By on February 9, 2016


(From “HW” comes a tale of a Corvette, a hot-blooded Alfa Veloce, and a young Italian wife with romance on her mind.)

Sam, a good friend of mine, had lusted after a particular 1965 Corvette Stingray, and had somehow finally acquired the object of his desires. However, the cost of putting on 23 coats of a gorgeous, dark, lipstick red paint and clear coat, of making mechanical improvements, and paying for necessary auto insurance (Sam was under 25 and single) kept him totally broke for a period of time.

We had a lot of fun running around Louisiana in the ‘Vette, but his automotive mistress was keeping him in the poorhouse. Sam wasn’t some rich kid, so he reluctantly decided to sell his mistress. But he had a plan. He would get another car before he sold the ‘Vette. That way he could hold out for the best money on his beauty.

Sam’s goal was to find a more economical car with a little flair. He located a “good used car” up in north central Louisiana, some hundred or so miles away. Sam asked me to go and look it over with him. He also asked that I loan him the money to buy the car, which he would repay after selling the ‘Vette.

We jumped in the topless ‘Vette on a clear cool autumn day and roared across the Mississippi River Bridge to a rural tree laden community whose only claim to fame was a pulp and paper mill. There was still an abundance of beautiful deciduous trees turning every color of the fall. Naturally, the town was named Pineville.

The paper mill’s chief engineer had just come back from Italy, where had been sent to be trained on the complexities of a new paper machine that his mill was having installed. It was his first trip abroad, and he spent many months in Italy. In the time that he was there, he had fallen in love with all things Italian. Therefore, it made perfect sense to him to bring home an Italian car.

We arrived at the engineer’s house windblown and sunburned. Parked in the drive was an Alfa Romeo sedan. A Veloce. One of Alfa’s best-kept secrets. A real street rocket in disguise. This car was faster than the carabinieri’s cars back home in Italy, equipped with dual Webers, four-wheel disk brakes, and a slick five-speed transmission.


This particular car was forest green with a tan leather interior, and had apparently been recently rebuilt with many high performance improvements. The engineer invited Sam to drive the car, but Sam demurred, saying, “Let him drive it (pointing at me) and if he likes it, I’ll buy it.” The engineer seemed to think this unusual, but he climbed in the back, Sam got in the passenger side, and I slipped behind the wheel.

At the time the area around Pineville was very rural with plenty of great, paved, two lane roads, provided by the former governor, Huey “The Kingfish” Long. As soon as the Alfa warmed up, I began to push the car really fast, and I mean really fast. I ran up through the gears on the straights, downshifted on the approaches to curves and turns, and accelerated out. My sports car racing experience was showing. I don’t think I ever drove better.

After 15 to 20 minutes or so of this foolishness, I turned into, and idled slowly down, the engineer’s driveway. As we came to a halt, the engineer leaped out of the back seat of the Alfa and ran into the house shouting something in Italian.

Sam and I looked at each other rather quizzically and got out of the car. About this time the car’s owner came back out of the house pulling a lovely, dark haired woman by the hand. She was dressed in a very low cut peasant blouse and a full skirt.

With his recently acquired half-command of Italian, the engineer was struggling to find the right words to explain something to his stunningly beautiful Italian wife. Finally, he says to me, “My wife doesn’t speak English and is really homesick for Italy. One of the things she misses especially is riding in fast cars. Her brother is a racing driver and she used to love riding with him around Italy. I can’t drive like that. Please take her for a fast ride. I would really appreciate it.”

Who was I to deny her such a small pleasure? I opened the door and invited her into the car. As she got in, her skirt hiked up, showing a gorgeous pair of legs. I got behind the wheel as Sam and the husband walked off, talking cars and deals. She was looking at me with an air of expectation and a smile, and she didn’t pull her skirt down.

Out the driveway I went and, as I turned down the road, floored the accelerator. With this kind of lovely passenger, I was inspired. As the speeds picked up, I saw her eyes light up. She bounced around in the seat, murmuring in Italian. It would have been so nice to understand her exclamations!

