Category Archives: Alfa Romeo

Che bella macchina!

Multo sportivo

Molto sportivo

It’s just a matter of time before  Fiat is going to start selling a new sports car here and they’ll badge it 124 Spider.  Like the Fiat 500 before it, the 124 Spider takes its name from one of the big successes in Fiat history and its greatest, ahem, triumph in the U.S. market.  Fiat’s original 124 Spider was built from 1966 to – 1979 and essentially the same car was sold as 2000 Spider from 1979 to 1982.  Thereafter, through the 1985 model year it was re-branded Pininfarina Spider Azzura though it was Fiat in every other way.

Bosco means "woods" in Italian

Bosco means “woods” in Italian

The forthcoming 124 Spider will be the first car to be sold by Fiat in the U.S. since the marque’s relaunch through Chrysler that is not a “500.” The latter day expanded Cinquecento  line now includes the 500L, 500e, 500X, 500 Abarth, 500 Cabrio and and we’re not even going to reference that oh-so-tasteful Gucci edition.

Tom Traajera for Pininfarina

Tom Traarda for Pininfarina

The new 124 Spider will be built in Hiroshima by Mazda, not in Turin by Pininfarina as was the case earlier for its earlier namesake.  The fact is that the next generation Mazda MX5, which we’ll always going to call “Miata” no matter what they tell us, is a car that will share quite a bit with the new 124 Spider.  The Mazda alliance was initially going to yield a clone Miata to be sold as an Alfa Romeo but Fiat Chrysler has moved Alfa into a more rarefied segment so the new roadster becomes a Fiat and will, in truth use a Fiat motor, not a Mazda mill.

Who bit the canole?

Who bit the canole?

The original 124 Spider had Pininfarina’s haunchy, hiked-up-in-the-hind-quarters, look that was also an element of the earlier Alfa Romeo Giulietta  as well numerous Farina designs for Ferrari. Modern day examples are not all that difficult to find as there are numerous survivors in regular service around the country. “Fix it again Tony” jokes notwithstanding,  these were very popular over here:  of the 200,000 original Spiders produced over car’s production run 150,00 were sold in the U.S.  That was a big slice of the sports car market pizza for Fiat when MG, Triumph, Sunbeam and Datsun were all vying for some extra cheese with their respective offerings.

Big bumpered beauty

Big bumpered beauty

We especially like the wonderful yellow one that’s gone topless in Palm Springs.  It’s an early, pre-federal bumper mandate example that has a proper, almost British sports car like, wood veneer dash.

Venetian Spider

Venetian Spider

The black one with the gash in the trunk lid was spotted in Memphis by Feral Cars Field Scout Emma Less.  Even with the oversize bumpers, it has a certain rough appeal like Anthony Quinn in La Strada.

Nice rack!

Nice rack!

The beige one was parked on the mean streets of Venice.  No aftermarket flotation device was necessary as we’re talking about Venice, California not that other Venice that’s been trying to copy it since who knows when.  Farina’s badge reflects not only the firm’s design,  credited to Tom Traarda, the American who was also responsible for DeTomaso’s Pantera, but also that Pininfarina was the actual manufacturer, building Spiders on behalf of client Fiat and, later, on its own.

Farina is good for you

Farina is good for you — unless you’re gluten intolerant

"Solo benzina senza piombo"

“Solo benzina senza piombo”

In its time, Fiat’s 124 Spider was something of a value proposition.  You got a serious fun, high revving, twin cam-powered roadster from the land of exotic cars, designed and coach built by a revered carrozzeria, a five-speed transmission for a very competitive price. MSRP was under $4000 for the first seven years of the model run.  Fiat would do well to offer the new 124 Spider at a fair price to build the kind of momentum enjoyed by its earlier namesake which, need we remind, was actually built in Italy.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.06.45 PM

 

We found a very nice ’81 Spider with only 71,000 miles in nearby Sherwood, WI for under $9,000. The car’s equipped with a roll bar so you’ll be completely safe. What’sa matta you not buyin’ this?

We like this great 124 Spider commercial from the car’s inception that emphasizes such features as the horn and lighter.   Hey, no disrespect!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

Family size Alfa bits

Snaking back to America

Snaking back to America

After an absence of almost 20 years Alfa Romeo returned to the U.S. market with the 4C, a mid-engine sports car that’s gotten rave reviews though sales (a total of 91 sold in calendar 2014) have been minimal due to an excruciatingly slow roll out. One still occasionally  encounters a vintage Giulietta, Giulia, Duetto or Spider roadster in a supermarket parking lot but sightings of Alfa sedans are few and far between.The paucity of vintage Alfa saloons hiding in plain sight is understandable.  When it was still active in North America, Alfa concentrated on sports cars with little thought, nor marketing lira,  to cars that had proper backseats and steel roofs.

