Jeff Erway was already deep into his dreams of owning an Alfa Romeo by the time Cory Campbell pulled up to work one day in a 1978 Alfa Spider. By this time, Erway had spent countless online hours researching models and monitoring prices, but the sight of that little Italian roadster parked outside his office pushed him over the line: he had to have one of his own.
Erway is the founder of La Cumbre Brewing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When he hired Campbell as the company’s new marketing director in 2016, he had no idea that Campbell was a car guy, much less that his tastes ran toward Italian underdogs. Before long, however, the two were browsing online auctions together in search of Erway’s next car, with Campbell usually urging Erway to buy every Alfa they came across.
Erway’s ultimate purchase—a brown 1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super—turned up in California. Accompanied by his then-8-year-old son, Erway flew to the West Coast and drove the car home to New Mexico, a father-son trip for the ages across the American Southwest (at the height of summer, without air conditioning) that cemented this car’s place as a member of the family.
The Giulia, powered by a 1600-cc engine, seldom sits for long now that it’s in Albuquerque; whether he’s commuting to the office, running errands around town, or charging up Sandia Crest on a weekend morning, Erway takes any chance he can get to drive—and push—his Alfa.
“I didn’t buy this as an investment piece,” Erway says, “and these cars were not built to be coddled. You can tell by the way that they drive, day in and day out. You're doing a lot of good by actually being that enthusiastic driver with them.”
Campbell, for his part, came to the Alfa Romeo community after deep dives into the worlds of rotary-engined Mazdas and “turbo brick” Volvos. When he stumbled upon the Spider on Craigslist back in 2013, he wasn’t even searching for an Alfa, but something about the little brown convertible caught his attention. He drove it around the block a few times and decided to take it home with him. Since that day, the car has upended his expectations and earned a place in his heart.
“This is my first Alfa,” Campbell says, “and what surprises me about it is the reliability, which I can’t say of the other vintage cars I’ve owned. This one’s been a champ.”
Nowadays, when Erway and Campbell can slip away from family and work, they and their Alfas can be found on the famously scenic back roads that surround Albuquerque. Both cars are powered by legendary Alfa Romeo four-cylinder engines, but as they climb toward the 10,640-foot summit of Sandia Crest, the benefits of fuel injection (as in Campbell’s Spider, with its larger 2.0-liter engine) are apparent. Even with that slight advantage, however, both Campbell and Erway will quickly admit that these are not the cars for anyone seeking a high-speed thrill ride up the mountain.
“Alfas have always punched far above their weight class when it comes to the way that they handle, which makes them feel faster than they really are,” Erway says with a laugh. “It also helps that they sound faster than they really are.”
Both men agree that the fun of these shared drives is not in being the fastest, but rather in experiencing together cars of a similar time and place exactly as they were meant to be enjoyed.
“It takes you back in time, especially if you're following another Alfa of the period,” Campbell says. “When I’m up there following Jeff and his Alfa, it becomes this game of cat and mouse, but it's less about who's the fastest to the top and more about how much fun we're having getting there.”
After all, both men understand that the sooner they reach their destination, the sooner the drive will end. Why hurry?