John B 1967 Gulia Super

First car I spent my own money on.

Never being one to go with the flow, my interest was in the direction of sports cars not muscle cars. In 1970 in Southern California it was all about muscle. My first car a was 67 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super I bought as a fixer upper with, my college money. I say fixer upper because my brothers friend Fieb had tortured it for about 80,000 miles with red line shifts at every opportunity possible. Although appearing as an ugly 4 door box to most, it was a very capable sports car underneath. Being equipped with 40 years of race heritage, Dual Overhead Cams, Dual Webbers, Hemi Head, 4-2-1 Headers from the factory, 5 speed gearbox, sway bars, four wheel disk brakes, and a respectable 120 top speed, it could get on down the road and around corners. The work I had done rebuilding the engine for my Alfa in auto shop was rather enlightening to some, but not all, of the other guys in shop, including our teacher. That engine was a masterpiece. It was much like a Swiss watch of the day. The twin roller cam chain alone was a piece of jewelry. Funny thing I actually made a bracelet for my first girlfriend out of the one I pulled out. The Dual Webbers, how can I even describe how cool those carbs are? Although I could not win many drag races, on the road I could run circles around most cars in school and in the neighboring communities. This was not appreciated by most of the cool crowd which included the “Soshes and Jocks.” Most of the “Surfers and Stoners” I new thought it was a bitchin car. One day before school all the “Stoners” were hanging out across the street from school smoking up. One of the jocks wearing his letterman jacket “I think he was a linebacker” came over to me and my buds Larry, and Donny. He started ragging on my “ugly little Renault”. The three of us having just returned from a late summer trip to the Grand Canyon running at over 100 for hours at a stretch Donny spoke up and said “I’ve seen your piece of crap, this thing will kick it’s ass” There I am standing next to Donny with the full knowledge this guy owns a ratted out 55 Chevy Nomad with a full race 327 in it. That mouse motor was backed up with a Muncie four speed and a Hurst shifter. It was a total sleeper of the third degree. It was Primer black with a few dents here and there. I knew all of this because he had me help him install the engine in our auto shop class. A guess today is that it was an 11 second car. How do I deal with the challenge that came next? “How bout a race” With three sanctioned enduro-cart races under my belt and pride at risk my response was, of course, “time and place?” After arranging to meet at midnight down at Fiesta Island, an awesome unpopulated combination of about 1/2 mile straight and a 1 mile section of twisties before the exit bridge, I offered him and his buds a ride “right now”. I said “I can take three.” Having about a half hour before school was to start we loaded up, belted in and I proceeded off. With three oversized football stars in my lowly ”Renault”, not great on torque, we were slow to get going. Before long I was doing my best to replicate the chase scene from the original version of movie “The Italian Job” This was the same 4 door Alfa used by the Italian police at that time in history. The Streets around Claremont High School would never be the same. Kids today think they invented drifting, lets just say they reinvented the sport. As I would exit one corner in a slide the next would appear. One side then the next. It was awesome. The three big dudes never spoke a word. I think they had never seen anything like it. I was in the groove when suddenly one half block ahead was a dead end. The circle of the cul-de-sac was lined with parked cars. There was no where to go! Adhesion was already compromised and with a quick toe-heal I some how got a downshift into the mix and did a 180. The brakes locked up and we slid backward about 30 feet to a stop. The tail lights were 2 feet from a parked brand new 1970 Mercury Monarch. It’s amazing in a panic I am able to remember that. This was one of the events in my life when time slowed down. If only I had the reaction time today that I had back then. With the clutch in the engine never died. I put it in first and proceeded back to school at a subdued pace trying to collect my thoughts. There was very little conversation going on inside the ugly little box of a car. I do remember one of the guys saying something about how crazy I was. My friends and I gave up waiting for my adversary to show up at Fiesta Island that night around 1:00am.

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