Alfa Romeo Alfetta Sprint Veloce
Alfa Romeo Alfetta Sprint Veloce

My first Alfa was a 1967 Giulia Sprint GT. In the early 70’s, I wanted a car that was silver and had a five speed and there weren’t many cars that met those criteria that I could afford.

My current Alfa, a 1979 Alfetta Sprint Veloce, was purchased from Bob Grossman in New York, by my friend, Ken Bartlett. Grossman was an ex-racer that raced Corvettes, Ferraris and Jaguars. He drove with John Fitch on Briggs Cunningham’s Team at Le Mans several times, among others.

I remember going with Kenny down to the “showroom” (a garage) on 11th avenue. Kenny was interested in a Maserati Bora and he and Grossman went out for a test drive. As Kenny’s car guy, I advised against the Bora. He saw this black Sprint Veloce and we did a test drive and he bought it.

A few days later Kenny called me. He was down in the Village and said the car wouldn’t go. He was going to take it back to Grossman and “punch him out.”

I asked Kenny if the car would start – he said the engine was running but the throttle didn’t work. I took a cab downtown and with a tie wrap and some tape, fixed the cracked throttle rod end socket.

The car was rebuilt to “European” specifications at Bobcor, when they were in Englewood, NJ. They put on a European two-piece cast iron exhaust manifold and different cams. I don’t know if there was top end work or anything else. I probably have the work order here. Kenny also had the car repainted the original Nero color, had a high end stereo installed and an Escort radar detector built in.

Starter Button and Built-in Escort Radar Detector
Starter Button and Built-in Escort Radar Detector

Kenny also spent a lot of money trying to get the air conditioner to work. Having a black car didn’t help in New York summers. Between Bobcor and Steven Kessler’s (when Kesseler Motors was a Ferrari – Alfa dealership on 34th St) Kenny and I probably spent $5000 trying to get it work. One time after I left Kessler’s, I decided it wasn’t a good idea to have your car serviced at a Ferrari dealership.

I inherited the car as a wedding gift in 1989. My friend, Regina Schrambling called it “the gift that keeps on giving.” I garaged the car in Manhattan for 10 years. It’s depressing to do the math ($300/mo). I realized I could have taken a limousine everywhere I went, for less, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun in a limousine driving to Roscoe for the Green Drake hatch.

I’m trying to do preservation now. I put in a push button started switch to bypass the ignition switch to preserve the contacts. I replaced the two front engine mounts. I got a fairly unused radiator from Jim Steck and put in a new water pump. I replaced the headlight-turn signal-washer column switch that I got from a guy in Israel. I replaced the radius rod bushings with poly bushings, with some effort. About 7 years ago, the brake master cylinder started leaking fluid into the booster (lots of white smoke). I rebuilt the braking system with a new master cylinder and front discs and cleaned the booster with alcohol; it’s still working fine. I replaced the clutch slave cylinder and didn’t have any problems bleeding it, even though IIRC, the bleed screw is on the bottom. The Spica fuel injection is well tuned – the car starts on the first “button push.” I put in a bypass switch for the Spica because I have had hot starting problems. The dual tip ANSA rear muffler has survived all these years in great condition, with only one weld toward the front end of the can. The chrome on the tip is like new.

My Alfa Romeo blog entries. My BMW Bavaria blog entries.