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Old 21st June 2022, 16:35   #1
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Default Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Travelling by car in (Western) Europe is very different from travelling by car in India. It is not about what is better or worse, they are just very different experiences. We have quite a few members in this part of the world, and also members visiting from India. Although this itinerary is about a very special car event that took place on the 18th of June 2022, near Saluzzo Italy, I will cover the whole trip to give a flavour on what it is/can be like travelling by car in Europe. I will also mention the cost of various items along the route.

This trip was our annual Alfa Romeo Spider trip with my spanner mate and very good friend Peter. I have written about some of our earlier trips before, see:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...es-eiffel.html (Touring the Ardennes and Eiffel)

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...d-trip-uk.html (Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK)

It is a long tradition Peter and I have. For decades we will try and get away for 4-6 days every year. Just the two of us and our two Alfa Spiders. Most often we don’t have a particular destination. We sort of look at the weather in Europe and just start driving. We like to drive on small rural country roads. We never book hotels in advance. We always travel outside the very busy main summer holidays, getting accommodation is never a problem. I will explain a bit more later.

For us being out on the road, driving, stopping for a coffee, having a nice lunch, and in the evening having some cold drinks and a nice dinner, talking and enjoying each other company and driving our Classic Alfa Spiders is what these road trips are all about.

This year was somewhat different. We decided to participate in the 12in12 event. So all of a sudden we had a very specific place and location we had to be on a specific day: 18th of June.

Have a look here to get some idea on what this 12in12 is all about.

https://12in12.mystrikingly.com

Basically a sort of friendly, one day cannonball run through the Alps, Trying to cross as many Alpine passes or cols as they are also known, in 12 hours.

This is what the intro says:

Quote:
Drive at least 12 and up to 21 of the most unknown yet challenging alpine passes crossing between the Italian and French border in just 12 hours.
A Marathon for classics (some younger cars accepted by invitation) in the N/W corner of the alps.

The formula is very simple, its between friends, you drive the minimum of 12 passes we give you in just 12 hours.

Whilst there are many events that involve photo calls, posing and driving in lines with a nice plaque on your car this is not one of them.

THIS EVENT IS ABOUT DRIVING.
Its not an impossible event by all means, in fact in previous events just about everyone managed to finish without any problems and one contender drove with his 13 year old son in a pretty standard Fiat XI9.
It is an endurance event, a test of driver, navigator and car, where you will drive some really spectacular roads, crisscross the border, drive by snow, waterfalls, tight bends, switchbacks, tight spots or where two cars can't pass at the same time.

You will blast through tunnels and even places with some rough bits.
We have got it all..
Its done on many of Europe's unknown mountain passes, this is not the Stevlio with camper vans and baby prams holding everything up, here you will be higher and faster and most of the time with very little in front of you except maybe another participant.

But you can do it, you don't need a special car really you just need the will to enjoy, although a bit of concentration and preparation doesn't hurt.
A very small and cost effective event for classic (or special interest) cars, with a high social flavour and which is by invitation only.
Sounds like what your looking for? Then don't forget to drop us a contact at the bottom of the pages to keep updated.
Sounded right up our sleeve! Our Spider friend Niek had participated last year, so we got some excellent intel from him, prior to us setting off.

There was just one thing, driving to the starting point is about 1250 km, almost all motorway. And we had to take the motorway, neither Peter nor I could take sufficient time off to allow a more scenic, rural route. Peter and I had been doing a bit of planning on our TomTom’s a few weeks earlier.

There are several routes we could chose from:

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Of course, knowing your way across Europe is helpful when deciding upon which alternative to take. The quickest route, in theory, is via Germany. But we know from long experience there will be a lot of road works along the route. Also, you will find yourself driving through the Ruhr area, not very pretty.

So we decided upon the route that would take us from our home, Antwerp, Brussels, Luxembourg and then take the so called Route Du Soleil south to just North of Lyon where we would start heading east and enter Italy through one of the imposing Alp tunnels.

We had two days to get to the starting location. We wanted to arrive mid Friday afternoon, which meant setting off early on Thursday morning. Peter drove down to our home on Wednesday evening, as he lives about an hour and a half north of us.

Of course, prior to setting off, we had done a bit more preparation on our cars. Obviously, it does make a difference, whether you are driving a modern car, or two old classic Italian rag top sports car. These Italian cars might look great, they were not that well build to start with, bits fall off enroute, others bits might stop working, so you need to be prepared.

Peter and I always carry a large amount of tools and parts with us. However, this would be a journey which would put our little Spiders under considerable strain. Lots of mileage in a short period and mountain driving too. So we got ourselves some additional spare parts. Peter and I used to the Technical Committee of the Dutch Alfa Romeo Spider Register, so we know a lot of people in the Spider community. Peter got us a complete spare parts kit free of charge, we only pay for the parts we would use. Everything else we just return after we come home again.

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More about these parts later, spoiler alert; we still found ourselves short of the correct part!!

Always carry lots of water and a tow rope!! Driving in a rag top sports car, top down in the blazing sun is thirsty work!!

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My usual set of tools and box with many useful bits

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And some more odds and ends. Watch that distributor assembly! It was to play a crucial part!!. And as you will find out, I should have had a much closer look at it. If you zoom in on it, you can actually spot the problem.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220621-12.49.06-pm.png

Some other crucial parts driving an open car; cap and sun block!!

I have two caps. The one on the left I have owned for almost as long as I have owned my Spider. It is tethered to my driver seat. It is what I call my high speed motorway cap. I have tried any number of hats and caps. But very few will stay on when you are driving 100 - 120 km/h top down. This one does! The other cap on the right is my rural driving cap. It is more comfortable, but only up to speeds of about 90 km/h.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7246-2.jpg

You do want to wear a cap when driving an open top car for at least two reasons; One is that my hair on top of my head is not as lush as it once used to be. So my skull is exposed to the sun! It needs protection. Also, a cap really protects your eyes. Even when wearing sun glasses but no cap, your eyes will tire out quickly in the bright sun.

Also, according to my daughter, all old gits in a classic sport car should wear caps. Its the rule! So there you go!!

There are a few other things you need to take with you when travelling/driving through western Europe.

Obviously, passport, driver license and car papers. In Europe you will need to have your car registration papers and proof of insurance with you. the latter used to be called the green card. Because they were printed on, Duh, green paper for some reason. These days the insurance company mails it to you and you need to print it yourself, so white, not green. But it is still known as a “green card”

On these long trips I also always take a spare set of keys. Very early on in our marriage I asked my wife to keep the spare set during a road trip. Upon returning home she had lost them! As not to stress our marriage any further, I look after the spare set myself. I usually stick it into one of my carry-on bags.

Lastly; money, the real paper deal and the plastic ones. These days in countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany you can do without cash, certainly in all the main cities. But when you find yourself in rural France or in a remote village on an Alpine pass in Italy, the local petrol station might not accept any cards! So better bring cash, small denominations and coins too. When you travel in western Europe you will be fine with Euro’s. Switzerland still has its own currency. But we were highly confident that the Swiss would have perfected all possibilities of electronic payments in any imaginable location all across Switzerland. So we did not bother with Swiss Francs. The Euro cash is primarily for rural France and Italy, just in case.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7258.jpg

So I bring my regular Dutch Bank direct debit card and a Master Credit Card. The direct debit bank works just about everywhere in Europe these days as well, even contactless. Just a tip for those of you who might want to visit the Netherlands, you will be surprised (but not pleasantly) on how few shops and businesses in the Netherlands accept credit cards. You can’t buy food in a supermarket or even pay for fuel by credit card might be problematic!!