The air was buffeting thru the car and her long dark hair was swirling about her head. Her skirt and blouse floated and billowed, offering impressive views of her olive skin. On one long straight, the trees formed a cathedral like tunnel that I flew though at 100 miles per hour plus.

Rusty colored leaves were flying everywhere in a swirl behind us, and she began shouting, “Avanti!, Avanti!, Avanti!” As we came around the next bend I saw a stop sign ahead. I jumped on the brakes and downshifted to a screeching halt. I looked left and then, as I looked right, she grabbed me and gave me a full blown embrace and a passionate deep kiss!

She was totally intoxicating. We sat there and looked at each other for a few seconds — and then she smiled, and put her finger to her mouth in the universal sign for Don’t say anything. I reluctantly looked away, turned out on the main road, and we raced back down the highway to her home, with her hair flying in the wind, to her continued encouragement of, “Avanti!, Avanti!, Avanti!”

I will never forget the excitement in those eyes, those lips, and that lovely hair. I never even knew her name.

Oh, by the way, Sam bought the Alfa. There were tragic results to that purchase, but that’s a story for another day …

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45 Comments on “Ur-Turn: “Avanti!” She Cried...”

  • avatar

    Nice, but I was expecting something about a Loewy-designed Studebaker….

  • avatar

    Car is gorgeous. Chick was whack.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Huh, an ownership experience with an Alpha that did not end well. Who woulda thunk?

  • avatar

    I have a similar story but it involves more crystal meth, a Grand Prix GXP, an Eclipse Spyder, and Spanish.

    I also like to imagine you and Sam having thick cajun accents.

  • avatar

    Great little vignette. Well written, no verbal awkwardness – how I’d wish my writing to be.

    • 0 avatar


      And what a clean, beautiful, proper car, that’s so much better than 98% of the overwrought crap designs in modern cars.

      Irv Gordon’s 3,000,000 mile 1967 Volvo P1800 is another GORGEOUS, CLEAN, PROPER BEAUTY:

      Seriously, look at that:

      Whoever designed that deserves the Nobel Prize Forever for design.

  • avatar

    You know, for a moment, I thought this was veering off into Penthouse Forum territory…

    (Nice story, by the way!)

  • avatar

    What a nice surprise ending. I was expecting what you said had to be a story for another day.

  • avatar

    Was almost worried this would be NSFW…lol. Great piece!

  • avatar

    Damn beautiful car, too. Of course, those beautiful Italians always lead to tragic endings.

  • avatar

    For a chance to drive a Veloce, I wouldn’t have cared if she was 400 lbs with facial hair and a collection of moles. One of the most beautiful production cars in history.

  • avatar

    My ex girlfriends mom had two of these old Alfa’s. Fun car to run around in. They always had that small amount of gas smell in the car. The local Ferrari/Italian/Alfa club was fun.

  • avatar

    PINEVILLE! That is the last place I expected to see mentioned here; I spent my first 29 years growing up in Central Louisiana. The Blue Goose still has it’s Hub City Ford dealer tag (from the days when they used to screw them one), as did Dad’s ’67 Ford Country Sedan wagon and ’71 Econoline van. And no, my family and I do not have the Cajun accent; Dad was from Texas, and my mom was from a German area in Franklin, LA; so neither had the Cajun accent. I was constantly asked growing up if I came from Europe.

    No, my friend, Pineville was NOT famous in these parts for the paper mill; it was famous for the state mental hospital that is or was there. One of my best friends growing up dated a girl from there; she probably belonged in the mental hospital herself.

    I always remember the next door town of Alexandria for the way they light up the water tower every Christmas. Sounds like you lived in the Vicksburg, MS area; blasting up the Natchez Trace in that Corvette convertible on a beautiful spring or autumn day with the top down would have been awesome.

