It was with great interest that I read your tale of two Alfas. I was a potential admirer of this famous and, as far as I knew, erstwhile reliable marque. However, during the course of one year I have been the victim of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Spyder, and my once unshakeable faith in this breed has been dissolved by a series of unfortunate mechanical catastrophies.
To deal summarily with the minor defects encountered: it took me but a short time to discover that my Alfa soft-top leaked profusely, while the boot has never worked satisfactorily. In tact on arriving to stay with a friend in the country I was embarrassed by my suitcases being involuntarily closeted in the boot, the hour was late, we were tired, thus the task of removing the boot-lid at its hinges waited until the following day. I had no pyjamas, and the good lady to whom I had so gaily proffered a lift had no “face” for the morning. A nasty experience that, nevertheless one which one managed to laugh off.
Not so laughable is the standing fact that in 12,000 miles the gearbox has seized twice. The car was bought last July, by November the box had jammed and, although it was workable, there was a distinct lack of syncromesh. The wheels of the guarantee started to grind and Sandersons of Leeds assured me that when permission was sought from Alfa of G.B. the work would be carried out. Two months later permission came from Alfa, at the same moment the gearbox jammed irrevocably and the car had to have an elevated tow to Leeds (some 50 miles) at an exorbitant cost (not paid under the guarantee).
Sandersons now exhibited an abundance of (to quote one or your readers) “despatch and old world courtesy.” However, when I collected the car one Saturday afternoon from the forecourt of the garage where it had been left out for me, I discovered the vehicle in a shabby state. The car was filthy and the carpets were covered in oil. A whole day was required to restore it to decent shape. A stiff letter written to Sandersons in January remains unanswered. The great Alfa Romeo legend began to glow less rosily through a blackening haze of doubt.
Back in London the car went to Chipstead for a service and on test the brakes locked. It was a cracked nut on the master cylinder. To give them their due, Chipstead worked hard on this and cured it in a couple of days (expensive days). The haze grew cloudier, the legend still less rosy.
Last week the gearbox jammed in gear again and has to be stripped—another heavy bill for repairs (so far Taylor and Crawley have been helpful).
Alfa of G.B. have just told me that in their opinion latent faults in a vehicle will develop in the first six months—hence the six-month guarantee. When I bought my Alfa, the short guarantee did not bother me—surely I would not have to claim from such a well proved and well liked manufacturer. Now I feel that Alfas should show faith in their products to the extent of guaranteeing them for one year.
Michael Bailing suggests in his letter that eighteen months ago there were sub-standard cars coming into this country from a troubled Alfa factory in Milan. Perhaps I have been a victim of these troubles—but unlike Mr. Bailing I do not feel inclined to indulge in buying any more Alfas in order to find a good one.