Past events page

Southern Alfa Day: Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre: Saturday 26th September 2015

For the last couple of weeks the spider has been a bit under the weather.  Not really ‘firing on all cylinders’.  In fact, I did take the plugs out and clean them.  I also whispered a few sweet words of encouragement to the old girl but no improvement.  Start-up was fine.  She just didn’t have the go.  The problem was still persisting a week ago when I was dispatched by ‘The Head of the War Office’, (Mrs S), to collect my daughter from ballet and had to take the spider or the bus!  It was a lovely sunny day so I took the spider.  She sparked into life but was still a bit chesty.  I gave her a bit of choke and pushed it back in after 100 yards, upon which she performed a violent kangaroo hop, (giving the seatbelt a good test) and took off like a stabbed rat.  She obviously had something stuck in her throat and once it was clear, she was good to go.

On Thursday it was obvious that the weather was going to be good at the weekend.  But where to go? Or course, Amberley for Southern Alfa Day.  As anyone who has read one of my write-ups will know, they usually start in Locks Bottom in the style of “Three Men in  a Boat Tail” but sadly Doug had a prior commitment and Mark was running the, “It only hurts when I laugh” excuse. And so I sped past the “Ye Olde Whyte Lyon” alone on the A21, heading for the M25 with the sun shining gloriously, the hood down and the heater on.  At somewhere around 70mph on the M23, (this is being published), a yellow 4C spider drew up alongside me.  The Piloti had his shades and his roof up/on.  He gave a ‘Top Gun’ style salute and planted his foot on the accelerator.  He too was heading for Amberley, as I saw later.

I was the second to arrive at Pease Pottage Services. Phil Davies was already there in his beautiful 147 GTA, (ah, my first Alfa).  40 minutes it took, not to get there; for my fingers to thaw!  We were soon joined by a number of the regular club members.  If I am right we had three 105 spiders (Me, Christian and Roger & Pam), a 105 Bertone GTV (Graham Duplock), three 916 spiders (Jeff, Steve and Dave & Amanda) and a couple of 4Cs (very common now, you can buy them new, in a showroom and everything! No offence, John Third and John Dray).

We always used to respect our elders at AROCKES and stick the oldest ‘car’ up front.  However, as we were without a Duetto on this occasion and Big John Third knew the way he led the ‘charge’.  Jeff tucked in behind him, so that made two of the newest cars at the front.  I did question the wisdom of selecting a car with no capacity for ‘rear view’ to lead a convoy but all was well.  We can all do 80mph, (that is not intended as any admission to law enforcement agencies), but we can’t all accelerate as quickly as a 4C.  However we all managed to keep together, even the ‘Soccer Mom’ who managed to crash the 105 Party in her Citroën people carrier who was wedged between me and Christian Brewer.

The drive was brilliant.  It was what I was really there for.  Over the rolling South Downs with the hood down in the crisp sunshine: A perfect autumn day.

When we arrived at the Museum, I have to say the reception and organisation was very good, (something for us to aim at next year).  And what a great venue:  A narrow gauge railway, steam traction engines, fire station, road building museum, locomotive shed, woodturning shop, printing workshop, electricity exhibition, historic buildings, it went on and on. Steve Watt and I had a ride on a steam engine built to transport munitions in WW1.  This stopped at the old Hove ticket office, painstakingly moved from it’s original site to the museum.  This was when the Bond enthusiast in me was surprised to learn that in 1984, Cubby Broccoli had chosen the museum grounds to film parts of “A View to a Kill” and that (Sir) Roger Moore and Grace Jones had filmed here for some 3 weeks.  For those of you who have seen the film, the exterior mining scenes were shot here.  When Grace Jones exits the mine and blows up, this was at the museum, (not to be seen again until the Queen’s Jubilee Concert on the Mall sporting a hula hoop!  Some of the rolling stock was in the loco shed with a small exhibition of photographs.  Moreover, the white airship piloted by Christopher Walken (the evil Max Zorin) was filmed flying over the chalk cliff one moment and arriving in San Francisco the next by the magic of film.

As for Alfa Romeos, there were a lot of them!  A couple of lovely cars from the 1930s attended, (see pics).  Also a very rare kit car called the Milano which was based on an Alfetta and which had graced many a magazine article. However, in the main there was a good representation across the 1950s to the present day as you might expect.  Also a few familiar faces joined us there.  Not that I got the chance to speak to everyone.  Nice to see Fred as always.

Turned out to be a really good day.  We had better roll our sleeves up for 2016!


David Smith



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