I always bring two simple canvas bags when touring in my Spider. Canvas rather than my normal trusted Samsonite roly-poly hard case. The canvas bags are easier to store and cram into the boot. All my clean clothes and everything else goes into one, whatever has been used / dirty stuff goes into the second bag. Very simple, very effective, at least for me.

And of course a mobile phone with a good international data package is crucial!! You will see why, later on.

Obviously, the Spider needed a couple of things checking as well. I keep it in really good condition, so it is ready to roll any time. But prior to such a long tour I usually do a few checks. Check tire pressure, including the spare. I keep the spare tire about 10-15% above the normal pressure to allow for some air to permeate out over time. Double check oil and coolant. Give it a good wash, wax and hoover. With all the tools and parts its ready to roll!!

There was one final preparation I had to do; On the Saturday night, after the completion of the 12in12, there was going to be a party, announcement of the winners and so on. All participants were requested to bring some local beer, so we could all sample each others beers.

So I went off to our local off-licence. To stay in line with TeamBHP policies on drinks, I have taken a photograph of the non-alcohol variant. Three very local beers, from three different towns here in the Netherlands.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7102.jpg

I could have brought Heineken, but the Netherlands has a thriving small/local beer industry. So I thought would be nice to bring something a bit more unusual.

Peter arrived Wednesday evening at around 21.30 at our place. I had already moved my Spider out of the garage. It involves shunting four cars around the yard and onto the dike. Did not want to go through that hassle early in the morning.

This is the only time you will see our Spiders with the hoods up; at night, parked!

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Peter and I had a quick (alcohol free) beer to discuss the final details of our route.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7110.jpeg

We decided to have breakfast at around 07.00 and be on the road by 08.00 latest, if not earlier. We also checked the weather forecast one more time. Subsequently we double checked the amount of sun block we had brought!! It was going to get hot!!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7103.jpg

We would have two days to drive about 1250 km. We decided that we wanted to do about 800 km the first day.

The following day we were on the road by about 07.30. This would be my office for the next six days!!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7235.jpeg

Traffic around Antwerp seemed even worse than normal. Normal traffic around Antwerp being pretty bad as it it. Our TomTom’s Traffic information system gave us a few detours, which added some 50 km to our total distance, and still saw us stuck in traffic on the Antwerp ring road. Luckily getting around Brussel was pretty easy.

Peter and I used to drive our Spiders at 3500 RPM on motorways. That would get us about 120 km/h. But both our Spiders and we have gotten a bit older. So these day we tend to cruise a bit slower, about 3100 RPM, doing 100-105 km/h.
It makes cruising a little easier. The noise and the wind in these little sports cars is something else. Add 10km/h and it increases exponentially.

After having driving tens of thousands of kilometers all over Europe we have developed very simple routines, that work for us. We always program the routes into our own TomTom. Then we check that we are getting the same distance and ETA. If not, and it happens, we check where the route in one TomTom differs from the other. We drive in a little convoy, one of us up front, one right behind. We have developed some hand signals to communicate about stops, when overtaking etc.

We usually drive about 1,5 - 2 hours and stop for coffee / toilet / fill up with petrol. After each stop, we swap who drives up front. Here in the Netherlands I usually run all my cars till I get a reserve fuel indication on the dashboard. There are petrol stations everywhere. Also on motorways you are rarely more than 10-20 km from a petrol station.

Certainly on French motorways that is not always the case. You might find yourself on a stretch of motorway with 100 or more kilometers between petrol stations!! And not to many exits in between either! Luckily, in countries such as France, at the signs for each petrol station they will also list the distances to the next two/three petrol stations. Even so, we just fill up at every stop.

Soon this would be a very familiar sight:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7111.jpeg

Peter’s Spider is a 1980 Serie 2 Coda Tronca, mine is a 1986 Serie 3 Aerodynamica. Peter has twin carburators, mine has Bosch L-Jetronic injection.

Although there is not much difference in power, my Spider uses about 20% less fuel. I am doing about 1:11 on the motorway at these speeds. We had not trouble getting E5 petrol in France or Italy. We don’t care about octane 95 or 98, but we do care a lot about the fuel being E5 and not E10. A lot of the Octane 98 is still E5. The Octane 95 often is E10. It differs a bit country by country though. Always check. Our Spiders can’t handle E10. In all honesty, if push comes to shove we would have put E10 in too. Because it would be used up in a matter of hours, so it is not really a problem. But we avoid it if we can!

Prices across France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium varied between about Euro 2 to Euro 2,35 (INR 164 - 193). Not cheap, but still (a lot) cheaper than petrol in the Netherlands!!

Of course, driving all day on motorways is a bit boring:

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But the further south we come, and once we entered the Route Du Soleil, the scenery becomes very pleasant:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7116.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7118.jpeg

Large sections of the Route du Soleil are toll roads. Also throughout Switzerland and Italy you are likely to find yourselves using toll roads if you want to make good time. Yes, you pay a fee, but most of these toll roads are well maintained, have good facilities, other then petrol stations, you will find restaurants, rest stops with toilet facilities, picknick tables, children playground and so on.

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These days I am a bit challenged by things like ATMs, Computers, parking meters and so on. These toll booths are worse for me. Because they will have machines talking to you in French, or worse in Italian. Sometimes you have to push a button to get a ticket, sometimes the ticket appears automatically, sometimes you pay as you enter, other times you need to push your ticket in a particular slot and a credit card in another slot. I have some problems with certain cognitive functions so these sort of things can cause some anxiety. Usually Peter would drive up ahead and I could watch what he did. Take a ticket, or push a button, or shove a credit card into the machine. Once the barrier was raised for him, he would drive through and wait right behind the barrier to ensure I got through too.

Toll charges vary a lot. We paid Euro 1,50 (INR 123) for a short section in Italy. These bits in France were usually around Euro 15 - 25 (INR 123 - 205). But they were fairly long stretches. In all, for the complete round trip we must have spend a little over euro 200 (INR 16500) in toll alone. The most expensive once are the two major, 13 - 17 km long tunnels. On the way down we crossed from France into Italy by the Frejus tunnel and going home we went via the Mount Blanc Tunnel. Each cost a staggering Euro 48 one way! (INR 3950).

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Around 1600 hours we had another stop. Filled up with petrol as usual, had a bit of a leg stretch, drank some water. We discussed our progress, which was pretty good so far. We always take our TomTom and mobile phones to where we are going to have coffee. So we check the route, make adjustments, check weather updates enroute. And around 1600 hours it is time to decide where we are going to haul up for the evening. We felt we wanted to put in some more miles. The more we did today, the less we have to do tomorrow.

So we use google map and look for nice small provincial towns along the route. We don’t want anything directly onto the motorway, just not to far away though. We tend to look for old historic towns, something with a citadel or a nearby castle, church, monastery usually does fine. Because it will mean there are likely to be some restaurants and hotels and usually some nice local streets and square to wander around. We decided on Chalon-sur-Saone. Whilst I was checking the tourist information getting some intel where to go / what to see perhaps, Peter was already checking for vacancies in a decent hotel, near the town centre. We just about always use Booking.com. Very convenient app. Finding a suitable hotel and making an online booking is a two minute process, if that. Very convenient.

