Berlina Register Newsletter No. 49 (August 2021)
Notes and Comment
Gosh, I meant to send this out earlier in the summer; time fades away. World seems to be opening but now maybe reclosing, like a bivalve. I got vaccinated early, have been doing a few car events, mostly small drives with a few friends. Around here have been cleaning house: I sold my BMW 2002tii, Porsche 924S, and Giulietta Spider Veloce. I also ended up with a red 72 Berlina I’d inspected for a friend 10 years ago, for sale when he decided to scale down his collection. He asked me to look it over, did I know anyone interested. Well, once he said his price and I remember what a good car it was, I was interested. So I bought, fixed everything (major driveshaft work) enjoyed a few months, then a friend who came to look at my tii wanted the Berlina instead. I wasn’t ready to sell it but what the heck, the customer’s always right. It stayed in town. Great piece this time, period racing by Mike Hemsley.
I’m down to the Super, GTV, and a one-owner 79 Spider from Griswold that came within my gravity field (and a few non-Alfas). And clearing out parts as I can. For you local folks, recall the Alfa swap meet at Alfa Parts Exchange in Tracy, California, on Saturday, October 9. I hear Monterey and Concorso happened but I didn’t attend. Saw a few cool cars as I happened to be driving north on 101 from LA to SF that day but no Berlinas.
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.
When Race Tires Had Tread
By J. Michael Hemsley
One happy day while stationed in Dong Ba Thin, Republic of Vietnam, I received notification that my next Army assignment would be a stabilized two-year tour as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at Eastern Washington State College in Cheney, Washington, about 15 miles outside Spokane. I arrived there in October 1969 and quickly learned that it was Che-nee not Chay-nee and Spo-Can, not Spo-Cane. I also found Northwest Motorsports, the local sports car club. At the time, I had a wife, young son, Volvo 145 wagon, and Lotus Europa. I had not thought about racing, but this was a club full of active racers. Northwest Motorsports was active in the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs and put on one of the races on the ICSCC calendar. Tracks used were Westwood near Vancouver, BC, Seattle International Raceway, Portland International Raceway, a track I never visited on Vancouver Island, and Deer Park, outside Spokane. I was quickly bitten by the race bug – hell, the Viet Cong hadn’t killed me, so racing wasn’t likely to get me either.
Heading down the hill out of Turn 2 at Seattle International Raceway.
The bug acts quickly – on my birthday in November 1969 I travelled to Butte, Montana, to buy a 1956 Lotus 11 LM sports racer from Evel Kneivel’s father, Bob. That was quite a trip, but it’s a story for another time. I worked on that car through the winter and much of 1970, but I had it on the track for my required two novice races late in the season. The senior drivers found no reason to suspect I’d go nuts on track, so they approved my license. Next step up was as an “Area Driver.” I did the 1971 season in the Lotus and finished second in the E Sports Racing championship. I was upgraded to a “Senior Driver” which earned me a two-digit car number.
During 1971, I was successful in finally buying an Alfa. I had failed twice when cars were sold before I decided to buy them and once because you could not import a 1968 GTV from Germany to the US. My first Alfa was a brand-new Berlina and I loved it. The dealer in Spokane was new, and mine was the first new car he sold. In the fall, he had acquired some used Alfas, including two Supers. There was an orange one that looked as though it had been painted with a roller, and a nice dark green one – a ’66 model. I decided that it would be cool to race an Alfa, so I sold the Lotus (for way too little) and bought the green Super.
The winter of 1971-72, with a lot of help from two friends, also racers, who had opened a repair shop called Kohlmith Racing Enterprises (KRE), I turned the Super into a racecar. ICSCC had a number of classes. The sports racing and formula classes were standard, but production and sedan classes were different from what SCCA ran. My class would be B Sedan. This class was similar to what SCCA eventually created and called Improved Touring. Some modifications were allowed – it was a very cost-effective to go racing a production car. ICSCC used SCCA rules for its Improved Sedan and Improved Production classes. The cool thing about the classes was that the Super could run in BS, BIS, and D Sports Racing – you could run in any class with stricter rules. So, the Super was built as a BS car, and I raced it regularly in that class and a couple times in DSR. The Improved sedan class often ran with the standard sedan class, so I never ran BIS.
