Last September, my 89 Alfa Milano substantiated a vile Italian automobile stereotype as I traveled to family back east for Labor Day weekend. Of course, there were warning signs; the failed clutch hydraulics hose the day I brought the car home, and the miserably inadequate cooling system that demanded maximum heater settings to control the coolant temp. I attempted to deceive myself with defensive internal retorts to my friends’ negative Alfa sentiments. “Guys, chill. It’s just an Italian e30 – Bosch fuel system. If anything, the German components will be first to go.” The denial even continued into the first manifestation of rod knock. “Hmm, the engine is starting to sound like a tractor. A Lamborghini tractor, heh heh.”
In actuality, it sounded like an Alfa-with-thrown-rod tractor. Less than a month into Alfa ownership, and I was about to atone for the sinful Alfa soundtrack – something like ripping canvas – with the task of replacing the 6-pot paperweight sitting between the torsion bars of my Milano.