WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAMERON NICHOLLS
I find myself cringing when I hear the words 'character', 'passion' and 'emotion' used around Alfas. Though I don’t think these words are necessarily untrue, I do think they are clichés, a front to distract people from the shortcomings in the car. I don’t deny the shortcomings, I laugh at the fact that when I drive the GTV I spend more time looking at the small gauges than I do at the big ones, if they start to drift off centre I break out into a sweat!
Both my Alfas have spent periods of time as daily drivers over the years. I find myself looking for any excuse to jump in and go.
My interest in Alfas came from my dad. He bought a Giallo Ochre 1750 GTV new in 1969 and was heavily involved in the Alfa club throughout the 70’s. There were also a few Alfa books at home that I constantly read, books by Peter Hull & Roy Slater, Evan Green and Great Marques - I grew up loving all of the cars I read about. In 1990 dad bought an ‘85 Alfetta GTV in which I learned to drive and spent the next 10 years sprinting in club events, great times for a young guy.
I recently returned to club sprints with the 156 GTA. It went well down the straights but suffered with its nose heavy handling and really struggled under brakes, so now I’m tossing up whether to persist with the GTA or do some minor preparation to the GTV and return to sprinting in a car that is nowhere near as quick, but feels really sweet and balanced.
Me in 1991 doing the AROCA sprint at Winton. Those days I was 5'2" and had the seat as far forward and up as I could get. Now it's almost the dead opposite.
I think that a genuine Alfista, will at least in their personal life, have a strong tendency to make decisions with their heart and not their head. I remember years ago I was being interviewed for my first job in logistics and when the senior manager read down my CV to the part about an interest in Alfa Romeos he proceeded to lecture me on the importance of logic in the role I had applied for!
I believe that the real Alfisti don’t just drive Alfas because they can’t afford a Ferrari, which is not to say I’d kick a Giallo 355 GTB out of the garage. They drive Alfas because they are inexplicably in love with them, not as a status symbol or something to impress others.