The title might sound a bit bizarre but just like it’s said in Sting’s song, I was indeed a “legal alien”. But before I get carried away with the song, I invite you to grab a cup of tea and settle in for a car themed Christmas story!
I will start off by saying that I love Alfas, always have and probably always will. They have a certain ‘je ne sais qua’ about them, an indescribable charm of such. Before I got my Golf GTI last year, I was looking into buying a 147 GTA but I was scared. I had never owned a car as such before and after everything I had heard about Alfas, I wasn’t ready to take the leap. However, a lot has changed in the last year and I am now ready for my first Alfa!
Rewind to the last weekend of November, I was at Caffeine and Classics meeting a friend when I spotted a huge row of Alfas. Probably the most I had ever seen in one place, that is until I attended their Christmas Barbecue. The beauty of those cars drew me in and as I was walking towards the group, I noticed a 147 & 156 GTA, brilliant! They are stunning cars but it also meant I could gain some valuable insight into what owning a GTA would actually be like. To my surprise, I received a warm reception and before I knew it, I had met at least 4 very passionate Alfa owners! Next thing I knew, I was invited along to their Christmas celebration.
Now that you know the context, let’s fast forward to the actual day. I saw my first Alfa of the day when I set off early to wash my car, the first of many. Getting carried away with the washing meant I was rushing to the meetup point in Ellerslie. Turning into the carpark, I was met with puzzled faces wondering if I was lost VW driver. It was quite a sight indeed but I was quickly introduced to the lovely folk who make up the Alfa Romeo Owners Club or AROC for short. A special shoutout to the two Marks here for making me feel at home!
At our first stop in Ramarama, we pulled off and hit the back roads that would take us to our destination for the day, a farm in Tuakau. Remember, this was now hot hatch territory and my word, the GTI was fantastic on the twistys. It was a sensational driving road but I don’t think I was having nearly as much fun as Mark in his 147 GTA in front of me! It was a stellar drive with the sound of the engines echoing through the forest. We eventually arrived at the venue where I was greeted by some old friends and made some more new ones as well. With one of them resulting in an unexpected blast in an Alfa 4C, what a machine (thanks again, KG)!
The AROC crowd are a great bunch and I spent so much time talking about cars, I forgot about the lunch entirely! My stomach was not pleased about this. Luckily, I managed to grab the last of it. The Herbert’s hospitality was excellent and we were spoilt for choice with the amount of food there. It was a pretty fantastic morning with stunning scenery, a great crowd and the gorgeous Alfas of course! Now, no car event would be complete without something car related right. That’s where the next bit comes into play. The hosts had turned part of their yard into a driving course of sorts with the challenge being to get around the course as quickly as possible. It was a good bit of fun and driving on grass was certainly an all-new challenge. I also hadn’t driven a manual in a very long time, a point made clear when I stalled the car about 50 times on my first lap.
It was by no means the quickest or the most polished lap of the day, those honours went to the Alfa veterans but then the day wasn’t about being the fastest or most polished. It was a fun day to cap the year gone by in the company of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts while celebrating the iconic Italian marque that we so passionately love.
A massive thank you to the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of New Zealand for inviting me to your Christmas BBQ. A special shoutout to the Herberts who hosted us and to Mark B & Marco D for putting it all together!
Forza Alfa Romeo!