Originally Published in Fall of 2010
My father has never asked for much, with the exception of numerous subtle hints about finding his first car. Over the years I have learned that this car was not just any automobile. To those who appreciate superb Italian performance, the Alfa Romeo is a legend in the automobile design world. To both seasoned Alfisti and newcomers to the world of classic Italian style, the Giulia Spider is a sight to behold. My father drove a ’63 Giulia Spider in his twenties, and I decided to search for it.
Enlisting the help of Ezra Dyer, a noted automobile columnist for Men’s Journal and The Improper Bostonian, an email was sent. In a matter of hours, I received emails from multiple Alfa owners and experts across the United States, intent on uniting my father with his Giulia Spider. Given that his 64th birthday would occur sooner than my becoming rich, I figured a ride in an Alfa would suffice until I could purchase one outright.
Knowing how much my father would appreciate the ride, I was floored (pun intended) to receive a note from Dave Pratt, Webmaster for the Alfa Owners of New England Chapter. Not only did he live nearby, but he offered to bring his ’74 Alfa Spider for the occasion.
As if that weren’t enough, he reached out to fellow Alfista Rod Burdick, proud owner of… drumroll… a ’63 Giulia Spider.
Both gentlemen planned to bring their Alfa’s on my father’s birthday, and take him for a ride through the back roads of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Rod had to leave the Giulia Spider behind due to persistent mechanical issues. As luck would have it, he brought another chariot, a ’65 Sprint Speciale. Though not a Giulia Spider, the Sprint Speciale is far more rare, and a true head-turner.
My father knew nothing about the details, and was only instructed to wait outside the front door as the cars pulled up. For a man dealing with regular doses of chemotherapy, energy can be fleeting. Upon seeing the cars, my father broke into a wide grin and just stared as Dave and Rod entered the driveway. When asked what he was feeling when he saw the cars cruise toward him, he simply replied, “Nostalgia,” that sly smile creeping back.
Dave and Rod were generous enough to offer not only my father a ride, but me, my mother, and brother as well. My father was enamored with the smell of the fuel, the feel of the seats against the backs of his arms… I was intrigued to learn that the Sprint Speciale shifts gears best at higher RPM’s. My mother loved the wind in her hair while in the Spider, and the growling sound emanating from the Sprint Speciale’s engine.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Dave and Rod even joined our family post-ride to share car stories, while enjoying Italian pastries. We send special thanks to Ezra Dyer and the various Alfisti who helped begin the search. Your efforts were essential and wholly appreciated. Even Hurricane Earl seemed to temper its strong winds, allowing my father to bask in the sunshine of his special Alfa Day.
Now that you’ve been reminded, Dad, what it felt like to cruise in an Alfa Romeo, the search will continue in earnest. I’m sure your ’63 Giulia Spider is out there, the one with the tiny dent on the hood you so often described. Until your next birthday…