Well this year certainly started off early in the season with the first event being the Arras show on the 17th of March 2019 in France, the write up, of which, will be appearing in The Club’s AROC magazine, “Alfa Driver,” in June 2019. Then we had Spring Alfa Day at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. This brought us to The Magnificent Motors Show at Eastbourne on the 5th of May. Only this time the temperature was just about bearable but still requiring thermals. We were expecting about 18 or 19 members from the club to attend and I arrived early at about 0800 to get the club gazebo up. It was instantly obvious that the allotted space for the club stand was insufficient for ten vehicles let alone nineteen and a gazebo. The gazebo would have to stay in the boot whilst I hoped the temperatures would rise after I had mentally exhausted myself teasing that monster tent into my boot the previous evening. Apparently, the bays were marked out by a sub-contractor to the council who, I think, was working on shopping centre parking dimensions with no access way to the rear of the allotted space. The show itself was on the seafront just behind the Martello tower, on The Western Lawns & Wish Tower Slopes and a perfect location, albeit that we were not the only club crammed into a small space. That said, although the Marshalls worked tirelessly to accommodate us, I instantly had to come up with a “cunning plan” to park people up as members were starting to arrive. People would need to leave if there was a problem half way through the show. As it happened one person did need to leave due to illness of one of their children and was able to do so without everyone having to move. You can imagine how difficult it would have been to get the section back once they had disappeared into the exhibition. You can see the gap in the 45 degree line up in the pictures below when Andy Starkey had to leave rapidly with his sick child. We were not the only club having this issue and the TR Register South Downs group were packed in even tighter than us.
Credit also has to go the very busy staff at The View Hotel on Grand Parade – you can find them at https://www.theviewhoteleastbourne.com. Security allowed me onto the roof, six storeys up, to take the photos where it was, strangely enough, much warmer than it was on the ground. That said the Council did a magnificent job and the marshalling team was superb with very approachable staff that could not do enough to help and turned the displays into quite an intimate event. Flexibility is always a rare asset and the Events Staff here really got a deserved ten out of ten for this one as well as their management who had allowed their staff to make decisions themselves. So much so that the only person who I could not fit into the line up, having travelled 60 miles to be there was Giovanni & Jacky D’Avanzo who we had to sadly park up just outside the show area. That didn’t stop them having a good time though and is a testament to the day’s accommodating spirit all round.
Attending members were myself, Andy Starkey and family, Craig Archer, Tony Twyman and Kay, Colin Craven, Phil Davies, Ken McKay, Fred Baker, Michael Westwood, Dionisis Gonos and his partner, Richard D’Cruze, Graham Duplock, Dave and Amanda Norman, John Dray, Andy Craker, Daniel Kent, our chairman – John Third, Willie Clapperton and Giovanni and Jackie D’Avanzo. The AROCKES crew are never ones to let grass grow under their feet and those that I did manage to waylay I managed to grab a picture of them proudly displaying their cherished Alfas. John Third managed to win the “Peaky Blinders” competition just before something fell off his GTV6 and he narrowly avoided a photo of him on his back under the car doing a bit of under engine car gazing. The AROCKES people are a very resourceful lot and before anyone could say the words, “Where’s my toolkit,” the problem was fixed and the status quo was resumed.
I did manage to grab Ken McKay and get a picture of his V twin, six-cylinder engine whilst I was trying to work out where the spark plugs actually were amongst all the bright casings and chrome work. It is a really attractive engine to look at. The bonnet must be a real nightmare to line up with the catches if it ever had to come off. The car is an ongoing project with more things being done to it all the time and the engine is not the only part of this car’s allure.
Then we had Tony Twyman and Kay who I shared a nice Italian lunch with at the Rosetto round the corner and three minutes walk from the show. I thoroughly recommend this Italian as there was tons of tasty food with two lunch courses for £9. You can find this restaurant at https://rosettoeastbourne.co.uk/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Rosetto-Eastbourne-394550073940546/. I do recommend booking a few days in advance as it rapidly fills up after 12:30.
Then we had Graham Duplock, who yet again I caught not eating an ice cream.
Colin Craven, as polished as ever, drove there with the top down and had the chilblains to prove it.
Fred Baker was there in his white GTV…. and more of him later, but suffice to say of Fred, sometimes dark horses do drive white cars! I have never known Fred to have anything else but a smile on his face and it is at this stage that I should introduce a new club member Willie Clapperton, who is as Scottish as they come and got on famously with Fred. Willie also won the best prize for the “Peaky Blinder” hat competition as it was pretty cold so was de-rigeur. Sadly, Willie moved around so fast I could not get a picture of car and owner together in one shot so had to take a picture of his 1300 Giulia Super on its own. Incidentally, the same model of car that Fred Baker used to bribe his wife in return for his now cherished GTV, Albeit Fred’s was a 1600.
Then we had me in full thermals and I think the sunglasses were just wishful thinking. That said when the sun did put in an appearance the temperature went up by about ten degrees. In the back ground you can see three really likely lads – Phil Davies, Colin Craven and Ken McKay. For those in the know, Ken was sporting the latest retro tech in cameras that really looked like it could take pictures round corners. I was, however, corrected as it was in fact an old style wide angle camera engineered so that you don’t get those wobbly bits at the edge of the photo. I would really like to have a look at his shots just to post them here to see what he captured.
