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Running Report: Show Some Respect to the Alfa

Simon Charlesworth September 29, 2016 No Comments on Running Report: Show Some Respect to the Alfa

The MoT had proved a challenge. Although due in May, I didn’t get a chance until August. Weather and general busyness had got in the way of the Alfa Romeo Alfetta barking around the roads. It really has been miserably wet here and the Met Office’s forecasts – mostly of the pissing in the wind variety – had raised and dashed hopes more times than I care to remember.

A tramp’s piss has more poke in it than some 95RON unleaded

When the time came – belatedly – for it to awaken from its winter slumber, clearly the old girl was not impressed by my neglect. Doing an impression of a misfire, the Alfetta only just scraped through the MoT’s emissions test after a health-check with Les Dufty at Automeo. The diagnosis was more mileage, but to do that it needed the aforementioned piece of paper from The Man.

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The Dell’Orto 40DHLAs were retuned and it was suggested a tin of magic juice should be added to the petrol tank. Although the Alfa does live on super-unleaded, when that isn’t available it has had to do with the other lesser RON-rated watery stuff – and I’ve seen what can happen to that over time. A tramp’s piss has more poke in it than some 95RON unleaded.

Justin Walkey from Powerflow Ltd – a distributor of BG Products GB – was confident that a can of BG 44k fuel cleaner would help lift the Alfa’s awkward mood. BG 44K contains a high level of PEA (Polyether Amine) a chemical that is adept at removing hard-baked carbon deposits; something which Les was confident was partly wrong with the Alfa due to its lengthy garage confinement.

Nearly 200 miles later and the Alfa is nearly back to its 2015 fitness. The slow-running jets were proving to be a little grumpy – making the car judder around 2000rpm – but as the miles roll by this once alarming sensation has reduced to a slight shiver and is now barely noticeable. Although much like its driver, it still refuses to drive around town at 20mph – but use it I must.

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The slim-hipped Alfa may be many things but short she ain’t. So whilst she can squeeze through the olde worlde streets of Clifton, parking is more of a challenge. Especially thanks to the last 25 years of various fruit-based, red-meat dodging, barking loons in the ‘Counts Louse’.

Why don’t they show some respect…?” He repeated this again, aimed it pointedly at the Merc driver

All I had to do was drop something though a letterbox, but the usual driveway was blocked by a dumpster. Leaving the car along side it, in apt Italian fashion, I completed my errand in a matter of seconds. However, when I got back into the car and was in the process of clunk-clicking, a car turned off the main road and headed straight for me. Despite being a mere 10yds from the end of the side-road, he continued to try and get past the Alfa. His tired Mercedes C180 was never going to fit. This was pure intimidation. I could feel the Alfa flinch.

Facing a tricky move followed by a 200yd long piece of reversing, I shrugged in theatrical disbelief.

No reaction.

He stayed put.

Suddenly I heard a shouting voice – and it wasn’t from the C180.

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“Respect… Where’s the respect!?!”

There was a bloke standing in the road, in the midst of our Mexican stand-off. Clutching a plastic bag, he looked a bit like Fish from Marillion.

He was facing the Merc, gesturing him to reverse.

He approached my open driver’s window. “What is wrong with people? Why don’t they show some respect…?” He repeated this again, aimed it pointedly at the Merc driver, before adding, “Look, she’s an old lady. Show her some respect!” He patted the Alfetta’s offside front wing and then started to polish where he had touched it, before he again approached the Merc.

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I quickly checked that I hadn’t gone out dressed as Margaret Rutherford again, only to look up and see that the Merc driver had had enough of this typically Bristol vignette. Part pedestrian rage, part etiquette lesson, part lesson in old car appreciation.

Bristol used to be full of ramshackle, old, classic and even vintage vehicles in regular use but they seem to be disappearing and this could be why

Merc man eventually found reverse – it was down near his humility which had been crushed by the weight of his ego – and was finally in grudging retreat. As I trundled forward, I heard the bystander who looked like Fish still pondering about the general lack of respect in today’s world – I tried not to look too smug, and nodded in appreciation at my pavemount-bound ally.

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Unsurprisingly, memories of this incident dominated the rest of the Alfa’s exercise period. Somehow making all the congestion, aggressive and lacklustre driving a bit more tolerable. I’ll never know if he was an old car enthusiast or someone who was tired of how idiots act – or possibly both – but it was heartening. It does take a special sort of git to try to start road rage with an old car driver… Bristol used to be full of ramshackle, old, classic and even vintage vehicles in regular use, but they do seem to be disappearing and this could be one reason why.

Of course, the really frustrating thing is that winter is now here, meaning the Alfa is due to return to its hibernation. Well, I say ‘hibernation’ because this time, it will be far more regularly started and religiously kept ticking over. Unless of course, BG Products produces something which can cure a 1970s Alfa’s tendency to rust at the slightest sniff of road salt and moisture.

Or, for that matter, address the egotistical lump of organic matter that can be found slumped on the driver’s seat of a certain W202.

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