Goodbye Alfa Romeo. Goodbye to my Youth.


The Alfa was a dream of my wife, who saw them in dealerships in Switzerland when she lived there for a year in high school. We bought our car about ten years after that, in Minneapolis in 1995.

It was a 1992 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce. Still is. But now it’s bound for a future that we can only imagine. After years of malfunctions, failing to pass the California smog test, and some mysterious electrical problem that prevented the car from holding a charge, we gave up. We donated the Alfa this month by calling KPBS-CAR, which comes to retrieve any junker you care to get rid of.

I work at KPBS and I once asked, “Who buys these beaters?”

“Anyone who buys cars,” was the answer.

The Alfa Spider was beautiful. Like a true sports car it was built low, with a wedge in front to cut the wind and a streamlined body that ended perfectly in back. The headlights looked like bedroom eyes and when the convertible top was down the windshield added a graceful geometry that turned auto into art.

Some sports cars look flashy and whorish. Even today, I think the Alfa Spider’s Pininfarina design is peerless for its classy shape.

When we lived in Minnesota I would pamper my prima donna by storing it in a barn at the Minnesota State Fair grounds during the five months of freezing winter temperatures that made it impractical to drive an Italian convertible. After we moved to California driving it year ’round was no sweat, but soon after that the car began its mechanical downward spiral.

To my wife and me, the Alfa has become a metaphor for our youth. It was cool and sexy and buying it was a pure act of emotion. Though I wasn’t a kid when we got it I was still young enough to take it on the freeway and floor it, to see how fast it would go.

Alfa Tow

Since then the Alfa has gotten old and so have we, enduring the routines and responsibilities of middle age, raising kids and holding jobs we feel like we’ve worked at too long. I needed a fanciful love to keep that car going. I looked inside myself and simply couldn’t see it.

“Anyone who buys cars.”

I assume our Alfa will be sold and I’ll get a document with the sale price that I can write off my 2014 taxes. I can hope that it is sold to someone who has that love for a car that I ultimately lacked. I owned the Alfa for 19 years. At least my wife and I will be able to look back on those years of our youth that were wrapped up in an Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce.




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