Double dip

Double dip

We’ve endeavored to provide a roundup of bigger Alfas sighted over the course of the past year or so to underscore that Alfa Romeo has always been more than just sports cars. These are offered in the hope that the powers that be, namely current corporate parent Fiat Chrysler, will see fit to send something over that won’t conjure up comparisons to go-karts — not that we have anything against topless fun.

How about two for the price of one?  Feral Cars Field Scout (and brilliantly gifted singer songwriter) Sutter Zachman sent in the above shot of a first generation Alfa Giulia sedan (yes, the name was shared with the sports car) we’re guessing it to be a ’65 along with a companion 2000 Berlina sporting nifty tricolore stripes along its flanks.  The Berlina is, likely, an early ’70s model, before federal safety standards mandated protruding rubber bumpers.

Federalized for your protection

Federalized for your protection

Cullo grande

Cullo grande

Here’s another 2000 Berlina that we peg as a ’74 or ’75 wearing those above referenced rubber bumpers.  Thanks to Feral Cars Field Scout Andrew Keeler for documenting its mouldering presence on the mean streets of San Francisco.

Home court advantage

Home court advantage

We’re delighted that another two-for-one situation was documented by Feral Cars Scout Fabio Fabbio Fabi — yes, that’s his real name — checking in from Bologna.  He found a late ’50s/early ’60 Giulietta sedan in front of a wedge-shaped Alfa 75. The 75 was sold here as the Alfa Milano, begetting all manner of Pepperidge Farm cookie comparisons.

Cookie in jail

Attica! Attica!

Speaking of cookies, Feral Cars Field Scout Jimmy Varett sent us this shot of a Milano behind bars.  We think it’s poetic and speaks volumes about the fact that the Alfa brand hasn’t been turned loose for too long a period of time.

Last big effort

Alfa’s “big” effort

The last big Alfa shipped over was the 164, a front wheel drive sedan that was designed prior to Fiat’s takeover in 1986. We found a decent unrestored one, in midnight jade green metallic, proudly wearing its Pininfarina design badge. It reminded us of the expectation that it would be accepted as a BMW 5-series alternative during its short U.S. run. That started with the 1991 model year and came to a screeching halt with Alfa’s withdrawal in ’95.

by lined design

Designer’s byline

How about this Giulia we encountered a few months ago?  The patina is breathtaking but we’re betting that by now it’s as shiny as a pair of Gucci loafers.  Then, again, maybe it’s still raw like a nice plate of carpaccio.

Patina extreme

Patina in extremis

We found a Giulia would-be rally car (note the roll cage inside) wearing Alfa’s traditional racing quadrofoglio (four leave clover) on its front fenders and still sporting plates that indicate it was shipped over from the northern province of Cremona. We’re thinking the bumpers were sent out to be re-chromed but maybe this is the look the owner was going for.  Va bene così?

Quadrofoglio flank

Quadrofoglio’d flanks

 

Fresh off the boat

Straight outta Cremora

Check out this commercial for the 164 that was shot in New York.  It’s a must click if only for the giant mobile phone the driver uses as well as for the glimpse of the World Trade Center.

Do you have the Alfa bug?  Why not add one of these sporting sedans to your fleet?  How about this pristine ’72 Berlina in nearby Wilmington, MA or this hot, hot, hot ’92 164S that’s up for auction on Ebay.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

Full retail: Cinqucento in-store appearance

Our Giardiniera gets planted

Giardiniera gets planted

Our vehicular mascot 1967 Fiat 500K Giardiniera baby station wagon is now serving as the centerpiece at Alchemy Works.  It’s the hippest boutique in LA’s burgeoning Arts District and we’ve loaned them our little friend to serve as FeralCars.com’s goodwill ambassador. Our particular Italian ex-pat replaces a delightful ’66 Alfa Romeo Duetto whose owner reclaimed it after a lengthy stay.  Love, love, love those headlights bubbles!

Predecessor paisano

Predecessor paisano

The 6.6 mile drive to Alchemy Works (826 E. 3rd Street) was uneventful, if somewhat noisy.  We avoided the freeway in favor of surface streets in deference to the little car’s somewhat limited performance characteristics.  With only 17.5 horsepower on tap —  the motor, mounted on its side under the cargo bed is just two cylinders, 499.5 cc discplacment — this routing strategy seemed only prudent.

Neat installation

Neat installation

Just before we drove it up the sidewalk and into the store something seemed amiss.. the brakes had frozen or the rear axle decided to become uncooperative, it’s unclear what the hang up was but it didn’t seem entirely feasible to turn it around in the store under its own “power” to face incoming customers.  That’s when we recruited the crew of guys you see here to pick it up and turn it around. The car weighs just 1200 lbs so that works out to 240 pounds per man but you can halve that since they picked it up from one end and then the other.  The car will be in the store for the next month or two so please stop by and keep it company if you find yourself in the oh-so-groovy nabe.

