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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you will have read my recent posts. I am a new Alfa owner, a novice, naive.... I know I'll make lot's of mistakes, but I am old enough to know that those mistakes are a part of the experience/adventure. This is a perspective that I know not everyone shares, but it works for me. With this post I hope to;
  • Share some of my experiences so that others might laugh and maybe learn,
  • Get some help avoiding BIG mistakes from this community,
  • Encourage others to take the leap and invest in an Alfa Experience!
Unless someone tells me otherwise, I think I will post a small part of our adventure here on a weekly basis. So without further ado... Here is the start of my Alfa story:

It was Father's Day as I sat with my cup of coffee enjoying my morning ritual of looking what cars were available on Craigslist, Bring-a-trailer, and Hemmings. I've done this for years, and simply enjoy seeing the diversity of interesting cars that catch my eye. My sister-in-law once said about me, "He wants a lot of things…" referring to the fact that I certainly don't need said things and usually can't afford them either. I happen to come across an ad for a really cool looking recreational road rally for pre-80's European cars. I thought it looked like something I would really enjoy doing with one of my kids, if only we had a car. I showed it to my 15 year old son…His response, "Dad, you need to get serious about getting a car, and stop just looking at this stuff." Mistake/Success #1 - Taking advice from your 15 year old son about whether to buy a car. OK… so I started looking.

I like too many things. It had to be a manual. It probably needed to be a sports or performance car of some sort (although I did look at some older Jeeps, G-wagons, Land Rovers, etc.. but these were not quite right). It had to be something with some history, some personality. It had to make noises, engine, exhaust, doors opening and closing. It had to smell of gas and oil. It should require engagement from drivers and passengers. It should be unique. I'd like to be able to learn to work on it myself, and involve my kids. I like to do things with them, to all learn together by doing. Other influences included; close friends who have owned or do own Alfas, and BMWs; a number of drives in 60's/70's 911s, and a father and brother who are both into cars. So this all led to me looking at every Alfa, BMW, Porsche, Peugeot, Saab, MG, Triumph, Mercedes, and a few other oddities. The top of my price range was $15-$20k. I looked (online) at way too many cars, but I kept coming back to the Alfa Romeos based on what I thought I liked and had experienced in the past. The Giulias and Berlinas from the late 60's and early 70's seemed to check a lot of my required boxes, and I narrowed my searches to these cars, while keeping an eye on everything else that was coming available as well. By monitoring the online sites I've mentioned I tried to get a feel for the "market".

That's enough for this week... more next.

P.S. I am still in the hunt for a windshield for my 1973 Berlina!
 

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Hi

My 2 cents, but windshield for Berlina is the same as Giulia ? So try for a Giulia one, the car is more common.

I ahve one, but in Paris...
Chris:)
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi

My 2 cents, but windshield for Berlina is the same as Giulia ? So try for a Giulia one, the car is more common.

I ahve one, but in Paris...
Chris:)
Chris - Thanks! I've heard this, and Andy who maintains the Berlina Register will soon be publishing a Newsletter with a lot of windshield details. My windshield is a large glue-in, while the Giulia and other Euro-spec cars had a small gasket based windshield. I could switch, but I would need to find the gasket and trim. It is an option I am considering, among many... Thanks for speaking up.

Burt
 

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Very interested in your journey. I have a '73 waiting it's turn for resurrection.
 

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I happen to come across an ad for a really cool looking recreational road rally for pre-80's European cars.

And I happened to come across you browsing my server looking at who had visited our website. I am the guy who runs that event (Wanderung Euro Car rally) I hope you and your son can attend, it will be great. One of the hardest things in getting this event started was the fact that everyone lives in their own world. People are into Italian cars or German cars or British cars and even then, it's not just Italian cars, you have the Alfa guys and the Fiat guys etc... It has been so difficult just finding you all, let alone informing you about the event because being a British car guy I am as guilty of it as anyone. (Not that I wouldn't take an Alfa or Lancia if offered to me)

We were doing well and the event was half full (and I was aware of at least 12 others who were going but hadn't submitted forms yet, so that would make it practically full) when the rotten flupocalypse hit and killed everything. I appreciate you spreading the word. This is not just a one year or one time thing, rather it's the start of what we hope will be a long running and much anticipated yearly road rally event. (and it's being done for a great charity, the Gary Sinise Foundation) so anything you or anyone reading this can do to help promote it is greatly appreciated. I'd like to add all the Italian iron I can get.

Thanks again, and best of luck with your car.
 