Peter and I never keep track in detail on who pays for what. One stop he will pay for the coffee, the next I would pay. He pays for the hotel, I would pay for the dinner, drinks and breakfast. We sort of keep a mental tally, but its more by guts and feel and knowing neither of us want to put the other out of pocket. Very convenient and it has worked for us for several decades.

So we jumped back into our Spiders, punched in the hotel address into our TomTom and drove another two hours and into the town centre. Parked near the hotel to unload our luggage and check in. The hotel did not have parking facilities, but there was a proper parking garage just around the corner. So we went back to our Spiders to park. However, Peter’s Spider would not start. Those of you who follow my “fiddling with cars” thread know we had problems with his Spider before. Last year on our annual drive we had similar problems. Since, Peter has replaced the starter motor and added a relais. It had been starting fine a few weeks earlier on our annual Spider Tour to France. We were tired and we just could not be bothered to check what was wrong. We decided to simply push start it. We know from experience, with the engine properly warmed it starts very easily. With Peter in the cockpit and me pushing that should work, we have done it before. But no luck this time. We had to rope in the assistance of a French guy and it started fine. Later that evening, after a few beers, Peter confessed he had left the hand brake on during my first push start attempt. I thought it was a bit heavy, but I thought I was just tired.

We stayed in the Hotel Saint Regis. https://hotelsaintregis.com/fr/

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220621-8.54.17-pm.jpeg

Per person, one room each and breakfast we paid about Euro 115 pp (INR 9450)
Which for this kind of hotel at this sort of location is a very decent and going rate in most of Western Europe.

We had a quick shower and met up at the hotel terrace. We always like to have a few cold drinks after such a long drive. We felt really tired, the menu looked quite good so we decided to have dinner here too. We were just to pooped out to look for a different restaurant. Turned out the food in the hotel restaurant was very good. We really enjoyed it. Very amicable and knowledgeable staff. We do speak a few words of French, Peter a few more than me. But these days, many French will manage in English. But they always appreciate foreigners trying to speak French. Of course, in these sort of rural provincial towns, the menu card will always be in French only. Bring you phone so you can use Google Translate. You don’t want to be confusing snails for steak! (I love French snails!) Afterwards, we went for a little stroll and turned in at about 22.30pm.

The next morning breakfast at 07.30. At the breakfast room we were approached by three young Dutch ladies. They had been sitting across from us in the restaurant the night before. They wanted to know if we were the guys that were driving those “old red and green cars”. Yes, so we confirmed. It appears they had been following the same route as us. We had overtaken them multiple times during the day. That happens when you stop frequently. You tend to find yourself overtaking the same cars after a while. We also overtook a gorgeous Dutch Citroen DS several times that day. The three young ladies were on a road trip themselves heading for Spain and Portugal. Their first stop was going to be Barcelona. Nice and interesting town, but I would avoid all of Spain’s main cities in the summer. It gets awfully hot and dusty.

As always, Peter and I bring our TomTom and phones to breakfast. Breakfast is where we plan for the day. Again, some different alternatives. Irrespective it would be about 500 km driving.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220622-8.37.32-am.png

By about 08.15 we hit the road again. Well, not without Peter’s Spider not wanting to start. We had discussed the potential problem the night before. We could not figure out what was wrong. On our earlier trip Peter had problems starting too. But he had a new starter motor installed. redid some wiring. Also added a relais. On the Spider the starter motor is wired/operated directly via the ignition key. Over time the electrical contacts in the ignition barrel wear out, get corroded and you might experience starting problems. Typically it gets worse in warm/hot conditions. Adding a relais to relieve the ignition barrel of high currents is a well known simple modification you will find on many Spiders.

With the bonnet open, Peter turned the ignition key, nothing happened, but I could hear the newly installed relais click. Which almost certainly meant the problem was in the new starter motor. With Peter starting I hit the bendix of the starter motor and it fired up right away. From here on this would be our starting ritual several times a day. Peter would get in, release the bonnet, I would open the bonnet, Peter would hand me a hammer and I would gently tap the bendix. It only required a very very gentle tap with the wooden stock of the hammer, and it would fire up. So it looks like this brand new starter motor has a problem!! It happens.

Our second day of driving was very similar to the first. Although the roads, or rather the scenery became much prettier. As you might have noticed on some earlier images, traffic on the French motorways was very little. The further south we got, the less traffic. Sometimes we found ourselves barreling south with no other cars or trucks anywhere near us.

A word of caution though for those of you who like to experience the French (toll) motorway roads themselves. There is this French tradition called “Black Saturday” . ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Saturday_(France))

Its basically where all French go out en mass and kill themselves and each other.
The French all take their summer holiday at the exact same time. All of France, all the French!! On that Saturday they all pile into their cars and head for their summer destination killing themselves and each other along the way. So whatever you do, avoid Black Saturday at all cost!! It is simply not worth the aggravation. Let alone getting yourself killed by a worked up Frenchman. You will find yourself in monumental delays. Mile after mile of congestion on all motorways. Endless queus at the toll booth and petrol stations and toilets! Kids crying, tempers flaring! Not much fun!! Don’t do it!!

But no or very little traffic for us. We made excellent progress. Going through the Frejus tunnel was an experience too. (https://www.sftrf.fr/uk/il4-sftrf_p3-the-tunnel.aspx).

Apart from the huge cost, it is very very long. About 13 km. The road leading up to the tunnel appears to be just a sort of provincial road, gorgeous scenery and a winding road. Makes for great driving. You find yourself driving towards the Alps, with big mountains with snow on top up ahead of you!

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Some of you might recall the horrendous Mount Blanc Tunnel accident in 1999. 39 people perished! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Blanc_tunnel_fire). Since a lot of safety precautions have been put in place. You need to ensure keeping 150 meters of distance between cars. To help you they have installed these little blue lights on the walls of the tunnel. They are set 150m apart.

I don't do well in these very long tunnels anymore. So Peter would drive up ahead and I would follow him, at the proper distance of course. Following his rear lights and in the middle I can see his TomTom screen glaring too. A good reference!

We made it to our final destination: Hotel Castello Rosso, located about 30 km south of Turin. (https://www.castellorosso.com/en/)

Spiders parked, about 1300 km done in the last two days. With only minor starting problems on one Spider which could be solved easily by whacking the bendix every time the engine needed starting. Hoods up, Spiders parked for the night.

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Time to explore this gorgeous place.

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And look at the temperature, still hot even during the evening:

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This was also the first time we met the other participants in tomorrow’s challenge. A very international crowd. People travel from far to participate. We had one Swedish guy, Goran, who had driven all the way from Sweden. He spend 17 hours behind the wheel on Thursday. There were quite a few British, Belgium, German and also Dutch participants.

