- - Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mike Ferguson grew up in post-World War II England with a keen eye for the occasional sports car that would motor through his hometown of Weymouth. Born into a motoring family, he says, he came by his affection for sports cars honestly.

Most of the sports cars he would see in his youth were British born, Triumphs, MGs, Jaguars and the occasional Morgan. Once in a very long while a foreign car would appear and when that car was an Italian Alfa Romeo, it was like grabbing the gold ring on the carousel at the fair. Its engine and transmission were well ahead of comparable British sports cars of the era, Mr. Ferguson says.

By the summer of 2004, Mr. Ferguson was living in McLean and he decided to fulfill his long-suppressed desire to own an Alfa Romeo. He searched everywhere but found the Internet the most fruitful source. It was there in cyberspace that he found a recently restored 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider located in Louisville, Ky.

The 12-foot, 10-inch-long gleaming white Alfa Romeo had underwent a complete restoration and repainting in 1996 and Mr. Ferguson quickly negotiated a deal after going to Kentucky in order to examine the four-cylinder car.

A trucking firm was hired to deliver the car to Virginia and all went well until the driver became lost in the neighborhood. Finally Mr. Ferguson had his car and as far as he was concerned all was well with the world.

It looks pretty in white,’ he observes.

Research indicates that the car was a Florida resident until it was moved to Kentucky. Currently Pirelli Cinturato P3 radial tires are mounted on the wheels, each wheel punctured by 10 holes to help ventilate the huge aluminum brake drums. ‘The car has a very modern suspension design, which gave good handling for its day,’ Mr. Ferguson explains.

The stylish, 1,700-pound Italian sports car rides on an 88-inch wheelbase.

Each side of the car has two jack ports so only one wheel at a time can be raised with the jack.

An alloy twin-overhead camshaft engine with a hemispherical head, Mr. Ferguson says, produces 80 horsepower. That power is transferred to the pavement through a four-speed synchromesh gear box. The engine has been rebuilt. Although the speedometer optimistically tops out at 120 mph, Mr. Ferguson says 105 mph is a more realistic figure.

Inside the cozy cockpit - the car is only 62 inches wide - red leatherette seating for two awaits. All of the instrumentation is directly in front of the driver while centrally located in the dashboard are knobs and switches that regulate, from the left, lights, throttle, choke and heater.

Under the lip of the dashboard are two more switches, one to operate the heater/defroster fan and the other for the windshield wipers.

A three-spoke wooden steering wheel completes the features in the cockpit. There is a spot on the dashboard for a radio but Mr. Ferguson prefers the music provided by the engine over any AM or FM or satellite offering.

The spare tire is hidden behind a curtain behind the seats, obviously positioned with the hope that it would never have to be used.

Around the perimeter of the cockpit are a series of 18 snaps and four thumbscrews designed to secure a tonneau cover. Mr. Ferguson was happily surprised when the Alfa Romeo was delivered along with a very rare option - an optional aluminum top. He reports that most of the tops for cars such as his are fiberglass reproductions. Regardless, he has no plans to use his, preferring to motor in the open car in relatively good weather.

‘We haven’t gone far afield,’ Mr. Ferguson says, although his wife, Sue, is a willing accomplice.

He has joined the local Alfa Romeo club and plans to take part in many of the tours organized by the club.

This car is only going to go touring,’ he says. ‘It’s too nice to going racing.’



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