Introducing A Most Epic Alfa Romeo Journey
Photos by Jethro Bronner
As a student, I bought an Alfa Romeo. I had heard, through a friend, that in a nearby town there was a 1973 GTV in a garden, under a plastic sheet, and that the owner, a friend of my friend, was looking to get rid of it. I bought it for a song.
For two years the Red Car was employed in the daily drive to university, a 60-mile round trip down dirt roads, back roads and the motorway. I made it home every day, and I was a dedicated Alfista.
After a few months of ownership, I put the word out to the local Alfa Romeo club that I was looking for a Giulia Sprint GT, the first of the line of the Bertone-penned coupe. I wanted a first year of production car, and it had to have its proper 502 engine and Dunlop discs brakes. I thought that maybe one day I would get a call…but the call came within two weeks. In Durban, there was a Sprint GT, recently repainted but in a million pieces, and it was a ’64. I bought it unseen.
The weekend after the sale I rented a trailer, filled a van with friends, and drove down to the coast. We arrived to find a perfectly-painted shell, sitting amongst a sea of parts spread out in the owner’s garage. It was all there.
It took me two and a half years to put it back together, in a marathon restoration that I’m sure would test anyone’s patience. If something could be wrong, it was.
During that time, I was talking to a friend one evening about why Alfa Romeo’s are thought to be unreliable cars, and he said that he would bet that an Alfa 105 could be driven across Africa. It was all I could think of on the drive home. Could I really drive across Africa in an Alfa? If I missed my turn off and kept heading north, could I make it to Europe? I obsessed over the idea for a week. I even bought a map.
I decided eventually that I could never move on with my life if I didn’t do it. I could never sleep soundly if I didn’t know for sure. So I decided to drive Dargle to Dargle, from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa to County Wicklow, Ireland—the home of the settlers who founded my small hometown.
I removed the rear seat from the car. I bought some spotlights, and I built a long range tank. Apart from that, I believe that the Alfa, in its standard form, is plenty reliable enough. And at the end of June 2015, I started my drive North, heading for Botswana…
Jethro will continue to share his story on Petrolicious over the coming months, as time allows. We can’t wait for his next update from the road. To keep up with his latest updates, visit his website, dargletodargle.com and Instagram