The classic car scene is relatively small. We have been around it for a long time. Peter being a professional classic car valuator knows an awful lot of people, he also recognised some of the cars he had valued some years ago. All for different owners at the time. So whilst we were chatting with the other owners, we quickly discovered mutual acquaintances. There were two guys in a beautiful, stunning yellow Alfa Romeo Spider Coda Tronca. We were talking to them. One of them asked Peter if he knew his wife? Which seemed a bit of an odd question at first. But he had shown his wife the list of participants and she had recognised Peter from his surname. Turns out she went to primary school with Peter many many years ago. Peter was shown an image of him and her in a class photograph aged 8 or 10 or so! Small world indeed.

A lot of talk about cars of course, fixing cars, repairing cars, finding parts, insuring cars etc etc. It also became apparent that a number of the participants had been on this 12in12 before. Some bring specially prepared cars and try to improve on their previous time. All in all quite an interesting line up of classic cars:

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Last edited by Aditya : 24th June 2022 at 18:21. Reason: Rule #11 :)
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Old 23rd June 2022, 10:46   #2
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Default re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

We also met with Tony, the organiser of the event. What is important to note, this is not some professional outfit organising this event. Tony is a one man band and knows a lot of local people and has a lot of volunteers that help out. He is very enthusiastic, knows this area of Italy like the back of his hand. He is been doing for quite a while, just for fun. I will mention the various charges later. Tony does not advertise, its all strictly mouth to mouth. And a lot of participants end up doing articles about their 12in12 experience for various club magazines. So word does get around. And the word is, this is a unique experience. Tony has got things well in hand, but like on a club tour, you need to understand what is expected from you. There is no huge team that is at your every beg and call. We actually prefer it this way. it is very similar to what we are used to organising Alfa Romeo Spider Club tours as well

Having organised so many tours ourselves, all over Europe, we know it takes a lot of effort and planning to organise these events. Most of the communication with Tony is via Facebook and various Whatsapp groups. Which is a total pain to me. I find facebook very confusing these days. I am simply unable to keep up with it, or find stuff, or even begin to understand on how to make sense of all the information provided. Tony has produced this information bulletin called “everything your sister wanted to know” which spells out the essence of the 12in12 in lots of detail.

Quote:
About the 12in12 (everything your sister wanted to know)

So we will have some new participants joining us over the next couple of days so maybe its time to give you some more information and/or repeat about how the event takes place, so a lot of this info has already been stated in the previous announcement.

As you already know the formula is a cannonball and I think for that we cannot say anymore �� Its a simple formula, no ceremonies, no advertising, no tourist stops.

Generally the event starts at 06.00 first car in a starting order based on age of car, power/weight ratio and local knowledge. So if you have an old slow heavy car and are not from the local area you will be one of the first, if you have a powerful fast modern car and are local you will be one of the last to start. Its not a race, its about you challenging yourself and your car, to navigate and drive consistantly over the pre designated route.

We give you a cappuccino and a brioche at the start. The route is secret until just a few minutes before you start and the idea is to drive as many passes as possible and just try and have a good time and experience the scenery. If you are like Arnold Steiger & Gian Giacomo Margoniner you will stop for a beer (Gian’s famous 'drink to drive policy' and a photograph along the way) whereas if you are like Vanessa Tait, Bruno Galmart or Frank Vink, you will be trying to get a best time or improve on last years times.

At the start and after having spent the night you will be in the private carpark of the fabulous Castle Hotel at the base of the mountains above Saluzzo 50km’s south of Torino and you will be presented with a simple map and a list of passes, you can drive to those passes however you like, but generally we organise (number) it so that everyone stays along the same route so they can help each other if needed. You can decide to miss out some if you like, but obviously the idea is to do as many as possible, but as its gets later in the day you will find that things slow with some traffic and there will be opportunities to take short cuts home if you are running late or simply tired, although it means you will drive less passes.

So you have 12 hours driving time not including the programmed 60minute lunch stop. You simply do as much as you can and collect the proof we ask you for as you go. We using a tracking and reporting app to save on marshalls and check points. The finish will be at the evening venue (not same place as start) for our prizegiving beerfest where we ask everyone to bring some of their local beer to celebrate the event, where some people will eat and drink and other will sleep on the table..

The Friday night (and even something before for early arrivals) we will have a group dinner in our lovely castle hotel to make sure everyone meets each other and at this celebration dinner last year Enrico Fumia the ex Lancia and Pininfarina design chief and Giorgio Stirano (F1 Engineer) were the guests of honour, this year we expect to add another famous designer. Then Saturday Morning at 6.00 am 9maybe this year at 7.00am we will see) we start to get up the mountain before the tourists.. After the event we Finish in a different location at a fabulous period villa venue near Bra 50km south of Torino, where you will have a pool to cool off and open as many beers as you want as we have a combined prize giving dinner and Beerfest. We have some very nice prizes, Vip presentations and many dedicated items and this year even a 100page hard back book. The prizes alone are worth the entry fee.

As its an informal event we do not provide technical or breakdown assistance. Your should have your own breakdown assistance and car insurance that allows you to participate in a treasure hunt or classic car tour, that's all it is and you could invalidate your insurance or services if you make different claims or behave differently, if you drive steadily and within the legal limits you can complete the route in the designated time.. The roads are all paved, but some can be a little narrow and bumpy in places and although our region is a very quiete region as the day progresses you will find things start to get more busy and you will find motorbikes, cyclist, families, walkers and even motor homes.

We have moved the 12in12 to a Saturday now and things are better. The 2021 record holder was set by Vanessa @ 21 passes in 10hrs,06m in 522kms.
You will criss cross International borders so you should have all the necessary documentation. We start early so that you will be up ahead of the day trippers, but you must obey the road regulations and conditions under your own responsibility. The route is well known by us and well planned and we drive it personally before to make sure it is all working, but the event is organised well and we have a lot of experience, but its a mountain area and surfaces and conditions can change in a very short time, some parts are easy and some are more difficult, some parts are very smooth some are a little more bumpy and we recommend your car has a least 12cm clearance or you are going to be bumping as some of the roads are very narrow and rustic.

You should carry any necessary spare parts, make sure your car is in optimum condition and that your brakes are in 100% condition, we recommend you carry a spare set of brake pads as in one event a guy with uprated brakes needed to get new pads half way around. In previous editions also David boiled his brakes (retired), Nik, Peter Sejersen, Carl von Ketteler and Frank Vink had fouled plugs (Nik and Carl didn't have spares and retired) and a couple of people had copilots who got car sick (a couple retired). This is not likely but as many of you have a long way to drive home its well worth considering. Also please please carry a good fire extinguisher, not just one that is good only for putting out a Marlboro :0

Petrol is normally available about every 90m of driving, some carry a jerry can, but it shouldn't be necessary.

What makes the event is the local knowledge and careful planning, but most of all the fantastic and unknown roads and especially all the great people who take part with such a spirit of adventure and like to have a joke but are quite determined to make a go of it. We are also honored that so many of the participants are people who have been before and come back again and again and to give them something new we will change some of the route as always but will also be making a bit of a pre and post even program for whoever wants to make a holiday out of it.

Due to popular request and our feeling so flattered that so many people make the effort to drive all the way for what is basically a one day event, we have introduced some more relaxed rallying, to let you have some holiday time too..
These are the HanniBall an event starting in the Champagne district of France, designed to give people a common warm up journey for people coming from the west to drive down to Italy together, and driving over the Alps to the start hotel, a 2 day jaunt which involves a lot of very nice passes and forrest sections. Its repeated before the first and last 12in12.

