domingo, 17 de marzo de 2013

My Love for Alfas


What does it mean to be an "Alfista"? Ineffability, perhaps, is the only way to identify one...

I have always been what you can call a Alfista. I think it all started when I discovered (so to speak) an old, rusty and battered Alfa Romeo pedal car at my grandfather's house. After my dad had cleaned it I started using that old red toy... more often than my brand new electric car my dad just bought for me for my third birthday! (This is something I don't actually remember but I have been told by my aunt Gloria who used to take care of me back then when mom was finishing her specialization as a Dermatologist and my dad was working as a Gastroenterologist at a hospital). They didn't like that because I always ended up full of rust but let me because I always sported a broad smile whenever I took it downhill in a park near my home. That toy car is sadly gone, but I always have known it was an Alfa Romeo because it was called by my family just like that (even today): "that rusty Alfa". And perhaps this is somehow what happens nowadays when people tell Alfistas to buy new cars instead of playing with old battered Italian cars... people seem not to understand. It's a simple memory but one very revealing in my quest to discover why I love Alfa Romeos.

Later in life I also discovered how passionate Alfisti can be. When in college and studying architecture I met a humble and affable guy in my class. One day we were discussing how you never get to drive what we called the "best car in the house", and he told me he would one day show me which the best car in his house was. He later took me to an old car shop in which several cars were being restored, and there it was: a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale in all its glory, the beautiful just-restored black bodywork gleaming beautifully. I was told the car originally belonged to my friend's late grandfather and that it was brought from Italy in a very deplorable form. It had been very difficult to restore since it had several aluminum panels that had to be almost replaced, the engine had needed a lot of work and manufacturing of pieces and the whole interior had been redone. No effort was spared. For me it was just a piece of gorgeous Italian art, clearly coming from the country of Renaissance and Sprezzatura and Bella Figura and love for all things beautiful in life... I clearly remember the intoxicating smell of the cream leather of the seats (the smell of a brand new car, but better), the beautiful wood steering wheel... and that gorgeous roar of the little 100hp Alfa Romeo motor. It was just something I can't explain; it got under my skin, that sexy combination of intake and exhaust sound. My friend was smiling, as if it was self-evident why it was the "best car in the house". That engine noise accelerated my pulse, and I was as excited as a little kid taking his pedal car downhill...

He also told me that we could only see the Giulia at the shop, since his dad didn't like to take people to his garage at home; I thought then that that kind of beauty had to belong to a museum for all to enjoy, how could he be so covetous? But what struck me later was to learn that my friend's dad was a car collector, which I discovered by chance since my drawing teacher was also an artist and he had been commissioned to draw my friend's dad's collection for a book. I asked what he was doing when I spotted some of the illustrations at his office, and I couldn't believe the kind of machines he owned, everything from Jaguars to Rolls-Royces and turn of the century cars. And yet, that black Alfa was his favorite... He liked to drive his Alfas, and that was no exception, and I even once spotted him roaring past in a red Giulietta Spider at full speed. He was (and still is) a true Alfista no doubt. The car in the picture is not my friend's car, but it illustrates the feelings I had when I first saw that beautiful machine. It absolutely blew my mind and suddenly that Lamborghini Countach poster I had on my wall seemed commonplace to me (!). I discovered both vintage car beauty and that Alfa Romeos were just exceptionally beautiful. It goes without saying that since then I've developed a taste for vintage black Alfa Romeos. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale by Julien Giambagli
I have later read a lot about Alfa Romeo's history and heritage and legendary sporting triumphs and I have marveled even more on what that simply mythical badge has behind; I have visited Italy driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, travelling the most beautiful Italian road Strada Statale 163 (some memories!) and many other moments fill my car enthusiast's recollections, but I think I can track down my loving for Alfa Romeos to these two remembrances.  My point is that being a true Alfista is not really about being rich and having lots of cars, or admiring those incredible machines from the past, or even knowing how historic and legendary the brand is (how much can we write about this?), but the feelings you get when you are behind the wheel of one of these gorgeous machines. Sure Alfa Romeos got a somehow bad reputation during the 80s and 90s of being unreliable, and sure there are other incredible and drop-dead-gorgeous Italian cars, but when we talk about Alfa Romeo we are talking about a combination of history and legend and actual driving and beauty that is very hard to beat, a combination that gets into your heart as very few brands can. I am more than happy and thankful of M. Sergio Marchionne's vision to revive this mythical brand, to give Alfisti what they have faithfully and quietly expected for years and years. And just as my friend's dad's, the "best car in the house" must be an Alfa Romeo...

But then, how can you put into words your love for Alfas or being an Alfista? Ineffable feelings... 

Images:
www.alfaromeo.com/com/#/design/alfa-romeo-art
www.supercars.net

No hay comentarios.: