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    No brakes in the rainfall
    CAR: 1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / 1967 / Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / Alfa-Romeo

    OWNER: Evan Klein

    / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina-Type-105 / #1967 / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Marelli-Plex-electronic-ignition / #Marelli-Plex / #dual-Weber / #Weber

    That’s right, it’s 100% reliable. At least that’s what I tell everyone. Seems Alfas run great for short periods of time. I’m starting to become embarrassed when the car breaks; it doesn’t leave me stranded, it just, well, doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. And if I do tell anyone, I have to put up with the ‘Why don’t you get something new?’ speech.
    Last month, at the height of the Los Angeles rain-storms, the brake master cylinder failed, leaving me without brakes. OK, no problem, I’ll just carefully drive to the shop using that horrible under-dash handbrake. The traffic was horrendous, bumper-to-bumper, rain coming down in buckets. At one point I was following a motorcycle officer. If he only knew. Fortunately I arrived without incident. We lifted her up and pulled the brake master. A rebuilt Bonaldi unit was standing by; we put it on but it didn’t work. No pressure. What to do now? Its not like these single-circuit units are off-the-shelf items.

    We searched the shop, and with a stroke of luck found an original ATE rebuild kit. So we rebuilt my original, bolted it in and it worked. I had brakes, glorious, glorious, brakes again. King of the Road. We ate doughnuts to celebrate.
    That was Wednesday. On Thursday the brake pedal became very hard; the brake servo had decided to quit. Back to the shop. Have you priced a servo lately? Executive decision: let’s get rid of the servo and run a straight line.

    Now I had brakes again, test drive around the block, perfect. But I got a ‘Pop the hood’ request upon returning, the engine sounding funny and running on two cylinders. Bad gas? Carbs out of sync? Time for yet more fiddling. If it wasn’t for Guru Benny I would be driving something new. Everything is sorted now, I don’t smell of gas, my hands are clean. I have told no one; as far as the wife knows, the Alfa is 100% reliable.

    Above and below Giulia gets uncharacteristically wet during los angeles rain-storm; original master cylinder now rebuilt.
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    / #Alfa-Romeo-SZ / #Alfa-Romeo


    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!
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    Anger management

    CAR 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Saloon

    OWNER Evan Klein

    / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina-Type-105 / #1967 / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Marelli-Plex-electronic-ignition / #Marelli-Plex / #dual-Weber / #Weber

    The guy was standing in the middle of the parking lot with his back to the car, wearing goofy red gym shorts and a puffy green jacket. To get his attention, I did what any gearhead would do with unfiltered dual Webers and a straight-through exhaust: I blipped the throttle. He spun around with a startled look and we locked eyes – it was actor Adam Sandler. He looked down at the Giulia and a huge smile spread across his face as he pointed at the car. I blipped again and smiled back.

    That’s the thing about classic cars: you can’t get mad at them. And it’s why I love the random nature of Los Angeles. Sure, I could have jumped out of the car and chatted to him, but no, a smile would do.

    The Giulia has had a busy month, trying to keep up with exotic cars in La Jolla at the concours show, and getting some new parts. I’d fitted a set of sport cams from Alfa guru Richard Jemison, then noticed one carb was having problems. No matter what we did, the air/ fuel mixture screws weren’t responding. We cleaned it and tried again, but still no go.

    Hmm. A rebuild? All the labour and parts would cost the same as a new carb, so, executive decision: new carbs. Done. And the car fired at first try. Once it had warmed up, the difference was Jekyll and Hyde; this thing was a little monster now, although I noticed a slight hesitation on initial throttle.

    Time to check out the distributor, #Marelli Plex electronic ignition, and idle jets. I compared my car’s distributor with another, on which the weights swing further out and the springs are smaller, giving more advance. And so we swapped the parts, checked the timing, and decided to go down a size in jets.

    Time for another trip around the block. Yes, it’s still fast but this time there’s no hesitation on take-off, and it pulls to the redline and then some without fuss. It is everything it should be. And I’ve now got my hands on a European airbox too, which will complete the look under the bonnet.

    As for the old carbs, once they were off, we saw that gas had been blowing against the back of the butterflies and not into the chamber. Easy fix, maybe. But the Alfa runs great and that’s the goal: more time driving, less time fixing.

    Above and below New cams, new carbs, and an ignition rebuild. The result? Hotter performance for this LA daily driver.
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    CAR: Alfa Romeo 8C
    Run by Alain de Cadenet
    Total mileage 150,230
    Owned since 1972
    Miles since February
    report 230
    Latest costs £50 (petrol)

    / #Alfa-Romeo-8C / #Alfa-Romeo / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider / #1931 / #Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300 / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider /

    For various reasons, FLC didn’t get much use during last summer. So, when an 8C Monza drive at the Goodwood Revival fell through, I had no option other than to nominate FLC instead. Short of time to prepare her properly, I paid most attention to the motor.

    There’s nothing like a nice fresh oil change as you know – cheapest maintenance you can ever do for a car. I bought a 20-litre container of Extol 20w50 and added a couple of pints of Torco MPZ concentrate. Traditionally, flat tappet surfaces – as often encountered on overhead- cam engines – are in need of the lubricating properties afforded by the presence of zinc. Coupled with phosphorus, these two elements offer great benefit to an #8C-motor , but they are usually lacking from today’s oils. Something to do with the environment, perhaps. The valvegear on an 8C is simple but effective, with Vittorio Jano’s version of the instantly adjustable tappet. The valves have the upper stem threaded (8mm x 1.25), with two grooves cut down the sides.