Traditionally, the first race of the season was at Westwood on Easter weekend. I entered, and the car proved to be very capable. The field was small, since it was early in the year and a lot of people had not yet gotten their cars ready. I won, at least I did until impound. The lesson I learned was to read the rules or, more importantly, read what the rules did not say. I never even considered having a fan on my racecar. But the rules for Sedan and Production do not allow removing the fan, so I lost my first “won” race of the year.
The rest of the year was a mix of wins and losses. The field of BS cars grew, but the Super could handle most of them except for a Datsun 510 with limited slip diff. Most guys in ICSCC ran their car on very tight budgets. The Datsun guy seemed to have an open account with BRE, who were racing 510s in TransAm at the time with great success. I gave up another win because the car was underweight by 20 pounds. Access to a scale turned out to be important too. I had a brake mishap at PIR that taught me to change the pads after every race. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I got to run about ten races that year.
Four B Sedan cars with that danged Datsun 510 with the LSD in the lead.
One area where a LSD would really have helped was at Westwood’s hairpin. Westwood was on the side of a mountain with quite a lot of elevation change. The highest point on the track was Deer’s Leap on the back straight; the lowest point was the hairpin, at the end of the back straight. I was having a ding-dong race with a guy in a Mini Cooper S. I was considerably faster than he was on the straights but he got me in the hairpin. At the hairpin, the Alfa would lift its inside drive wheel, leaving me with no alternative but to slow to get it back on the ground. That’s where the Mini would get past me, and I’d have to chase him up the hill, through the twisties, and pass him on the back straight. Finally, I threw the Alfa into the hairpin too fast on purpose to get it sideways. That blocked him, and he never caught me again.
I did have a scare a bad scare at Westwood because of another Giulia, in fact a TI Super. He should have been much faster than me, but he wasn’t driving consistently. Just past the start/finish and entering the Carousel – a banked right hand nearly 180° turn – he blew up spectacularly. Suddenly I was in a smoke cloud and couldn’t see anything. Hoping he would go high, I went low. I got through it without peeing my pants.
One early race at Westwood, an Italian fellow from Vancouver asked me why a guy named Hemsley would have Italian flags on his car. I explained that my mother was Sicilian, and we became paisonos. He suggested that I follow him during practice, and he’d show me the fast line. On track, he passed me on the front straight, and I never saw him or his GTA again.
During the summer, I received my orders taking me back east in October, so I put the car up for sale. I had some very good races at SIR, PIR, and Deer Park, as well as Westwood, but that 510 was unbeatable when he showed up. Because of the two disqualifications and a couple DNFs, I finished third in the season’s BS championship. If only I had one more year racing the Super and funds for a limited slip differential – oh yeah, that would have been a good year.
1972 was the last of my racing. An Army school, graduate school, and a decision to leave active duty; it was just not going to happen. Then along came an opportunity to write for Alfa Owner, and I’ve been writing about cars ever since.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. Maroon/tan rubber bumper car converted to stainless bumpers. Spica converted to Webers. Appeared to just have been restored, listing showed it wasn’t 100% put back together, but maybe the pics were premature. Solid looking car. $21,000 Craigslist, Irvine CA. A high price for a Berlina these days but this seller has a bit of a factory rebuilding and selling GTVs on BringaTrailer, so has facilities to do this, presumably well. Bumper conversion was so-so but it’s not an easy job. Price high for what it was, I think. I hope buyer realized it was a converted car. 2/21.
1972 US 2000 Berlina. Charming Giallo Piper car with tan interior, daily driver for years, so-so body and undersides with minor holes and some old body work, stock mechanicals, rebuilt, lowered suspension with Konis. 1750 wheels and hubcaps. Interior showed some wear (driver’s seat and headliner) but appeared to be a decent daily-use car. $9,000 AlfaBB, Seattle. Great period color, car dialed in as a driver without being hotrodded or too modified. Menacing lowered look offset by hubcap-wheel look, which I prefer. Sold in minutes on the BB, about right, maybe a tad high considering body work needed. Sold a week later on ebay for $10,000. Drove 1200 miles home without an issue. 3/21.
