Category Archives: Collector Cars

All about collector cars, mostly Italians and some French unique items

Balancing productive life with enjoying oneself

If there is one thing I am blessed with, it is the innate capacity to balance a productive life with enough on the side entertainment.

While I spend most of my time coaching and taking classes at CoachU, I also spend another good chunk of my tie writing about electric cars.  It has also afforded me the privilege of test driving some amazing cars, such as AC Propulsion's all electric eBox, Alfa Romeo amazing and unique 8C Competizione and a few others you can see from our blog, Electricnick and my articles on the Examiner.

You need to balance yourself between living a sustainable and productive life and having enough enjoyment to do a good job.

Alfa Romeo Is Back In The U.S.

Yes, at last it is here. IT IS HERE! Alfa Romeo is back in the US with the delivery of all 15 of its, sold out before being out the assembly line, 8C Competizione.

Check out the always great read at VeloceToday for a cover of, and see who got the very first 8C, none other than Jim Glickenhaus, owner of the Pininfarina Ferrari special called P4/5, which is an extrapolation of what the P3/4 would look like today as well as my Uber mystic car, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.  Some people!

Alfa Romeo is back.  Eat out your heart BMW.  Make way for the company that truly introduced the first performance sedan, the ultimate machine, Alfa Romeo.


Big Mechanic Shops vs Small Ones

Where do you go, a big shop because you’ve seen their signs all over town or you trust a smaller mom and pop shop?

It’s no secret I like smaller shops better. For one thing, they know you, not only by name but through the relationship you forged with them through the years.  When it came time to replace the suspensions and the shocks absorbers for my 1974 Alfa Romeo spider, the choice was clear, I went to Omega Motorsports, the place I have been going for over 5 years.  I know Uwe, the owner and trust him.   Since Uwe won’t do alignment, I go to International Motors  here in Long Beach, another small shop with dedicated mechanics lovers.

I could chose to go to a bigger, more well known shop but I have a hard time trusting them.  My last try at big shop resulted in buying disk breaks from the local Subaru shop that cost me $117 each.  I found the same items online for $64.  Lesson learned, there is more rapport and trust with the smaller shops that not only know you well, but also are passionate about the cars we drive.

Alfa Romeo News

Alfa Romeo will eat up those cute little Minis with its Mi.To.  This little thing will pack 230hp in its GTA version.  Mini watch out, Alfa is coming!

More on the US up and coming Mi.To.

How about what started Alfa Romeo's spider rebirth in the 50's with a 1961 version of its Giulietta Spider?  It just doesn't get any better when you think of typical 50 and 60 convertibles.  The comments were very nice.  most people love old cars.  They had something about them most modern ones have lost.

Of course if we talked about the tiny Mi.To that rides on the late 70s AlfaSud which I used to own, and the revival of Italian spider, which I own, you have to speak about the amazing 8C.

But Alfa is about performance sedans and that BEFORE BMW thought about it!  In the 50's Alfa came out with a small 1.9L sedan that held the road better than most cars and had that Alfa Romeo pedigree, twin-cam and since the beginning hemi chambers.  Here is the rightful modern heritage in the shape of a 159.

OK enough drooling at Alfas, let's look at what Touring is up to with talks with Ferrari?  Looks like the old house is back in the limelight again.

And while we complain and freak out with almost $5 a gallon and not $4 as the news love to say, think about what $15 a gallon would do?  Can't picture it?  Go and check out this post.

Jumping Gas Price, It’s A Gas!

OK, OK, not so funny but when you think of the Rolling Stones Jumping Jack Flash song, it's really all about gas.

Most, if not everyone has gas on their minds.  Rightfully so, at over $4.50 a gallon, people have seen gas rise 100% in just a few years.  Exxon/Mobile proudly reporting the highest returns any company making leaving millions of people stranded using their cars deal with a bleak reality, gas is eating away at their budgets.  So far, nothing earth shattering.

Seeking Alpha has a good post that goes back in time and sees what is different this time.  Remember, every time we have any inflation or recessions, pundits usually say it will come down, it always does after all, doesn't it?  Well, not necessarily so.  A few economists were right by saying when gas will hit over $4 a gallon, people will change the way they drive.  They were right.  What incentives do petroleum companies have to lower their prices?

I was on 405 yesterday going to Culver city and noticed everyone, well most everyone were driving around 70.  If you live here, you know there is either a lot of traffic of a cop car near, but this was the entire way from Long Beach to Culver.

What was particularly good about this article is that it goes back in time, analyzes the situation and debunks some myths.  In a nutshell, after every wars or Middle-East problems we face a steep increase in gas.  As the increase is halfway digested, gas really never goes down once inflation has been taken into account.  And this is the obvious reasons why petroleum companies still make billions a day in our slow economy on the backs of the same people who make the economy go round and have no choice but to use their cars.  Hum, upside down, isn't it?

