The Gallery Brummen – Part 1 of many

Lamborghini

OK – Let me first, be completely honest. As much as I would wish to own this car (and as much as I metaphorically kicked its tyres) I am nowhere near being close to being in the market for a car of this sort. I was fortunate last month to be in the Netherlands and made sure to stop by “the Gallery, Brummen“.

The Dutch are wonderful – very much like Canadians (Sorry!  😉  ) in that they are largely unassuming, accommodating and friendly. In spite of the fact that I viewed the entire collection with a slightly glassy look in my eye, an unattractive froth at the mouth (leading, of course to the odd unintentional drool, that I masterfully kept from hitting the lovely cars and befouled my shirt, instead) and wielded my camera and iphone with a “brio” that while not endangering the cars proclaimed me to be the typical idiot who had no intent (or wherewithal) to purchase….  they were remarkably patient, and after an hour and a half of this I left on my own without being escorted out (as I fully expected) by security.

The car above is the first one of its kind that I have seen in the flesh, as it were. Not surprising, as this is one of 247 built. 247. Let me repeat that, 247.

How many are left? I don’t know  – if this were an impressive, scholarly site, as opposed to being the errant maunderings of a less than well informed idiot like myself, I might be able to tell you. As it is, all I can do (the drawing took me long enough to scotch any possibility of serious scholarship here) is tell you that some 50 years ago there were only 247 made…

I was gob-smacked. Really – Gob-smacked. When I saw the car, my face flew to the right and spital flew, endangering a Ferrari Dino to my right, but I heroically caught it in my right hand… (and then surreptitiously wiped it on Evelyn’s shoulder… 😉   ). This is the first example I have seen of this actual car. All joking aside, I was really lost for words.

I had actually contacted the Gallery and asked if they would allow me to test drive a Mercedes 250SL. They responded immediately with a positive, suggesting only that I give them a couple of day’s notice so that the car would be available. In the end, I was unfaithful to this site, but faithful to my Canadian values and failed to take advantage of the test drive. This was not a disappointment. My time was well spent. I’ll be covering this more in the near future.

PS – The Alfa is running beautifully now – more to follow on this… 🙂

Update, 06/02/2015

amber

My dreams are haunted by the baleful blinking of an amber light… but more on that later.

The end of May turned out to be a torrid time. We were finishing up our trip in Europe when I caught a virus. Evelyn got it too and had a fever on the flight home. I got worse after we got home, eventually getting fever, sore throat, and headaches. All this time I was also trying to get the car safetied and licensed. Not a lot of fun.

The car passed safety easily, but I did need to get a little work done, including new brake pads and calipers, and once I had the safety sorted, I was able to get the car licensed which is always a bit of a chore given the long queues at the Ministry of Truth… er, Transport. What has been plaguing me though, was an amber light, on the centre console above and between the fuel gauge and the oil pressure gauge. This amber light is to indicate “low fuel pressure”. It came on when I was driving the car home from purchasing it, and within a kilometre or two of coming on, the car was hesitating and lurching. I discovered that pulling over and giving the car a rest and a cool down would sort this, at least temporarily. Still, no fun. During the safety, my Mechanic looked into this and found that one of the fuel filters was ancient and falling apart, so it was replaced, he took it out for a long drive and the problem seemed solved.

I picked the car up, drove it home, and it ran much longer without the FP light coming on – but come on it did. Once on, it ran longer without lurching – but lurch it did. I resorted to my old trick of letting it cool and it was fine – but now the generator light had come on, and my fuel and oil pressure gauges had failed. I drove the car back to the Garage the next day to get the alternator replaced, and it ran perfectly all the way up without the light coming on (though this could have had something to do with the same thing that was effecting the other gauges – but it didn’t hesitate or lurch at all). It turns out I didn’t need a new alternator, there was simply a bad relay that was burning a fuse and causing the lights to bugger up. So – fixed. Yay!

I drove the car down to the MTO to sort the licensing, and even took it on the highway – no sign of the amber light. Sadly, when I took the car out later in the afternoon the light was back on and the car was beginning to hesitate again. The mechanic has told me that there is nothing wrong and suggests that this may be the gas (the gas smells a little odd) and says I should just burn the tank off, fill it afterward and see what happens. I don’t really see what else to do at this point, because I can’t think of anything else that would be causing this that hasn’t been checked.

