After the dramas with the shocks, it was great to speak to Hugh yesterday and hear that the car was ready to be picked up.
New shock towers, newly rebuilt shocks, new rear bushes, new caster arm ball joints and bushes, new diff, new speedo and tacho cables... I was almost expecting the car to look different after all those changes!
It was a pleasant coincidence to bump into Mitch from Monza Motors on the train out to Bayswater, and we happily discussed Alfas all the way to the workshop - I'm now very keen to see his 105 race car in action.
Hugh wanted me to check the Ricciardi out, so after a quick cup of coffee to warm me up, I took it for a spin around the estate.
Ricciardi and cousins outside Monza Motors
Even a quick drive around the block, taking it easy because the engine and gearbox were cold, showed a vast improvement in the car. Small bumps and ripples no longer cause big movements from the back end, and the bump and torque steer are gone. The car still shows a slight preference for left turns over right, and a very slight nervousness when the throttle is lifted suddenly, but in general the handling, ride and road holding have been transformed. It also felt very sure-footed on the wet bitumen, and I think the formerly terrifying wet weather demons might finally be exorcised.
As a bonus, the brakes have dramatically improved, no longer giving an inconsistent pedal height. It was also very nice to have the two big gauges functioning again, and not have to be squinting down at the trip computer every time I want to check the speed.
Test drive and formalities complete, I headed for home, remembering just in time to fill the petrol tank before joining the freeway...
The longer drive confirmed my first impressions - there are still some minor eccentricities to be ironed out, but the handling is much, much better now, the best it has ever been in my ownership. I was really starting to enjoy the feel of everything working so well - and then the speedo died... again.
One of the joys and burdens of older car ownership is the constant struggle to keep all the little things working. Major mechanicals can be dealt with, and once they're correct they'll generally stay in good shape if maintained properly. Things like instruments, wiring looms and the like are a different proposition. They weren't made to last for forty years, and they can be difficult to replace with newer parts.
This particular speedo is proving very recalcitrant. It originally died several years ago, not long before I put the car in storage. Hugh determined that the cable at the speedo end had become slight rounded, and after he crimped it and refitted it everything worked again - for about two days. This time around it got a new cable, and was working beautifully until I got halfway home.
I rang Hugh (I think he's developing a twitch when he hears my voice on the 'phone), and he reckons that this time it's the drive unit in the gearbox causing the issue. Fortunately I'm not working next week, so another quick hop over to Bayswater is in order to see if we can sort it properly. At least I've got a tacho now which is the important thing, speeding fines being cheaper than engines.
The next step is to take a proper drive on a twisty road - I can't wait.