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Fred DiMatteo was "The Godfather" of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club-USA. I first met him and Pat Braden (both now deceased) at 1996 Santa Fe, NM AROC convention. Their pet project at that convention was a 2.5L V6 block bored out to accept 3.0L pistons and liners to make it a 2.8L. I next saw Fred at the 2001 Nashville, TN AROC convention. He was setting in his white 1991 164L at NASCAR track where we had our track event. He just stayed in the 164 with his O2 generator nose piece in place. Fred DiMatteo, an American Alfa Romeo legend, passed away on April 19, 2003. Remembering Fred DiMatteo I ended up with his white 91 164L in 2016 and rehabbed it and resold it that year . It ended up in Pick-N-Pull in Virginia Beach in 2019 and I harvested enough parts off it to save my 91 164L after my engine fire in June 2019.
 

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As a longtime member of AONE, I too remember Father Fred. Joined the club in 1975 and Fred wore many hats. He and his wife Anna, and son Peter were great hosts to many a meeting at their Sudbury, MA home. I was lucky enough to join Fred, Anna and Peter as well as a few others on the first travels to Italy, either official or unofficial AROC Goes to Italy trips, that included stops at Alfa Romeo, the Balocco Test track, Pinanfarina, Autodelta and Monza for the F1 GP, and countless restaurants that literally provided us trip goers with a true taste of Italy. Two years running, Fred and some of the more daring entourage were able to crash the Alfa Romeo Hospitality Suite overlooking the pits at Monza and getting a lovely 2nd floor view of the race when Alfa was active in F1. He was there at Lime Rock when I rolled my pristine 74 GTV offering support and rags. (I still have the car, recently restored) sometime in the early 80's. My greatest take away was his incredible energy level, even in his 80's his get up and go would leave present day millennial's in the dust, most likely muttering under their breath, "what was that?" My goal was to have maybe half his energy when I got to his age. Fred deserves to remembered and honored as he was a great mentor and role model for this club. As a side note, he was somehow involved with the "Flying Tigers" in some form during World War II, making him a true hero in an arena far removed from Alfa's. Thanks Alfisto Steve for starting this thread. I will be joining the group as AROC goes to Italy this year, and am certain Fred will be with me, at least in thoughts as we explore the hollowed automotive grounds of Italy.
 

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I never met him but we traded emails a few times. He had a grappa still. I suspect that we would be reading RTFM rather frequently if Fred were on the ABB these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Another sort of Fred related story. Another dear friend of mine Jim Wehler (also now deceased) and the MAARC AROC chapter were part of our annual wing tour near C-ville, VA and IAP customer appreciation event. We met a son of another friend of Fred's at our English Inn hotel and were invited to his newly set up shop near there. Anyhow when we got there for show and tell Fred's friend a fellow Italian from MA was visiting his son. My friend Jim and the father knew each other. He was a exec with the Microsoft arm in IT I think and he told us about how fast Fred piloted him around in that white L I ended up with. It is a small small world that I find especially in the Alfa Romeo band of brothers and sisters.
 

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I met Fred at many AROC conventions and there was always a story. He told of the long ago time when he was racing a Midget track car. He had installed a seat belt but was told it was better to be thrown out in a crash; to which he replied "If I see I'm gonna crash, I promise to unhook the seat belt"

We always planned to join one of the trips Fred organized to Italy where everyone bought an Alfa, but next year never came.

I think the last time we talked was in Florida (?) where afterwards he was to go to Ohio for certification of his self built Alfasud powered gyrocopter.
 

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I think he might have towed that gyrocopter with the white 164L as it had a Alfa factory hitch on it.
 

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Another quick Fred remembrance, somewhere along the line Fred and I , ended up buying a couple of Junior Zagato's from a source he had in Italy, a 1600 which was the pick of the litter went to Fred's stable, I ended up with the silver 1300. We federalized them under the then, one time exemption. I think he may have popped a 1750 in his, I could be off. I held onto mine for a while before selling it to a Canadian buyer. Fred was also tight with the hierarchy at ARI, then located in Englewood Cliffs, NJ which allowed him to line up many of the venues for his Alfa trips to Italy. I was lucky to have known him fairly well.
 

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Back when, I knew Fred on the Alfa Digest. Spoke with him on the phone a time or two, obtaining Alfa advice.

My favorite Fred story follows. Going to a track day, someone had a breakdown on the highway. Fred was assisting while a state trooper arrived. Fred asked him if he had a tow rope. The trooper began to lecture how it was illegal to tow on the highway. Fred interrupted him to ask, "Do you have a tow rope or not"? They wound up improvising a set of jumper cables as a tow rope from there to the track.
 

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Fred led several trips to Italy. I was blessed to have gone on the 1977 trip where we had 3 days in Milan and the rest of the trip was on our own. Fred was a great tour host and we had some nice phone conversations. I do miss him.
 

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I never met Fred but can see how great an influence he was on those that did, and feel the shared sense of loss. But in memories of those left behind, the lost one goes on. Fred may be dead but the memory of him goes on.
 