One easy prediction anyone can make, if you take into consideration we have used 70,000 barrels less than in 2007 so far, amongst other facts in that post, is that there will be more car pool sharing, slower speed on highways, more telecommuting, in brief less traveling.

It's fascinating that gas price has finally touched the unthinkable in our society, make us mindful that our gas guzzlers are darn expensive after all.  And if you think our prices are steep, remember that in Europe people make less money and pay around $8 to 9 a gallon!  Now I know why they have small performance cars and we get stuck with bloated vehicles… and why those electric cars are making more sense than those hybrids!

Huntington Beach Concours

Well, what a fun show that Huntington Beach Concours d'Elegance was. 

It was our first time there and the first time we entered our very original and unmolested Milano.  And we took two third place awards!  Pretty darn amazing considering it was her first show and we never did anything to it, short of taking care of it.


A special note, I finally met Richard Blitznick who has been writing kind comments on the blog.  It was nice to meet Richard, another fellow gearhead and Realtor blogger!

p.s. watch out for our Milano in an eventual photo shoot for Hemmings Sports & Exotics!

The Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club Let Lose!

We are away this weekend to wine country with the club.

For those of you who don’t know about the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club here it is a bunch of Alfa owners (and sometimes other cars) that meet once in a while. We have a few tours per year and this is the famous wine tour. It is a lot of fun and being on the road with another 20 Alfa Romeos is a lot of fun.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow.

Garage, At Last!

Yikes, another day slipped by and the work amount is piling up. And I am also starting to feel overwhelmed.

Anyway, the good news today is we FINALLY have a garage! If you don’t live in a crowded city or particularly are a renter in crowded California part, this means pure freedom. This gives a new meaning to the words, Space The Final Frontier!

It’s been a very freeing experience to go anywhere and not feel stressed about looking for a parking spot or have to give our city another $40 because they haven’t tackled the parking situation yet.

What it also did was empty out some of our closet real estate space. We now have more space and want to keep like this.

It’s odd but the less space you have the more people use their garages as storage. Obviously, this pushes their cars on the street which leaves renters like us in a tough spot to park. Having a spot for one of my cars feels great and I get some storage space.

I’m gleeful…

Long Beach Grand Prix 2008

The Long Beach Grand Prix 2008 is off to a good start.

I love this event. I wait for it all year long. Though my history with the LB GP is filled with frustration, it is an exciting moment of our lives in Long Beach. So why frustrating? 4 years ago at the 30th Anniversary, I missed the old car racing. 3 years ago I threw my back out and had to give the tickets away. 2 and 1 year(s) ago I had all inclusive tickets given to me from a friend but didn’t know I could go in the stands and paddocks! This year, I called my friend too late who had given her tickets away… boohoo, snif, snif!

However, I love Fridays for two reasons, I meet a lot of people and I love the American Le Mans Series. I’m not an F1 or Indy Car race fan though I like it’s technical subtleties. I’m really more of a prototype and GT2 fan. I love these long streamlined endurance racers. I love these GT cars stripped and prepped for race. That is my fun.

The part I most look forward to is the inside action at the GP. I love talking to vendor, snooping around, getting the latest news and this year was rich. First of all, Green Is In! Yes, even the gas guzzler producers of yesterday (the infamous Detroit boys and the Japanese makers) are back with a vengeance with “green” technologies. Hey, a hype is a hype as long as they make a buck! Hydrogen, ethanol and hybrid powered vehicles still makes no sense, yet is a step in the right direction. Hydrogen is a ridiculous hype. It costs more to create hydrogen than to plug directly into the electric grid. It’s just a way for car makers and their backers, the oil consortium to make money on oil. Let’s just go to the electricity directly and forgo the extra steps. And for those who bravely clamor ethanol, two thing; corn ethanol is not the best way to do it (energy rating to power wise), sugar cane is much better and cheaper. To top it all, as if we needed it, corn ethanol is driving the price of food (check your grocery bills from a year ago). So please, do the math and go electric and skip the hybrids. You’re only giving money to the people who tied us to oil in the first place.

Finally, I admit, I can’t believe I am saying but I am in love with a non-gasoline, non-Italian car. I saw the electric Tesla at last and it is beautiful! I have to thank one of the ladies behind the famous Who Killed The Electric Car movie for doing a great job at expressing why I will fall in love with electric cars. The passion in her eyes light mine. Anyone who has heard about the Tesla and only seen pictures, I can only say one thing, it is much prettier live. It is small and beautiful. I would sink $100,000 into it. I just don’t have it 😉

Finally, I met Nelson Phillipe, the young French driver who took the LB GP by surprise a few years ago driving powerful cars at the age of 17.

I’ll have more on everything at the end of the weekend with pictures and all.