It was not one of those
"Love at first sight" experiences.
It was not one of those "Love at first sight"
experiences. In fact, it started in the beginning of the '60:s
when I was in Riccione, Italy. That's when I first saw an Alfa
Romeo sporting car. It was a Giulietta Sprint and it looked so
slim and fast.
The thing that really turned me on was the roaming sound from
the twin-cam engine. I can still remember when a red Giulietta
Sprint came on the Viale Dante in 2nd gear with the 1300
engine revving, slowly passing the spectators. The engine was
at constant revs, and the driver looked very pleased.
The guy in the car was an Italian who,
like most Italians, had a genuine passion for beautiful blond
Scandinavian girls. Since I knew a lot of blond Scandinavian
girls who were staying at the same hotel as I did, I asked him
to take me for a ride in the car. This
"Mini-Casanova" laughed and said "never,
never", but if I could introduce him to the girls, we
might have a deal.
That said and done. I was fourteen
years old and the girls were eighteen or more, so they all
treated me like something the cat had taken on the carpet.
Teenage girls never like younger boys, perhaps they remind
them of their kid brothers?
However, I soon found out that one of
the females was kinda attracted to the Mini-Casanova, so I
arranged a meeting. The blond, Lena, said she would only date
the Italian if I was there too. Wow!!!
That evening he came in his red
Giulietta Sprint and Lena was very good looking. I had to sit
in the back seat, but there was no back seat, only a little
space to keep your tennis rackets. Never mind, I was in the
Alfa. Then Mini-Casanova took off!
This Giulietta Sprint only had two
engine revs, idling and 6.800. I soon changed his name to
"Mini-Fangio" like he was driving. He was shifting
gears like mad and overtaking every car on the road. The
engine was roaming like an airplane and he was using its full
power. After some minutes we left Riccione and were heading
for San Marino.
The Giulietta Sprint was designed for
the narrow roads leading up the mountain to San Marino. We met
many other cars on the winding roads, but Mini-Fangio was the
king of the road. The brakes were extremely effective and I
was rumbling in the back seat as he stopped and accelerated.
I'll never forget the roaming sound of the well-tuned
When I was exited and screaming for
more, Lena turned blue and green and pale. She didn't say a
word; she was just sitting there with her big blue eyes wide
open. Suddenly, everything she had eaten the last week came
out on the dashboard.
End of racing. I had to take the bus
back with Lena who blamed me for everything. She thought she
would be killed in that terrible car and swore, she would
never enter an Alfa Romeo again. Well, I certainly would!
As always, never trust a girl. Two
days later she was in the Giulietta Sprint again, but this
time I was banned from the car. Mini-Fangio was Mini-Casanova
Well, to tell you the truth, my
passion for the Roundtail is something like love affair. I
have never had so many good times in my life as when the
Roundtail is involved. As you probably already know, in 1962
to 1970, I used to work in Riccione, Italy when I was a
teenager. That sure was something, leaving chilly Scandinavia
for the warmth of the sun in Italy. My task was to make some
clubs popular and well known to young Scandinavian tourists.
Imagine how fun that was. 1966 I had a
FIAT Spider, a car owned by the company, but was constantly
looking for Alfas. You may share my joy, when Sandro, the
brother of my "Patrone" Stefano Pattaconi came
slowly in his red Duetto 1600, second gear and constant 3.000
revs. What a sound.
I must have looked quite funny, the
size of my eyes were like ordinary beer-glasses. I had never
ever before seen something that turned me on to this extent.
The shape of the rear end of the red Duetto was like the shape
of a beautiful girl, very sensual. Today, I say it is like a
beautiful woman, now that I am 50+. The taillights correspond
so gently to the lines of the bumpers. The Round tail gives me
a vision of a very attractive female giving me the eye.
Wow, it really turns me on. Here are
the articles in the newspapers. Today, I am not so proud of
Sandro was not that keen on me driving
his red Duetto, but we made an agreement. Since I was a tall
blond Scandinavian with no red Duetto but lots of female
connections and he was rather small, Italian and no such
connections but a red Duetto, we got along. We both drove over
to the clubs and when he seemed to like the atmosphere, he
stayed and I drove away.
