Muhammad Ali’s Alfa Romeo is a real champ
Want to buy a Porché Alfa Romeo? No, that isn’t a misspelling. Or if alliteration is your thing, then, how about Ali’s Alfa?
When boxing legend Muhammad Ali went shopping for a car in 1976 at European Imports in the affluent Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Illinois, his original intention was to buy a Rolls Royce. The Champ liked to roll in a Rolls and owned more than one. Ali did end up buying a Corniche ragtop in Kelly Green, but another convertible caught his eye that day, a silver 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Series II that he bought for his third wife, Veronica Porché.
Porché never drove it even once, though, but not because it wasn’t a Porsche. It has a five-speed manual transmission and Veronica couldn’t drive a stick. Ali ended up giving the almost new roadster to his good friend, Tim Shanahan, who drove it for more than 40 years. Shanahan was with Ali when he purchased the Alfa and chronicled the story in his book, Running with the Champ. Now, St. Louis classic car dealer MotoeXotica is offering it for sale.
Even without the celebrity provenance, the two-owner two-seater is fairly rare. Just 4530 examples were made for the 1976 model year. It has a classic 2.0-liter double-overhead cam Alfa Romeo engine with Spica mechanical fuel injection, the aforementioned five-speed, and four-wheel disc brakes.
That provenance is documented with Ali’s signature on the original Illinois registration, Shanahan’s 1980 registration, photos of Ali with the car and Shanahan, a photo of noted collector and Hagerty contributor Jay Leno with the Alfa Romeo, and a copy of Running with the Champ. Presumably, the book has been autographed by Shanahan, if not also by Ali.
The Spider is in pretty good shape for having 80,733 miles on the odometer, most of them put on by Shanahan. The body is said to be solid and straight, with a clean engine compartment, trunk and interior. The top is in decent condition, and the Michelin MXV radials mounted on the factory aluminum wheels still have some miles left in them.
The leather upholstery is advertised as being in “great condition,” while the carpeting is in good original shape. The instrument panel, door panels, and traditional wood-rimmed steering wheel all “look great,” but there is a crack on the passenger side of the dash.
Ali’s Alfa has a clean California title and is being sold as is. It’s your chance to drive like a butterfly and sting like a… Spider? Or something.