Manly men acted in a manly manful manner

Manly men acted in a manly manful manner

One this is certain: When it’s time to come home, we’ll do the flatbed thing rather than compound whatever the heck the problem might be.  Hey, do us a favor and spare us the “Fix It Again Tony” jokes.  Our mechanic is named Joe.

Check out this promo film heralding the introduction of the original Fiat 500 back in 1957.  Che bella la piccola macchina!

 

Post literate potpourri

NatLampCo car but certainly  NOT the "Family Truckster"

NatLampCo Vacation car but certainly NOT the “Family Truckster”

Based in Southern California as we are, we are sometimes overwhelmed, rendered fahrklempt, if you will, by the spectrum of feral finds accrued within the space of one day.  As an experiment in feral foraging, we collected some examples stalked within the last 24 hours.  No big narrative thread this time, just 7 unrelated — OK two are Italian and red — vehicles seen during a one-day period within the confines of a 5 square mile area.  Ain’t life grand?

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Tempo topper

Topaz – costume jewelry from Mercury

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

Topless MBZ "Pagoda" motors on

Topless MBZ “Pagoda” motors on

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

MoParmigiana: Chrysler’s “Italian job”

Rattle + Squeaks: musings, ramblings and rants from FeralCars founder Bob Merlis

You got a problem with this?

You got a problem with this?

Big news this week that there’s an agreement for FIAT to buy the remaining 41.5% of Chrysler from the UAW Trust for $4.35 billion.  When Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler (billed as a “merger of equals” but, in reality, a Stuttgart-led putsch that went bad) in 1998, the price was $37 billion. Cerebrus Capital took that smoldering wreck off Daimler’s hands for $7.4 billion in 2007 and left it for dead.  In 2009, the federal government interceded, as it had in 1979, this time putting FIAT into the picture.

Spicy meatball alert!

Spicy meatball alert!

We’ve heard all the Fix It Again Tony jokes for years but the fact is that FIAT’s infusion of technology and management expertise in the person of CEO Sergio Marchionne has made Chrysler profitable and competitive in recent years.

NASCAR will never be the same

NASCAR will never be the same

Chrysler, under Italian leadership, isn’t going away and that should be a source of comfort to MoPar loyalists and especially to thousands of its workers and dealers.  Let’s hope it’s also a good deal per i nostri fratelli Italiani.

Lee pimped Frank's Imp

Lee pimped Frank’s Imp

Which reminds us of Lee Iacocca’s quest for an Italian connection when he was Chrysler’s chairman. Lido’s parents had immigrated from San Marco dei Cavoti and he was so proud of his red, white and green roots that he  joined forces with Frank Sinatra to offer a special Imperial model with The (other) Chairman’s initials on it.  On his watch, Chrysler did a nutty co-venture with Alejandro de Tomaso  that resulted in the awkwardly worded “Chrysler’s TC by Maserati TC.” Yes, that’s an apostrophe.  He  got thisclose to selling Alfa Romeos through Chrysler dealers in a deal with — get this — FIAT in 1988 and, oh yeah, he bought Lamborghini!  Not a Lamborghini but the Lamborghini.  In 1987 Chrysler Corporation,  bought, outright,  Nuova Automobili F. Lamborghini, straight outta Sant’Agata Bolognese.

Could there a minivan in Maserati's future? A pick up?

Could there a minivan in Maserati’s future? A pick up?

Fiat's crown jewel?

Crown of Turin?

Sunday! MoPar/Fiat top fuel eliminator shuts down the competition

Sunday! MoPar/Fiat top fuel eliminator shuts down the competition

 

Next gen Sebring is looking great!

Next gen Sebring is looking great!

Iacocca’s predecessor? A finance guy name John Riccardo whose parents had immigrated from (see above).  The forthcoming FIAT+Chrysler unified entity may be be called Fiat S.p.A. but these two have been playing footsie with each other for eons.  Anybody remember the Chrysler, Desoto, Dodge and Plymouth Ghia-built (in Turin) dream cars of the early 1950s?

Solid deal

Solido!

And what about Italo-American Chrysler-powered Dual-Ghia? That same Sinatra guy had one as did Dean Martin and the other Rat Packers.  Check out Dino’s ‘bella maccina,’ here, co-starring in Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me Stupid”

If the past is any indication, Fiat and Chrysler’s ever evolving relationship is going to be interesting so we’re keeping an open mind and roof about the matter.

Author with pets

Author with pets

Ciao!

Bob Merlis / feralcars.com

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.