OWNER: CHRIS REES
CAR: ALFA ROMEO SZ
ALSO OWNS: FIAT PANDA 100HP, MASERATI QUATTROPORTE SPORT GT
REPORTS ON OUR OWN CARS RUNNING ON THE EDITORIAL FLEET
It was going to be so simple. Out of hibernation this spring, the job I decided to treat the Alfa SZ to this year was its drooping doors.
Zagato’s design and construction methods for the SZ certainly left something to be desired – did you know that it built up SZs fully, then took them apart again to paint them? Often the ‘wrong’ opening panels were then put back on the cars. No surprise that SZs tend to suffer from dropping doors over time…
Mine were needing a good thwack to close, drooping so much that some of the paint was rubbing off the front wings. So off the SZ went to Alfa Aid in Maidenhead, where Adrian Jardine’s team set about the two day process of removing the doors and fixing them to sit straight. The hinges had warped over time, so new hinges (the very last ones in stock) were fitted. There were also no shims at all, as there should be, so Alfa Aid made up a total of 17 new ones to get the doors to sit properly. Great news: they now swing super-smoothly and with a satisfying clunk.
The SZ was ready just in time for its first outing of the year, a run around Castle Combe with some classic cars (and, as it turned out, Nick Mason’s LaFerrari). But on my very first series of laps, I started feeling a vibration through the gear lever, followed by a sharp noise and then a much louder vibration that made the car sound like a World War 2 bomber. Track session over! I guessed that a propshaft doughnut had perished and, sure enough, when the SZ returned to Adrian for diagnosis, that’s exactly what he found: the middle of the three rubber doughnuts had spat a piece out. No problem: just fit a new doughnut. Yes, it was going to be so simple. Then Adrian sent me a pic of the dismantled propshaft showing the centre spline severely worn – the result of one of the doughnuts having been fitted incorrectly, allowing the shaft to shimmy around. Could it be fixed? After a long investigation by a propshaft specialist, the answer was ‘no’. So it’s a new one, then? Adrian looked at me: “I gave the propshaft people my last remaining SZ shaft to use as a template – and they’ve lost it…”
After days of extremely anxious waiting – during which time Adrian discovered that no propshafts remain for SZs at all (or, for that matter, Alfa 75 V6s) – he finally said they’d found his last one. On it went and – hey presto – the SZ is back in action! Adrian also cured an annoying rattling sound that’s been plaguing my exhaust ever since I bought the car five years ago. I’ve got used to it, but Adrian says he had to fix it to keep him sane!