I see that the Alfa Romeo 146 is currently advertised as the car you need to own if you want “everyone at the office to think you’ve been promoted”. A snobbish thought perhaps, although as an Alfa Romeo enthusiast I can believe it would have this effect. It reminds me of a time long, long ago, when I had left a job of which I was by no means proud. (I had been sacked after running into the boss at a Brooklands Meeting after I had excused my non-attendance due to a bilious attack.) I was writing for Speed (which was later absorbed by MOTOR SPORT) and was able to borrow for test from Street & Duller a supercharged 1750 Alfa Romeo Zagato. I drove it to my one-time place of employment and bought a pair of goggles there (joke I got a small discount as an ex-employee), and a colleague enquired whether I had found another job. “I see you can afford a motorcycle,” he observed.

“Actually,” I said, “I need the goggles because I am about to drive down to Brooklands in the Alfa Romeo.” His and others’ eyes turned to the kerb outside, at which the red Alfa was parked. I drove away with suitably firm acceleration, bound for the Track. Snobbish, I know. But forgive me, please. I was very young, and a sucker for good cars.

I see from my notes that the young WB set off down the Kingston Bypass at some 70mph, with several blow-backs from the blower relief valve on this cold, windy day, and that I found the steering, brakes and clutch light, but the last-named fierce, the gear changes very quick, the central accelerator pedal a bit close to the other pedals, and the blower noise exhilarating. “Full of life, fine acceleration,” I concluded.