I could drive for hours along the
Adriatic Sea. Listening to the sound of the Webers and the
twin cam engine, overtaking and shifting gears all the time. I
often forgot to return until the sun was rising. It was hard
to explain to Sandro, that I had only been driving and not
fooling around with his girlfriends.
The arguments always ended with
something like "sorry, won't happen again, but I know a
nice club with lots of blondes!" That solved the
problems. I was so fascinated by the red Duetto that I slept
only two to four hours a day. My eyes were beginning to look
rather dark with some spots of red. Tired but very happy.
His red Duetto had one of those
(today) very primitive record players with just one single
loudspeaker. I had two ears and three records. So what did I
do? I played Jerry Lee Lewis "Roll over Beethoven",
Neil Sedaka's Oh Carol, Rita Pavone's Cuore over and over
again. The Italians were not that keen on this kind of music
so I met new Italian friends all the time wherever I was
driving. They preferred Rita Pavone or some of the very good
Italian artist instead.
The main problem in those days was
money and gas. I made a fool of myself quite often, when the
red gas warning light turned on. It might be nice sitting with
a nice female out in the woods with no gas, good music (my
kind of music, that is) and necking. My problem was, that the
gas stop always happened right in the middle of Viale Dante
with the crowd of tourists all around. No necking there, no,
no. I had to borrow from my girlfriends to be able to get some
Some females have a tendency not to
value sitting in a red Duetto, talking gear ratios, twin carbs
etc. Pretty soon I was known as that "Alfaholic with
Spidermania". That summer, a Swedish newspaper was doing
a report about vacation and Italy. Well, I was there and drove
around with the red Duetto, showing the clubs and discoteches,
rather rare in 1967. I introduced the journalist to some of my
friends and he wrote like a maniac all the time, took pictures
and asked funny questions.
My mum had her 60'th anniversary in
September, and that very same day, the newspaper had a very
big article about me. I was appointed the guy who's only
interest was to fool around with cars and girls.
My mum and the rest of the family were
very, very, upset and my current girlfriend who was in Sweden,
became my ex-girlfriend. I found it very odd to explain on the
phone from Italy that the article was not true. Nobody
believed me. I still remember that night, all alone, no
friends; girl had run away, mum embarrassed. What to do?
No problem. I just took the key in my
hand and looked at the red Duetto. I jumped in the car to just
sit there for a while. I turned on the ignition and listened
to the mumbling engine and the sound from the Webers. Gently
pressed the clutch down and pressed the accelerator, up and
down a few times to check the oil pressure.
Engage first gear and take off, not
too fast, just so the engine makes the rear tires get a firm
grip of the road. Second gear. a bit more on the accelerator
but no too much. I did not want the rear of the Roundtail to
skid. Third gear and now it is time to use the full potential
of the car, revving 6.500 it is time to cool down so I use
fourth gear and the fifth gear and cruise along the Adriatic
sea. The red Duetto is becoming quite close to me now, like
she was putting her head on my shoulder.
Time to turn on the record player,
Jerry Lee "The Killer" rocks on. The red Duetto is
almost flying and she takes me up in the blue sky, where
"Io volare et cantare" out my happiness and joy.
I was so motivated that I forgot time,
newspapers, Sandro, Mum, eating, returning or Policia
Stradale. That ride cost me around 150 USD. The Law had been
trying to overtake me for five minutes they said. Anyway, that
was when I decided to buy a red Duetto of my own.
That was the car to have.
In the '60:s sporting cars were not
that common. Most people had a relation to a sporting car like
people in the '90:s have to a Ferrari, just dream about it. In
Sweden Alfas were very rare in 1960. The same company imported
Rolls Royce, so the numbers were very small them. We had an
excellent racing driver, Joakim Bonnier, who drove black
Giulietta Sprints with good results. Bonnier was later driving
in the Formula 1, but was unfortunately killed on the racing
Me in Riccione, Ca'Bianca and Piazza
Me 1967, nice right?
When the Giulia 105-range arrived with
the Giulia 1600 Super, many people were fascinated by the
design. Some people said that the rear of the car looked like
the inside of a refrigerator, where the wall is welded to fit
bottles and eggs. I found that part being the best design of