Alfa Romeos converge on Canberra for the Easter weekend
Classic Companions: Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT and Montreal stretch their legs along the Hume Highway
Alfa Romeos at Canberra
Over the Easter long-weekend, many car club enthusiasts make the journey to their respective national club event. This year we made the eight-hour trip up the Hume Hwy in our Alfa 159 Q4 to the Alfa Romeo Owners' Club annual gathering in Canberra. Called 'Alfesta', the weekend was organised to coincide with our nation's capital centenary celebrations.
After battling Melbourne's Easter holiday peak traffic on Thursday night, 110kph was only seen after the Kilmore turn-off.
Joining us on the trip North were fellow 'Alfisti' Graeme & Lynnie Peake in their very original 1967 105 Guilia Sprint GT Veloce - also affectionately known as the 'stepnose'. After several interstate trips together with them in their 105, this gorgeous little car has never missed a beat.
The stepnose (or stepped front) refers to the front nose being 1/4-inch lower than the leading edge of the bonnet. After an overnight stop in Wangaratta and brunch at the fantastic Jugiong Long Track Pantry (highly recommended!), we safely arrived into Canberra. Whilst not having the convenience of a cruise control, Graeme's right foot more than adequately made up for that and had no signs of soreness after the long drive - or as Graeme puts it, no 'Alfa-ankle'.
The Peake's Bertone styled classic has the famous Alfa twin-cam 1600cc and genuine 85,000 miles on the odometer. After seven years in the family, it's mainly used for social events and weekend cruises. The previous owner was a friend's relative of the Peakes so the past good history was well known. Graeme loves the fiesty 82kW (109hp) @ 6000rpm motor and its good handling. This car was delivered from the factory as right-hand drive and still sports the original 15-inch rims (which were big for their day) and skinny tyres. The out-of-the-box factory package also included power assisted disc brakes front and rear. The only recent modifcations are the clip-on GPS unit and lap-sash seat belts. (Mounting points were standard on the car, but belts were not an ADR requirement pre-1972.)
On this trip, the Guilia Sprint did a respectable 36-miles per gallon, or 7.8-litres per 100 kilometres. The only maintenance was a quick look under the bonnet at Wangaratta to ensure all fluids were where they should be - which they were. Compared to today's cars, the Alfa lacked some creature comforts, but the most striking comparison is the physical size against what is considered small cars today. Side-by-side to a Hyundai Getz was on obvious example.
Joining us at the weekend was a varied mix of old and new Alfas, from 105s, Giulia Supers, Alfettas and Spiders, to the modern design 159, GT and Giulietta.
MONTREAL TO MELBOURNE
All too soon, 'Capital Alfesta' was over and it was time for the return leg home. On the way back to Melbourne, our travelling companions this time were Gary and Nerine Pearce in their 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal.
Members in the Victorian division of the club know that the Pearces are passionate Alfisti with many well maintained and presentable Milano cars in their garage. This green Monty is no exception. Gary even says his Monty is the best long distance touring car he has owned or driven (and working in the motor trade all his life, that's a big call!)
The Montreal is another Bertone styled creation and at its heart is an all-alloy quad cam 2.6lt V8 engine, fed through a Spica mechanical fuel injection system, that puts out a healthy 150kW (200hp) at 6500rpm. Five on the floor with factory LSD and power assisted ventilated discs front and rear completed an excellent package for early '70s cruising. But that earlier style is still admired today. Following it through Canberra and beyond, we could see the attention the car received from pedestrians, other drivers and even a policeman at the breathalyzer point in Holbrook had a friendly chat to Gary about his car.
On this trip, the beautiful sounding Monty achieved 28.2mpg (10 litres per 100 kilometeres) and drove faultlessly. The only mods to this car are a newer press-button radio and some improvements to the suspension but otherwise all is standard. Gary says he chose the Montreal seven years ago because he has always loved the look, and this car is the perfect combination of style and colour. The engine has a magnificent sound through the gears and it is very rewarding for long distance cruising.
The Giulia Sprint and Montreal are true classics which embody the heart and character of the marque. Both cars love the open road and their unique styling representing a past era, are still head turners today.
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