As I am sitting here in front of this blank canvas of a computer screen wondering what the next topic might be to write about, just off to my right sits the latest “Alfa Owner” magazine with someone who took a trip across America in a modified Giulia Spider. It is what we call a “abnormale.” Another name you could use is a “Veloce-ized” Normale Giulia Spider. Now I am thinking, I can go to different directions: talk about Alfa magazines and collectaables or even throw you the reader a curve and talk about what a modified Alfa spider could be all about.
What you want to know is where is he going to take me in this story? Why don’t we start with the Alfa Owner magazines and see if we can weave in something on…well, lets see what happens.
I was introduced to Alfa Romeo by the purchase of my 1965 Spider Veloce because I was looking for something that I could drive on sports car rallies that was faster than my 1960 VW bug with its whopping 36 horsepower (a story for another time). The Alfa came with 129 hp, 5 speed transmission and disc brakes in the front. The Veloce could do in 3rd what my VW could do with the gas all the way to the floor, down hill WITH a tail wind. I met a mentor Chuck Lee in Lompoc California, through a intermediary and the rest is history. The Veloce blew its piston rings and this is how I learned to work on Alfa’s was through my now new friend. He was a guy who had been a Alfa guy for a long time and had “connections” in Italy for parts. Anyone know where Bill Jones is? Now that is a guy to be a friend with. Each weekend I would go to work on the engine, sleep in the spare bedroom and soak up his personal library. Some of those books, magazines and binders of information are now part of my personal library.
So where is this going? One of the quintessential parts to any Alfa library is to amass a large collection of Alfa Owner magazines along with books and other items. I joined the Alfa club in 1971 just shortly after buying my Alfa. That started a monthly emotional trip to learn more about the marque from its history, tech articles and what ever one could put into your brain from between the pages. Each month the editor gleaned from the local chapter newsletters articles that would be of benefit to the group.
The Alfa Owner was a simple magazine that started in the early 1960’s from some Alfa owners who wanted to help others with how to fix problems. It was a black and white affair of just a few pages, a few ads and a header that came folded in the mail. Over time the magazine evolved into slick paper, colored header, not folded but still basically black and white inside. The covers changed styles, format changed, more articles that were indepth, more ads and becoming a slick paper magazine you wanted to keep for future reference. They even game with shipping covers or in plastic wrap to keep them in good condition.
Now when I look at the cover of the Alfa owner, it is full color all the way through, full page advertising, a column by the president of the club, a sexy centerfold of a Sprint Speciale, and a couple pages of parts and cars for sale. Now the magazine has no shipping cover, no plastic wrap and other than a few mangled copies, they arrive in decent condition.
Back in the late 70’s I advertised I was looking for a complete set of Alfa Owner magazines as I was the editor for the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Southern California (AROSC) and wanted to use them for reference material. George Bullwinkle one of the founders of the Alfa club sold me a set he had. I got into a place where I had two babies under 3 years old and needed some money. I sold part of my collection for money and sold my collection of Alfa Owners to sweeten the deal. To this day I regret I ever sold them. However, I started some years later collecting again.
Earlier this year after taking inventory of my collection, I had some huge holes in my stash that needed filling to make a “more” complete collection. I was going to sell the spares (350+) at the Alfa convention so I could use the money to buy magazines to fill the holes.
It was then that I advertised to see if I could get the magazines I needed. Someone had just the right amount of spares in their collection, but I had to first sell off my spares. I found a buyer in the Santa Rosa area, made a delivery in person, and spent the day with the wife in the Sonoma wine country. I then turn the money around and received a huge package in the mail of the spares.
I felt like a little kid at Christmas in the middle of the summer sorting, reading and flipping pages of the magazines. Then it was time to haul out the collection, sort in to the various years. After is was all over, I now have every Alfa Owner from 1971 to the current issues.
OK, great story, but what is your point? At some point a complete collection has to be like finding a rare Alfa, a piece of Alfa history tied to a race(r), or just saying you have a set. The value in a set isn’t so much the money value aspect of it, of course that could change with time, but having a complete set is like a holy grail for collectors. There is a lot of information about Alfa’s that can be lost over time as us “old folks” start to become like smoke and disappear.
Do I have a complete collection? No. Why not? Because the issues from the 196o’s are very hard to find and those that have them certainly are not going to part with them unless you have a bulging wallet.
So what are you looking for? You said you had issues from 1971 onward. Yes, that is correct, so I am looking for issues from 1960-1970. I have seen some for sale but the seller wants a lot of money for each issue that would be about $150 for each year. Now you are talking if you could find them for the ones I am missing about $1500. Now if you have a money tree handy, pick a fresh crop and lets go shopping (sarcasm).
First to find any that are for sale is like impossible, and I don’t have $1500 laying around. Now if some one wanted to donate to a good cause….I am sure I could come up with some money to help make it a deal.
Ok…why don’t you just put it out there and stop beating around the bush as they say. Ok! Fine…I am looking for Alfa Owner magazines from 1960-1970. Contact me and lets talk. The magazines will be going to great home! (Hint hint). They will go right next to my complete set of Luigi Fusi books. Now how is that for great company?
Luigi Fusi? Don’t ask now, later. That is another set of books that are a must have for any library. Fascinating story to go with those books!
What if I want to start collecting Alfa Owner magazines? I would start by advertising on the Alfa Bulletin Board (alfabb.com) that you are interested in starting a collection and see what comes your way. Most will be about a $1 each plus postage, so its not like you have to break the bank to get some. You could also check with the Alfa Owner magazine publisher as they have back copies as well. Now you have some sources, start collecting and most of all start reading! They have great articles and pictures.
You said something about weaving in to the story something else? Oh yeah….next time I will write about what a Abnormale is or how to Veloce-ize a Normale engine.
Ciao for now!