Why Do We Save the Impossible

This is one of those questions that only the person that is working on a project can answer. I have been around Alfa Romeo cars since 1970. My car was only 5 years old at the time and had already been through 4 owners. On top of that, it had been wrecked at some point in time. What is amazing is who ever did the body work was a master craftman. On the right rear panel only discovered when the paint and primer had been removed, was discovered a panel that had a hole in it. The hole is still there in the middle, and around the hole the metal is very thin like it had been worked out on a planishing table. Around the panel is a weld mark that was finished so well that it almost looks like it was factory. The metal is so smooth it is almost impossible o find any hammer marks.

My suspicions are that sometime in Germany where the car was taken delivery, the first or second owner might have over driven the car at some point, hit something to
dent that panel. Why Germany? Old world skills are demonstrated in this panel of cutting out the part and working out the metal to prefection.

Currently on the AlfaBB is a master metal worker restoring a Sprint Speciale that we would have thrown away years ago. Bernard is what I would consider to be one of
but a handful of people that I know of that can recreate metal like it was new. The car is in pieces and all of the rust from the “tin worm” has been removed. There are
about a handful of people who can recreate a car by remaking panels.

Years ago we never thought about saving cars. We just stripped out a wreck, rusty peice of junk and saved the parts for a future project. I tossed away a rusty Super in the
late 1970s and usd the shell for a retaining wall on the river back on the back of a property. Now look at where Super values are headed. The rust was so bad in the rockers and
floorboards the car wasn’t worth messing with.

When you think of the mindset of the factoy in the times that the cars were built, they were making a car that could go 10, 15, or even 20 years down the proverbial “road”.
Here we are 50 and 60 years later restoring cars to like new standards. Some of the projects that have come across various websites have been astoundingly recreated.

Why not just toss the car into the metal recycler? Why go to the expense and labor intensive effort to put the car back on the road. Some of us do it for the love and
labor of recreating a “work of art” and appreciate the final effort. Some spend the money to have someone else do the work, because the car is valuable. The value of a Sprint
Speciale is going up so high that you can make some profit on a car at auction. We couldn’t do that until about 5 or 10 years ago. Spider Veloce’s, Sprint Veloce’s are not
far behind.

Race cars have always had value to restore becasue of th documentation it was raced in some famous race or that some driver had their hands on the wheel. Those cars are
rare to begin with and worth he effort to put back to new conditon. Street cars never enjoyed this luxury until about a decade or more ago.

Part of all this circles around people who remake panels and stampings of metal that the metal worker can cut out and weld back in. There is one company that makes repro
parts that some say isn’t worth bothering with becasue it takes to much effort to make the part fit. Thre are a couple of sources in Europe that are turning out metal that loks
to be factory stampings. The supply of NOS metal is drying up, and rarely do we see NOS panels availale. I have only recently seen a couple of NOS nose panels come to the market
for spiders. There is sources in Ital/Germany where panels are being remade of excellent quality.

Some parts are have been available for some time like rubber, windshields, and upholstery as these are those wear and tear items that need replacing.

Step back with me to around 1991. I was working in southern California at a car dealer as a line mechanic. Someone came to my bay and said thre was a guy out front with a Alfa
Romeo converible. Naurally, I was curious about what the guy was talking about. Someone had a red Giulietta spider that was in great condition after having been restored.
What caught my attention was the floormats. Now, that doesn’t seem to be a big deal now, but back at that time the mats had been not available. We say they were made
of “unobtainium” I asked where he got them. His reply was a company caled “ReOriginals” out of Houston Texas. ( a future blog). Upon further investigation ReOriginals was
tapping into a source of NOS (new old stock) of parts that were in Italy and helping people restore cars. This was like the trickle that started the stream of what we
have today in restoration parts. There was also Alfa Ricambi in San Fernando, as well as Centerline that were selling NOS parts from sources in Italy. ( a couple more
blogs) Some things were just dreams that people needed to make complete cars.

My close friend Dan had been stripping cars for pars and had the vision to save them for the future. Now he has a treasure chest of parts for the cars he is restoring. I
was forturate enough to get from Alfa Romeo ARI El Segundow a pile of NOS parts before they were gone. There is in my stash of parts som NOS in paper factory wrapping stainless eyebrows for my
Veloce as well as other parts. Why? Becasue I knew one day that they would not be available and to restore my Velose would require those parts.

Why do we save the impossible? You could say that we have a vision for the future. These cars are now valuable monetarily, but also valueable that they only built but a
few thousand cars ( less than 6000 for all Veloces) Look at the Veloce Regiters to get a sense of just haow many are left. All total I would guess about 20%. There are alot of
cars out there that have been found, I just can’t get the documentation to verify the car for the registers. (my biggest frustration is not getting chassis and engine numbers)

Parts and metal are now moe available than they have ever been. Some of the suppliers were the original source for the parts when Alfa Romeo contracted with back
when the car was built. It doesn’t get any better than that. The incentiv is that there is a market for recreations. Cars we tossed years ago are being resurrected and put
on the road and opening a new market for people willing to sell them at auction. This can only drive up the value of what we currently have and insure that more cars will b
be saved for posterity.

Have I answered the question posed at the beginning? Probably not, but it does make for interesting ponderings and lively discussions.

The next questions are: Do we save them as museum peices (trailer queens) or just get them out and drive them like there is no tomorrow? One way to answer that isto look at
what the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico does with their cars. 🙂


About alfadoc

I have been involved in Alfa Romeo cars since 1970 when I bought my 1600 Veloce spider. It was in 1972 that I started the Veloce Register for 1600 cars. It was in 1998 that I added the Sprint Veloce, 750 Spider Veloce and Sprint Speciale registers. Currently I own 2 Alfas: a 1994 164 Quadrifoglio.and a 1991 Spider "Automatic"
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