Next we had the ever so sublime Dave and Amanda Norman. Dave as you know has an understated razor sharp wit almost as sharp as the wedge on his distinctive Zoe yellow Spider.
Next, but not at all least, we had Craig Archer who is very useful to have around. Quicker than it took me to fetch my toolkit he had mended Richard D’Cruze’s all round indicator problem with a new fuse having taken into account the previous days heavy rain showers that had got into the electrics and “nobbled” any hint of an indication from the Spider.
We also had Daniel Kent with his 147 (there are so many models with numbers I lose track). Being a diesel I was surprised to learn of the BHP on this Alfa … but it sounded awesome! It did look fabulous though. I had a good long chat about his Alfa and he has done some pretty amazing subtle modifications power wise without altering its looks – and I do like original! I will have to make a point of cornering him at some stage to get the low down on what’s been done.
Apologies to anyone that I left out but I did try to get round to all of you and I am sure I will manage to rugby tackle you all into a chat eventually, especially if you can’t run as fast as me.
That rather nicely brings me back to Fred Baker. I have been meaning to have a chat with him since meeting at the Grand Old Timer Rally in 2018. He has an infectious smile and a white 1974 two litre GTV but not necessarily in that order. I think he has an infectious GTV and an amazing positive outlook on life. I last gave him an Alfa wave on the A21 coming back from the Doug Hodson memorial Rally in April 2019. Quite a few members have asked about the history of this Alfa so I attempted to stumble my uninformed way through the vehicle whilst having a very welcome half hour sit down in the passenger seat of the GTV with Fred waxing lyrical about his pride and joy from the driver’s seat.
Fred is now almost in his nineties, although you would never know it and retired in 1999 as a driving instructor. Jeff Kaby used to do the same thing so I’m sure the two of them get on famously. Fred also has a collection of classic motor cycles including two Velocettes (1958 and 1964) a 1982 Moto Morini and a stunning BSA Goldstar. He used to compete at the highest level in trails from 1946 until the mid 1970’s. When he retired Fred started working a few days a week for classic Alfa in the used parts dispatch department. These days, Fred admits he does not break old Alfas anymore as Classic Alfa realises how valuable these vehicles are and distinctly remembers Craig Archer’s cherished Alfa from when it was bought to seeing it on display at Eastbourne today. He described that when it was sold it was in a bit of humble condition and how impressed he was with the transformation of the vehicle to the complete restoration it has become today. You can see Fred’s GTV on the cover Of Classic Cars below.
Fred has owned the 2 litre GTV from it being two and a half years old and originally buying it for his wife for school runs and shopping. It was bought from the eminent surgeon Mr Whalley from Redhill Hospital who had sold it because his wife had bought him a 308 Ferrari for Christmas. Fred has self maintained the vehicle over the last forty years fitting GTA alloy wheels, a stainless exhaust, a new clutch, head gaskets, timing chain, rebuilt the front suspension, two universal joints, prop shaft and alternator. The seats were re-trimmed and a new interior carpet was fitted. The car was repainted in 1985 and has had two new door locks and master servo. He changes the oil and air filter every 3,000 miles. Eventually he recognised the car as a classic in the early to mid 1980’s wrangled the car off his wife by buying her another in the form of a 1600 Giulietta Super and the same model as the vehicle displayed by Willie Clapperton. New rear springs were introduced to the GTV as the OEM ones tend to sag after a while and fitted Monroe shock absorbers all round. In terms of the body work the GTV has had two new sills that were fitted in 1985 and not surprisingly the need for renewal was discovered when the vehicle was re-sprayed in 1985. The GTV itself has twin choke Dell-Orto carbs. This is one of three types that can be fitted to the vehicle including Webbers or Solex but describes the Dell-Ortos as being slightly better built although there is again slight increased performance from a Webber set. Fred balances the carbs himself at the same time as checking the points, which are changed every 10-12,000 miles. Fred has a pet theory that after 40 years a classic car does not require an MOT because modern technicians do not understand how carburettors and old style tuning works as these days’ a mechanic plugs in a computer.
The GTV has a five speed gear box and all four corners have a disc braking system that was introduced before the car was born in 1963 and came as standard with this model when it was built in 1974.
Fred has been a member of AROC since 1972 (46 years) and showed me his membership card that read member number 1647. AROC itself has been in existence since 1964.
I think it is true and safe to say that dark horses DO drive white cars!
This was a great day out and most people, I hope, really enjoyed themselves as there was plenty to see and do. Like everything else, the organisers will learn from the weekend’s events and it is likely to be even better next year. I, for one, had a very long day but it was a worthwhile and a very popular show. Not only that, there was a plaque for every exhibitor to collect, however, these days it is plastic as progress moves undeniably on. That said a nice little memento to remember the day. I have five left so if you didn’t get handed yours, please grab me as they will be kept in the infamous badge box until you claim them. Happy show season!