1972 Giulia 1300 Super. Great looking grey car with red seats. Stock condition, fully repainted recently, mechanical condition seemed to be solid with anything needing replacement fixed on all systems. $24,500 BringaTrailer, Palermo Italy. Late Giulia sedans were rationalized to simplify production and the only real difference between a 1300 and 1600 Super by this time was the engine size. So this car had a pretty high specification. Appeared excellent and price included shipping to US port of your choice, worth roughly $5000. I call this a bargain by many thousands. If you want more power drop in another engine, quite easy. 3/21
1972 US 2000 Berlina. Red car with black interior. Essentially stock, has Konis shocks, Panasport wheels, stainless exhaust. Very good interior, paint shiny but older and showing some pips. No rust to speak of, long-ago hit to the nose fixed with a non-US panel so it has Euro front turn signals. Front suspension rebuilt and new head 5000 miles ago, fully rebuilt driveshaft, trans mount. Engine fine but a little tired. $14,250 private sale, Berkeley CA. My sale. I did a PPI on this car 10 years ago for a guy. He decided to sell in December, I bought. I fixed its few issues, mainly a bad driveshaft and starting issues. A friend looked at a 2002tii I had and wanted this instead. So why not. Price was friendly by a couple thousand bucks. Great driver, use it every day and don’t worry about the paint. Fair deal all around, I didn’t have to sell on the open market, get flayed for being a heinous flipper. It’s nearby so I’ll never see the end of its ongoing problems. 4/21
1972 US 2000 Berlina. Far from stock, a dark blue car with red leather interior, Twin Spark engine with ECUs, Speedline wheels, hotrod look and the underpinnings to match. Owner bought as a project and worked through the whole car, making it his own. Tons of work in every area, fully dialed in as to looks and performance. $29,888 BringaTrailer, San Jose, CA. For the right person this was a great car. Straying from stock to suit your own tastes is fine but you won’t necessarily recoup what you have in it. I’d guess the seller didn’t recover all he spent but this is still strong money for a Berlina. You couldn’t build it for this. 5/21
1961 Giulietta TI. Grey car with black vinyl interior. Looked to be a solid, competent car. Most areas had been worked through. Interior not that close to original, since in vinyl. Column shift. $19,001 BringaTrailer, Rome. Very few Giulietta sedans come up for sale. This looked to be a good car, not an untouched (and undriven) barn find as seems to happen in Italy, but a normal car ready for the street. Price seems right in the ballpark. 5/21
“1966 Giulia Super.” I put it in quotes because that’s how it was listed on ebay and that was the VIN, but everything about the car indicated it was a 72-73 Super. Nonetheless, pale blue car with tan cloth seats just brought in from Italy by a shop in NJ. Alleged to have 47,000 miles, had new Konis and brakes. $24,500 ebay, New Jersey. Looked good all over, but the shadow of not knowing what it was made me very nervous. Fair price but you had to be clear, I think, you were not getting what was listed. 5/21
1972 US 2000 Berlina. A weird metallic tan with tan velour seats. Something of a mongrel and a frequent flyer, had a Bosch Spider Motronic engine and trans. Sits very high for apparent off-road use in Canada (no joke). Rougher than driver quality. Side marker lights from the trailer-parts aisle, below-average body and paint, “eh” interior, dingy engine. $7600 ebay, Stamford CT. This car has been through many loving and unloving hands with documentation on the AlfaBB. Overall condition coupled with nonstock drivetrain mean its appeal is limited. Work to be done on every system, best for a home mechanic or you’d be knee-deep in kimchee immediately. I was asked to work on it and once I saw it in person, said no. 5/21