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I sent him a ton of windshield info, which I'll put in the next Berlina newsletter. In short, 71-74 US cars came with large glued glass. All others use the smaller glass, which is the same as Giulia glass. Trim is different on each style.
Andrew
 

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There have been a few BB threads recently that asked about sources for vintage Alfa windshields. I don't recall anyone posting a solution however. Up until a few years ago, ProSource Glass was the "go-to" vendor, but they are no longer around. Who is their replacement?
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Sorry, on the sedan forum, this thread: New Windshields Soon for the Berlina/ Super Sedan!
Andrew
Andrew et al.,

I spoke directly with Richard about a week ago. He can no longer help with glass for Alfas. He was very nice about it, he is just no longer doing it. I also spoke with Pilkington. They were not a hard no, but said it was unlikely that they could help. Their man in Arizona would look for a month and if I did not hear back, than they could not find it. Ira Turner at glass seekers was very nice, but admitted the windshield was hard to find.,, he is still looking for me. I've talked with many others as well. I definitely picked a bad time to have a broken windshield in a Berlina. I have followed up on every suggestion given and come up cold so far. Two options are currently available. Keep waiting for one to appear, or have a custom windshield produced...ridiculously expensive!!!... I'll have to do something eventually and I will post the results here.
 

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I just can't imagine it's worth it to any commercial enterprise to make the large glass. There were about 1000 1971 US 1750 Berlinas and maybe 3500 1972-74 US 2000 Berlinas. So 4500 out of 200,000 total Berlinas used this glass. How many left? A couple hundred? 500,000 Giulia sedans plus 195,500 non-US Berlinas use the small glass, so if you're going to make it, makes more economic sense to do the smaller glass.

Andrew
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just can't imagine it's worth it to any commercial enterprise to make the large glass. There were about 1000 1971 US 1750 Berlinas and maybe 3500 1972-74 US 2000 Berlinas. So 4500 out of 200,000 total Berlinas used this glass. How many left? A couple hundred? 500,000 Giulia sedans plus 195,500 non-US Berlinas use the small glass, so if you're going to make it, makes more economic sense to do the smaller glass.

Andrew
Andrew - I totally agree that it makes all the sense to transition to the smaller glass. I am willing to do this, but this option comes with it's own challenges.
  1. All the glass sources that I've spoken with have also been unable to find the small glass (here in the U.S. or Canada). Classic Alfa in the UK has what I think is the correct small glass windshield, but they will not ship.
  2. The gasket seems easy to find, but the trim seems to be as difficult as a windshield to find.
I am searching for any option to replace my windshield and have carefully followed up with every suggestion that you and others have provided. If I'm not doing something correct or you see another option, please let me know. I'm trying my best. Thanks for the advice you have provided.

I have also talked with others in Alfa BB and have seen indications that there are likely 2 or 3 others looking for the same windshields in North America. Seems like an opportunity for someone who could get the right parts to meet the demand.
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There have been a few BB threads recently that asked about sources for vintage Alfa windshields. I don't recall anyone posting a solution however. Up until a few years ago, ProSource Glass was the "go-to" vendor, but they are no longer around. Who is their replacement?
Jay - From what I have found, there is NO replacement, creating the current vacuum.
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Installment #2 of the Berlina Adventure!
So, I am going to skip the part of this story that relates to all the saved searches on Craigslist and Hemmings; the daily market summary between my son and I; the slow approach with my wife to get to the point where this investment made any sort of sense. Here are a few other obvious mistakes we made in the search phase. Mistake/Success #2 - We are not patient. We wanted to pull the trigger on Father's Day. A good friend of mine told me to spend the next 6 months looking and driving cars….. 11 days later we made a deal on a 1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina. Mistake #3 - The best European car mechanic in town told us not to buy an Alfa Romeo. He basically told us he wouldn't touch it. His only explanation was that they have all kinds of problems and we'd be better off with a BMW, Mercedes, or Porsche. Sounds like a German bias, but I am still out a mechanic. I tried find other possible mechanics… most said "What is an Alfa Romeo?". We were going to be alone. Mistake/Success #4 - I made a fair/slightly low offer, but when rejected, came back with a higher offer in 3 hours. This one comes back to the patience mistake above. The owner said he would take my 2nd offer! Mistake/Success #5 - I did not have an independent mechanic look inspect the car prior to purchase. I think that this is my most egregious error, but I'll own it. Let's get to the fun part of the story… The car was located 1200 miles and 5 states away. My son and I decided it would be fun to fly down, inspect the car ourselves (we know next to nothing), and drive the car home, on what are probably the hottest days of the summer… during COVID-19… so many mistakes!

The flight south went well. When we walked into the seller's garage containing 3 Alfas (one of which was his race car), a Ferrari, and Studebaker, I had a small boost of confidence that we were at least buying from a car guy. We spent the next 2 hours doing a thorough inspection of the Berlina. We'd brought an extensive checklist. The car was not a show car, but that is not what we were looking for. It was in very good condition. Very little visible rust, a good cold start, and a great test drive. However, during the inspection we found that one of the low beam headlights was not working. The seller was sure this was the first he'd ever seen the problem… he and I pulled the light and tightened wires to no avail (1 malfunctioning headlight). Finally, we agreed to a slightly lower price, went to the bank and signed over the title! The seller and his wife were wonderful and talked with us about the route home that we planned over the next two days. We all agreed it was going to be an adventure… one that we all knew was full of unknowns.

