Where does one land when combining a long history of Italian flare with good ol’ American engineering? Sometimes you’ll land on a masterpiece like the De Tomaso Mangusta or Bizzarrini Strada. Occasionally you conjure up a gem like the Nash-Healey. Even more rare are the shockingly beautiful mid-20th-century concepts from Chrysler and Ghia.
In other, stranger times like the go-go-let’s-get-some-blow 1980s, you come up with the Cadillac Allante. Continue reading
Poking around BaseFook the other day, one of the ads from which they thought I would derive tremendous value from was a t-shirt for The Manual Gearbox Preservation Society. “Pfft!” I thought, hating the fact that technology thinks it knows me better than I know myself. Then I started thinking that maybe the Interwebs were onto something. We’ve talked before about the gradual disappearance of the stick shift, and there’s no denying its days are numbered. So I took it upon myself to poke around looking at assorted manual cars that 1) I’d be stupid enough to buy, and 2) wouldn’t break the bank. Enter the Alfa 164, and this solid example located in Tulsa, OK for a paltry $2,500.
Part of being a TTSer is coveting the strange, unusual, abnormal, underappreciated, etc. – automotively speaking. One of our favorite pastimes in the TTS offices is to peruse classified ads from the UK, mainland Europe, and even the Far East and elsewhere in search of whacky cars that whet our appetites. A particular favorite website for this colossal timewasting is Germany’s www.mobile.de. So on the tail-end of buying another car this week (details forthcoming) and then tripping on another car I’d wanted to buy only to have the seller take his sweet time getting back to me, I thought I’d distract myself by looking for fun cars that one could conceivably buy for credit card or home equity money – including shipping – and which you’d be 100% certain your neighbor wouldn’t have. Unless he or she is more interesting than you are..
After writing about that gorgeous Alfa Romeo Duetto the other day, I got to thinking: there are a lot of ways to enjoy sleek European styling and a sonorous dual overhead cam motor combined with open air motoring. Most of those have been covered in TTS before – cars like the Alfa Spider, the Jensen-Healey, and even Fiat’s 850 Spider and X1/9. Shamefully, we have not covered Fiat’s 124/2000 Spiders in any depth. Until now. This car, advertised on Craigslist in Leesburg, Virginia for $3,950, represents the same basic experience as the Duetto but for about 10% of the entry fee.
The Fiat 124 was basically the Torino firm’s counterpoint to Alfa’s Spider, and their specs are comparable if not remarkably similar: they were both penned by Pininfarina and released to the world in 1966, both had varying displacement DOHC inline-4 motors, both had full synchromesh manual transmissions and four-wheel disc brakes from the get-go, and both started rusting about six hours prior to leaving their respective factories. In many ways, choosing between the Fiat and the Alfa was really down to preference. Of course, the Alfisti will argue that their Spider came with oodles more pedigree and had sleeker, sportier styling. The Fiat side of the camp will conversely argue that their car ticks all the right sports car boxes, but with more robust running gear that was used throughout the world in hundreds of thousands of their contemporary models. Frankly, I like both of them, albeit for different reasons.
As a car guy, one of my favorite things on social media is when a friend announces that they are looking for a particular car. I take those posts as a personal challenge. Earlier today a friend posted that he was finally ready to add an Alfa Duetto to his collection of very nice but driveable Alfa Romeos, and it got me thinking. I don’t have any space either in the garage or the fleet for another car right now, but if I did I would seriously consider a well-sorted Duetto. I’ve written here before about how my first car was an S2 Alfa Spider that was remarkably well-sorted but rusty as all get out, and about three decades later I bought that car’s twin, but with a perfect body but mechanically, well, challenged. I loved my first Alfa both as a first car but also as a dirver’s car, and I was so sorely disappointed when the second one was so unhappy. As my TTS partner always says, nostalgia is a funny thing and I was clearly wearing blinders when I bought that car a few years back, but I haven’t lost my appetite for a nice Alfa and now I’m thinking that there is most definitely an early round-tail Spider in my future – ideally before they go the way of the Mercedes Pagoda, which is to say expensive beyond reason. Perhaps one like this beauty for sale here on Mobile.de in Monza, Italy for about $34,000 would fit the bill.
Suppose for a minute that you have managed to finagle your personal finances through a series of questionable actions to the point that you have somewhere in the neighborhood of $20K available in liquid funds. Now suppose further that you are cunning enough to convince whomever else in your household that has a say in how your money gets spent that you are car savvy enough to take that $20K and turn it into at least 25% more over the next 1-3 years. We’re not talking penny stocks going up 100X in value, but is there not some appeal to our automotive selves in the ability to buy and enjoy a car that we find interesting and end-up selling it on at a net gain? Continue reading