- Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Rescuing five barn find Alfa Romeos that sat for 40 years

Dusty, but full of hope.

6w ago
112.6K

Two garages, five classic Alfa Romeos, one rescue mission. That was the adventure that Andrew and Ezra of LBI Limited embarked on to try and save these classic cars. Boys, we salute you. I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing both Andrew and Ezra so I decided I’d split it into two parts: Andrew talked about the first garage while Ezra covered the second.

It all started around five years ago when a close friend of theirs, Dr. Dan Rose mentioned that a former colleague and friend of his from the University of Pennsylvania had some Alfas entombed in a garage that no one had seen in many years. Initially, the owner had no interest in selling them, a sentiment that many car collectors share, and was generally guarded about the cars.

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Fast forward to spring of 2020 and the unfortunate passing of the owner was the turning point for the situation and the family decided it was time to sell his cars.

“We see this scenario often, where a car person who has collected for many years will only part with their cars once they are no longer with us,” Andrew said. “These situations always take humility to navigate to a positive outcome where the family has been treated fairly and we have the privilege of seeing cars that have been hidden away, for the first time in decades.”

But why were these treasures sitting for over 40 years? Well, in looking through old photos in albums that the family was kind enough to share, there was a pattern. In early photos, the white Giulietta Spider was in the driveway, then the Berlina, then the Giulia Sedan, then the Giulietta Sprint. Slowly, the car before the most recent one receded into the background of the images, whether it went to storage or under a tarp.

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

“An enthusiast goes and buys a car, then another, all the while they start to each continually need work. As one person, with a full-time job, it's only a matter of time before your love of cars (in this case Alfas) finds you with 5-10 cars and only one of them working at any one time. Yet another common scenario we have found,” Andrew said. “So I think it was a matter of too many cars, not enough time, and too many unfinished projects as each one had different needs when they were put away. Some were partially worked on, others were just taken apart.”

When it comes to rescuing cars like these from tight garages, “equipment is essential.” The group always has tools like winches, come-a-longs, snatch blocks, trucks, and trailers in order to be prepared for any situation. “Oh, and people! Pushing, sweating, and sometimes yelling obscenities as needed to get things moved.” Oh yes, obscenities are paramount to a job well done.

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

The second garage was even harder than the first one, with a roof that was very close to collapsing at any given moment. In Ezra’s own words, it was “one of those situations where you have to keep reminding yourself that this could turn ugly.” To make matters even worse, the Berlina and the Giulia Super both had locked brakes and flat tires. The worst of all was the Alfetta which was crashed in 1979 and had a bent clutch, bent brake pedal, no front wheel, and no suspension.

While watching the videos, it’s pretty clear that Ezra is pretty knowledgeable about Alfa Romeos. Being a journalist, my curiosity was piqued by this so I had to ask: what is your history with the brand?

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

“I fell for Alfas in the mid-1990s, while in college in upstate New York. I had a landlord who kept his collection of cars near the house. He owned mainly Italian stuff and daily drove his Ferrari Boxer, Maserati Ghibli, and other amazing exotics. But he always said his favorite was the Alfetta GT. One day I was home and he turned up with a brand new Alfa 164S, and he let me take it for a drive,” Ezra said. “My daily ride back then was an autocross prepped 5.0 Mustang and the 164S made the Mustang seem lame. I soon sold the Mustang and bought a used Milano Verde. Then over the years many other Alfas have come and gone. At one point I think I had 5 Alfas. I still have a race-prepped Alfa GTV6. There is just something about them that is intoxicating.”

One last bit of info that is almost as important as this entire article. If you’re wondering how Ezra’s hair is so fabulous, thank his wife.

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Now let’s talk favorites. For Andrew, it was the 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, “simply because of the interior and original colors.” See Andrew is the kind of guy who would keep it the way it is, just because of that stunning blue and grey interior. “Overwhelming to the senses” is a good way to put it, yeah.

“Cars aren’t the same when you replace all of the various textiles from the era in which they were built. It's what gives them texture, smell, and the feeling of authenticity.” Oooh, that old car smell, one of the best things about a classic car.

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Image courtesy of LBI Limited

Ezra was more of a fan of the Giulietta Sprint or Spider but if he were to actually drive one, it would be the white Giulia Super. Those things are pretty beefy, with a twin-cam motor, a 5-speed transmission, and 4 wheel disc brakes.

Now that you’ve read about the rescue, live through my description of it by watching part 1.

And part 2 as well!

Huge thanks to Andrew and Ezra for allowing me to pick their brains about this rescue and to Nick for the beautiful pictures of the process! Who knows, maybe you’ll see more of their future rescues highlighted in an article ;)

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Comments (42)

  • Excellent article, Gabriel! Thank you for highlighting one of our most arduous but rewarding finds. Exhuming these from sure death to provide them with a potential for a new life is the ultimate feeling. -LBI Limited

      1 month ago
    • Thank you very much, glad you liked it! It was very fun writing about the whole process

        1 month ago
    • Did you manage to get the cars from the garage that could collapse at any given time?

        1 month ago
  • Great article. I’ve had a soft spot for Alfas ever since my company transferred me to Brussels, Belgium, in 1977. My boss at that time allowed me to have an Alfa Romeo GTV as a company car. I couldn’t believe my good fortune!

    For two years, my wife and I traveled all over Europe in this gem. It was so much fun to drive, and could keep up with most, but not all, traffic on the Autobahns. On one trip I came up behind a Porsche 911and followed it for awhile. Then I put my foot to the floor and passed it, pretty well at the Alfa’s top speed. Suddenly, the 911, clearly irritated, zoomed by me and quickly disappeared down the road ahead. It was fun while it lasted.

    It’s so sad to see these 5 Alfa’s in such a state of disrepair. I understand that the owner couldn’t keep up with having them in running condition, but they seem very rusted and worn for having been under cover.

      1 month ago
  • Great article, thank you for this Gabriel. These are the things that make Drivetribe worth while, not the tasteless random copy pasta I see far too often by kids not even old enough to ever have driven a car.

      1 month ago
    • Awwww I really appreciate it! I'm glad you liked it 🥰

        1 month ago
  • What I would give to own those...

      1 month ago
  • Gives me chills.

      1 month ago
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