The evergreen tease of the new Giulia has sparked renewed interest in Alfa Romeo in the United States. After Alfa Romeo left the US in 1995 amid low interest and overall sales, the only Italian cars available stateside were the Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ferrari supercars that were well above "modest." That said, even when there was not going to be any more state-side Alfa Romeos available, it didn't matter to the die-hard Alfa drivers. Those who really liked Alfas really liked Alfas and it was obvious the passion was not going anywhere. Thanks to them, we can still see Alfas out in the wild. I have been lucky to see some of them roaming around the Bay Area now and again, many of them from the early 90s.
If you are an enthusiast watching the vintage car market, you will notice that cars that were once thought of as throwaways after their heyday are now becoming quite valuable. I say throwaways in a sense that once a car was considered "old" it was no longer of value to the market. The astronomical demand and pricing of vintage street and racing cars in recent years have brought attention to the less-loved marques of yesteryear. Air-cooled Porsches, high-revving Lamborghinis and Ferraris, as well as the 80s BMWs have all been accounted for. Are vintage Alfas, FIATs, Lancias, and Maseratis primed to earn a bump in price as the demand for vintage cars increase?
Enter EuroClassix Cars in San Francisco, CA headed by Marco Marini, Gianluca Baldo and Shawn Evans; die-hard Italian automobile enthusiasts and long-time Alfa aficionados. This gem of a find in the Bay Area may be the answer to an Alfisti's wants and dreams.
"We don't sell cars. We sell history, nostalgia and style"
A bright and early morning saw me heading out to an industrial area of SF. On this stretch of a quiet Jerrold avenue lays a nondescript warehouse, save for a gigantic Alfa Romeo badge hanging off the side of the building. Seriously, you cannot miss it.
Inside is filled with Italian nostalgia complete with a vast array of vintage Vespas, Lambrettas, Italian racing posters and of course, Alfa Romeos.
I met up with Marco, a man who is about as passionate about Alfas as anyone can get. After showing me around and letting me sit in all of the cars I understood very quickly the allure and nostalgia one may feel when stepping into the shop. I stood there and soaked in all the history. Various props dressed up the place, including a really cool Mobilgas gas pump.
The inside of Alfas are pretty simple and yet perfect. The dashboard, steering wheel and instruments were beautifully made. As cliché as it sounds: simple, but elegant. The leather in each respective car had all the same smell and it was as if they were all straight from the showroom. Not bad for 40 year old cars!
“You like Vespas? I like Vespas!”
Marco's business partner Gianluca runs the sister company Bello Moto which is housed in the same building. Selling vintage Vespa and Lambretta scooters in a big city like SF is a great idea because, if you have ever been to SF, you will find that many people tend to run around town with Vespa scooters as a more nimble form of transportation. I implore you to watch the movie Larry Crowne starring Tom Hanks so you really get an idea of how much fun Vespas can be. I digress.
The meeting of Marco and Gianluca was quite serendipitous. One day Marco was on his way to check out a vintage Vespa he had been eyeing. He met with the buyer and while there, Gianluca showed up to check out the other Vespas in the seller's collection. Not knowing each other at first, the love affair of the Vespa connected Marco and Gianluca and they got to talking about their common interests. After their conversation, they went separate ways not knowing what was bound to happen next.
A few weeks later, Macro dropped off his son at a birthday party and low and behold, as Marco was leaving the party, Gianluca had showed up on the front doorstep also dropping off his own son. From there, they exchanged contact information, got familiar with each other and found out they had a lot of mutual friends in Italy. Marco and Gianluca opened up EuroClassix in 2014 and experimented with 4 cars. All four sold out in a short amount of time, which was a great sign for the business. Today, their combined networks have expanded EuroClassix's exciting array of exclusive offerings of vintage cars and scooters.
“You have visitors!”
Marco had two sets of potential buyers during my visit who were really passionate Alfa Romeo owners and enthusiasts.
A father and son had driven all the way up from Bakersfield to check out the Giulia Super 1.3, as it was a candidate for them to turn into a vintage racing car. Not a bad idea!
The other buyers were a husband and wife who arrived in true Italian Style in their own Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV. They were looking at two cars in particular.
It was really cool to see a fellow SF resident show up in the POURING RAIN to have one of Bello Moto's mechanics take a look at his vintage Vespa. Didn't I say something about SF being a hotbed for scooters? Looks like he found the right shop.
“The Family Legacy”
After everyone left and Marco finished his tasks, we all headed out to grab some lunch at the taqueria down the street. There I got to learn a little bit more about Marco, why he started EuroClassix (he credits Gary Vaynerchuk's book Crush It as one of the inspirations) and what he hopes to achieve with EuroClassix. Marco, being an honest man who bleeds vintage Italian cars and scooters, believes EuroClassix can unite like-minded enthusiasts and wants nothing more than to spread the joys of owning an Italian car and to create a community around it.
The passion has already spread to Marco's son who, as a result of pure osmosis (hard work and sweat equity), enjoys the cars as much as his dad. Because he is there nearly every Saturday to hang out in the shop and help maintain the cars, he has become the envy of his friends at school. "All my friends always want to visit the shop," he tells me. I wish I had the opportunity he currently does when I was his age! The future of vintage car enthusiasts (and perhaps racers) bodes well with Marco's son.
The Legacy Continues
I would like to thank Marco for allowing me to spend time in his shop, sitting in the cars and talking cars. It was a pleasurable experience and I had a lot of fun. I also wanted to thank his son for being a cool car enthusiast and giving me hope in the future generations. Also, Marco, thank you for the lunch! I really appreciate the hospitality you showed me during my visit!
Euro Classix Cars
1690 Jerrold Ave. Suite B
San Francisco, CA 94124
This blog post originally appeared on Sharplite Media.