Lionel VelezMy name is Lionel Velez and I am an Alfaholic.

My life as an Alfa Romeo fanatic did not begin by choice; it started by accident in 1981 when I first acquired my first Alfa Romeo. Since then, I have owned over 60 Alfas, mostly 750 and 101 series and some 105 series models. I currently own 17 Alfas as well as other Non- Alfa Models.  I have always been very passionate about cars, especially sports cars. Growing up in Puerto Rico, my father always had all kinds of Classic Cars, and one of my favorites was his glass top fifties Ford Victoria he brought to the island when we came to Puerto Rico from New York. He also had a yellow fifty-seven convertible that I was very fond of. There were other exciting cars, but these appeared to have the most lasting impression on me. The feeling of driving on a beautiful day along the beach or the country road in an open car full of kids, loud music, and happy parents was and still is like a heavenly experience.

As a teenager, my love and increasing fascination with cars were consolidated by admiring a 1961 190SL Mercedes convertible that belonged to one of my uncles.  This car did not mean much to me until the car was left at our house for some time while he and my aunt went on a long trip to Spain.  A nice dark green car, I used to sit and pretend that I was driving as Simon Templar (from the Saint) was being chased by some bad people.

These experiences led me to my very first automotive love, and to be perfectly honest; Alfa Romeo was nowhere on my radar screen.  As I grew older, I used to stop by the Mercedes and Jaguar dealer showroom floor to spend what it seems like endless hours admiring the Jaguar XKE V12 and the Mercedes  Pagoda side by side.  I was trying to make up my mind as to which car would ultimately receive my unconditional admiration.

The battle was fierce; I could not sleep, it was a very tough choice, but I needed to make up my mind.  How could I betray the car that sealed my love for convertible sports cars?  A decision had to be made, and the Jaguar XKE V12 convertible was the car.  I don’t want to go into the details, but in my view, this car is an astonishing machine with all the attributes of British snobbery, majesty, and pride.  Again, dark green was my choice for the color.

I graduated from high school, decided to see the world, and skipped my college path.  I joined the army and ended up in Europe for the next three-plus years.  WOW! What a Mecca for automotive machinery!  I have never seen so many kinds of cars; different colors, styles, and the list goes on and on.  Yet, Alfa Romeos, even though it was the first time I became exposed to them, was nowhere on my radar screen.

My parents persuaded me that I should go to Texas and attend college; so after my military experience, I ended up in Texas; young, married with month-old twins, and full of aspirations.  I was working for an oil company and going to college part-time.  My desire to own a convertible was not far from my mind but galaxies away from my pocket.  I always talked about cars with colleagues at work, especially my dream car.

The day came when I was ready to buy that special car; it would be a dark green XKE V12 convertible.  I searched the newspapers, called people, and went to see cars, but it seemed that I had not made up my mind yet.  One of my working buddies by the name of Kent kept steering me away from English and German cars to an Alfa.  He kept telling me, “Lionel, you look good in an Alfa!”.  I would ask, “an Alfa?” Kent would say, “yes! an Alfa! It is that Italian look about you that makes you an Alfa driver.”  Yet, no Alfas were on my radar screen.

Since the Alfa Romeo dealer was down the street from my office, Kent and I would regularly stop by the showroom floor during lunchtime.  We looked at the Alfas and Lancias on the show floor and other cars, but none ever got my attention.  I did not care for the cam tail spider!

One day I stopped by a mechanic shop not far from where I used to live so that they could take a look at my Volvo wagon.  It was a woman mechanic who only worked on Alfas and Volvos.  When I went back later to get my car, I could not help to notice a car almost hidden in a dark corner of her shop.  I asked her what kind of car it was, and her reply was, “it is a 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider”.  It was a dark grey with a red interior.  I got closer to take a better look; it was love at first sight.  I began to stop by the shop more often so I could learn more about these older Alfas.  From then on, my interest in cars diverted; I was on a mission.

I had to find a car like that.  I asked the mechanic if she wanted to sell her car, and she replied, “never; I drove that car off the showroom floor new.”  Looking at the newspaper classifieds, I found the car.  It was a 1963 Giulietta convertible, which is how I came into the Alfa Romeo world.  Since then, I have owned many Alfas, which has become like an addiction that I cannot cure.  I am very passionate about Alfas; for some reason, I have become enslaved by this passion. I started my first restoration in 1986; it was a nut and bolt restoration correct in every detail except for the original color. It was a Red color car then, and I decided to go Pinin Farina White with a Black interior inspired by the movie “The Day of the Jackal” Click on the link for the Youtube video.

Auto Italia SportivaAIS CollageAuto Italia Sportiva, LLC. is a boutique studio specializing in restoration products and services for vintage Italian cars.  Our offerings are outside the scope of what many restoration shops may offer in terms of ability and quality.  We take great pride in our metal fabrication methods – an art form that is in decline with increasing difficulty to source out. Our goal is to provide a superior quality craftsmanship finish product by preserving the vehicle’s original features while paying attention to important details.

5 Responses to About

  1. john says:

    do you have a phone number?

  2. William Catto says:

    Where in the world are you located??

  3. Daniel Shalit says:

    I’m trying to contact you to order a wiring harness for a Giulietta Spider 101 but can’t get through on (972) 699-1819 or (972) 849- 6306. Is there another contact to order by phone? I would like some additional information.

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