Archive for May, 2014

Spring Fling reunites “Buttercup” and owner


By Phyllis Tilden

For me, Spring Fling this year wasn’t just the usual wonderful weekend of Alfa overload, it was the grand, long-awaited reuniting with my first-ever Alfa flame.

Long story short: my 1981 Spider Veloce lived in a warehouse belonging to dear friends and St. Louis Alfisti while Bruce and I sold our Kansas City house and moved to limbo in summer of 2012. In summer of 2013, when we traded limbo for a permanent home in Tennessee, we went to pick up the car, but decided instead to leave it there for a massive engine overhaul. So we paid $400 for another dear friend’s Milano and drove that home instead. This is all very logical to the readers, so back to Fling.

For more than 20 years, St. Louis Alfa folks have hosted Spring Fling in Washington, Mo. It’s like a mini-convention; rally, autocross, concours, art show, tale-telling, tire-kicking, and Alfa-fixing. And in that part of Missouri, there’s almost always wine involved. My faithful Spider, and I have missed only a couple of them together until she got warehoused.

This spring would mark the return of the Spider.

Needless to say, Bruce and I headed for Fling this year with extra anticipation, mixed with a bit of trepidation, in our always-reliable SAG vehicle, Alfred the CR-V. Buttercup was waiting on us (no, her name isn’t very Italian, but think “Princess Bride”). The minute I cranked the starter on the Alfa, I felt that old lust flush creeping up my arms from the steering wheel to the corners of my mouth. She wasn’t just back, she was better than ever!

Driving from the city to Fling headquarters, about an hour on twisty country roads, Buttercup and I had more fun than we’d had in years. I hadn’t realized just how tired she had been. With a healthier heart and full of beans and attitude, she spent the weekend purring and preening.

The event, always slated for the first weekend of May, started with Friday night chats, drinks and catered-in dinner at the headquarter motel. This year that meant quite good lasagna and even better camaraderie as more than 50 people converged from as far away as Wisconsin, Texas Hill Country and southeast Tennessee. Joining us and our Alfa arachnid from Tennessee were John and Laura Greason from the Memphis area and their beautiful, red 1992 Spider.

Saturday kicked off with a poker rally along country roads even more twisty than usual, ending up at a local beer deck overlooking the Missouri River. (More often than not over the years, the rally has ended at one of the area’s many fabulous wineries.) The afternoon showcased the annual art show, hosted in an antebellum home with a marvelous side veranda looking toward the river. (It’s probably my very favorite part of the weekend; sitting on that veranda with a glass of good wine, encircled by Alfas and watching the river flow by. It’s always hard to leave, but we have to in order to rush back to the motel, change socks and make the banquet.) This year, as always, the banquet ended with lots of great door prizes, and everyone headed back to the motel to look under a few more hoods. With the help of an amateur astronomer from Kansas City, we got to look at the moon and stars as well.

Autocrossers hit the asphalt, preferably not the cones, about 9 am on Sunday morning, followed by a People’s Choice concours just around the corner in the same large parking lot. The organizers boasted one of the largest concours lineups ever this year. Finally, and always somewhat anticlimactically, we left the events’ site to gather for the awards brunch. And suddenly, a very fun weekend comes to an end.

Bruce and I turned Ms. B and Alfred toward home, swapping drives every two or three hours (we both got sunburned anyway – the Spider’s top goes up only if we can’t drive fast enough to outrun a torrent or the sleet is too thick), opting to spend a night on the road. The little girl never missed a beat.

Finally, she’s back where she belongs. At Spring Fling and with me.


Photos posted in Gallery under National events courtesy of Bruce and Phyliss Tilden

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Fiat Chrysler headquarters will be in London, Marchionne says

Wire reports
May 9, 2014 06:01 CET

DETROIT — The headquarters of the newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will move to London, CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Thursday, cementing a politically sensitive shift away from Italy, Fiat’s home for the past 115 years.

Fiat currently is based in Turin while Chrysler is headquartered in Auburn Hills, outside of Detroit.

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Marchionne to lead Fiat Chrysler and Alfa through 2018

DETROIT — Sergio Marchionne will remain CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles through at least 2018 — two years longer than previously indicated — to oversee the rollout of the combined automaker’s five-year business plan.

During questions with the media after a daylong presentation of Fiat Chrysler’s 2014-18 strategy on Tuesday, Marchionne said he would stay through the full implementation of the plan and its ambitious financial goals.

“I’m going to stay for the plan,” Marchionne, 61, said. “I’ve got to make sure the plan gets delivered.”

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Alfa to add 8 nameplates as part of 5 billion euro relaunch

May 6, 2014 17:18 CET

TURIN — Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne hopes that investing 5 billion euros ($7 billion) in Alfa Romeo will reverse a decade of losses and seven years of collapsing sales at the sporty brand.

Fiat will add eight new Alfas with the goal of boosting the brand’s global sales to 400,000 vehicles in 2018 from 74,000 last year.

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Alfa Romeo ponders a higher-performance 4C

May 5, 2014 – 12:01 am ET

Alfa Romeo’s low-volume 4C sports coupe won’t arrive in the United States until June, but Alfa is already considering higher-powered versions.

Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester said the chassis could handle more power.

“The stiffness is very high,” he said. “The first adjustment would be the brakes.”

The two-seater’s turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder has more potential, Wester said. “We are only at 134 horsepower per liter, so there is space.”

Wester said the 4C needed to be tweaked significantly for the United States.

“The base car in the U.S. has richer equipment,” he said. “Europeans are more willing to have a naked driving machine.”

There were a lot of technical changes as well.

“The monocoque and the front and rear frames are different, the suspension has been reinforced and suspension tuning has been changed,” he said. “It was a really significant overhaul.”

As for cosmetic changes, all U.S. 4C models will get the new and improved headlights showcased on the 4C Spider shown in March at the Geneva auto show.

Prices have not been announced, but the standard 4C will sell for around $55,000, Wester said. A fully equipped version will retail for around $70,000. Alfa expects to sell 800 to 900 units in 2014.

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Alfa business plan and models to be announced May 6

Jennifer Clark
Automotive News Europe
May 2, 2014 06:01 CET

MILAN — Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne faces a tough task in turning around the automaker’s operations in Europe, analysts say, after losing 2.15 billion euros in the region in the past three years.

Marchionne’s revival plan for Fiat’s struggling European business, which includes the Fiat, Alfa and Lancia brands, will be part of his wider unveiling of a new strategy for all of Fiat Chrysler on May 6. The CEO aims to exploit the synergies of the fully combined auto group.

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