THERE’S a dusty corner in the deep vaults of the Simister anecdotal archives that no longer needs to be quietly reshuffled. The time that I caused a rush-hour traffic jam by conking out in a city centre bus stop – in a bright red E-type, naturally – is still firmly in the top spot as the most stressful bit of motoring I’ve ever done.
The moment I called on a Ford Cortina’s brakes on a particularly steep hill somewhere near Sheffield, only to find it didn’t really have any, comes a close second, but I was ready to demote that too the other day. Not only was I about to make my debut as a wedding car driver, but the blushing bride in question was none other than my younger sister.
I was delighted to be entrusted with such an important task, of course, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me for having visions of gliding helplessly onto the hard shoulder and having no choice but to wait for a van with orange flashing lights to show up, or having to tackle a puncture with an infuriated-looking bride glancing at her watch, wondering how late really is classed as fashionable. Certainly, when I got hitched three years ago I made sure it was someone else’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow doing the all-important duties, just to avoid the potential headaches.
But I actually enjoyed the drive far more than I had any right to, and that’s partly because the wedding wheels in question were just about the last thing I’d been expecting – an Alfa Romeo Spider. While that meant the big journey was limited to just two people, it meant the bride and I could focus on the really important things on the way to her big day.
Like how well the Spider suits being offered in black with tan leather – you’d expect red to be the colour of choice for a small, Italian sports car, but with Britain’s Alfisti it was definitely black that proved the most popular colour. I’m sure my about-to-be-wed passenger appreciated too how the centre console was canted towards the driver to give it a much sportier feel, and how all the words on the dials had been left in Italian – olio, benzina, and so on – just to make the drive to the wedding venue feel just that little bit more exciting. She definitely would have appreciated the two-litre Twin Spark engine too, although I suspect the 3.2-litre V6 might have been a bit handier for getting there on time.
But as my younger sister and her now husband embark on what I’m sure will be years of happily married life together, there is one question I’m sure they’ll be pondering – why doesn’t Alfa have a Spider in its range today? The Italians are really missing a trick, particularly as it’d be easy to base it on the Fiat 124 Spider.
I’m happy to confirm that the Spider made it on time, the wedding went without a hitch, and Alfa’s finest chalked up yet another fan. Definitely preferable to a Cortina with knackered brakes, anyway…