The odd thing about this is that it has been completely inconsistent, sometimes coming on shortly after start up, sometimes taking about 40 km before winking coyly on. I’m being careful with this as I understand it’s easy to bugger the engine if you ignore this as the Spider uses the fuel delivery as an aid to engine coolant – so lack of pressure can cause other problems than the obvious. Anyway – fingers crossed that a new tank of gas will see the unpleasant amber light off.

Done Deal. 05/03/2015

Apologies for the hiatus in submissions, but I have been busy on different fronts – not least securing the purchase of this, my new car;     🙂

Alfa final 1

This is a 1976 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider Veloce, manufactured on April 26, 1976, and, surprisingly (given its condition) it has spent its entire life in Canada. The car is Ivory with an Amaranth tex interior. It has some 52,000 miles on it, and has service history back to 1991.

Alfa final 2

The paint was redone at some point in the late 80s, and the convertible top is newer – canvas with sound-dampening and a boot to cover it when stowed. The interior is all original, including the radio which boasts 2 AM presets and 3 FM presets. Oooooh. technology….

Alfa final 3

The car has driven very little in the past 10 years, but it has been babied. The previous owner replaced the fuel pump, topped up all fluids, replaced some hoses, emptied, removed, cleaned, replaced and filled the gas tank… all in the last week or two in preparation for my purchase. On the way home, the car still exhibited some small fuel pressure issues that will have to be addressed.

Alfa final 4

The car is still not licensed for the road – I need to get it certified, the plates updated and the ownership changed, and this won’t happen immediately as I’m off to Belgium on Friday, but I figure it’ll be ready by late May, early June.

I’ll be visiting the “Gallery Brummen” in the Netherlands next week and will be doing some sketches there – as well, possibly, as test driving a 230SL… more on this later… and more on the evolving story of the Alfa too!

1976 Alfa Romeo Spider – Test Drive, 12/04/2015

Bianca

First, apologies for the recent lack of consistent postings. I have been very busy at school with the wrapping up of the semester and the organization and running of our School’s Thesis Show.

You may notice that this drawing is different to previous ones in that it is fully coloured, but more on that later. Let’s start at the beginning. I had, of course, already seen this car, but Evelyn had not, and so I was anxious to see her reaction to it. We arrived in the late afternoon and the car was sitting in the driveway, ready to be taken for a spin. The owner hopped in the driver’s seat and took me for a spin down the country road on which he lives, and talked to me a little about the car. The vehicle was not licensed, so our excursion was only a kilometre or so down the road, to its dead end, and then back. This was enough, however to run the car through the gears and get it up to 4th at least.

Back in the driveway, I got into the driver’s seat and Evelyn into the passenger seat and off we went. I was a little surprised at how low you sit in this car – it doesn’t look like that will be the case from the outside. The clutch bite point was a little surprising  to me and I nearly embarrassed myself by a stall, but managed to parley that into only a “stutter” as I backed out of the drive. The steering felt tight and direct, and shifting (I’ve heard this can be a problem on these cars, especially 2nd gear) was easy and very smooth. We got to the end of the road and executed a 3 point turn and were off, and this time I gave it a bit of welly, nothing outrageous, but enough to get an idea of the engine note at 5 grand; and the result was lovely – loud but not deafening, with a hint of a “howl” that bodes well for when the engine winds up even more. At this point Evelyn asked me why I was going “so fast” and I was able to report to her that I was only doing 40 mph. Obviously, like many smaller cars this one has the tendency to increase the impression of speed…

The car ran well, and seemed to enjoy stretching its legs. As far as I could tell (given the limited range I drove) the handling was good and the car put its power down well. The drive was a little noisy, but not annoyingly so – just enough to remind you that you’re in a convertible (the top was up) and that this is a sports car . Everything about the car felt “tight” and predictable. I think the only complaint that I could make is that the turn signal felt a bit “floppy”. So this was a very good experience.

