Berlina project part 3: success!

My dad was in town and to keep him busy I brought him to the shop with me on Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. We spent most of the time talking about the best approach and after one false start got the engine and transmission to mate up. Not an easy job when you leave the transmission in the car. Dropping the front swaybar turned out to be the trick to make two faces parallel. Once it was in I probably spent more time trying to find the correct bolts to bolt the motor mounts down than I did installing the engine.

Two successive afternoons the following week I put all the pieces together and to my amazement it fired right up. I didn’t want to try and retrofit the early 60’s 1600 Veloce airbox (though it probably would have looked very cool) so I traded it for the Euro airbox seen here. I spent $11 more than I paid for the car on a bag of parts from a local dealer including a new oil pressure send unit to put the finishing touches on the assembly part of the project.

Here it is in all its glory. I traded a late ‘scalloped with tabs’ valve cover for the smooth unit seen here with the 90 degree breather to match the airbox. Note the high out-put alternator from a late 80’s spider.

It’s hard not to want to powder coat the plenum. Maybe I’ll throw it in with some of the Sprint pieces when they get done. Yes, I know, those plug wires look like crap. I’ll get some new ones when I buy the parts for the Sprint.

I’ll have to take this oil filter set-up off and use it on the Sprint, but I’ll wait until I have no choice. I was disappointed that the exhaust manifolds I got in trade for a nice set of late 101 Sprint manifolds had a crack. Oh well, they seem to work. I made 3 trips to Pep Boys to get the right fan belt, it seems someone was putting the belts back in the wrong boxes and if they had given me what I wanted the first time I came in I would have only made one trip (reminds me of when I went into Fastenal and they didn’t know what sand blast media was).

Once I had the car running, holding all its fluids and basically giving me the impression that I could drive it without being left stranded, I made a run to Glenn Oliveria’s shop and paid him to adjust the carbs, set the timing and give it a once over. From Glenn’s shop it went to Frank’s glass in Berkeley to have the used windshield I got from Al Huerby installed. They grumbled about a few imperfections in the glass but charged me accordingly and did a great job installing it. It spent 5 days in their care and was finally picked up last night by my wife who was desperate to have her own wheels since her Fiat has been waiting for the tank sealer to dry the full recommended 96 hours.

This is how all the basic mechanical stuff was when I got this car, clean, well maintained and fully functional. It’s hard to have a car like this and not want to fix all the little stuff, like window winders.

Interior looks great besides the blown out drivers seat, no doubt the result of the PO’s chili addiction. All I did was replace the latch on the glove box door, remove the gross seat covers and vacuum it. I found about $2 in change… like a 1% refund on purchase price. Sweet.

This morning, after the inaugural 630 am trip down 880 the Berlina rests in what will no doubt become a familiar parking spot. The list of complaints to remedy is long, but the game is on. Amazingly the 1750 engine is every bit as fast as a 2 liter, especially with the 10548 cams and tuned up dellortos.

So, the list of complaints I mentioned above… let me think. The radio is SUPER quiet at full volume, the windshield wipers don’t work, the drivers side rear turn signal doesn’t work, the front brakes are wore-out, a good stink gets into the cabin through missing fire-wall grommets, there is no horn, the high beams only work on one side, there are no sun visors because the bosses are being used to hold the wink mirror, the drivers side carpet bunches up under the pedals, the drivers window regulator is almost dead, the parking brake is weak, and, well, you get the picture, it needs a little love. Up next: learning to live with it’s shortcomings. Did I mention it’s really smooth and fast? It is.

Click here to read part 4.


1 thought on “Berlina project part 3: success!

  1. Nice job Matt! My Super is getting the 1750 w/ euro cam treatment as well. It sure seems like that’s the ‘sweet spot’ for the Alfa motor.

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