Rapidly approaching 47
East Kilbride, Scotland
What cars do you drive and why?
Alfa Romeo 156 2.4 Mjet. I can’t see past the charisma of Alfas at the moment, rightly or wrongly – and I thought I could justify the purchase by convincing myself the diesel was sensible, whilst retaining the Alfa spirit.
Are you passionate about Alfa Romeo?
I seem to be. Just ask my wife and daughter.
What or how started your passion for Alfa Romeo and…
… do you think it’s fundamental to own one to have the passion?
My interest in Italian cars started with my father’s Lancia Beta in the late 1970’s. These cars at that time were supposed to be riddled with rust and very unreliable. The Beta, however, was beautiful to be in and to drive. This progressed to a vague interest in Alfas and I nearly bought a Guilietta in 1983 and didn’t because I thought the steering wheel was upside down when I saw it in the showroom (the wheels were turned off the straight – OK, I was young an inexperienced). I had a drive at a 33 later (see below) and was hooked from then on.
What do you like most about Alfas?
As I said above, they have a certain charisma. Contrary to the myth of Alfa snobbery perpetuated by myself I do like cars in general and have owned some other makes in the past that I thought were the dog’s bawbees. But I’ve never known a car to provide me with the feel-good factor that the 145 and 166 did and the 156 does.
Do you recognise the next four questions ?
How much has your Alfa cost to keep it running and do you still love it?
Ah, well, you’re now talking about my experience with the 166. The overall costs, including those paid by the insurance, must have been close on £5,000 in two years (excluding servicing). Plus fuel consumption after the engine replacement in the low 20’s mpg. Despite everything I did still love it, but not enough to risk keeping it running without a warranty.
The 156, touch wood, has been a model of reliability, apart from a couple of minor niggles.
If so, do you have a mental illness?
It’s called Cerebellum Alfaownerus Insidiatatus
What medication (if any) are you on?
Driving, twice a day, coupled with frequent visits to the BP pharmacologist, to top-up on C12-C21 liquid power.
What would put you of an Alfa, If you were to buy one today?
Dealership network, particularly the patronising and dismissive attitude they have to customer problems and complaints.
What would be your dream cars?
One of the early Alfa Spiders, AKA Toronto’s car, and a Maserati 3200GT. I love the Quattroporte and the Murcialago, but I think the Lambo’s probably more flash than I’d get away with (that’s the Calvanistic Scot for you).
What car would you least like to own?
Difficult one, this. Probably a Nissan Micra or Ford StreetKa. I’m scared of my feminine side………
In your opinion, what is the most popular thread on AO?
Maybe the “I’m mostly listening to” thread. I often pop in from time to time, but it just makes me feel that my musical tastes aren’t as wide as they should be.
Do you remember your first post on AO, and if so, what was it about?
Not specifically; possibly about the loss of power on the 166 when the MAF failed.
What would be your ideal drive in an Alfa (destination, passenger, driving music, etc)?
The best driving roads I know are along the north and down the west coasts of Scotland, fantastic driving and stunning scenery. Probably in May when it’s likely to be dry and the midges aren’t out. Passenger would have to be my lovely wife, Sheona (aaaaaahhhhhh). Music would be………………I’m not sure; could be anything from Bjork or Sibelius (Finlandia) if the weather’s being moody to Goldfrapp, the Kaiser Chiefs, Led Zep or Queen. My favourite albums aren’t for driving to.
Any humorous Alfa or car-related stories you wish to share with us?
The 33 I had a drive at was owned by a work colleague, who handed me the keys after a squash match. Mike didn’t (still doesn’t) hang back and was doing all he could to get me to push the car hard along a straight piece of dual carriageway. I was revelling in the noise (it was a 1.7 boxer) and the feel of the car as we approached a roundabout at speed. I grabbed the brakes……..and nothing happened. So I pushed a little more and there was the merest hint of retardation. Mike seemed oblivious to the approaching roundabout as I managed to trim some speed. Anyway, we entered the roundabout at speed (I didn’t have any choice in the matter) and I was surprised (and delighted) that the car made it through with no drama (apart from the brown-trouser moment).
“Bloody Hell Mike!” said I, “The brakes sure are crap in these Alfas”. To which Mike’s response was to thank me for reminding him that the car was going in for new pads the next day.
Nearly found a new use for a squash racquet that night, but Mike was sitting down at the time.
What interests do you have outside of Alfas?
Photography, cycling, squash, keep fit, general science.
Tell us something nobody knows about you. (e.g. special skill, ever been on TV, etc)
Special skills? None that I could relate on a public forum ;-)
What do you like most about the Alfaowner forum? Any favourite threads, episodes or posts you wish to share?
I once had an on-line “discussion” with jomor about censorship and, in my opinion, he won the argument. But it did make me realise that there are nuances that you just can’t react to on-line; even with the liberal use of smilies!
The forum can be a bit like Alfa ownership – it’s a stress reliever and stress inducer, and it can be a hilarious, maddening, happy and sad place to be. But I usually end up smiling after I’ve been on.
Thank you Fraser
FYI; This interview was actually written before the ongoing debate about the use of smilies was started this weekend!