January 1989. I was 18 at the time had just bought a Y-reg Alfa Sud Gold Cloverleaf from Arcadia Motors in Exmouth
The Sud broke a clutch cable barely a couple weeks after getting it. Arcadia sent a transporter to collect the stranded Alfa (eventually
) and courteously left in it's place for my pleasure, this bad boy:
(OK, that's probably not the one, but it shared same colour and natural beauty
A mighty Morris Ital... the successor the legendary Morris Marina. This was a true progression was it not..?
Initial impressions were, well, something like, "Oh my god - who owned this car before part-exing it?!?!" The lush brown velour interior was covered in dog hair
My allergies were not going to appreciate this...
Unperturbed by watering eyes and endless sneezing however, I thought an immediate max speed test would definitely be in order :yessmiley: 115 mph downhill with the wind behind and I could feel the vast expanse of body panels flapping under the turbulence. Wow, that was the fastest I had ever driven!
Anyhoo, the day after landing this hot rod, it snowed. Excellent! A rear wheel drive courtesy car - what fun! Cue a morning filled with lots of spinning and playing on slippery quiet lanes near home in the heart of Devon
That afternoon, I had to take Mum and girlfriend into the nearby Town. They were in for a real treat. The snow had all but turned to slush and on heading through Town, a spindly framed woman strode out on to a zebra crossing without so much as a glance or care. I braked to slow but just carried on sliding at the same speed... bollock - up she went! I can still picture the lady's legs flying up in the air as she bounced off the bonnet
Thinking I'd obviously killed the unsuspecting stick insect of a pedestrian outright, we all dived out of the car - it was a 4-door but neither one of us bothered to take a moment to marvel at the wonderfully crafted finish on our respective inner panels - but to our surprise, she sprang up off the floor and all was well
Of course, being so young and having narrowly escaped the taking of a human life, I was suitably subdued and remorseful. So much so in fact that it must have taken, ooo, all of a day for me to start rallying around the single track lanes near home again. The snow had all gone of course, what do you think I am? Crazy or something..?
I had a mate in the car - he was enjoying the vast expanse of space available to the lucky passenger - but upon enthusiastically exiting a sweeping downhill left hander, I suddenly found myself with a steering wheel full of tank slap and bollocked the nearside wing into a hedge. Cripes, I've done it now
We pulled into a farm entrance to study the damage. Yep, it was damaged alright... but British Leyland had designed such a masterpiece that I could simply grab the arch and pull the ***** back into shape. There! Like nothing ever happened... well, almost
On returning to Arcadia Motors a week later to collect my repaired Sud, there didn't appear to be anyone around. Marvellous! I parked the beast tight to a wall to hide the crumpled wing, collected the Alfa
and legged it as fast as the flat-four would take me the hell out of there. I was in such a rush that I plain didn't bother to make the connection with the puddles of water on the garage floor beneath my Alfa to the knackered headlight washer non-return valve on my pride and joy
I'll never forget the Ital experience though. Not just because of the car and all the wondrous things it encompasses though, oh no... but more because of the unequalled chaos it brought in such a short space of time. I didn't get off Scott-free however - far from it sister. It cost me ninety smooth ones (two weeks wages!) to replace zebra-crossing lady's broken glasses... bugger