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Not strictly a vendor review, but where else to post my question?

Back in the 70s I bought a few things from Shankle, and also sold them a few parts as I worked for a major imported car parts company. I walked away from Alfas in about 1980, and paid no attention to the specialist market until falling off the wagon and starting another Alfa restoration in 2006. Meanwhile, Shankle seems to have gone away. They were nice guys, and I'm curious what the story is regarding their demise.

Anyone know the story?
 

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I thought that the market kind of dried up as new car sales dwindled. Without new cars coming to market, there are only so many existing ones you can sell upgrade parts for.

I thought they ended up getting bought by Alfa Ricambi, but I could be wrong.

bs
 

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I assume their departure is not much more than a footnote, but my curiosity remains. There are several aftermarket vendors for Alfas, although I have to admit I wouldn't want to be an investor in one today.

Oh well...
 

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Shankle merged with AR Ricambi a long, long time ago. i dealt with them a lot when they were in burbank. i worked all over in the san fernando valley and LA, and went to college in pasadena. i used to visit the store all the time on the way home.

back in the 90's they were were divesting into performance items besides italian stuff and were merging with another aftermarket company. when they packed up from burbank and moved to the inland empire, i lost touch with them and haven't heard anything about the business since. later, i did see AR Ricambi at the Best of France and Italy car show a few times, selling random used stuff in the swap meet area.

their website is only a tiny front page, and is in disrepair. hasn't changed for many, many years.
 

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Back in the day, John Shankle did a lot of neat stuff. He once told me not to buy his tubular 4 cylinder headers since the 1972-74 cast headers were just as good, but not as light. I remember, toward the end, that either he or Ricambi were also marketing Honda performance items.

Shankle merged with AR Ricambi a long, long time ago. i dealt with them a lot when they were in burbank. i worked all over in the san fernando valley and LA, and went to college in pasadena. i used to visit the store all the time on the way home.

back in the 90's they were were divesting into performance items besides italian stuff and were merging with another aftermarket company. when they packed up from burbank and moved to the inland empire, i lost touch with them and haven't heard anything about the business since. later, i did see AR Ricambi at the Best of France and Italy car show a few times, selling random used stuff in the swap meet area.

their website is only a tiny front page, and is in disrepair. hasn't changed for many, many years.
 

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Shankle/Alfa Ricambi

According to an European Car article published in January 1995, and written by Paul Mitchell, specifically dealing with GTV-6 and Milano problems, Alfa Ricambi was located in Glendale at that time and it is further stated that they, Alfa Ricambi, "market" the Shankle Sure-Start kit. Maybe, they later bought them out, but as of 1995 they don't have appeared to own them.

An Alfa Digest post from 2011 states that the poster has a Shankle Sure-Start kit for sale with the Alfa Ricambi label on the box. However, the poster does not state when he bought it so I don't know that that helps define when ownership may have changed.

I was on a first name basis with the Alfa Ricambi guys when they were in Burbank because of all the Alfa parts that Pat ordered regularly from them.
 

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Maybe, they later bought them out, but as of 1995 they don't have appeared to own them.
OK, i just dug up some of my old Ricambi stuff. have the info straight from them:

in March 1991, Alfa Ricambi Inc. and Shankle Automotive Engineering Inc. "merged" to form Automotive Systems Group Inc.

Alfa Ricambi concentrated on the marketing, sales, and distribution. John Shankle ran the R&D and manufacture of the performance parts. and yes, it was Glendale, not Burbank at that time.

in the later days when i dropped in, i saw Brad Bunch there less and less, replaced by younger guys who weren't as knowledgable. then they moved away.

i used to have a bunch of Shankle parts on my GTV6 in the 80's, and GTV in the 90's.
 

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I have a few Shankle parts on my 105 which I bought from their factory around 1990. They were kind of surprised to have a guy from down under turn up in person, but that's how we did business back then in New Zealand and Australia.

Anyway, I recall that communication from Alfa Ricambi as well. I probably still have it in my files, which include a Shankle catalogue and pricelist. But didn’t it precede the departure of AR from the US market?
 

