Well it's been over two years since my 1981 spider was retrofit with an Alfa Romeo V6 engine. As I wrote, in an article in 2002, "my dream [of a V6 Spider] became a reality." After two years of daily driving, this car still handles beautifully and can keep pace with almost anything that I am likely to encounter at a stoplight. The V6 conversion itself has been quite remarkable. The only thing that has become somewhat obvious is that the rest of the car has over 300,000 miles on it. Even though this car has always been maintained well, there are several things that have simply worn out, such as ball-joints, bushings and even a rear-end... but then those are things that are expected -- after all it’s 23 years old.
Going to Monterey with a Silly Grin
The trip to Monterey for the Concorso Italiano was amazing. My wife and I left late Thursday afternoon. We crawled through the LA traffic with the roof down – the weather was actually cool. When we finally made it to US 101 for the 250 mile trip to our hotel in King City, we found the road to be beautiful, with enough turns to make the trip fun while still being able to move smoothly and quickly. Suffice it to say, my wife said that I had a silly grin on my face for the entire trip. The car was simply fantastic! Upgrades were unnoticeable, and passing was a breeze. Mustangs and Corvettes could still outmuscle me, but I could easily keep up and once that I got into fourth and fifth gear, it was exhilarating! I don't know where this car tops out, but I imagine it would be somewhere above 130 mph.
We opted to stay in King City, which is about an hour and a half from Monterey, because everything near Monterey was sold out for that weekend. I never seem to plan anything in advance – I’m impulsive – I’m Italian – what can I say? Anyway, on Friday morning we set off for Monterey at 6am and had another great drive through the countryside.
"...examples of Italian 'rolling sculpture'...”
The Concorso Italiano takes place at Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, just north of Monterey. We arrived at Seaside and followed the signs to the Concorso.
We were soon sitting in some delightful(?) traffic, surrounded on all sides by a cavalcade of the most beautiful blend of art and machinery that Italy has ever produced.
Directly in front, was a de Tomaso Pantera.
In the next lane over was a Lamborghini Diablo and directly behind me was a Ferrari Daytona. Parked on the side was a mid '60s yellow Ferrari (looked like a 275 GTB). Parked in front of him was a Lamborghini Countach. There were also various Alfa Romeos as well as other examples of Italian “rolling sculpture” filing in.
We pulled into the golf course and we were directed to the Alfa Romeo section, where would meet up with the Maestro of the SuperSpider, Nick Muto, a friend Dario and Ian another SuperSpider owner. Nick and Ian had also driven up in their V-6 Spiders.
We found them and we managed to park the three SuperSpiders together. As soon as we opened the hoods, people started gathering. It was very enjoyable to see the reaction of the visitors as they came by and noticed that something here was different. There were many who were simply surprised to see that the V6 fit so nicely under the hood of the Spider. Some said, "it fits and there is still room to get to everything," while others said, "wow that looks like a tight fit." The vast majority of those who commented, thought this was a great idea, but there were a few "Alfa purists" who thought that we had defiled a piece of artwork... Go figure...
“…obviously he could have summoned up the combined power of all 12 cylinders and ended there little game, but he was probably a little curious about this Alfa Spider staying with him so easily.”
In Sheep’s Clothing…
I brought a sign with some info and set it up in front of the SuperSpiders, to give a little idea of what these were. Many of those who saw the conversions, were very pleased to see that the Alfa Romeo V6 engine was used and that the car was still an Alfa Romeo! My car is a 1981 spider with a great deal of aesthetic modifications -- flares, special bumpers and Epsilon three-piece wheels, while Ian's car is a nearly restored stock 1981 spider -- to see it with the hood down, you would not have a clue that the car is a V-6. Nick's car was the first of the V-6 conversions -- he recently swapped the 2.5 liter for a 3 liter and again, the car looks completely stock from the outside – later he related a story to me about his drive back home from Monterey, where he followed a Lamborghini down 101 and could tell that the driver was a little annoyed that this little spider could somehow keep up where most cars would drop off... obviously he could have summoned up the combined power of all 12 cylinders and ended the little game, but he was probably a little curious about this Alfa Spider staying with him so easily.
The “Glitterati” Approved
Anyway it was great to have the three cars on display at the Concorso and it was very enjoyable to see that they were so well received by the visitors. A number of the "glitterati" from the Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini corrals stopped by and indicated that these cars had caught their attention -- might be nice to have a SuperSpider to actually drive around town, since they rarely actually drive the beautiful artwork that they were exhibiting at the Concorso.
A Duetto V-6 is Coming Soon!
Nick's current project is a Duetto V-6! When it is done, it will be my focus in another story. Since the first writing he has engaged in two more V-6 projects. Click here to view Duetto V6 progress!