So spring (or summer, apparently) has sprung – at least in the Mid-Atlantic region, but also throughout much of the rest of the country, from what I hear. What that means to me is that it’s time to dust-off your convertible, change the oil, pump-up the tires, put the top down, and head-out for a relaxing drive in the country, or the city, whichever is your pleasure. What’s that? You don’t have a convertible? We would argue that there is a convertible out there for nearly any budget or anyone with a credit card that they’ve given-up trying to pay off and therefore don’t mind piling onto. Who among Car Geeks doesn’t relish the wind in their hair, the sun on their face, and the sound of the exhaust bouncing off the trees? Now is the time before prices jump-up for the season. What we offer here are some thought starters…
Tag Archives: Italian Cars
As pre-driver’s licensed teenagers in the 1980s, one of the places we scratched our automotive itch, as it were, was in the video game arcade. You remember those, right? Dark, noisy rooms reeking of old popcorn, sweat, and cleaning solution with brown industrial carpeting smothered in used chewing gum and other nastiness, where the youth of our generation gathered to take our minds off of school, overbearing parents and girl (or guy) troubles. The best games would rob you of a pocket full of quarters and hours – if not days or weeks – of your life. It was heaven on Earth. These days we have the XBox, PlayStation, and Wii. The best games for Car Geeks like me were the sit-down shift-and-steer games. Pole Position taught us the basics, but Outrun was where it was at in terms of cool cars, music, and you even got a hottie in a bikini to ride along. And that was the closest I thought I’d ever come to driving a Ferrari Testarossa.
My Dad’s 1969 Fiat 850 Spider is my oldest automotive memory. 850 spiders were also the cars that my TTS co-conspirator and I first bonded over, at the approximate ages of five and three, respectively. Suffice it to say, we both have a soft spot for Fiat 850s, especially clean, original ones like this which are essentially non-existent at this point. They were cheap when new, and most were driven hard (you sort-of had to) and left outside. Combined all that with their propensity to rust, like all Italian cars from the 1960s and 1970s, and you’ll find that nice 850s are nearly impossible to find, and the few you do find are usually out there for all the money. Find this clean survivor
on CraigsList in New York for a reasonable $5,995.
My wife and I were married fifteen years ago this year – the happiest years of my life. We’ve had two wonderful children, seen each other build healthy careers, and we’ve had about 80 cars. That’s right, 80, eight-zero, EIGHTY. Suffice it to say, we tend not to get too attached to cars around our house. Well we do, but everything has a price. Having written about many of these cars here and in other venues along with those cars that I’d like to have but for my lack of the funds, the space, or the guts to buy them, a lot of people ask me where I find them. It’s not rocket science, but timing is key.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of sitting next to the U.S. brand manager for Audi’s motorsports program on an overnight flight to Munich. He was off to lead a team of American journalists on a tour through the mountains near Ingolstadt in the new R8 GT. I, on the other hand, was headed to Lyon, France to gain an entirely new understanding of how the World Health Organization pontificates and promotes specific agendas, but that is a topic for a different blog. I think it goes without saying that I’d have rather gone with him. During the almost nine hours we spent together no sleeping, working, or watching movies, I did get the chance to pick his brains on a number of topics related to Audi and the automotive industry in general – among them one of my pet soapbox issues: the lack of new-tech diesel cars available to U.S. consumers.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Alfa Romeo was best known for peppy four-cylinder cars like the GTV, Giulia, Giulietta, Duetto, and later the kamm-tail Spider. The cars were penned by great designers from the houses of Pininfarina and Bertone, and they were among the most classically attractive cars of the day with designs that still look both beautiful and functional even today. The DOHC inline-4 served owners reliably over the years in a variety of displacements and states of tune, culminating with the 2.0 liter in the 1970s, equipped with Spica mechanical fuel injection to help them meet U.S. emissions regulations.