After completing his junior year in 1974 at the University of California, Berkeley, Jack Hagerty could see the light at the end of the education tunnel and commenced shopping for a post graduation automobile. He favored foreign cars and narrowed his “want list” down to a Triumph TR7, Triumph TR8, Datsun 260Z, Opel GT, Mercury Capri, Renault Fuego and Alfa Romeo GTV 2000.
Hagerty had no idea that 34 years later he would still be driving the 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 that he bought new, he says, “as a graduation present to myself.”
During his final year as an undergraduate, Hagerty admits that he must have driven one particular salesman to the brink of insanity at the Hayward Auto Imports dealership in Hayward, Calif. He regularly visited the 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 that was on display. With a base price of about $6,800, Hagerty says it cost about the same as a new Cadillac.
Upon graduation Hagerty took possession of the 2,400-pound 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 with a 1,964 cc, four-cylinder dual overhead cam engine tucked under the hood. That hood opens from the back with hinges at the front. “The mechanical fuel-injection system is absolutely rock solid,” Hagerty says.
On the mahogany dashboard is an overly optimistic 140-mph speedometer and a 7,800-rpm tachometer with a red line of 5,700 rpm. From the floor sprouts a lever to operate the five-speed synchronized manual transmission. “The entire drive train is all-aluminum,” Hagerty explains.
The 13-foot, 6-inch-long Italian car is only 62 inches wide and rolls on 14-inch Campagnolo turbine wheels supporting the car on a 92.6-inch wheelbase. It stands 52 inches tall.
On the Alfa Romeo, when he took possession, was an air conditioning unit that Hagerty says never functioned as well as the rest of the car. Eventually, Hagerty removed the air conditioner and since then he has relied on flow-through ventilation of fresh air scooped into the cabin through the wing vent windows and exiting out the rear of the pop out quarter windows on both sides of the car.
In early 1976, Hagerty was in his Alfa Romeo in a parking lot behind a very large pickup truck. Suddenly the truck reversed, taking out the grille that houses the fog cutters and damaging the right front fender and right door. The front turn signal lights escaped unharmed because they are located below the bumper. The repaired parts were repainted the original Prugna color. Unfortunately, the repaint was not up to the factory quality so a few years later Hagerty had the entire car repainted.
“The car is fairly light,” Hagerty says. That fact, plus a 0.42 drag coefficient rating, results in regularly attaining gas mileage in the high 20s. On highway trips, Hagerty reports that he can break 30 mpg.
Since owning the Alfa Romeo, Hagerty has averaged about 14,700 miles a year. At 165,000 miles he rebuilt the engine. He has owned the car longer than it was designed to last.
“I’ve worn out things that aren’t supposed to wear out,” Hagerty says. He has a thick maintenance file that shows he has replaced the cylinder head and has gone through five clutches, three sets of brake pads and surprisingly, the driver’s seat.
“The tires last a good, long time,” he observes. A set of tires usually goes about 60,000 to 80,000 miles. He is on his third windshield and says he will soon need the fourth one. The long wiper blades overlap when in the parked position. Consequently, the blades must be an exact fit. “I learned early on not to get cheap blades,” Hagerty says.
With the exception of the driver’s seat, the upholstery remains original. The owner says that even with the two little seats in the back, his car is labeled as a two-passenger vehicle.
Hagerty has now eclipsed the 500,000-mile mark in his Alfa Romeo. To the best of his knowledge, Hagerty thinks he may have the highest mileage Alfa Romeo that is still in daily use.
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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009