Along came a Spi­der 1956 Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta ful­filled a need

The Washington Times Daily - - Auto -

Mike Fer­gu­son grew up in post-world War II Eng­land with a keen eye for the oc­ca­sional sports car that would mo­tor through his home­town of Wey­mouth. Born into a mo­tor­ing fam­ily, he says, he came by his af­fec­tion for sports cars hon­estly.

Most of the sports cars he would see in his youth were Bri­tish born, Tri­umphs, MGS, Jaguars and the oc­ca­sional Mor­gan. Once in a very long while a for­eign car would ap­pear and when that car was an Ital­ian Alfa Romeo, it was like grab­bing the gold ring on the carousel at the fair. Its en­gine and trans­mis­sion were well ahead of com­pa­ra­ble Bri­tish sports cars of the era, Mr. Fer­gu­son says.

By the sum­mer of 2004, Mr. Fer­gu­son was liv­ing in Mclean and he de­cided to ful­fill his long-sup­pressed de­sire to own an Alfa Romeo. He searched ev­ery­where but found the In­ter­net the most fruit­ful source. It was there in cy­berspace that he found a re­cently re­stored 1956 Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta Spi­der lo­cated in Louisville, Ky.

The 12-foot, 10-inch-long gleam­ing white Alfa Romeo had un­der­went a com­plete restora­tion and re­paint­ing in 1996 and Mr. Fer­gu­son quickly ne­go­ti­ated a deal af­ter go­ing to Ken­tucky in or­der to ex­am­ine the four-cylin­der car.

A truck­ing firm was hired to de­liver the car to Virginia and all went well un­til the driver be­came lost in the neigh­bor­hood. Fi­nally Mr. Fer­gu­son had his car and as far as he was con­cerned all was well with the world.

It looks pretty in white,’ he ob­serves.

Re­search in­di­cates that the car was a Florida res­i­dent un­til it was moved to Ken­tucky. Cur­rently Pirelli Cin­tu­rato P3 ra­dial tires are mounted on the wheels, each wheel punc­tured by 10 holes to help ven­ti­late the huge alu­minum brake drums. ‘The car has a very mod­ern sus­pen­sion de­sign, which gave good han­dling for its day,’ Mr. Fer­gu­son ex­plains.

The stylish, 1,700-pound Ital­ian sports car rides on an 88-inch wheel­base.

Each side of the car has two jack ports so only one wheel at a time can be raised with the jack.

An al­loy twin-over­head camshaft en­gine with a hemi­spher­i­cal head, Mr. Fer­gu­son says, pro­duces 80 horse­power. That power is trans­ferred to the pave­ment through a four-speed syn­chro­mesh gear box. The en­gine has been re­built. Although the speedome­ter op­ti­misti­cally tops out at 120 mph, Mr. Fer­gu­son says 105 mph is a more re­al­is­tic fig­ure.

In­side the cozy cock­pit — the car is only 62 inches wide — red leatherette seat­ing for two awaits. All of the in­stru­men­ta­tion is di­rectly in front of the driver while cen­trally lo­cated in the dash­board are knobs and switches that reg­u­late, from the left, lights, throt­tle, choke and heater.

Un­der the lip of the dash­board are two more switches, one to op­er­ate the heater/de­froster fan and the other for the wind­shield wipers.

A three-spoke wooden steer­ing wheel com­pletes the fea­tures in the cock­pit. There is a spot on the dash­board for a ra­dio but Mr. Fer­gu­son prefers the mu­sic pro­vided by the en­gine over any AM or FM or satel­lite of­fer­ing.

The spare tire is hid­den be­hind a cur­tain be­hind the seats, ob­vi­ously po­si­tioned with the hope that it would never have to be used.

Around the perime­ter of the cock­pit are a se­ries of 18 snaps and four thumb­screws de­signed to se­cure a

A col­or­ful Alfa Romeo em­blem graces the deck lid lock.

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