Alfa Romeo: the Golden Years! 1935-1985

2016

 

Alfisti in America

I became an enthusiast and served as president of AONE for three years. We held dinner meetings with guest speakers, organized rallyes, racing events, and other events for Alfisti. We had technical sessions at various locations. One of many sessions in our family garage featured Ferdinando taking apart an Alfa engine and showing the Alfisti what the internals looked like, what they did, and why they were such great engines. Our Alfisti were very curious and prideful about Alfa Romeo and wanted to learn more about owning one of the greatest cars in the world . They attended not only our chapter functions but those of the national club. We always tried to involve our fellow Alfisti in technical issues and the dealers in our activities because for them it meant recognition, more sales, and more parts sales and repair work. It was well recognized that the ALFA dealers did not always have well trained mechanics. Therefore, Alfa owners learned more about self-survival to keep their Alfas running.


In 1990, Fred moved from Massachusetts to Florida. Once in Florida, he started another chapter in Fort Myers (called            

AROCSWFL - Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Southwest Florida) (one of five chapters in Florida) because the other Florida Alfa chapters were not close enough to him. Alfisti seemed to find him and some he managed to get to move                                         to Florida. In time, I moved to Florida became president of that chapter and served as president, newsletter editor and webmaster, simultaneously for 6 years. I stepped aside as president but continued to write the newsletter and main-tain the chapter website I created. That website morphed into this website dedicated to the history and stories of those making Alfa Romeo the great manufacturer it was.


Over the past 40 years, there have been some notable and dedicated enthusiasts who have helped in providing information to the American Alfisti. Don Black is the first name to come to my mind. Alfisti were like sponges sucking up all they could learn. We could not always get the information we craved. I used to love reading Alfa NOTIZIE and learning about all the wonderful things Alfa was doing. Our trips to the museum, the factory, Pininfarina, Balocco, and more all served to help feed our thirst for information but left us wanting more. Since 1995, the well has dried up and my only initial source of historical information was Dario Radaelli and Don Black. Very little information comes from FIAT. I have done a lot of research on the internet but I often find conflicting and inaccurate accounts of the history of Alfa. I have tried very hard to make my web site accurate for all Alfisti to learn and enjoy, by avoiding "mythology" . Much of that misinformation comes from the internet and auto related sources. 

by Peter F. DiMatteo

From the time I was a baby, I remember being around cars and my father's fascination (Ferdinando DiMatteo) with them. Before I was born, my father raced cars on dirt and asphalt oval race tracks. He was very mechanically minded and as I remember, he could fix almost anything. He always talked about safety and what technology learned on the race track could be applied to street cars. He always was particularly interested in innovation, design, and speed. We had an assortment of cars in the 1940's and 1950's. I remember that reliability was always a very important factor in his choices. In the mid 50's, Dad switched to Studebaker and I remember that as a teenager, interested in cars and speed, the Studebaker "Golden Hawk" was quite the machine!

 

By the late 1950's, my father’s interests began to change as those "funny" little Italian cars were first seen in the USA. One day I came home from school and there in the garage was a little blue car. It was a 1958 Giullietta and














dad was polishing it and getting ready for a drive. As we talked, I leaned on the car. In an instant, he pulled out a cloth and wiped my fingerprints off. That was the start of our long love affair with Alfa Romeo. We both raced the car on road courses, makeshift airport courses, and of course the parking lot courses with all the pylons.


Ferdinando helped establish an Alfa Romeo Owners Club chapter near where we lived in Massachusetts (not far from Gaston Andrey an Alfa/Ferrari/Saab dealership). The name of the club chapter was symbolic: "AONE" (pronounced A1) as in Alfa Owners of New England. Dad was an enthusiastic and avid owner, always helping ALFA owners understand and fix their cars if they were so inclined. He started a newsletter for the chapter and wrote technical tips about repairing Alfas. His articles became so popular that he was appointed a "hot line" technical consultant by the national club. People would call from all over the U.S.A. and Europe to ask him questions about Alfa Romeo. He organized several club trips to Italy to visit Alfa Romeo. 

At left is shown some of the Alfas in the parking lot of a chapter meeting on the beach in Florida. Below is Dr. Paul Tenney (one of founders of the first Alfa club in the U.S.) visiting Don Black in Florida shortly before his death.

Bottom left is one of Don Black’s creations featuring an Alfa motor of course. Bottom right Fred doing final test on boxer motor before installation in gyro.