So good, that I put money down on the car. Sadly, however, over two weeks later and I have yet to pick it up. The seller is a very busy guy and I’ve had a hard time arranging a date to get the ownership and sales package settled so I can get a temporary permit to pick it up. I’m hoping to get this sorted this week and will update the site when it happens.

Classics on the horizon

It’s been a little slow of late. The weather refuses to conform to the calendar and remains grudgingly bleak and chilly, thus the explosion of classics onto the market has been rather a “trickle”. Add to that the fact that I have been rather busy with work and you get thin pickings at this site. Be assured, however, that I continue to while away my time on this in other ways, and I have found the following cars locally, and plan to look at them when I have the time…

71Corvette

Not a car on my list, you’ll notice, and a little beyond my price range too, but not greatly so. I always thought that these were great cars when I was a kid, but never particularly aspired to one. In the 70s these were so common on the street that you almost failed to see them. I did see one recently and was reminded of what a good design they were. I don’t know if I could see myself actually IN one of these though. But this is why I’d like to test drive one; just to see.

BMW Tii

Again – not on my list, though I do like these – but not a convertible either. This car is a strange one – it looks complete and solid and is a good colour (dark green) and is the sought after “tii” model. All good, correct? Well, the issue is that the ad for this is rather terse, saying little about the car except that it is in “grate” shape (is it wrong of me to be bothered by such mis-spellings?) and that I shouldn’t waste the seller’s time unless I know what these are worth. Well; the photos aren’t great, the car is covered in dust, and it may lack front seats (certainly from one view this appears to be the case, but it is possible they have been fully reclined). I’d like to test drive this one, but my concern, of course, is not what I think it’s worth (and Hagerty values have given me a good idea) but what the seller thinks it is worth – which may be a horse of an entirely different colour. It’s certainly worth a look though, and I may simply be guilty of cynicism and misinterpretation.

1974 Fiat

Finally – one that IS on my list. This one looks to be in very good condition and is priced reasonably competitively. I do want to test drive one of these because I think they are smart looking cars, and given the fact that there are still a good number of them around, I suspect that they would benefit from the same enthusiast base that the TR6s do. This one has apparently never been winter driven and the seller claims that it is all original except for a new canvas top (which is nice, because a lot of these were “customized” in small ways). Definitely on my list to try and test drive.

Not sure if I will get any test drives in this coming weekend as it is Easter… but I will try.

1976 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 21/03/2015

1976 Alfa white

I didn’t actually expect to like this car. I’d seen photographs of “bits” of it, and those looked good, but in general, this was not the car I was looking for – why? Well, first it was a 1976 with all that that entails – heavy bumpers, emissions equipment – and – well – it was “white”. I know you’re not supposed to buy a car based upon it’s colour, but I didn’t think the white served the shape of a Spider all that well…

So I walked into this blokes garage looking to see what I could get out of the 1972 Spider but was continuously distracted by this understated beauty sitting just behind (and below  – it wasn’t on a hoist) the ’72. It would be an exaggeration to describe it as “perfect” but it wasn’t far off. This car was pristine, in all the ways that the bloke trying to sell the first TR6 (see 1971 TR6, Viewed 28/09/2104) I looked at would have wished his car was. The seller had described this car to me as a “cream puff” and I was finding it hard to disagree, as my glance darted from my “preferred 1972 to the “less desirable” 1976.

There is too much GOOD about this car to describe it in detail – the best thing I can do is to start with its imperfections; the paint wasn’t perfect. There – I’ve said it. The paint had some chips, evidence of the removal of an unattractive trim piece on the detail line above the rocker panel, and the odd spot where there was the suggestion of a little bodywork beneath the paint – bit very little. The interior was astonishing –  – really – there’s no other word for it – and according to the seller, original. There’s an original Blaupunkt AM/AM/FM/FM/FM radio, and – hold your breath – even the original cigarette lighter.

I’m gonna buy a cigar. 😉

The engine bay was – well – pristine. SPICA injection there, all the emission crap (ooops – stuff) removed, and looked,on the whole, to be about 2 years old – the only thing that wasn’t “stand out” “shiny” perfection was the head that was VERY slightly mottled. Otherwise, this was beautiful. I’m a little ashamed to say that I brushed my fingers across the head to feel for heat – none (more on that later).

