This month it’s all about Italy, Momma Mia! As some of you may know I have Italian heritage so these cars have a special place in my heart. I have a mystery story of an Alfa Romeo Coupe I’d like to share with you. It takes me back to the summer of 1971. If you’ve been following my columns you know I was brain washed by my Dad to be a gear head from birth. My dad and his brother were partners in a Import Used Auto Parts business and Auto Body repair business. Back then it was all about Italian, British, German and some French cars that’s what was being driven on American roads at the time. The Japanese invasion hadn’t began to take hold yet. Their shop and salvage yard was filled with these Marques. My Uncle had taken in one Very cool all Aluminum bodied Alfa Coupe for a restoration. What I remember about the car it had big cat paw fenders with recessed head lamps like a C Type Jaguar from around the same era. Instead of glass covering the head lamps it had wire mesh. I’d say it was built in the early 50’s. It was a beautiful car hand built for sure. Other interesting things about the car was that it was right hand drive with 16 inch or possibly 17 inch wire wheels. If I remember correctly it had a trunk lid that incorporated the rear glass much like an E Type Jaguar. On the flip side of interesting things about this particular Alfa, someone had stuffed a early 60’s Pontiac V8 under the hood, what a shame, what were they thinking? The exhaust headers looked as if they were built by a plumber.
Dad would make me go to work with him on many occasions in the summer. By that time my programming was set in stone. I enjoyed being there. But being 13, I didn’t always want to work so to duck out of work I use to hide in the Alfa and imagine I was racing at Le Mans. Well that summer my Dad and Uncle moved their business from Fort Montgomery, NY by West Point to Peekskill on the Hudson. During the move I got to ride in the Alfa with my Uncle. The drive was about a 25 mile trip on old 9W along the Hudson. It winds around the mountains, a very narrow two lane road filled with switch backs and lots of elevation changes with spectacular views of the Hudson river. The other thing I also remember about the drive was going across the Bear Mountain Bridge and being on the left side of the car as the passenger, I had to hand the toll both operator the toll, I was 13. He had to take a double take before realizing I wasn’t the driver.
The car sat at the new shop outside for several years. When my Uncle tragically died in a house fire in 1973 my Dad dissolved the business and the Alfa went back to its owner un restored. Many years had gone by and I asked my Dad for information about the car. He’s now in his 80’s and doesn’t remember much about the car. He told me the woman that owned the car was an official of some sort at the Bronx Zoo. She must have been a interesting woman to own such a magnificent automobile. I have done countless internet searches to see if I could find an image of the car with no luck. I can still remember its lines, if I saw it, I’m certain I would recognize it. I’m thinking it must have been a special body built by one of Italy’s famous design houses maybe Zagato. It may have been a one off. If anyone has any information on such a car I would love to learn about its place in Automobile history.
Until next time keep the shiny side up, Tony