Saturday, November 16, 2013

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1972 Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina

One of my rules for shooting cars is that nothing is worth risking your life over. Running across the Pacific Coast Highway at rush hour on a blind curve to photograph a ridiculously clean International Scout might not have been wise. But the streets of Berkeley are rarely dangerous, aside from maybe the odd rented Zipcar Prius piloted by some millenial who hates driving because it interferes with their texting. I passed by this 1972 Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina while searching for a mid-'50s Buick that I believed lived in the area. I pulled into a driveway to turn around, and while reversing I was forced to jam the car back in gear and gun it to avoid being slammed by a Honda that had crested the hill and was sailing downhill toward me without paying attention. Close calls are scary, and it would have really ruined my day to get my Focus written off over some pictures of an old Alfa.

I'm always interested in vintage Alfas (provided they're not Spider Veloces), and the sedans of the 1960s and '70s are a cool departure from the sporty little Giulia coupes that I seem to see most frequently. The Giulia sedans are still around here and there, but the larger Berlinas are pretty scarce. I've only seen about five Berlinas in the Bay Area in as many years.

The Berlina was a replacement in the U.S. market for the old Giulia, a restyled car on the same platform with a larger 2.0 liter engine and a 5-speed manual or rare three-speed automatic gearbox. American Berlinas were fuel-injected, as indicated by the Iniezione badge on this car. I'm guessing this is likely one of the 87,000 5-speed cars judging by the playful "Scuderia Non Originale" sticker on the fender. Anything referencing racing and involving an old Alfa isn't likely to have a slushbox.

For the most part, this car looks fairly solid, but it needs a lot of work. The rust in the rear taillight panel scares me the most, followed by whatever could be hidden in the rockers. These Berlinas aren't the most visually exciting cars (despite styling work by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone) and they're not the quickest either (130 horsepower), but the package of lightness and nimble handling surely makes them a fun little car. The hosts of BBC's Top Gear say that everyone should own an Alfa Romeo at some point in their lives. And they're never wrong... right?

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