    Thanks for a great story; and thank you also for the memories. Pineville, eh…..

  • avatar

    If my car made my hot Italian wife do that, I’d be taking driving lessons, not selling it.

  • avatar

    “Parked in the drive was an Alfa Romeo sedan. A Veloce.”

    Are we to pretend this coupe is a sedan for story purposes?

    • 0 avatar

      I guess the definition of sedan is broader than what we are used to using around here:

    • 0 avatar

      The car in the picture is a 105 GTV coupe (and NOT the car in the story, since it is the wrong color scheme). But the car in the story is probably a 105 Giulia sedan, Not as sexy as the coupe, but just as nice to drive, and just as fast. The top spec model was the Super, not the Veloce for those though. Though with some go-fast bits they could be quite Veloce indeed.

      Don’t forget that while BMW like to take credit for inventing the sports sedan, Alfa Romeo beat them to it by about a decade. Alfa Romeo was making serious driver’s cars when BMW was still building Austin 7s under license.

  • avatar

    I was in same situation, facing a $5,000 year insurance bill by the only company willing to fully insure a new ’88 Mustang GT conv to a 20 year old, single, and perfect driving record.

    Since I owned it, I opted for basic liability, so every 2 years I’d save enough to step up to new one. Four years in, I did totaled, but I drove it too fast, as if it was stolen, drifting around curves like a madman.

    But I learned lesson and haven’t had full coverage, ever.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Dear Penthouse,

    I never thought this would happen to me, but ….

  • avatar

    I read in C&D once that if rear passenger space exceeds 33 cu ft, it’s classified as a sedan.

  • avatar

    I think I wept when my GTV went off into the sunset with a new owner. And it was a green one too. But, 2 babies and 4 other cars and a person who kept calling and raising their bid on the car meant bye bye. Just a wondrous automobile, and the fact that fully restored versions are north of $50k these days is thoroughly annoying. Not mind boggling fast, but everything just worked so well, presuming you were a size that didn’t mind the old Italian driving position and it is not a big car. I remember on days off wandering out to the countryside and just hammering it, no bad habits just make sure you are in the right gear. 8 quart sump on a 2 litre motor was kind of interesting.

  • avatar

    Best. Story. Here. Ever.

    Thank you. I would have expected this from JB. Are you his pen name?

  • avatar

    Readers of Tintin would know the cry of “Avanti” should only apply to a Lancia Aurelia.
    I couldn’t find the exact panel; this is as close as I could get before going home and scanning the thing.

  • avatar

    Ordinarily, the GTV 2000 is referred to as a coupe, not a sedan (Alfa made a really nice sedan version of this car as well). Other than that, great story, well written. Hitting 100 mph in one of these does not feel terribly reckless, they are that planted.

  • avatar

    Friends of mine bought one of these new around 1970. I helped them drive it across Canada to our new homes on the west coast. What a blast to drive that car! You could pass a dozen cars just by thinking about it, then tap the brakes momentarily to slot back into line out of the way of oncoming traffic.

    But even back then it cost them $1000 per year for maintenance. 10 years of maintenance equaled the purchase price.

    Also back then we had car safety inspections. The Alfa failed one because the headlights were too close to the ground. So for the second try, the owner put a couple of sandbags in the trunk to tip the nose higher. In the second try, the inspector said the headlights were aimed too high. My friend told him to wait a sec while he took the sandbags out of the trunk. The car then somehow passed the test.

  • avatar

    I have the exact same giulia, but black and somewhat modernised.

  • avatar

    Great car and story both .


  • avatar

    Alfa’s had such a bad reputation, especially for being rust buckets because of the use of low-grade steel, that people did not realize that ever since the early 90’s Alfa’s have become much better. I know, because I owned four. The GTV and the preceding Junior (letter box) Alfa are the best-looking Alfa’s ever. They are appreciating classics. Best is to have a complete frame up restoration, and fit a more modern twin-spark engine, from a 75.

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