After 2 12in12’s we also have a Lake tour which takes in some famous passes such as the Furka and The Tremola and of course the lakes. This 3 day jaunt is done between the first and second 12in12 so you can join after a 12in12 or before.

New for this year is to do an event after a 12in12 so people can head west towards most homes is a proposal for an event called the Wineball. Staring after the 1/7 12in12 the idea of this event is to do a treasure hunt where you will collect wine and local produce over 2 days in the Barolo wine hills etc, then a 2/3 day drive over the Alps to a European city (we expect these to change each year). This years proposal is Brussels. Once arrived at the city we will have a finishing party to celebrate the winner and the event and also consume some of the articles collected.

So there you have an outline that answers most of people questions.
We have some local volunteers if you need a copilot and you will find the food and wine are of a high quality.
The rest is just fun.

By all means ask your questions here and we will try to answer.
Edit.. Someone was concerned after reading this. The event is primarily to see the rare cols and scenery, it is not a race, but a challenge to your steady driving and navigation skills. Yes some participants are determined to complete all 21 (or more passes), but many just enjoy the day and still compete 14-18 cols without too much stress. Everyone can do it at their own pace. Its about being part of a group and doing something people who do simple car tours dont. ��
It is called 12in12 as originally the idea was to do a minimum of 12 cols in 12 hours. Over the years, Tony has added additional cols and the current count stands at 21!

Over dinner Tony talked us through the various details for the next day. We would also have to pack up as we would be in a different hotel on Saturday evening. Each of us would be required to sign a “waiver form”, absolving Tony and team from any and all responsibility and promise not to sue them for anything. I have seen some car clubs using these waiver forms for their regular tours too, in the Netherlands and in Belgium. I am not so sure, from a legal point of view, whether these forms have much use.

In all honesty, form or no form, I don’t think you should hold Tony responsible for anything that happens out there. No matter what, you are driving your own car, at your own accord, and you know what you signed up for. Plenty of advise, to keep to safe and legal speeds, watch out for cyclists, wanderers and animals on the road. Or falling rocks. Or the weather that can change.

Tony also announced the starting grid:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7123.jpg

Peter and I would be starting 30 minutes apart. In the end Peter started 20 minutes after me. Tony had warned us that “convoying” is not allowed and would carry a time penalty. But we did not care about penalties. We drive by ourselves, without navigators, Peter’s Spider always needed both of us to get started each time. Our tools and parts are distributed over our two Spiders, so we need to stick together in case of break downs. Also, I don’t like to be all by myself these days. i need to have somebody familiar nearby. So Peter and I had already agreed up front we would drive together. We were not interested in achieving some sort of special time, or record. We were just interested in driving these gorgeous roads together. See how far we could get.

To be fair to Tony, he offered us to get us both a volunteer navigator. He did so for our friend Niek last year as well. But we are fine driving in our little two Spider convoy. Peter and I have covered tens of thousands of kilometers this way, all over Europe.

Tony also warned us that there would be a number of cycle racings taking place. So he provided a recommended sequence of driving the 21 cols, to avoid as much as possible the cyclists. The idea being that by midday most of the cycle racing would have been concluded. Cyclists coming down the mountains are particular tricky. They can reach speeds of up to 60-70 km/h and often run very wide through corners. When they do and you happen to be coming from the other direction you might end up with a cyclist on your bonnet!! So you really need to be careful here.

Everybody turned in fairly early. Like us, most had spend considerable time just driving towards the starting point. Saterday was going to be a very long and very hot day. Temperatures of well over 36oC were forecasted!!

The next morning most of us were up early. Some final checks on some cars, a light breakfast and then make it to the starting position when your start slot is up. Five minutes before your starting time, Tony hands you the map. The map is beautifully made. Everybody gets a personalised map with an image of your own car. Tony had been badgering everybody for weeks to provide an image of everybody’s car.

A few weeks earlier this is what he put up on Facebook:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220623-7.05.30-am.png
Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220623-7.05.38-am.png

Apparently, threatening people with a clown car image on their personalised map instead of an image of their own car I a great motivator!

The map itself is A3, thick plasticine and you get two copies. So you can use one and keep one pristine as a souvenir. One side has the map, the other side is a special Tony version of Monopoly. It also has the names of the various cols and check point listed. Very nicely done.

The map itself is a very simple map, not particular clear (on purpose), but it does show the various passes/cols with their names. But more often than not, it is not clear where to enter the various cols. We were also given a separate piece of paper with the recommended sequence of driving them. A couple of points on the route, such as the lunch location were identified by their Lat/Long coordination only. So Peter and I quickly figured out how to punch in Lat/Long coordinates into our TomTom’s. We also punched in all the cols, so we would have them all stored and would not lose time enroute.

At 07.50 I set off and started driving towards the first col. Peter and I had agreed I would wait for him at the second petrol station along the route. That happened to have a little cafe, so I stopped and had another cappuccino (What else in Italy), and studied the map some more. Not that I am very good a reading maps these days. I am still ok with the TomTom, but it is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to make sense out of written information, diagrams and maps and such. Peter texted me his starting slot had moved up 10 minutes, so I quickly finished my cappuccino, got in my Spider and started up as soon as I saw Peter coming. In our usual little convoy we headed for the mountains!

I don’t have too many images of us driving through these marvellous mountain passes. Too busy steering and enjoying myself. Every team was also given a time record sheet where you needed to record whether you drove a certain pass, note times and take some images to provide proof.

Here are two of those images along the way.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7125.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7126.jpeg

In all honesty, Peter and I simply forgot recording all these details. We were too busy enjoying ourselves. All participants were also using the Family360-App, which provides real time tracking. So Tony and everybody on the App group could see where everybody was all the time. Quite a neat App, but you better make sure your mobile phone has a good battery or have a charger at hand. A real battery drain these sort of apps.

This was at the top of our very first col; a very nice little church.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7128.jpeg

Driving to the next col we made a mistake. We took the wrong road leading away from this church. We noted about 150 meters down the road. Impossible to turn, way to narrow. So we decided to reverse back up, literally as we were on a very steep section going down. Not a real problem, but my Spider started to overheat as soon as I got to the top. The problem was it had gotten really warm driving up the col, then we had stopped in front of the church for a minute or so, with engines idling. So not much cooling taking place. And whilst reversing there is no wind going through the radiator at all. So the red warning light for high coolant came on.

You really ought to stop the engine when the red light comes on. But these Alfa Nord block engines are pretty sturdy, so I just edged gently down towards the correct road and drove down the mountain, plenty of cooling that way!!

When it comes to cooling all of these old classic cars can be quite challenging in these very hot and mountainous conditions. It was the little MG Midget that had the worst problems.

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However, the owner, James, in true British fashion was completely relaxed about it all. This Midget had its original engine replaced to one slightly bigger and more powerful. Cramming a bigger engine in such a small car is always a challenge. And of course driving it back in rainy old Blighty is no problem cooling wise. But pushing it up a 20o slope mountain road in the blazing Italian sun, things go wrong.

