OWNER: Mark Sommer
The day after I bought the Alfa, a colleague at the Drive-My office mentioned that a couple of the tyres looked very so". Deputy editor Mark Dixon rustled up a tyre pressure gauge and we found that the readings were all on the low side; seriously so, in a couple of cases. Worryingly, the sidewalls on the rear tyres were also displaying signs of cracking.
Mark showed me how to tell when a tyre was made, by looking for a four-digit code moulded into a little box on the sidewall: the first two numbers show the week, and the last two the year. So, for example, a tyre labelled 5012 will have been made in the week beginning 17 December 2012. The front tyres on my car turned out to date from 2009, but the rears were made in 2006! No wonder the tread was looking a bit thin.
Because the Alfa’s road tax ran out at the end of November, and the MoT was due in mid-December, I decided to keep the car of the road for a few months before shelling out for new tyres, mainly because I want to avoid the inevitable salt blitz on the roads. My original plan was to rent a garage, but I couldn’t find one at an affordable price. Instead, because I’m lucky in having sufficient space on the drive to store the car, I thought I’d invest in an outdoor car cover as well as a solar-powered trickle charger to keep the battery topped up.
I didn’t realise how many options for car covers were available. After a lot of research, I plumped for the ‘Stormshield’ from a company called Specialised Covers, which produces covers for aeroplanes, helicopters and trucks – and cars, of course.
Their covers are made to order in Britain, and I appreciated the attention to detail shown by a phone call I received asking if my GTV had the Zender spoiler option (which it does). Room for it would be tailored into my cover for the perfect fit.
Being breathable, the Stormshield can be put on over a wet car, as any moisture will permeate through the material. The cover is made of three layers: an outer mesh, a breathable membrane and an inner eece to protect the paint. Although it is certainly not the cheapest outdoor cover (prices from £249), this wasn’t something I wanted to skimp on. OK, I still wish I had a garage to stash the Alfa in over winter but this surely has to be the best alternative. Roll on next spring!
Top and below With a cover to keep the Alfa protected, Mark no longer has to fear the weather. Straps pass under the car to keep the cover in place.