After spending the night in a Microtel, the buyer picked us up and we took some pictures in the driveway before beginning our journey. My son and I pulled onto the road with big grins on our faces looking forward to the open road! The engine, the webers, the exhaust all just sounded beautiful… for 200 miles along some beautiful back roads of Arkansas. I should note here, this car has no radio, no air conditioning, and we are driving 1200 miles on what are likely the two hottest days of the summer. Oh, and the last "big" trip this car did was 3 years ago, a 1000 mile rally over 5 or 6 days. It had been prepped just prior to that rally, but only driven around the neighborhood infrequently since. We might have been asking a bit much to expect 1200 miles in 2 days, but that's hindsight.

The storm clouds gathered around 250 miles, the rain came down hard… and the wipers made two or three sweeps of the window before simply stopping. Thank God for RainX (1 malfunctioning headlight, wipers that don't work). We did amazingly well without wipers, although it was a bit stressful, and we missed a few turns, but that was the adventure! At around 300 miles, my son turned to me with a foreboding look and said, "Dad, are you ready to want to kill yourself?". He pointed at the passenger side of the windshield. A rock had been kicked up and created 2 spider cracks (1 malfunctioning headlight, wipers that don't work, a cracked windshield). In the back of my head I remembered reading how hard windshields are to find for the Berlina. I'll admit, I was a bit bummed now, but I had to be a good example for my son… "No worries, let's enjoy the journey and we'll get it fixed when we get home."

That's all for today... more next week! In the meantime, I am still searching for that windshield... I have a few leads and have gotten to know some people in the process... Thanks to all who have communicated! Just for fun, here's a pic of my son and I on the morning of the start of our drive
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Awesome story. Berlina's are great cars and what a great adventure you shared with your son. You made it home so I wouldn't focus on the past. Someone will have a windshield but you might have to learn a lesson in patience!
 

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Great story. Many of us have thrown caution to the wind and acted with little to no patience. You aren't the first, nor will you be the last.
 

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1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000
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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
OOPS... Sorry All! A busy weekend and I forgot to post the next chapter... Here it is:

Installment #3 of the Berlina Adventure!
Fifty miles later the alternator light came on…It's now about 4:30 pm on Friday, we're on backroads of Tennessee. We pulled over in a small town, opened the hood, wiggled some wires, stared at the alternator, willing it to work, hopped back in the car and prayed we could just make it to Lexington (1 malfunctioning headlight, wipers that don't work, a cracked windshield, a broken alternator). Every mile was a blessing now as we expected the car to simply stop and leave us on the side of the road. That red warning light kept getting brighter…**** it! We were both quiet now cruising along the highway about 100 miles from Lexington at about 70 mph, just praying nothing else would…..I see a flash out of the corner of my eye and in slow motion see one of the chrome headlight bezels going bouncing across the highway (1 malfunctioning headlight, wipers that don't work, a cracked windshield, a broken alternator, a wrecked chrome headlight bezel). There was no shoulder and we ended up driving 30 min out of our way to go back and pick up that bezel. I'm glad we did, but at this point we just wanted to get to Lexington. I needed a beer and we both needed sleep. We pulled into the hotel just as dusk was settling in, glad to have made it before we had to turn on the headlights with a broken low beam and nonfunctioning alternator. We were just hoping the Berlina would start tomorrow.

It did, and we headed to the closest auto parts store to get the battery and alternator checked. They confirmed that the alternator was toast and our battery nearly dead (1 malfunctioning headlight, wipers that don't work, a cracked windshield, a broken alternator, a wrecked chrome headlight bezel, a dead battery). The store clerk suggested we buy two batteries to ensure we would make it home to Central, PA from Lexington but I decided to risk it and just buy one battery. The previous owner suggested we might only make it 250 miles on a battery with no alternator, and this definitely had me worried. He also emphasized that in our somewhat crippled state, we should stick to highways and the straight route home on day 2. That would have been the smart thing to do, but driving at 75 mph in a 73 Berlina for hours on the highway is just not the best, so we swung towards valour and ignored discretion! I also was given a boost of confidence when I called Robert Rodgers at Shade Tree Enginetrics, who had serviced this car for many years. He was confident that the Berlina could probably go 8-10 hours with a bad alternator and a new battery. He pointed out how little electronics there was, so away we went! We did a brief stint on the highway and found the two-laner that runs up along the Ohio river. What a drive!!! This was the best thing that we did, and I think the Berlina might have enjoyed it, because she gave us not a bit of trouble during most of the day. Later we both admitted that this early lack of trouble was a clear forewarning of what lay in store.

More next week! Here is a picture of me and the Berlina on the day after we got home... hanging out with my friend and his 73 2002. We're looking forward to some fun drives together!
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