Saturday, June 1, 2019

Taking the Plunge

I had a problem.  (Note: "Had".)

My previous project ("Gidget", my 1965 MG Midget) is done.  (Well, "done" is relative, but the restoration's over.)  While I love working on Gidget, I've been getting the itch to do something else... but not at the level of effort that it took to do a bare-metal restoration.  I want a daily driver that has a decent body but needed mechanical and/or interior work.  In other words, something I can drive and make better along the way.

A larger part of the problem was getting my wife, who had just suffered for six (six!) years with the Midget, to buy in.  It needed to be the right car, at the right price, with the conditions I just stated above.  In other words, she needed to like it.

So... her dad has a friend, who had been talking about his Alfa Romeo.  He said he drove it, and it was in decent shape.  I was interested.  However, he never quite got to the point of parting with it.  That was enough to keep it out of sight and out of mind... until one day.

The tipping point was twofold:
  1. My daily driver ("Nigel", a 2011 Mini Cooper S) needed $2300 of work to take care of age-related problems.  This spurred interest in finding something I could drive a couple of days a week to keep the miles down.  (I've wanted an MGB-GT, but that wasn't happening... apparently, it isn't the right car.)
  2. The dad's friend started talking about trading it in while they moved houses.  If he was going to trade it in, well, why not sell it?
That week I took a ride over to the dad's friend's house (Tony and Filomena) to check out the car.  It's a 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Quadrifoglio.  Basically, this is a fully loaded Series 3 Alfa Spider with fuel injection, power windows and grey-on-red interior.

My impressions were:
  • It looked nice.  The body had been repainted, but was straight and rust free with some trim and mirrors needing attention.
  • The interior was not great.  Most stuff worked, but it looked kind of shabby and it had definitely been sitting closed up for a while.
  • The A/C (yes, a mid-80s convertible with A/C) didn't work.
  • The engine ran, but there was a definite lack of zip.
  • Cooling and charging were 'ok'.  It ran a little hot, and the alternator was barely keeping up.
  • There was lots of oil coating the underside, and a definite leak from somewhere.
  • Brakes and steering and suspension were not too great, but they worked.
  • It had a nearly new soft top.  The hard top was long done (which was a big selling point for the Quadrifoglio).
  • Top-down driving was awesome.  Top-up driving was not bad either.
Amazingly, this car met all my criteria, and being Italian it had Julia's interest, too.

I did some research and I figured I was looking at a couple thousand in repairs (mostly suspension), which wasn't great, but manageable.  The price was right for the car's condition.  All the pieces fell in place, and by the end of the weekend I had the keys and title in my hand.

Without further ado... allow me to introduce you to "Lola" (named somewhat after Gina Lollobrigida).


Isn't she pretty?

This blog will be about the revival of Lola the Alfa Romeo to a daily-driver condition.  ("Rianimare un'Alfa" means "Reviving an Alfa".)  It's not a restoration or a concours-level presentation; it's getting her back on the road reliably and safely.  I'm sure there will be some little "improvements" along the way, but the focus is on usability, not show quality work.

I can't wait to get started!

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