1971 Giulia 1300 Super. Rosso Amaranto with tan vinyl seats. Brought to the US from Italy, solid all over, interior slightly tired with seats seams splitting. Stock condition other than carb velocity stacks. Recent service and new exhaust. Trailer hitch and wiring. $17,500 BringaTrailer, Hampstead NH. Cars like this remain in stock condition in Italy; in the US they all get turned into hotrods. Refreshing to see a stock 1300 Super. Trailer hitches are not a joke in Europe, many small sedans have them. Price was right on the nose FMV, which nowadays means a bargain in a BaT-inflated market. Buyer should be very happy. 5/21
1972 2000 Berlina. Blue Pervinca Metallic with pigskin interior Italian-market car, recently brought to the US. Straight, complete, nice paint, good interior, stock condition. Minor bubbling here and there in typical Berlina locations. Interior better than most, seats redone, headliner cleaned, dash had minimal cracks. Stock mechanicals were sound if not pretty, steel wheels, Solex carbs. Add-on VIN plate caused confusion. $24,750 BringaTrailer, Los Angeles. Other than the bubbling in the doors and fender bottoms, not much wrong here. The added VIN plate, a bad idea, generated no end of questions. Overall car was very sound. In time you’d want to deal with the bubbling, probably needs a full repaint. But for now, enjoy it. High for a Berlina these days, I figured it’d be around $20,000. This matches the price of a similar Metallic Olive 1970 Swedish market car from September 2017 on BaT. 5/21
1969 Giulia 1300 TI. Faggio car with tan interior, imported to US from NL in 2016, sold a couple times on BaT. A hotrod taken beyond the normal level. 2000 engine, GTA wheels, headers and stainless exhaust, slammed stance, extensive Alfaholics suspension, brakes, hydraulics, lightening. Overall condition not bad, paint good but not perfect, some obvious wear to interior. Probably one fast capable machine if dialed in. $25,000 BringaTrailer, Beacon NY. Car was taken to a high performance level but cosmetics, and especially interior, were not to same level. An appealing car but some of the Alfaholics stuff was over the top; lightening holes in everything on the underside. Lot of money spent to save a couple pounds; silly on a road car, I’d say. Still, to each his own. Hotrods generally bring less than stock cars even if they drive better. Price strong for a 1300 TI in this condition so some bonus for the goodies. 6/21
1971 Giulia 1300 Super. White car with charming red interior. Fully gone through car with hot 2000, suspension mods, Konis, TI Super mags, GTA exhaust, oil cooler, fancy gears, limited slip, leather steering wheel, the whole nine yards for a hotrod. Body looked great, interior recently redone in stock material. Work done in Italy, car in Netherlands where most Giulia are in good nick. $35,250 BringaTrailer, Amsterdam NL. Iconic white with red interior, had sort-of the look of a TI Super, certainly had the oomph to back up its visual threats. Very strong price, hotrods don’t always bring good money but this one had the right mix of looks and performance without being over the top, I guess. 6/21
1967 Giulia Super. Dark green with tan (orange) interior, very common US combo. Fully dialed in car by a longtime loving owner with 1750, GTA gears, TZ replica wheels, 4.10 axle, usual suspension mods, fully dialed in mechanically and cosmetically. Photos showed a stunning appearance, has done well in local shows. $37,500 private sale, Portland OR. The Giulia most folks seek, a first-series Super. Green/tan, the most common combination brought to the US, this car has been pampered a long time. Price is the highest I’ve seen since the 2007 recession but certainly worth it in terms of what you’re getting compared to a similar GTV, which would be $30,000 more. Top money just now, let’s see if the trend continues. 6/21
1968 Giulia Super. Rich rosso amaranto car with tan interior. German market car, brought to US some years ago. Mildly upgraded with 1750 engine, Koni shocks, 4.10 axle, nice Cromodora mags. Very nice car if mildly going to seed, owned by an AlfaBB regular, well known and documented. $36,500 BringaTrailer, Orange CA. A very nice car, owned and cared for by a sedan nut who did the right things to it. I’m told a little high for the condition by someone who knew it, but this is ballpark for a top car. 6/21