Initially it suffered a leak in the head gasket. James and his co pilot decided to just tighten up the head bolts. No torque wrench, just by feel. He is way braver man than I am!! But on this engine it did mean he had to take the camshafts out too, to get access to the head bolts!! No problem for these two plucky Brits!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-screenshot-20220623-9.09.31-am.png

That solved the leaking head gasket, but the car was still overheating during steep climbs. So they stopped at a garden centre and bought one of these pressure spray canisters. Ran the hose in front of the radiator and punched a few holes into the hose. The pressure reservoir would sit between the co-drivers leg, who would also work the pump, manually. When they drove up a mountain and the coolant temperature started to rise, the co-driver would start pumping, water would be dispersed onto the radiator and provide additional cooling. They claimed to be able to bring down the coolant temperature by 20oC!! British ingenuity at its very best!!

Some images along the route:

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Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7130.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7132.jpeg

After a couple of hours of hard driving Peter’s Spider was beginning to struggle going up the mountains. Not cooling wise, but his engine was beginning to sound rough and he was beginning to lose power.

So pulled over as best we could and started to investigate.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7133.jpeg

Our first suspect were the spark plugs. On carburator engines, driving hard up the mountains means your plugs are likely to get fouled. These engines tend to start running rich. So we pulled the spark plugs. Number 1 was sort of a bit dirty, but the other three were actually fine. Never the less, we cleaned all of them. Started the Spider with the help of the hammer once again and drove on. Initially, it appeared cleaning the plugs had done the trick. But within a few kilometers the same problem appeared, even worse. So we pulled over again.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7131.jpeg

Checked the plugs again, and they were absolutely fine. We decided to check the distributor cap and rotor. As soon as we took the distributor cap off, the problem was diagnosed fully. In the centre of the distributor cap you will find a carbon pin, that pushes against the top of the rotor by means of a build in spring. The carbon pin had worn down and it also appeared the spring underneath it was not working correctly anymore. When we fiddled with it, the pin disappeared completely! It would not pop out anymore.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7135.jpeg

We were actually quite relieved to have found such an obvious fault, because it explained all the problems with the engine. So after we took this photograph Peter said he would get the spare distributor cap from our spare parts set. But he could not find it. I had picked up the complete set. I had to repack all parts as many came in individual boxes. Took up too much space. So I packed each part is bubble wrap. I thought I had put all them in a small box which we had put in the back of Peter’s Spider. We unpacked all the parts we were given, but no distributor cap!! We could not believe it. I thought I must have left a few parts at home, how stupid can you get!!

Luckily, I remembered I also carry one complete distribution assembly, cap, rotor and shaft. It’s stuck deep inside the bonnet of my Spider wrapped in a rag. It has been there for at least 20 years. It is reminiscent of my only serious on the road Spider break down ever. At the time, the distributor shaft bearing had broken and we had to replace the whole damn thing. Somebody carried a spare and he lend it to me. But as soon as I got back home I made sure I got a spare one. Just in case. It has lived in my boot ever since. You can see it in one of the very fist images at the beginning of this thread.

However, when I unpacked it and took it out of the oily rag, we found the distributor cap was almost split into two!! Never noticed that, but you can actually see the split in that earlier photograph when zooming in. We decided in the end to wrap Gorilla Tape around the cap. Standard NASA equipment, space shuttles have been repaired with Gorilla Tape. And it held fine.

My Spider, boot open for easy access to parts and tools, still makes an interesting image!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7134.jpeg

We really enjoyed ourselves immensely, gorgeous scenery and endless great roads.

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Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7141.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7142.jpeg

Throughout the day we kept overtaking other participants and others overtook us again. A Belgium couple had brought a convertible Mustang, V8 and all, to this event. They were not going fast, just enjoying themselves.

Lunch was in the middle of the woods, wooden tables in the shade. Tony and his wife had provided all sorts of Italian food. Very enjoyable and nice to take a little rest.

Later that afternoon we came across a tiny little road side cafe. Soon another participant pulled up next to us.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7136.jpeg

Mark and Neil had brought this nice TR7, but with a different engine. They had a V8 fitted.

They took some video footage as we left the parking lot at the cafe



And a bit further up the road, we had overtaken them, but got stuck behind a really slow car!!



At around 1600 hours it started to rain. Rain became torrential very quickly. Rain after hot weather tends to make the roads slippery. Our Spiders are quite tail happy at the best of times. But when the roads get slippery you really need to be very very careful. We drove on, top down as always of course. As long as you can maintain a decent speed, you don’t get wet.

All of sudden Peter’s Spider started to splutter again. In the pouring rain, on a steep slope, not a good place to start repairing. So we decided to just turn around and descent back into the valley. That appeared to do the engine some good. We decided that we had done enough driving and just head to the finish location. We did not want to risk having any further problems out here in the mountains, in torrential rain.

Last edited by Jeroen : 23rd June 2022 at 21:48.
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Default re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

The finish location was a fabulous villa near Bra, about 55 km south of Turin.

Cars kept arriving throughout the evening. Everybody exhausted, sun burned, dusty but also very elated and satisfied with the day.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7163.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7164.jpeg

There was a big dinner party, we drank all the beer everybody had brought as well! Driving for twelve hours in the blazing sun, makes you thirsty.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7165.jpeg

Of course, Tony and his team were still hard at work, checking all individual results as teams returned throughout the evening and coming up with the final score late at night:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7216.jpeg

All things considered we were pleasantly surprised with our result. Several teams had pulled out early for various reasons. But again, for us winning was never the goal. We just had a great adventure!

This time a Dutch team won. They drove this beautiful Alfa GT:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7158.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7159.jpeg

The next morning Peter and I had breakfast at 08.00 and we were back behind the wheel at 08.30. We had decided we would drive to Basel and visit the car museum and find a place for the night a little further north.

Initially things went fine, nice driving, lots of tunnels.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7175.jpeg

But on one of the Toll roads we took a wrong turn. We were coming up to a toll booth. At that point Peter’s TomTom decided to stop working. And close to a toll booth I just follow Peter, I don’t look at anything else. So we missed the turn and ended up going through the wrong toll booth. Not a huge problem, but due to roadworks we could not turn around, all regular exits were closed. By the time we did manage to get of the toll road, we lost so much time, it did not make sense to drive all the way back. So we stopped for coffee and TomTom repairs and rethink our route.

Peter’s Spider had suffered from a small electrical problem that blew out the fuse of the cigarette lighter. Hence the TomTom coinking out. Easy fix. My box of many useful bits have everything for such a little electrical repair, including new fuses.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7177.jpeg

As we were sipping our cappuccino’s we talked over some alternative routes. We decided to drive to Geneva. Which also meant going through the Mount Blanc Tunnel.

Here we are, stuck at an unbelievable 39oC at the entrance to the tunnel:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7185.jpeg

We could not figure out why we were all stuck out here. Once we got moving, it appeared a classic Austin Healey had been pulled out of the line by the police. No idea why, as we drove past them, I could hear one of the cops telling the driver; I am sorry but you are not allowed to enter the tunnel. Not sure what the problem was. But it caused up a twenty minute delay. By the time I had gotten to the entrance of the tunnel my red coolant light had come on again. So I made for the tunnel entrance, which I figured would be a lot cooler and hopefully sloping downwards as well. This time it took considerably longer for the temperature to settle back to normal. For a couple of minute, driving in that tunnel right behind Peter, I was quite worried. Worked out fine though.

