Southern Alfa Day 2023

Kent & East Sussex
21 June 2024

Sunday 3rd September saw Kent and East Sussex section take up the reins to host Southern Alfa Day 2023. The stunning location decided upon was the Historic Dockyard at Chatham and being included in the May pre-photoshoot, I could not wait for the event to take place. The plan for the day was drawn up by the late and sadly missed John Third who passed away halfway into the planning. His concept made use of the key icons within the dockyard, such as the Anchor as a centre piece in the main square for the modern Alfas and the Gannet and Submarine as the perfect backdrops to the Spiders. His son Finlay took on the unenviable task of seeing through his dad’s last act of creativity for AROC and made sure this day ran as smoothly and special as it could be in his honour. The day may have started off overcast but once the show was up and running the sun came out and in plenty of time for the awards.

I hand it over now to my wife Leanne who was tasked with a bit of interviewing…

Ironically, having possibly the least knowledge of cars there, (other than noticing its colour, and, in this case it would probably be a red one) I had been given the task of interviewing a few of you, alongside my husband Graeme’s photography of some of the cars at this event.  Needless to say I was feeling somewhat daunted by the prospect, but I was welcomed and, who knew you’d be so willing to talk about your cars!  Thank you.

First to really catch our eyes arriving was the grey 1955 Super with Sheridan from Tunbridge Wells.  He had owned this original 1900 twin cam, amazingly still in its original trim, for approximately a year, having bought it especially to drive the Miglia Mille.  Now, this was not something new for this car, in fact it had quite the history, having completed it over 20 times and apparently had done so more than any other car.

As Sheridan said, his favourite things about this car were its age and the way that it drives.  This car was thrashed for 5 days and did very well, with no breakdowns…80 other cars couldn’t make that claim as they didn’t even finish.  Not bad for one closing up on its 70th year!

On to something completely different, the red 1992 75 T Spark  which Nick had brought along from Canterbury.  Another totally original, 63,000 miles on the clock, with only one previous owner who had dry stored this car all of its life prior to Nick’s purchase 3 years ago.  And it had only ever been serviced by one trusted mechanic!  Nick summed up his love for this car as “It’s quirky, and nothing drives like a 75” …sounds like a great USP to me!

So, there was bound to be another red one!  This GT was always going to be a keeper judging by Paul’s glowing recount of his ownership.  From Maidstone, this was Paul’s first brand new car, he had driven it straight out of the factory 15 years ago and still loves his brilliant car.  He’s enjoyed a lot of travelling around the UK, 106,000 miles worth, but, on his bucket list is to drive it in Italy. Many years ago he had the opportunity to drive a Ferrari there, so he really should go to enjoy driving his beloved Alfa there too!

No offence, but, onto some other colours, I mean, cars…

Now this one caught my eye, and yes, my interest was primarily colour based, but I was not alone as Paul’s partner was also fascinated…. Is it black? No, green? No, black? 

Peter, from High Wycombe, had bought his Q4 Stelvio 5 years ago, and he liked this green one!  And loving its uniqueness and not liking to follow the crowd, he was sold, or rather the car was.  Having enjoyed trips down to Cornwall and up to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, they had come to the show, while staying with their friends at Selling…

Doug from Selling had come along to the event in a definitely blue Tonale Hybrid 1500 petrol Veloce that he’d swapped his previous vehicles for.  Coming from owning German cars in the past, he appreciated the Tonale as being very much a driver’s car, loving its styling, the headlights having an echo of the SZ, and the hatchback style meant the golf clubs would still fit.  Not unique but definitely a selling point to Doug.

Graeme has since told me our 159 was designed to fit skis, it’s certainly been helpful in our trips to B&Q (other diy stores are available)! But I digress.

Next was this gem, but, with writer’s prerogative, I’m saving my favourite to last!

Moving on to the next happy owner, Rob from Chelmsford in his beloved white 1980 GTV .  Rob does not like the concept that Alfas have a bad reputation for being hard work or are even high maintenance, as he says, the thing is to keep them maintained well in the first place.  He’s obviously done a good job with this car, having owned it for 35 years and apparently it is the only car to have completed all of the 6 fun Andiamo a Milano tours organised by AROC, its last one being in 2019.

I think this next one wins the furthest travelled to the show, or at least who I spoke with, representing the Dutch AROC was Michael with his 155 of 8 years, in black.  He simply loves the power of the engines and the physics.  Driving through the valleys to Spa is a favourite of his, having done so a few times it obviously never gets old.  He’s also driven on the Nurburgring, lets just say fast!

