Money Spider - Faine 394

By: Jon Faine, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

Faine tries getting to grips with grandparenting and a recalcitrant Spider.

Money Spider - Faine 394
Alfa Romeo Spider - cute, but not always easy to live with.

Joining grandfather-hood is a good thing. Fitting a baby seat to a classic car is a bad thing.

Our first grandchild is arriving, as I type this. Exciting and nerve wracking, the momentous event brings me to Darwin, the centre of 4WD mania. Bumper stickers perpetuate a rivalry to match Holden and Ford; the Patrol -v- Land Cruiser debate. You have to love a place where every second car has a roof rack boasting a pair of jerry cans, a swag and a set of recovery tracks.

Our son is euphoric over the birth of his daughter but also in mourning for the passing of his trusty Land Cruiser 80 Series. Across the Nullarbor, up the WA coast, through the Pilbara, three years working in One Arm Point – a remote community past Cape Leveque in the most northern stretch of the Kimberley – and most recently during a couple of years in Arnhem Land, his trusty Yota has never broken down. It was given every opportunity to. It is little short of a motoring miracle that this car is still going. Some engineers in Tokyo ought be very proud of having created the indestructible car.

Bogged on fishing expeditions, towing heaving boat trailers with wonky bearings over corrugated red dirt roads, stuck in stinking mud in remote creeks, loaded to the gunwales with crabs and turtles, used as a workhorse and then hosed out for a party... The poor old beauty has seen it all and it never stops going. Ever.

But the arrival of baby Rose changes everything and the trusty rusty 80 Series has to be sold. After locals vied for the miracle 80 Series with over half a million klicks on the clock, the Yota was last seen heading north bouncing through the bush with about eleven people inside and a few more clinging to the roof, charging at crocodiles.

Back in that other version of Australia, my Alfa Spider is being treated to reconditioned brake boosters. Last month I reported how the RH-front wheel was still grabbing despite a fully reco-ed master cylinder, all four wheel cylinders replaced and all refreshed brake lines. So suspicion turns to the Bonaldi boosters next. There is nothing unusual in them staying asleep despite the rest of the car waking up. 

After all, the little Alfa has been sitting still and quietly reflecting on the meaning of life for quite a few years. Entirely unsurprising then that the boosters dry out, the diaphragms perish and they need more than a double espresso to bring them back from the brink. Internet shopping revealed the option of importing two brand new from Europe for around $600 each, or sending mine to a genius in Brisbane to be reconditioned for $350 each.

Cost is obviously one factor – the Alfa is turning into the cash sponge I always knew it would be. But the paramount issue is originality and knowing that I will be able to bolt my boosters straight back in without needing to book any cosmetic surgery to the body to accommodate different brackets and pipes. And when it comes time to sell, originality in these increasingly sought-after Italian beauties is a price setter.

Forget sending your offspring to university. Get them to learn how to recondition brake boosters and they will be out-bidding the surgeons and QCs at the real estate – and classic car – auctions.

The new intake plate for the carbies also slowly takes shape. I was about to fabricate one from a discarded laundry sink in the neighbour’s hard rubbish. but Joe the magician mechanic loses patience and gets his engineer brother to laser cut one in a flash. My attempts at turning myself into an artisan metalworker are trumped.

My short lived identity crisis is resolved, and we at last have a solid strong rigid mounting-plate for the carbs. Cross another task off the list. This project is getting perilously close to being ready for the panel beaters.

Can you fit a baby seat to a 1974 Series 105 Alfa Spider Veloce 2000?

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