Some say you need to be crazy to own one!

Being a petrolhead and not loving Alfa Romeos is a bit of a contradiction in terms. Well, maybe.

For us of the older generation Alfa always have been special. Their overt sportiness is undeniable and even through ups and downs, that remains. A company with a chequered past and hits and misses on a business level, the Milan-based manufacturer mostly delivered the goods when it comes to product. But maybe that needs to be qualified: the styling has almost always been spot on (certainly in the case of every GTV ever), the road manners have been a sheer pleasure and the way they make a driver feel emotionally is without peer in mass market cars. These are sweeping statements of course and there have been exceptions.

Alfa Romeo have kept their iconic grille design over the years, one that immediately tells you what car it is.

But even the big cars – the 164 and the 159 for example – left a driver feeling highly satisfied.

Quality-wise…hmmm, a lot of them have been about as consistent as Donald Trump on Twitter.

Alfa Romeo Cuore Sportivo, the Alfa history by Lorenzo Ardizio, includes a foreword by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd. Mason is a passionate car collector and can talk with authority about cars old and new and has also driven many cars in his expansive stable in anger.

In his missive he makes a comparison between cars and animals and points out that there’s little in common between a leopard in a zoo and one in the natural world. True beauty comes in seeing it in action, rather than static, he says.

Alfas are very much like that. They do look good static but they look much better on the move! And of course movement brings with it other sensory pleasure, like sound.

As a teenager I can remember sitting on the cheap seats at Kyalami, with a train of GTVs coming through Crowthorne, multiple 3.0-litre V6s at full chat still a sharp memory. Motorsport has been part of Alfa’s heritage forever though sometimes also a hit and miss affair, from Formula one down. Remarkably, Alfas have only won 10 F1 races.

Nowadays we see Alfa Romeo in F1 via Sauber, an outfit that has had more partners than Liz Taylor. Could 2019 be a significant year for Alfa Rome Sauber F1 with Kimi Raikkonen joining them until the end of 2020? Or is he just slowly winding down into retirement?

Whatever comes to pass on the tracks, there is no doubt that there are still plenty of special Alfa Romeo road cars. Witness the Giulietta, Giulia and the 4C…all three striking, exciting offerings in their segment with a unique flavour. And judging by the number of Alfa customers who make contact with RGMotorsport, there are still plenty of owners who want to make their one more special than the next! There have been special versions of all three to come out of the Motorsport workshop at RGM.

Front grille of an Alfa Romeo

That in itself is an endorsement of the brand – people don’t just buy it and feel the job is done. There’s a constant hunger, a need to feel how changes will enhance the performance and overall driving experience still further…it’s a bit like an addiction – but a good one!


It’s a boulevard of broken dreams for some…and where dreams come true for others

The road running uphill to the entrance of the Simola Golf and Country Estate doesn’t have a malevolent presence. It isn’t darkly brooding, and doesn’t boast unnerving drop-offs that’ll have the unwary and inattentive heavily punished for the smallest indiscretion.

In fact, at a glance it looks innocently innocuous, flanked on one side by a lush golf course and on the other, by conifer plantations. It looks like the kind of place you’d go to for 18 holes, or an invigorating early morning run.

But it is here that some of the fastest cars in the land gather once a year to face-off for the singular honour of being King of the Hill.

To the uninitiated, it might not even qualify as a hill. Elevation change from top to bottom is roughly 160 metres and the total run is about 1 800 metres. It is quite steep in parts, but it is no rollercoaster ride. Depending on how you define a corner, it has two or three…and a series of curvaceous kinks near the end of the run.

But that all changes when the run is tackled flat out in a car that is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in three or four seconds and will reach 250-plus in a heartbeat. The ‘gentle’ kinks that bring the run to a climax are negotiated at eye-watering speed and the entire route is narrow, undulating, bumpy and in places has a surface which is unpredictable. From start to finish it is totally unforgiving.

This is the backdrop to the annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb speedfest, where a driver’s courage and a powerful car capable of handling the unique nature of the course meet. It all happens in May and the dates for 2019 have been confirmed: May 2 – 5.

If you haven’t been, it should be on you bucket list! Find out more here:


You can make a small fortune out of motorsport, but only by starting with a large one, or so the saying goes. By Adrian Burford

That’s why, when someone comes along and expresses an interest in the career of a youngster, promising to ‘find money’, most fathers will prick up their ears. Problem is, one Patrick Barnard seems to be out to weave a web of lies and thereby take potential sponsors – and also the competitor’s reputation – for a ride.

The sequence of events which led to Mr Barnard being exposed is an unusual one: he sent an e-mail to Sport and Cargo SA, the company which has the South African agency for Thule. As many of you will know, they make a range of excellent products: luggage, bike racks and other equipment for sports users and roof-top luggage boxes, to name a few.

I’ve had a long association with Thule, and am on their payroll as a consultant on motoring matters – what goes on in the broader motor industry obviously impacts their business.

So when I got an e-mail from their marketing team, forwarding a sponsorship “proposal” (I put it in inverted commas because it was a proposal in name only) I was quite curious: the name of the motorsport personality being promoted was very familiar to me and some of the claims made in the proposal were quite ludicrous.

One was that the young man ‘signed’ by Barnard had recently tested a Jetta GTC car and would be moving into the series for 2018. The other was that Barnard had worked closely with the likes of Hennie Groenewald and George Fouche. That turned out to be something of a half-truth – he did seek sponsors on their behalf some decades ago – with an unhappy ending in both instances. According to George, Barnard still owes him money…

Other statements raised red flags, for example, that the series the young man in question was competing in was a national championship one and that on average 8 000 spectators watched each race.

It appeared Barnard desperately wanted money from Thule – pronto. So I phoned the young man’s father – AJ Kernick, a respected racer, fabricator and car builder. Needless to say, he was speechless: he’s never so much as clapped eyes on Barnard nor spoken to him. Yet he claimed to represent Michael, AJ’s teenage son. Thule are not parting with any money just yet and if they had, who knows how much of it would’ve been channelled to the competitor?

Durban-based 24/7 Fuels was less lucky. Barnard approached them too, claiming to represent young Michael Kernick. He talked them out of 240 litres of race fuel, a substantial amount of other product, and some thousands in cash. None of which the Kernicks have seen.

AJ, who in his racing heyday just missed out on a national Formula Vee championship when the category was frenetically competitive, was horrified. Not only that his good family name would be besmirched, but that someone was being ripped off.

Despite their loss, 24/7’s Kershen Naidoo decided not to pursue legal action – it’s more trouble than it is worth - so he has put it down to experience, albeit a bad one.

Barnard has been stopped in his tracks – at least as far as Thule and 24/7 are concerned but how many more ‘proposals’ are there in circulation?

There is no happy ending to this kind of story unfortunately and the youngster is battling on, wiser than before but no better off in terms of funding. Does he have talent? I think so. Does he have the right work ethic? I think so too. Maybe someone should take a look – if he is like his dad, he’ll be a fast, savvy and technically astute driver.

However, what he has managed to hang on to despite the so-called ‘agent’, is his reputation - and that’s priceless.