The interior? Wow. The interior was “oxblood” (the seller informs me this is actually called, I think, “Amaranth”) and this included the seats and the door cards – but the top strip of the door cards and the dash (of course) were black. The dash was original but had a tiny (about 1cm) tear in it  – and this is from the front of one of the vents  -so if it continues it will tap out at the windshield – far preferable to the other way around. I don’t know how else to describe the interior than “pristine”.

The boot was beautiful too. paint was near perfect. I did not remove the spare tire, but I will, to check for rot (there will be none). The original and complete tool kit is still mounted to the rear wall, as is the original (and rarely used by the look of it) jack. The car sported period correct Compagnolo wheels (a tad worse for wear) and of course the dreaded  “American Appeasement” bumpers. By this time, I was finding it hard to see anything but beauty in this car, though. Remember the Alfa of the same vintage from 25/10/2014? It had the same bumpers but I couldn’t stand them – why? because they were delaminating, and looked like “JAWS” had had a go at the right rear driver’s side. These were – like the rest of the car, pristine. I don’t look at them and think “hey – these are WAY better than the 1974 versions” – but, viewing them in situ, these looked damned good.

The underside – well – simply, it was as good, or better than the rest- solid metal and no deterioration. The seller (or a previous owner) had added an oil pan protector, but again, this was perfect – no rust, no deterioration-  the same could be said of the parts behind it. A squat beneath the rear end revealed equally clean components.

A test drive was impossible due to poor roads, salt, and slightly inhospitable weather, but the seller was happy to start the car for me nonetheless. He sat in the car, pulled the choke out a little and turned the key – and the engined purred into life. There was no worrisome smoke from the dual ANZA tailpipe, the engine hummed away happily and when he stepped out of the car and grabbed the throttle mechanism in the engine bay, it happily growled to about 6000 rpm.

I started this visit “wanting” to dislike this car – but instead found myself somewhat besotted by it. It’s not just that it’s in brilliant shape (one could argue that this is almost a disincentive in a 1976) it’s that the car is “quirky”. White is not a colour I thought would look “good” on an Alfa – it does (especially with the oxblood [amaranth?] interior). The rubber bumpers? Can’t stand them. Well. I could put up with them. Well – they’re really not that bad. The seller tells me I can de-gas the shocks to move the rear bumper in a bit – but – why bother?

This car is largely stock, and it is a beauty. The seller is asking – wait for it – $11,900.

Value for money: 10/10 – This is NOT a desirable 71 – 74 Spider, but this one has no emissions rubbish and the bumpers could (should I wish) be replaced. The price is right and appropriate, as far as I can discern.
Driving Impression: TBD – I’m setting up a date to test drive this. More to follow. 
Body: 9/10 – looks great – a couple of paint issues.
Engine (Speculative): 9/10 -started cold with no smoke, revved well, and ran like a top – but I do want to feel how it pulls on the road – TBD
Handling: TBD

I’m seriously interested in this car. Evelyn and I are going to head up to take a test drive as soon as the weather permits. I expect a couple of other test drives before this, as the seller is a busy man – but I can’t wait… 🙂

Update, 22/03/2015

Alfa update 2

I had begun to think that I was going to get to have another crack at the Duetto I’d viewed back in January; I should have known better. At the time, you may recall, I was a little concerned by the fact that the Duetto was on offer for the same price as the 1976 Spider. It LOOKED clean. it SEEMED good. But in the end, I felt I would need a test drive as well as a PPI to give me the confidence to make an offer. I had been keeping an eye on the dealer’s website and up until recently, it was still there.

Then, a week or two ago, I saw it on ebay. In fairness, ebay was the manner in which I discovered 76 Spider at the same dealership, so I thought that maybe it would sit. It didn’t though. Last time I checked it was sold.

I’m not too disappointed. Were I an Alfa expert I could buy with more confidence having knowledge of the cars, how they drive, what I should expect, etc. Given that I’ve driven very few Alfas, and none for any length of time or “in anger” (as the saying goes) I felt that I really needed a test drive before putting cash on the barrelhead. Someone beat me to it though. C’est la vie.

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