Michael has always had Alfas, currently owning 6 or 7?  I loved how he was unsure, but, as he says, he simply caught the ‘Alfa-Virus’, and I’ve come to learn there’s no vaccination for that.

Now to the winners of the day. In 3rd place and also winning the random prize for voting competition too (I’m sure money was not exchanged lol) was Kevin Dark from Basingstoke with his 1989 red Clover Leaf Sprint.  He’s had a few Alfas and Lancias previously but the opportunity arose for him to purchase this, and having only one previous owner of 4 years, Kevin has owned her for the past 30.  He drove it every day, amounting to 30,000 miles for the first 2 years, but since then, this car only goes on fair weather outings up to 1000 miles per year.  With just a handful of these still left on the road, and possibly the only one with the original badge, no wonder it is being well cared for, even if for the occasional hill climb!

Kevin loves the sound of the boxer engine, the outboard disc and drum brakes…He’d love to track down some shocks (just saying).

And as he says, there’s no power steering, it’s noisy, but sounds great!

In 2nd place was Stjohn Harvey from Chilham, the 7th owner of this pale green GTV, Concours Class Winner at the recent National Alfa Day. 

A car with great sentimental value, in its 1981 colour with chrome bumper, he has owned it for 8 years and this will definitely be a keeper.

Although he did fall in love with his fathers GTV on a test drive back in the day, he eventually regretted not taking his father up on buying it from him when he had the chance, which, at the time, was much to his friends’ bewilderment, but he had an apprenticeship with Peugeot and that’s what he drove. 

In 1985, whilst literally in the middle of sorting the paperwork mid purchase of a new Peugeot, Stjohn was being hassled by another salesman to test drive a Sud, and catching the keys thrown to him, he caved.

On his return he told the original salesman to tear up that paperwork, he was buying the Alfa instead and it’s been Alfas ever since.  Currently a family of 8 of them!  See, that Alfa-Virus is contagious!

And in 1st place was Tom Hindley with his modified Brera Prodrive in Grigio-Titanio (I know this one because it’s our 159’s “not just grey” colour).

This was a very popular car, which seemed constantly surrounded by fans, making it near impossible to photograph!  It had 1 of the 50 rear bumpers specially commissioned from Italy, and the wheels were sprayed in the signature Prodrive gold.  Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to interview Tom…hopefully AROC will do a more in depth piece on his car in the future.

And finally, with no offence intended to those above or any others at the brilliant show that we all enjoyed at the dockyard, I’m sure there were plenty more great stories out there, but, back to the one I felt I had to interview, my

Gem of the Day

Sacha from Hampshire arrived in this delightful white 1971 Giulia Super  which turned out to share a slice of its own history with this venue.

Obviously this car can trigger memories of watching the original Italian Job, as the local police car who lost out to the manoeuvrability of the minis, but probably made an iconic car from that film, for us at least.  Meanwhile, there was a young Sacha who was brought up in Italy appreciating them in the flesh and not just on the big screen.

He always loved the shape of this car, and so very much wanted to own his own.

Years later, he is living in the UK.  And, in 2003, to be exact, in April 2003 he saw this very car which had been brought over by someone in the Dutch AROC to another meeting being held at the Chatham Dockyard! 

It was love at first sight and Sacha remained focused on making his dream come true, he hassled the owner solidly for the following 3 months and eventually, they succumbed and Sacha was on a plane to Holland where he bought his very special car.

And so, with our Southern Alfa Day being held at The Chatham Dockyard once more, Sacha simply had to bring this characterful car for their 20th Anniversary and to where it had all started for the pair of them.

And now back over to Graeme.

After an early start and many miles walked, the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all those that we spoke to, and special thanks go to John’s widow Anne, his daughter Abbey and son Finlay for volunteering on what was a very emotional day for them.

Other hard working volunteers included Paul Newberry, Dave and Amanda Norman, Phil Davis, Adrian Moore, Barbera Trevena, Colin Kingham, Chris Francis, John Hufton, Christine Claridge, Don Gilkes, Matt Bower, Jack Hodson and Anka, Ian Salmon, Mrs Salmon, Terry Seal, Christian Brewer, Brian Kenefick, Alex Goldblum and John Brandi.

Article & Photographs by Graeme & Leanne Andrews

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