Imran here. Im 23 years old and I'm from India. Yes, Im sure I'm 1 of the rare few Indians in town to own an Alfa. Or am I??
Im not exactly a total noob coz I bought my 147 from this lebanese dude back in April '10. Over the months I met and spoke to a lot of passionate Alfa owners, 1 among them Stephen Manjai. He introduced me to the Alfa Owners Club and here I am. And ever since I got my car, I've been soooo deeply in love with it, I thought I'd write an ode to the famous Italian marquee:
Its been my childhood dream to own an Alfa Romeo. Stemming way back in '98 when the then ground-breaking 156 burst into the scene becoming European Car of the Year!! That's the year I moved to Dubai from Chennai, India. And everytime I spotted an Alfa from the schoolbus window, me and my cousin would go nuts!! Everything about them, the invisible backdoors, the super gorgeous interiors, that trademark front-grill, that sexy European car exhaust note and ofcourse... the beating heart underneath the bonnet.
TopGear further fuelled my desire for Alfas... making them seem like the coolest cars to own in their brilliant show. That line by Jeremy Clarkson, "You're not a true petrol-head if you've never owned an Alfa" had me sold from there!!!
So it was no surprise that once I began working, the search for my very first car started with an A. I couldnt afford a brand new and I've heard a lot about the great value for money a 2nd-hand Alfa goes for. I really wanted a small nippy but fast car, basically a hatchback. And I'd remembered long ago that the 147 was European Car of the Year (2001).
But when I asked people for tips, everyone all around me advised me against Alfa Romeos, many claiming they are 'worthless italian junk with epic electrical failures and no one knows how to fix them'!
While to an extent they were right. I just resorted to the theory that any car as long as you maintain them properly should last long right! That and the fact that I just hated Japanese cars total. Mass-produced, plastic dashboarded, soul-less cars werent my cup of tea at all.
So I went ahead with the search and found a 3-door 147 in the Gulf News classifieds. And I went to check it out. The car was in desperately bad shape. Wobbling entirely, the velvets at the door-sides hanging loose, the headlight covers completely yellow and the Alfa Romeo logo on the badges positively wiped out!!! Every sane part of me directed me to walk the other way. But I fell in love right then and there. 1 look and every other hatchback I knew just went out of existence in my mind!
The stunning design, the interiors, the ferrari-like dials, the three-spoke alloys and the power of that 2.0 litre engine on a tiny hatchback like that had me quivering with excitement!! Mind you, Id gotten off my friends Daihatsu Sirion before I sat in that body-hugging red leather seats of the 147!!! In front of this... the Sirion seemed like a matchbox in comparison!! How could you not wanna own that car?!? I would've bought it even if it had broken down in tatters! And it was about to...
Thankfully my dad knocked some sense into me and steered me clear away from it! But I just knew if I had to get a hatchback, it had to be the 147!! So I searched everywhere and found an exact replica of that car on Dubizzle! Only this time it was a 5-door! Which meant the invisible back-door handles (a design style that dazzled me when I was a kid) were present on this 1!!
I went and checked it out and it was in pristine condition!!! It had 80,000km on the clock, major service done, timing belt changed. The engine was purring unlike the other 147, everything was functioning perfectly and it was maintained with such care! The owner: a lebanese architect who lost his job at Nakheel after the recession! I knew I wouldnt find another 1 of those even if Id looked hard... so that was it! I bought it and never looked back since! I got a good bargain too!
Its been nearly 5 months since I got it and not a day goes by without me turning back to give it another look, after parking! I really feel that man&machine bond with this ride! Masha Allah! Never been happier!
So that's my story... that's me finally accomplishing a dream. A dream I had ever since I was 12 years old. hope I didnt bore you guys with it