The Day of the Alfa

By O’Ceallaigh –

Alfa 2600 (This is not mine, but it is exactly like mine!)

Some guy who had a lot more money than I did in 1964 bought an Alfa Romeo 2600 Spyder convertible. Driving down a street in Cleveland, or somewhere near there, he ran over a manhole that was about 5 inches high. That was about one inch higher than the clearance for the front cross member on the car.

Wham!

The cross member took the hit. It moved back into the cast aluminum oil-pan which broke in pieces. The front fenders both buckled just over the wheels. The guy’s head hit the windshield.

I bought the wreck.

I had no idea it would be so hard to buy replacement parts for this Italian sports car. The only place they could be found was Aston Martin Lagonda in Philadelphia or somewhere around there. I called to order the parts.

“Sorry sir, I can’t sell them to you. You’re not an authorized dealer!”

“Well, where am I supposed get the parts I need?” I asked.

“If you send us a telegram, we’ll send you what you need.”

My initial response was to say, – “What?” – I didn’t say a word.

I went to Western Union and sent a telegram with a list of parts. They arrived two days later along with an exorbitant bill.

I didn’t argue! I paid the bill!

I spent my free time that winter fixing the Alfa.

I think it was sometime around the last week of February that I put the final coat of paint on the front fenders, spotting it in to match the original. It was ready for a test drive.

****************

I worked at the Ambulance Service and frequently dropped in at the two hospitals in town with patients. I had an affinity for nurse’s Uniforms at the time and New Years Eve of 1964 was no exception. The nature of the evening caused it to be a very busy night.

At about 0630 on New Years Day we dropped off a patient in the ER and went to the cafeteria for breakfast. We joined a couple of Uniforms at a large round table. One of those uniforms was filled with a tiny little wisp of a thing named Kathy, talking about sky-diving! I wasn’t impressed.

Now, I left you hanging after the Alfa was repaired and ready for a test drive. I wiped it down so the bright red paint was as bright red as it could possibly be. I put the key in the ignition.

This car had three side draft S/U carburetors! I used to know the brand name, S/U is all I remember. It had twin overhead cams and an Abarth exhaust. Do you know how it sounded?

I turned to key!

Nothing happened.

Connect the battery!!

I turned the key!

It roared to life! What a sound!

The tachometer red-lined at 7000 RPM! Wow.

For the next couple of weeks I had my Alfa parked in front of the Ambulance Service where people could walk by and admire it. I didn’t drive it much. You know, snow, salt, slush: it was February! Or March or, somewhere around there. Then there was a day in March. The first warm day of the year! It must have been about 50 degrees.

Now, you have to realize that, up north, at 50 degrees, in the springtime, if you have a convertible, the top goes down. I drove the Alfa west on Third Street that warm afternoon. Second gear! The Abarth exhaust rumbling!

“Hey, O’Ceallaigh!” Someone shouted. It was that Uniform! Filled with that 92 pound wisp of a thing. We ended up in The Ritz Restaurant for the next hour and from that time until we were married on June 17, there was only one 24 hour period that we didn’t see each other.

I’m not sure if it was me, my blue madras jacket or the Alfa. It was probably a combination of all three. Whatever it was, there must have been some staying power somewhere. That was 50 years ago.

That was The Day of the Alfa.

It would be nice if I still had that car! But then….

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