Monday, July 25, 2005 at 12:44 pm by Darryl
For the next week or so, the roadways in and around Bellevue, Washington will be sprinkled with Italian beauties. From July 28 to July 31, the national convention of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club will be held at the Bellevue Doubletree hotel. The event is dubbed Alfa Potlatch Unfortunately, I leave town early on the 28th, so I will miss the fun.
So for the next week, keep your eyes peeled for pre-90s convertibles like this fine 1968 spider. Or, you might come across an Alfa Romeo 164. Imported from 1991 to 1994, this was the last Alfa model in the U.S. market. Finally, you might see one of the classic and very classy Guilia or a Giulietta zinging down the road.
You might have guessed that I am an Alfa Romeo enthusiast. I fell in love with an old boat-tailed Spider (similar to this one) in the early 1980s. (I was in my early 20s.) Alas, I could not afford to own an expensive (and somewhat temperamental) Italian beauty. Instead, I found a 1970 Fiat Spider that ended up being one of the most enjoyable and low maintenance cars I have ever owned—a wonderful introduction to Italian machines. I am now on my second Alfa Romeo Spider, a metalic blue 1989 Veloce that I drive about 40 percent of the time. A removable hard-top makes the car practical year round in the rainy Pacific northwest.
About a year ago, I purchased a 1991 164L that was in need of much work. I had low expectations for this vehicle—I paid under $2000 for a car that cost $35,000 new. After months of tracing down electrical problems and fixing a few major mechanical problems, I now have a sweet daily driver.
So far, owning Alfas has not bitten me hard financially. I do all my own work, and the Alfa Romeo service manuals are superb. The cars are fun to work on—particularly if they come from the rust-resistant West-coast or Southwest.
Alfa Romeo pulled out of the U.S. market in 1994, but is considering a return to the U.S. Rumors have new Alfas showing up as early as 2007. The biggest concern for Alfa is building a quality dealership network so critical for providing service and customer support. The latest models coming out of Milan are incredibly beautiful. Here is an Autoweek article discussing the latest model and the prospects for a return to America for Alfa Romeo.
I hope they come back in 2007. That means Iâ€™ll be able to own one of the sexy Alfa Romeo 159s in another 15 or 20 years.