"Cars with style and backstory have always had a way of drawing people together. And for Charles Evans they have been the building blocks of a dynamic community and part of an important process of healing. “I’d always been "
Imported Classics: The Rat
The Rat typifies the wacky racer aesthetic: non-standard, full of texture and patina – and is the most spirited of specialist drives, as Charles Wright writes.
This is The Rat. It’s a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI Saloon, which was supplied new to the Italian market and imported to the UK in around 1972. Since then it has lived a fairly hard life, as you can see. It was rescued from a barn in Sussex by my friend and Alfa Romeo specialist Ian Ellis, in around 2010. Ian is the leading expert in the 105 series cars.
The Rat was in a real state when Ian found it in the barn, and for a while it lived outside near a brickworks. This is where it acquired this interesting patina that it has now. We have decided to keep it like that. I think it adds a kind of presence that you couldn’t artificially create. You could bare metal it and take it back to super shiny, but as it is it has its own persona, a little ratty persona that has developed.
Now, The Rat is well loved within the community. The car is non-standard, like nearly all my cars. It originally ran the 1300 engine. It then had a 1900 in it, which unfortunately let go. That was a bad day. But we went straight back with a two-litre Twinspark from a 75, which is what it runs now. It is a standard spec engine, so it produces about 150 BHP, which makes it a very interesting drive indeed.
It has got a full Alfaholics/Classic Alfa break and suspension kit, and a full Limited Slip Differential Alfaholics set up on the rear axle. It may look scruffy, but it goes very well! I ran it recently at Goodwood on the classic Alfa track day and it embarrassed a number of far more powerful cars. Thing is, this is such a unique car that I know from the ground up – so I am able to drive it with total commitment. It went all day and then I drove it home.
There is nothing more you can ask from a car. Like many of my cars there is a very loyal following attached to them. The Alfa enthusiasts are very keen – and they are very much drive-your-car type of people. I have a cluster of guys that I know who really believe as I do that if you have an interesting car it should be driven – otherwise it becomes a relic, something just to look at.
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