It would not surprise me if the Healey had suffered from overheating driving up to the tunnel entrance. Healey cooling system are notoriously bad. The cops dont want anybody going into the tunnel with a wonky car / engine. Fair enough.

They hand you these cards with all the instructions for the tunnel. Funnily enough when we drove through the Frejus tunnel we did not get the card, until after we had driven through the tunnel! At the Mt Blanc tunnel we got them handed out to us at the start of the tunnel.

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Once you come out of the tunnel, very nice driving. Surprisingly the roads leading up / from the tunnel are just quite small and narrow provincial roads it seems.

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7190.jpeg

After Geneva we drove on and finally decided to spend the night in a the B&B La Rose du Cèdre in Villeneuve. A very charming little town.

The Bed & Breakfast was brand new. It had opened only a month earlier. The main house needed some TLC. The family, two kids lived on the second floor whilst they were doing up the house.

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The guest rooms were in a different building. Very simple, but very comfortable rooms, with excellent AC too!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7196.jpeg

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7199.jpeg

I have stayed in all kinds of hotels all over the world. I often stay in what is considered to be “quite fancy” hotels. But many of these expensive and fancy hotels should take note of how well these B&B rooms were put together.

For one thing, all the lights had normal switches in logical places. There were plenty of sockets too. I have been to hotels where you could not even charge your phone on the nightstand because they did not provide a socket!!

Bathrooms, in many hotels, are the worst when it comes to good functional design. I have been in hotel at a cost of over $1000 a night and still no room to put down a tooth brush, let alone toothpaste, shaving gear, deodorant etc.

Peter and I walked around the little town for a while.

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Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7221.jpeg

We found a nice cafe with a terrace in the shade next to this very bridge. Had a very simple meal. Zero alcohol beer obviously, as we had a lot of driving to do next day!

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The next morning our B&B owner served us breakfast in the garden. Look at this, what a pleasant and enjoyable start of the day!!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7227.jpeg

We paid Euro 100 pp for the room (INR 8200) and Euro 10 pp for the breakfast (INR 820)

Today was Monday and we decided to press home. We took more or less the same route home, along the Route Du Soleil. Plenty of stopping, petrol, leg stretches and coffee.

This is at the second but last petrol stop that day.

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When we got home I checked my odometer. I had zero-ed it just after we left on Thursday, six days ago:

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7244.jpeg

It had registered 1824 miles. So in all, almost 3000 kilomters in just six days.

As always I always clean my Spider to get it ready for the next tour.

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The Spider wears this badge of honour as from now on!!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7248.jpeg

The map has found a place in my garage too! I managed to keep both copies, you can see the map and below it the reverse side, the Rallyopoly. Really neat! There is an understanding between Tony and all participants, nobody will show details of the map. It needs to surprise the new participants!

Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy-img_7255.jpeg

All in all, a very successful and enjoyable six days. Lots of driving, met lots of new people, saw many new places.

Just a few numbers to sum up this mega road trip:
  • Two guys, with a combined age of 128 years
  • Two Alfa Romeo Spiders with a combined age of 76 years
  • 3000 kilometers driven in six days.
  • Every day we spend a minimum of 10 hours on the road
  • About 300 liters of fuel used per Spider at a cost of about Euro 690 (INR 57000)
  • My Spider used about 2 liters of engine oil and Peter’s Spider about 1 liter.
  • Total Toll per Spider about Euro 200 (INR 16500)
  • Average cost per room with breakfast Euro 110 (INR 9000)
  • 12in12 Participation fee per Spider: Euro 200 (INR 16500)
  • 12in12 accommodation fee, including dinners and breakfast: Euro 325 (INR 26800)

Compared to India these prices might appear huge. But in all honesty, for European standards the individual prices are pretty normal. This is what petrol or a simple hotel / B7B costs and many people can afford it too.

The total fee for the 12in12 event was, as you can see from the above, Euro 525 (INR 43200). That does include two nights in the hotel, the dinners, the breakfast , the lunch and all of Tony’s meticulous preparations and production of the plasticine maps and a whole bunch of other stuff. He is doing this because he enjoys it, but he won’t be making any money out of this.

There are professional outfits that offer similar experiences. They will also charge you a lot more. You might get even better hotels, they might organise a mobile repair team, fancy wine at dinner and so on. But the fact that Tony does this more as a “hobby” makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s way more relaxed and low key, which suits us perfectly.

As I mentioned earlier, a testomony to this event is the fact that so many participants keep coming back to it, every year. Some participate several times during the year!!

Final word on the missing distributor cap in our spare part set. Peter came home with me and first thing we did was to check my garage and rummage through all the empty boxes I had kept. Nothing. Next, I looked up the original packing note. There was no mention of the distributor cap either. Then Peter and I checked our mails and our mail request to the parts supplier. We had a long list of parts we wanted to bring along, but no mention of the distributor cap! Both of us could have sworn we asked for a distributor cap, rotor and a set of spark leads. But somehow we both forgot to add it to our list. We must be getting old, very old!

The good news, the gorilla tape held the wonky distributor cap in place without any problems. Peter did have a bit of rough running in the mountains, but that went away by itself and the engine ran perfectly fine for the second half of the 12in12 and all the way home to the Netherlands! Moral of the story: Make sure to stock up on gorilla tape and put it in the boot!!

Peter and I are already thinking about our next year annual Spider trip. One thing though, we will try and do less motorway driving. It was a necessity as we simple did not have enough time to take more rural attractive roads. And we did enjoy our time on the motorways too. But we prefer the rural roads obviously!

Many thanks to Tony and team for this unique experience!

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 23rd June 2022 at 22:10.
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Old 24th June 2022, 05:12   #4
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Default re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th June 2022, 07:51   #5
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Wow, a very pleasant read that was meticulously plannned and executed nicely. Your writing skill and stamina is just great. Should inspire many of us to get a bit more our understanding of what lies under the hood to handle surprises.
Just curious, how many miles do you have on your odo.
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Old 24th June 2022, 10:20   #6
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
But the fact that Tony does this more as a “hobby” makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s way more relaxed and low key, which suits us perfectly.
This is where the difference lies. Most events like this, today, are focused towards Social Media. The "Passion" & "Hobby" side of it are of less significance. Take lots of photos (nothing wrong with that), to prove a point and you tend to forget the very purpose of making the trip.

Wonderful trip report. I am probably half your age but this is the kind of road trip I like and appreciate versus racing up towards a destination. You get to see and experience the country, enjoy the remote countryside. Its all I do when I ride my motorcycle or if I head out solo in my car. Definitely helps more when you have like minded company. I take things at my own pace. I end up discovering places I would not have otherwise. Towns with a population of <500 people, etc.

I did not know Europe gets so hot in summers. You always think of summers as favorable weather for the outdoors, especially in your part of the world. I guess its warming up everywhere.

I do not know anything about the French. However; after reading about flaring tempers on Black Saturday, the TV show titled "Call My Agent" is starting to make sense.
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Old 24th June 2022, 10:45   #7
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Lovely report, Jeroen Sir. Your report has thrown up a new world of learning, most of which I practice - whether it is an old car of the 70s or the most modern car.