    The actual tappet has serrations around the periphery and an 8mm female fitting that threads onto the valve. Underneath this tappet is another fitting with a larger diameter, also serrated, that acts as a locking device to stop the tappet self-adjusting while in use. Between the two discs are interlocking ridges that give a satisfying ‘click’ when rotated against each other. A special tool anchors into the hole adjacent to each valve and thus enables it to be rotated, either opening or closing the tappet clearance.

    The 8C feeler gauge allows ‘Passa’ at 0.45mm and ‘Non Passa’ at 0.5mm. In fact, this is another process that is easier done than said because it takes me only about half an hour to remove the cam boxes and check all 16 tappets. Like all Jano engines, the valve springs are not stiff and the valves can easily be pushed open with your thumb.
    Checking the differential housing for oil allowed me to let out a little EP90 and put it back into the gearbox, from whence it had dribbled over time. Quite normal. The diff mounting bolts needed a tighten, which they always do. I’ve been meaning to drill off the bolts and lock-wire them for 40 years.

    Must do it next time, of course. Using this car spiritedly tends to wear the front brake linings, which allows the rears to lock up – especially the offside – so I undid the adjusting nuts two turns to fix that. The only other prep I had time for was to change the Blockley 500-19 tyres on the front wheels. I did this and the balancing myself because I have the use of a machine and have the right mandrel to fit the hubs. Anything under 20 grams out is excellent going for old wires.

    The drive down was great – no trouble pulling 4000rpm in second and third. So I saw no reason why I couldn’t hit the revs in top. I have rather a lengthy crownwheel and pinion fitted to FLC, which gives 27mph per 1000rpm. Anything over 4000 at Goodwood would be good enough. Before practice, I put in five gallons of Lord March’s 110-octane rocket fuel to give me a little more advance on the sparks and tightened up the front friction dampers with my special spanner. The lovely Siata knob on the dashboard got three turns, too, which sorted the rear dampers.

    Practice was a disaster. The motor wouldn’t pull over 3400rpm in top, although the handling and brakes were brilliant, plus the oil pressure and water temperature etc were fine. What little spare time I had to rectify the problem was spent believing that I had fuel vaporisation in the copper pipe down to the single Weber. David Biggins, with whom I worked on Sicilian Dreams, gave me the silver foil from his Naafi wagon bacon bap, which I wrapped around the fuel tube. This, surely, would cure the problem.

    Idiot that I am, that wasn’t the fault. My race was spent trying to keep in front of Chloe Mason in her Aston Ulster and I couldn’t. I think I may have come last. Back in the paddock, I discovered that a tiny sliver of polythene had lodged in the float valve – starving the carb of fuel. So I picked it out. Problem solved. It pulled 4800 on the way back to London that night. Very boring because the next Brooklands Trophy race probably won’t be for another three years. Doubt I’ll get an entry after 2015’s effort…

    Not so glorious Goodwood, when de Cad was stymied by the Alfa’s unwillingness to rev – traced to an errant piece of polythene in carb. Inset: slotted valve visible through tappet adjuster.

    Alfa valve adjuster tool and feeler gauge. Valve is grooved and threaded for setting. It slots in and engages on ‘teeth’ of tappet.
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    Question on #Alfa-Romeo 164 Q4

    Having just come across an #Alfa-Romeo-164 / #Alfa-Romeo-164-Q4 for sale in the UK, I asked myself what on earth a 164 Q4 was. Apparently it’s a four-wheel drive version of the 164 – I never even knew that such a car existed! It’s not particularly cheap at £14,940, but I’m intrigued. Have you ever driven one? If so, what’s it like? And what might I be getting myself into if I take the plunge?
    • It’s not surprising you’ve never heard of the 164 Q4, as it was never sold in the UK. It hardly sold like hot cakes anywhere else, either – just over It’s not surprising you’ve never heard of the 164 Q4, as it was never sold in the UK. It hardly sold like hot cakes anywhere else, either – just over 1200 were sold from 1993 to 1997. Perhaps four exist in the UK today.

      Launched in 1993, the four-wheel drive Q4 system was unique to this car, sending power to the rear axle in a continuously variable rate. The suspension is unique, too, with electronic struts and a Sport setting. The Getrag six-speed manual gearbox was another never-before- used item.

      Sounding crazy? You’re right, it is – and that’s the biggest challenge to running one.

      We actually featured a 164 Q4 in our June 2017 issue, and we loved it. The 3.0-litre V6 24V engine is fabulous but it’s the handling we were really impressed with: “You really sense everything as you tackle each bend, and the turn in is sensational,” we said. “It’s so grippy that you have to be doing something silly to get it out of shape on bends. It’s a revelation.”
        More ...
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  • Post is under moderation
    / #2005-Alfa-Romeo-166Ti / #2005 / #Alfa-Romeo-166Ti / #Alfa-Romeo-166 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-166-Type-936 / #Alfa-Romeo-Type-936 /

    The Alfa 166 Desirable at last

    As our Nathan recently discovered, prices of surviving Alfa 166s have taken a leap. To the extent that dealers have seen an opportunity and have started importing good non-rusty right-hookers from Japan.

    A year or so back you could barely give one away to a passing Alfisti, but that’s part of the fun of the classic car market – you never know what the next twist in the plot will be. Now all of a sudden even a doggy one with no MoT can be offered with a straight face for £1250. Anything vaguely nice is heading north of £3000, and we’re even seeing close on six grand being asked for low-milers.

    None of it makes any real sense. Obviously we’re fans of the 166 at MC, but with the realistic outlook that one will never be the most faithful and trouble-free thing to own. But what was once a distinctive ‘old smoker’ has now achieved suburban cool status.

    Oh well, 156s are still cheap as chips as long as you don’t want a V6. And arguably better looking and nicer to drive. You’d better act fast though – decent ones are getting hard to find – a shortage of replacement floors is seeing a lot of cars scrapped. You’ve been warned...

    Our Nathan – predicts some trends, maims others.
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