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Fred led several trips to Italy. I was blessed to have gone on the 1977 trip where we had 3 days in Milan and the rest of the trip was on our own. Fred was a great tour host and we had some nice phone conversations. I do miss him.
 

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My wife and I attended one of the trips to Italy that Fred arranged. Fred was a fantastic person.
 

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I remember Fred arriving at the 1993 Maryland Convention " La Famiglia Alfa Romeo", in his Junior Zagato. He must of been in his 70"s. Phil Hill was the speaker back then and the 164's were in the showrooms.


Frank
 

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Wow, so many of us here from way back. Alfa Digest, dialup modems, things written on paper and put in binders... Fred was an Icon back then.
 

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I too remembered Fred from the italian-car digest, I was still in college then. Great guy with lots of knowledge. I was particularly keen on his 2.8 Milano project.
 

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Although I never met Fred face-to-face, I felt like I knew him well via the Alfa-Digest and a few phone calls over the years. I recall "AlfaBill" trying to convince me to go to one of the conventions... "You really should go, if only just to meet Fred before he dies." Sadly I didn't go, and sadly a year or two later he indeed passed. As is often said, you rarely second-guess the things you do, only the things you don't.

What ever became of the 2.8 Milano?
 

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Did a little digging on archives of the Alfa Digest and discovered the following interaction with Fred shortly after acquiring my first Alfa, a 1967 Spider. As I quickly discovered from reading the digest back then his willingness to assist and teach others was a hallmark of his passion for all things Alfa Romeo.


From: Jim Lehman <[email protected]>
Reply-To: Jim Lehman <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Timing chain tightening technique...
Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 11:04:55 -0500

Dear Alfisti,

I own a 1967 1600cc Spider and have noticed an intermittent brief slap at very low idle from the front of the engine. Suspecting a loose timing chain I began reading various sources and have come across four distinct ways of tightening the timing chain on a 4 cylinder alfa, as follows:

1. Owner's manual says to do it while running at an idle.
2. Pat Braden's bible says to roll the car while in 5th gear is engaged for one complete revolution.
3. Pat Braden describes his own method of using a screw driver for leverage to tighten manually with the cam cover removed.
4. Use a special Alfa tool to clamp on the end of each cam and pull any slack toward the tensioner pulley.

So, which of the above methods have you used and which do you recommend?? Have you always checked the cam timing afterwards?
Jim Lehman


From: Ferdinando Di Matteo <[email protected]>
Date: Mon Dec 2, 2002 17:01:31 US/Eastern
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected]
Subject: hain tightening

1. NO!
2. NO!
3. NO!
4. NO!
Take cam cover off. Loosen the tensioner bolt NOT MORE THAN ONE full turn. Remove plugs for easier pushing on a slight down hill surface. In 5th gear, push the car forward through a couple of revlutions do not le he car go backwards even an iota. now notice no slack between cams. Tighten the bolt and with he starter motor run it for several seconds. Stop, put your hand on the chain half way between cams and press as hard as you can. If it goes slack again a new set of instructions will cure the problem. Fred Di Matteo AROC USA technical advisor in Florida

From: Jim Lehman <[email protected]>
Date: Fri Dec 6, 2002 12:10:44 US/Eastern
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: tensioner tension...

Again, Thanks Fred and to others who were willing and able to answer my query. I'll check to verify the free movement of the tensioner plunger. Although I have no way of knowing whether the tensioner were ever replaced, assuming it is original (35 years young!), do you think the spring is exerting a comparable amount of force against the tensioner sprocket as it once did?

Cheers, --jim

On Friday, Dec 6, 2002, at 09:57 US/Eastern, alfa-digest wrote:

Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 08:51:13 -0500
From: Ferdinando Di Matteo <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Jim Lehman's

He asks how much tension should there be on the chain etc. The Alfa
engine designers put in a particular spring which is used to push the
idler sprocket out with just enough force. Remember, that section
MUSTR be clean and free to move. To check the tension, press on the
chain with your palm and it should not move more than a fraction. To
check if the idler assembly is free, loosen the adjuster bolt NOT MORE
than one full turn, then with the cam cover off use s strong wooden rod
to force the sprocket assembly in and out a couple of times, you'll see
readily if it moves freely. Regards, Fred Di Matteo AROC USA
Technical Advisor in Florida

From: Jim Lehman <[email protected]>
Date: Thu Dec 5, 2002 18:15:20 US/Eastern
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Chains and Sprockets

Dear Alfisti,

Mention of possible wear on sprockets, damage to tensioner, and possible front bearing damage due to overtensioning of the chain has me worried. How tight should the upper timing chain be? If I push down at the mid-point of the chain, how much slack should I be able to measure? If I were able to measure the force at this point, what would I find? I don't have anything to measure this force, but I could imagine pushing down on a bathroom scale which had a 2X2 piece of pine between the scale and the mid-point of the chain (ok, don't laugh too hard at this mental image).
ciao, --jim

From: Ferdinando Di Matteo <[email protected]>
Date: Fri Dec 6, 2002 20:42:01 US/Eastern
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected]
Subject: Tensioner spring

The only thing I can say is Maybe but after the test and there is no play between cams. I'd say it's OK the spring is doing its job. Fred
 
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