Ready to start afresh
1972 Alfa Romeo Spider S2 Owned by Russ Smith (email@example.com) Time owned Six years Miles this month 174 Costs this month £1228 Previously Failed to fix starting problem
My last Our Cars ended with the Spider being packed off to Alfa Workshop in Royston, Herts, as its lack of interest in starting regularly had got beyond me. I felt the most likely remaining candidate was the flywheel ring gear and Alfa Workshop agreed and got on with removing the gearbox – which is a little easier with a workshop two-post lift than in a domestic garage.
It was as well that they did. Not only was the ring gear in need of replacement – it is probably 45 years old, after all – but the clutch plate had been contaminated on one side by oil leaking from the front gearbox seal, so the car was about to have a gearbox-out job anyway. Naturally, I decided to have the lot done, all in one go.
About a week later I received the call to collect the car, complete with new ring gear, seal and clutch. I’d also got a call the day before about the slightly rattly timing chain I hadn’t noticed – there’s always something else – so they’d adjusted that as well. The £1228 bill made my wallet squeak a bit, but it is the first biggy the Alfa has thrown at me in the six years I’ve owned it, so mentally dividing the cost by six went some way to making me feel better.
Though cautious at first on the run home, it quickly became clear that the car felt much better, much crisper to drive. And at last it now starts on the button every time. I’d almost forgotten the bill by the time I drove the Alfa into its redecorated garage – I’d painted the floor and put up some more pictures while it was away having the work done.
I celebrated in two ways, starting with a much-needed 35-mile top-down blast round some back roads to get properly reacquainted. That was followed by a visit to a meeting of the Cambridge & District Classic Car Club, on one of those gloriously hot, blue evenings that you dream of when buying a roadster. The club actually meets in St Ives rather than Cambridge, but that’s cool with me because it means a decent drive on good roads, and Cambridge itself is so car-unfriendly these days.
It was a special club night where members take others out for a ride in their cars, so I gave a couple of the guys a spin in the Alfa, had a ride in an MGB GT, then signed up as a member. The next event on the club’s schedule is a treasure hunt. I’m looking forward to that.
Russ’s Spider at the Cambridge & District Classic Car Club meet
Alfa Workshop replaced the ring gear and clutch