Monthly Archives: March 2015

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.

 

Roadmaster’s return.. and ultimate departure

Clean machine

Mammoth machine

From the middle 1930s until the late ’50s Roadmaster was, essentially, Buick’s line topper.  In the days when Buick hierarchy was demarcated by little fender-mounted portholes –“ventiports” in Buickspeak — Roadmasters had four on each side, lesser models (Special, Super) had just three per side.

Wasp squad car

Wasp squad car

Ventiports were tossed out in ’59 as were older model names.  Gone were Special, Century and Roadmaster and in came Electra, Invicta and LeSabre.  Yet, thirty years later and against all odds, the Roadmaster name returned. It was applied to a bulbous, Chevy Caprice-based station wagon in 1991, a companion Roadmaster sedan was added the next year.

Black out Buick

Blacked out Buick

Buick’s ’91 – ’96 Roadmaster wagons were the last of a breed.  These were definitely old school rides with body-on-frame construction, V8 power, rear wheel drive drive and offered with fake wood siding and seating for as many as eight, not to mention a  “Vista Roof” over the second-row of seats.  The third row faced oncoming traffic so kids could flip the bird to those following. Luxurious, commodious, versatile and, when appropriately equipped, fast, the Roadmaster Estate Wagon is a massive wonder to behold.

Now you see it

Now you see it

..now you don't

..now you don’t

Minivans and SUVs supplanted the role of the traditional station wagon over the past three or four decades and today there isn’t a single domestic station wagon, full size or compact, in production. You can only buy a big wagon today if it wears a Mercedes Benz three-pointed star, a BMW roundel or a set of Audi rings.

Tuff enuff

Tuff enuff

Just the same, we have a real appreciation for these land yachts bearing the Buick shield.  Sure, they have a lot of presence (over 18 feet long and almost 4600 pounds unladen) but we dig ’em because by being so traditional they were, in some real way, making a contrarian statement.  You could even order one with a 5.7 liter LT1 motor,  same as a Corvette. And that’s kind of outlaw.. even with the fake wood.

Ghost flamer

Buick flambé

We love the funky flame job on Mark Wenner’s Roadmaster.  This big Buick goes as fast as it looks, too.  GM knew it has reached the end of an era and discontinued Roadmaster after the ’96 model year but they earmarked those last year cars with special “Collector Edition” badging.

End of the line

End of the line

You may very well want to “collect” one of these and, to that end, we offer some terrific Roadmaster wagons at reasonable prices.  Now, with the price of gas lower than it has been in quite a while, you have no good reason not to seriously consider acquiring one.  Here’s a ’96  with only 123,000 miles in nearby York, PA for only $2750.  How can you not buy this?? Here’s another, a pristine beauty with half the miles, at more than twice the price in nearby Addison, IL.

Wood is good

Wood is good

We like this nostalgia-themed commercial that introduced the new Roadmaster wagon in ’91.  The good old days weren’t even all that old back then.

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.