I didn’t plan it this way. I mean, I knew the Alfa would be arriving around the same time my previous long-term car was going away and I mounted a concerted lobbying campaign for the Giulia, but I didn’t spec it out. When I saw it, though, there was an immediate personal connection.
Generally, we’re assigned our long-term vehicles and it’s almost always our fleet manager, Erick Ayapana, who picks the trim and options depending on what the automaker has available. For the Giulia, he went with Misano Blue paint and silver five-spoke wheels. I never told him what Dad’s old car looked like, but I about did a double-take when I first saw the Giulia.
Dad had a number of cool cars over the years, starting with at ’60s Mustang he bought in the ’70s when no one wanted them anymore, then a Datsun 240Z when the Mustang proved unreliable. Around the time I showed up, he traded the Datsun for a Dodge Daytona Turbo. Red over silver with phone dial wheels, I loved that little coupe because I spent most of the time riding around in Mom’s Caravan. I’m fairly sure the boost gauge at the top of the center console is at least partly responsible for my love of cars.
Dad kept the Daytona well into the first few years of my younger brother’s life, but as we got bigger, climbing into the back seats became more and more of a hassle. The Daytona had to go, and despite my encouraging him to go for that new Mitsubishi 3000GT we looked at, a sedan was in order. Dad had seen the previews of the new-for-’92 Pontiac Grand Am and liked it enough to special-order one. See, Dad wanted a Grand Am GT with the high-output version of the Quad 4 engine and a five-speed manual, but he wanted it in a sedan and Pontiac just wasn’t building those yet. In the meantime, the Daytona was sold and Dad picked up a used Renault Alliance convertible to tide him over, which was the biggest automotive mistake he ever made (though a used Ford Ranger came close).
I tell this story because Dad’s Grand Am GT sedan was painted Bright Aqua Metallic with silver five-spoke alloy wheels. It’s not the exact same shade as Alfa’s Misano Blue, but it’s not far off. Dad took meticulous care of that old Pontiac, and it was in showroom condition the day he finally let it go. He liked to drive it a little quick on a back road, something else I’m sure stoked my interest in cars. He daily drove his pickup truck and reserved the Grand Am for special occasions. When I learned to drive, it was a treat to drive Dad’s car. He gave it to me a few years back when he retired and moved out of state, but I ended up selling it to pay some debts (plus, one of the shifter cables was going out and replacements are unobtainable).