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
- Peter and I always carry a large amount of tools and parts with us.
- Always carry lots of water and a tow rope
- always take a spare set of keys.
- money, the real paper deal and the plastic ones
- you will be surprised on how few shops and businesses in the Netherlands accept credit cards. You can’t buy food in a supermarket or even pay for fuel by credit card
- canvas bags are easier to store and cram into the boot
- keep the spare tire about 10-15% above the normal pressure to allow for some air to permeate out over time
- Double check oil and coolant
- usually drive about 1.5 - 2 hours and stop for coffee / toilet / fill up with petrol
Interesting tips, especially the credit card issue in Netherlands. When my Dad used to do long drives in his Standard Herald and the Super 10, he would drive approx 3 hours, then stop for the engine to cool off, place a damp rag on the ignition coil shell, and move on.

Quote:
These toll booths are worse for me. Because they will have machines talking to you in French, or worse in Italian. Sometimes you have to push a button to get a ticket, sometimes the ticket appears automatically, sometimes you pay as you enter, other times you need to push your ticket in a particular slot and a credit card in another slot
Wonder why these toll systems can't be standardized globally. Plus English has to be an option else it can be a huge issue for travellers.

Quote:
Peter turned the ignition key, nothing happened, but I could hear the newly installed relay click. Which almost certainly meant the problem was in the new starter motor. With Peter starting I hit the bendix of the starter motor and it fired up right away
Have faced this issue in my Premier Padmini, and learnt this technique when I saw the cleaner of a private bus get under the bus, and hit the starter body using a stick (lathi).

Quote:
Ran the hose in front of the radiator and punched a few holes into the hose. The pressure reservoir would sit between the co-drivers leg, who would also work the pump, manually. When they drove up a mountain and the coolant temperature started to rise, the co-driver would start pumping, water would be dispersed onto the radiator and provide additional cooling. They claimed to be able to bring down the coolant temperature by 20oC!! British ingenuity at its very best!!
Wow!! No wonder India and regions around are masters at such jugaads.

Quote:
- The carbon pin had worn down and it also appeared the spring underneath it was not working correctly anymore.
- However, when I unpacked it and took it out of the oily rag, we found the distributor cap was almost split into two!! decided in the end to wrap Gorilla Tape around the cap.
Another workaround to get one back home. Such things are possible only on an older car with little to no electronics.

Quote:
Peter’s Spider had suffered from a small electrical problem that blew out the fuse of the cigarette lighter
Was this because an FM modulator or a mobile charger was shoved into the cigar lighter port? I've faced this issue twice - once on my own Maruti Versa and then on a 2007 Honda Accord.
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Old 24th June 2022, 10:47   #8
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

What a wonderful & delightful travelogue. Kudos to you and your friend to be able to do this and hope you are able to continue the tradition for years to come. Also loved the concept of asking everyone to bring their own local beers - must have been fantastic experience tasting all the different options.

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Peter and I never keep track in detail on who pays for what. One stop he will pay for the coffee, the next I would pay. He pays for the hotel, I would pay for the dinner, drinks and breakfast. We sort of keep a mental tally, but its more by guts and feel and knowing neither of us want to put the other out of pocket. Very convenient and it has worked for us for several decades.
That's proper friendship if you ask me. I have been doing the same with my closest friends since decades - my wife can not simply comprehend this
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Old 24th June 2022, 13:52   #9
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Just curious, how many miles do you have on your odo.
It stands at 136651 miles, so about 220.000 km. In all honesty, the real mileage my Spider has done is higher. I have driven with the odometer not working for some time in the past.

So more than 200K kilometers, still without a major engine overhaul required! Fingers crossed!!

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Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
T
I did not know Europe gets so hot in summers. You always think of summers as favorable weather for the outdoors, especially in your part of the world. I guess its warming up everywhere.
.
Yes, Europe especially southern Europe gets pretty hot. You find yourself in a town such as Madrid in the summer and it will be very similar to Delhi.

All along the Mediterranean coast, Spain, France, Italy it can get very hot!

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Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Another workaround to get one back home. Such things are possible only on an older car with little to no electronics.
Depends of course, but also on modern cars with bags of electronics, there are simple work arounds possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Was this because an FM modulator or a mobile charger was shoved into the cigar lighter port? I've faced this issue twice - once on my own Maruti Versa and then on a 2007 Honda Accord.
Nothing like that. The little faceplate holding the cigarette lighter and another switch in place had become loose. So it rattled about and one of the electrical wires/connectors must have short circuited something somehow. So all we had to do, was fix it properly to stay in place and replace the fuse.

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 24th June 2022 at 14:19.
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Old 24th June 2022, 13:56   #10
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Lovely write up! Thanks for sharing amazing spiderlogue!

Last edited by benbsb29 : 27th June 2022 at 06:03. Reason: Corrected punctuation.
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Old 24th June 2022, 16:22   #11
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

What a beautiful write up and photos! You're lucky to have the chance to do this, sir, especially intros beautiful vehicles!

The drive through Geneva is beautiful, I had done one with friends back in 2013 when we went to the Geneva Motor Show and then drove down to Monteaux on a rainy evening - co-incidentally in a 2010 Alfa Romeo Giuletta!
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Old 24th June 2022, 17:28   #12
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Wonderful storytelling! I can see how driving is different experientially and culturally where you are, as compared to here in India.

Though I was getting a bit anxious reading about the road work and diversions and traffic - coz when we think of the roads outside of India, in my head at least they are straight, high-speed, traffic-free!

Your write-up is also a very helpful guide for first-time drivers, in preparing and taking on such drives.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading.
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Old 24th June 2022, 18:13   #13
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

What a wonderful, wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it with us. A summer drive through Alpine passes in classic Italian convertibles - every word is heavenly.
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Old 24th June 2022, 22:21   #14
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Though I was getting a bit anxious reading about the road work and diversions and traffic - coz when we think of the roads outside of India, in my head at least they are straight, high-speed, traffic-free!
.
European motorways can get very congested. Even in a small country like the Netherlands we have 300-400 km of congestion everyday morning and evening hours as people commute. On a bad day it goes up to 900-100 km. This is in a country only 135 km wide and less than 250 km at its most northern/southern axis. We have a lot of motorways and they are chock a block.

Our kids live 30 minutes drive from us. Unless we need to travel to/from them during peak hours as it can easily double. Mind you even then it is still better than my commute Gurgaon Delhi in the evening was.

The big difference between Europe congested motorways and Indian motorways is lane discipline. If it’s a 2, 3, or 4 lane motorway in Europe people will stay in their lane. In India on a 2 lane motorway you will have 4-5 maybe even six cars driving next to each other.

In Europe on congested motorway you can drive pass the cars on your motor bike carefully. No problem, car drivers will even pull over to let the bikes get through. In India, on my Royal Enfield Bullet is was stuck as solid as every car. No room to move even an inch! Quite the experience for me.

Jeroen
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Old 25th June 2022, 10:48   #15
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Default Re: Alfa Romeo: Mega-drive through Europe to participate in unique 12in12 event in Italy

Fantastic write up Jeroen. Really enjoyed reading and the 12in12 is definitely on my list of things to do now!

Can you bring any car to the event or does it need to be a Classic? Obviously more fun in a classic but not everyone has one.

Sorry to hear about the health issues you mentioned a few times. You have done amazingly well and the amount of stuff you do would put younger ones like me to shame. In fact after reading your log I'm convinced to do a Europe drive soon!
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