This week we had the pleasure of interviewing long-time Alfisti Jonny Shears, an automotive photographer, historic racer and classic car enthusiast. Jonny helped build one of the UK’s leading auction houses before joining Pendine Historic Cars in 2018, a company specialising in the sale of historic cars for road and track. He sat down to share some of his favourite Alfa memories with us, and explain why the brand means so much to him.
Do you currently own an Alfa? If so, what do you have?
Currently I own two Alfas: a 1975 GT Junior, which I have carefully upgraded and modified to be able to tackle all forms of driving - be it track days, highways or popping to the shops. I also own a 1969 Duetto Spider in standard form, which is an on-going rolling project but almost nearing completion at last!
What is your most memorable Alfa experience?
My most memorable Alfa experience has to be my first big trip in my GT Junior which was a weekend-long car event in the Champagne region of France. I drove the car over with my father and took part in a Track Day and classic car road rally as part of the event. It was a small event which featured some of the most desirable classic cars imaginable, and the Alfa was admired by all. It spent all day hacking around the track, served as transport to the dinner party, and chased Bugatti's through vineyards on the road rally. Honestly, driving that GT Junior, leading 20 other classic cars though the vineyards of France, was a drive that is hard to forget. After all of that, it drove all the way back to England again without missing a beat!
If you could have any Alfa, what would it be?
That's a tough one. There are many incredible models and variations of both pre-war and post-war cars. I guess I would say my Alfa GT Junior as it’s given me so many incredible memories, but if I can’t choose mine it would have to be a TZ2 or an 8C Monza - there are to many great cars to choose from!
What was your first Alfa?
My first Alfa was my GT Junior. I had always lusted over the 105 series, and 7 years ago I was fortunate enough - after much saving - to buy the car. I love the car, and me and my wife both use it on road and track as much as possible.
What is your favourite Alfa?
Again, another difficult one for me. I guess I could be specific and single it down to one car in particular, which for me would be the is the 1933 8C Viotti Coupe. It's one of the most striking and elegant cars I have ever seen, and has a fascinating history.
Why is Alfa special to you?
Alfa is special to me because of the long heritage and its motorsport pedigree, which helped develop its cars. The cars were built to not only be beautiful, but also purposeful and innovative. As a result they provided the best possible driving experience at all times, and made sports cars and the technology accessible to the masses. There’s a special feeling you get when you sit in an Alfa Romeo. You can almost feel the soul and history of the car.
Which drive holds the most special memory and why?
I’ve had so many memorable drives in Alfa Romeos, its difficult to single out one. However, one which will always hold a special memory for me has got to be the one used for my wedding, and the drive on my wedding day with my wife.
What is your favourite story involving an Alfa?
One of my favourite Alfa stories is actually from a friend of mine who was driving a 1950s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Lightweight in the 1980s, and a gentleman in a brand new Renault 5 Turbo 2 racing special decided to have some fun and try to race him. The race didn’t last long and the Alfa won, with the Renault a comfortable second after spectacularly blowing up the engine trying to keep up!