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I was on a first name basis with the Alfa Ricambi guys when they were in Burbank because of all the Alfa parts that Pat ordered regularly from them.
Me too, I think that I bought stock in both companies over the years...the Duetto has the Shankle springs I bought in the early 80's (Yikes) and they are still perfect!

I always liked to deal with Warren at Alfa Ricambi. He had that 'California cool' and was fun to talk with. We met at the 1996 AROC Convention here in Atlanta...later at one of the AROC Conventions in CA we met again, then he was working with 'Sparko', they had an open house for us AROCers. Warren was excited to have just taken delivery of one of the first brand new Mini Cooper, S'.

While at the Co convention ('96 or 97) I walked into some quaint but rustic ski town restaurant wearing one of my many Alfa Romeo T-shirts. The Braden's and some other Alfisti of near equal ‘celebrity status’ were there (Linda and Joel Edinburg?). I think it was Pat that invited me over to their table to have lunch with them. All good folks and good times…my memory is good; just short!
Mark
 

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Shankle/Alfa Ricambi/Brad Bunch

...in the later days when i dropped in, i saw Brad Bunch there less and less, replaced by younger guys who weren't as knowledgable. then they moved away...
I totally agree about the lack of knowledge with the replacement staff; many times I was digging out invoices to help the guys with part numbers that we had purchased previously.

When Brad retired, he moved upstate, somewhere in Central California, AIR. The last contact I had with him was not too long after Pat's death when he came down to the house.
 

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Warren = Warren Caswell. He bought my 1966 GTC circa 1990. It was disassembled because I had the entire body dunked. Warren promised to finish it, but didn't get much further along than I did before he sold it on. When last heard from, he was in southern California, selling Sparco items ... and still not returning phone calls. The GTC was completed and is now worth many times what I sold it for. So it goes.
 

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And Ricambi was in time part of a larger group, which included Japanese performance parts and the like. I met John Shankle's brother a few years ago in Oakland, total coincidence though we working on a Super and he came over to talk. He said John just got interested in other stuff, which is not at all uncommon with engineers.

I've heard vague stories of intrique and the like at Ricambi contributing to its end as a storefront business. Though Brad does still sell stuff under the business name up in the San Joaquin Valley, see ads in Alfa Owner for SureStarts and the like.

As a teen pre-Alfa-owner, I pored through the old red Shankle catalog like some kind of sacred text, looking for clues to it all. They were the only game in town on the West Coast (other than dealers).

Andrew
Andrew
 

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I sent my 69 Spider's head to John in the mid-90's for a rebuild. I thought he was in Long Beach up on Signal Hill? That was where folks did business with him in the 70's. And we saw him get an award at the Alfa Convention in Lexington in July 2011. Last I saw him.
 

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Shankle/Sperry

I sent my 69 Spider's head to John in the mid-90's for a rebuild. I thought he was in Long Beach up on Signal Hill? That was where folks did business with him in the 70's. And we saw him get an award at the Alfa Convention in Lexington in July 2011. Last I saw him.
I think you're thinking of Sperry Valve Works, they were located in Signal Hill. I don't know that John Shankle ever was.
 

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You are right Cheryl. The head work was Sperry. Thanks for the assist. But it was John at the Convention.
 

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Sounds like John is still alive, so if anyone is in contact, I'd like to thank him for all the neat parts I bought over the years. I would stop in whenever I was in L.A. He did a lot for the Alfa community.
 

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Sounds like John is still alive, so if anyone is in contact, I'd like to thank him for all the neat parts I bought over the years. I would stop in whenever I was in L.A. He did a lot for the Alfa community.
I have fond memories of John. As a young'un, just getting started and full of questions, he was always patient, always willing to talk to me and always helpful regardless of how dumb or elementary my problem was. I'll always appreciate the time he took one afternoon to give me detailed instructions on how to port my first Alfa cylinder head. More than a footnote, John was a major contributor to Alfa culture in the US. Shankle catalogs are now collectors' items and are prized by those who have them. I'm sure keepin' mine.
 
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