out ahead. 11/18
1966 Giulia Super. Silver car (originally maroon) with black interior. A full restoration project that has made the rounds of craigslist and ebay. Needs everything, paint, rust repair, interior, you name it. Included Spica 2000 and transmission. Car had come from WA to CA to FL. $2695 ebay, Miami. A fair price for a project, and this was a big one. Every single area needed work. Lot of visible rust. Restore or part, who knows? 12/18
1969 US 1750 Berlina. Now maroon, started life olive metallic. Redone red interior, recent paint, rust repair, can’t tell extent though seller mentions rust and that the car could stand restoring. Missing sill spears. Still has Spica, recent brakes, 2000 engine, various mechanical repairs. A high-level beater driver. $13,000 ebay, Baltimore. This car has been on the Berlina Register 20+ years, was an ice racer in upstate NY when I first heard of it. As such, I’d expect extreme rust and damage on the undersides, though the [poor] ebay pics didn’t show much. Acceptable money for a decent driver, but really, this is a car you’d have to see up close ‘n personal ‘n underneath to judge properly. The ebay pics didn’t help in this regard at all. So guardedly, I say a generous price for a car that the seller says needs restoring. 12/18