Rescuing five barn find Alfa Romeos that sat for 40 years
Dusty, but full of hope.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
“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.
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.
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 ;)