The Greenslades — Alfas: Second to None

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 09/2010
  • posted in: Great Garages

Bill and Terry Greenslade are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo by driving models from the legendary Italian automaker they’ve chosen for their Phoenix garage.

Founded in 1910, Anonima Lombardi Fabbrica Automobili established and maintained its racing success with cars such as the 8C 2900, which won the first thee places in the 1938 Mille Miglia, and the 155 Supertouring, which took the 1994 BTCC, piloted by Tarquini and Simoni.

Having Enzo Ferrari drive for you and run the racing department also helped Alfa establish itself as a many-time world champion. Under current giant Fiat, Alfas have included the Brera V-6 and the limited-edition 8C Competizione, capable of almost 150 miles per hour.

“Spending my teenage years in Southern California, I became an avid gearhead and have had far too many cars and motorcycles to mention,” says Bill. He and Terry have lived in Arizona since 1973, except for a five-year period in the 1980s when they were working in the Pacific and Far East.

Bill owned a variety of English cars, but one Alfa changed his priorities. “They handled better, were built better and, of course, had Italian styling,” he says, noting that he and Terry have owned all the body styles and most models from the 1950s through the 1990s including coupes, spiders and sedans.

“We are not interested in collecting cars as show pieces,” Bill says. “Our objective is to drive and enjoy them. At the same time, we attempt to keep the cars in good to excellent condition as we consider ourselves ‘custodians’ rather than owners and hope to see them preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

They purchased their house in 1996 from a former Taliesin apprentice, drawn to the architecture as well as to the expandability of the existing three-car parking into what is now an adjoining garage for three–four more cars.

Not a museum, the garage space is designed to be a workspace and to protect the cars from the desert sun. Covering much of the back wall is an original Tony Upson mural of a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C2900A Mille Miglia race car.

Bill describes the cars he and Terry have carefully selected to steward in their garage:

•1967 Giulia Super — “The Giulia Super is a boxy four door sedan with a distinctive front grill and dual headlights that earned it the nickname, ‘Mr. Magoo,’ by my children.

Giulia Supers were very popular in Italy and Europe in their day. They were used by the Italian police, as evidenced in the first Italian Job movie starring Michael Cain.

Arguably, Giulia Supers were the first true sports sedans: four doors, good performance and handling, four-wheel disc brakes, comfortable seating and a large trunk. Between 1965 and 1972, nearly 125,000 were sold; however, very few of these came to the U.S. — mostly spiders and a few coupes.

Performance-wise this car is sleeper. Alfa touted the Giulia Super as the ‘car designed by the wind,’ as it was tested in a wind tunnel. The car has an incredibly low CD of 0.34, the same as a Porsche 911. When I say this to my Porsche friends, they look at the car and at me to see if I have lost my mind.

The U.S. Giulia Supers came with a 1600-cc all-aluminum twin-cam engine with dual Weber carburetors producing 112 horsepower. Our car has a later 1750-cc engine that produces 132 HP, giving the 2,320-pound car lively performance. We are the second owners, and have had the car since 1987. Giulia Supers have become quite collectable among diehard Alfisti.”

•1971 Montreal — “The Montreal is most exotic series production car built by Alfa Romeo. It started life as the ‘symbol of man’s ultimate aspirations in field of motor cars”’ in the Man the Producer pavilion at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair.

Alfa Romeo asked Nuccio Bertone of Carrozzeria Bertone to design the car. He appointed 27-year-old designer Marcello Gandini, the designer of Lamborghini Miura, which was such a hit at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, to carry out the project.

By the time the Montreal went into production in 1971, it incorporated a detuned version of the newly successful Tipo 33 racing V-8 engine and a five-speed ZF transmission. It retained the basic Giulia suspension and differential architecture, beefed up to accommodate the greater horsepower of the 2.6-liter V-8. The engine produces 230 horsepower and is both reliable and smooth. A total of 3,925 Montreals were produced, although none were officially imported to the U.S.

We have owned the car since 1988. To our knowledge, we are the fifth owners. The car has won many awards at Alfa Romeo local and national club events and has been featured at the Concorso Italiano in Monterey.”

•1985 Spider Graduate — “Designed by Pininfarina and produced in more or less the same style from 1966 to 1993, it is one of the longest running automotive designs of modern time.

The mechanicals have evolved, but remain true to the original design — an aluminum 2,000-cc four-cylinder engine with dual-overhead cams, hemispherical combustion chambers and fuel injection.

In 1985 Alfa Romeo offered two spider trim packages: the full-featured Veloce with electric windows, padded top, plusher interiors and alloy wheels and a basic Graduate, recalling the Dustin Hoffman movie The Graduate in which he drove an Alfa Romeo spider.

Our 1985 spider is a Graduate version, and we are the second owners. The car was a gift from a friend. Since acquiring the car in 2003, we have repainted it original black. It is our summer driver since it has air-conditioning, well sort of.”

•1988 Milano Verde — “A four-door sport sedan, the Milano is the last car built by Alfa Romeo before being acquired by Fiat, which also owns Ferrari and Maserati. Called the ‘75’ in Europe in celebration of Alfa Romeo’s 75th birthday, it was built from 1985–1989. It is also the last series production rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo.

The Milano was sold in three versions in the U.S.: Gold, Platinum and Verde. All U.S. spec cars had a free-revving all-aluminum V-6 motor linked to rear mounted transaxle and DeDion independent rear suspension, giving the cars a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

The Verde model was top of the line and the most sporting. Named for the green quadrifoglio (four-leafed clover) on the Alfa Romeo racing logo, the Verde had a 3.0-liter engine (the other models had 2.5-liters), a higher ratio limited-slip differential, ABS four wheel disc brakes, Recaro seats and special outer and interior trim pieces.

In January 2010, we succumbed to the urge for another project. The mechanicals have been sorted, everything works as it should. It awaits attention to some cosmetic issues.”

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