The Romance Of An Alfa Romeo
Images: Sanket Patel
Whether food, culture or art, the Italians have given the world some of its finest. They have managed to sprinkle all that they do with some distinctive flair that has been peerless since Adam. While most see passion as their secret sauce for making everything special, I believe it is something else: Romance.
Romance is a word that the modern world has vulgarized. Often likened to living beings, romance is alive everywhere. In the littlest things done with utmost love and care, there is romance. For car guys like you and me, there is palpable romance between the man and his machine. And if there is any marquee that distills this romance in its purest form, it is Alfa Romeo.
Over the last century or so, their cars have been achingly gorgeous yet travail to keep running, and still, the marquee features ubiquitously in every collector’s ‘to-have’ list. There is no logical reasoning as to why one must own an Alfa in their lifetime, but one just must. You want one. I want one.
As a manufacturer, Alfa Romeo has seen a lot of paradigm shifts in the way they function. Founded back in 1910, they started off by plonking grand prix-bred race engines into excessively elaborate bodies. The cars from this generation found a lot of takers, mostly the who’s who from that era. They even enjoyed the patronage of multiple Indian Maharajahs. But times changed, war happened, and they were forced to reorganize their business.
The excess was defenestrated, and Alfa stuck to building cars that would appeal to the masses. Over time, thus was born the Series 105 and 115 cars which were made in both sedan and coupe body styles, and designed by Bertone. But all the commerce aside, if there is something that has remained constant at Alfa, it is the romance that comes as standard equipment on all their machines.
The car we have here today is an undefiled example of the most desirable body style from the 105 Series cars—the Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce! The only one of its kind in the country, this little Alfa belongs to Arjun Oberoi. Painted Blu Pervinca Metallizzato, the car is as original as it gets.
In fact, the learned Alain de Cadenet declared—when he saw it at a recent concours—that the car looks better than when it left the assembly line. Now while the car itself is quite something, it is the story behind it that I particularly find enamoring.
Arjun Oberoi has been a car nut ever since he remembers and when his education took him to the UK, this Alfa is what he had his eyes set on. With that four-cylinder carbureted engine married to a tactile gearbox, and all of it shoved into an exquisitely simple Italian coupe, it takes no genius to understand the magic that the GTV had on the man.
He acquired the car in 1990 and since then, it has remained a sempiternal part of his life. During his stay in the UK, he reminisced driving the car extensively and never getting enough of that engine note.
A four-cylinder engine may be scoffed at these days but the bar talk and social media captions aside, this is one of the most characterful motors that the world has seen. The motor spits out a healthy 130 horsepower, and with the raspy hollering of the exhaust at full chat, there are very few pleasures in life that are better than this!
As it is with any car under long-term ownership like this Alfa, one begins to build an indelible bond with the vehicle. What appears to be a slab of metal with wheels to most of the world becomes a living, breathing entity; an extension of oneself, if I may take the liberty to call it that.
Over three decades under the possession of Mr. Oberoi, the car has pretty much seen the gent go past some of his life’s biggest milestones. From meeting some luminaries of the automotive world, like Ayrton Senna himself, to meeting and courting the lady who would go on to become his wife, the Alfa has been the perfect aide. And this is exactly what brings us to where we started—romance.
Through the years, it wouldn’t have taken much for the man to let go of the Alfa and replace it with something much more modern. But the car tugs at the heartstrings so tight that the mere thought of handing the keys over to someone else seems blasphemous. By now, it is pretty much set in stone that the car shall turn into a family heirloom and be passed on to his children.
The Delhi–NCR norms may say otherwise but the Alfa will live on to see eternity, simply because romance is what keeps it alive, just like it keeps mankind alive. Cars are aplenty but none spark off a fire as an Alfa Romeo does. Oberoi is one of the few chosen ones who have been baptized by the said fire, and as onlookers we can only fathom what it feels like to be in the guardianship of something like this.
As we count ourselves in the small, tight group of fanatics who drool over decades-old metal and rubber, it warms my (and I would suppose yours too) heart to hear tales like these. Here’s to hoping that the 2000 GTV keeps serving Arjun Oberoi as it always has been, and here’s also to hoping that we are blessed by the Alfa Gods some day!
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