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11th February 2019

ICE goes digital in the 1993 Alfa

A fellow car nut on Twitter put out an appeal to rehome his Sony Car Discman (D-180K) from 1989, and asked if anyone had a suitable vehicle from period that could use it. I uploaded my picture of the Alfa 'returning to 1993' with cassettes and old Sony mars bar mobile phone from about 6 months ago, and it was enough for me to secure 2nd ownership of the kit. I'm very greatful for it, it's a lovely item that really compliments my old car.

I knew about Sony Discmans as portable CD players from the late 1980's that were the then 'new' 'replacement' for cassette Walkmans, but I didn't even know there had been a car version until now.

It is a marvelous piece of equipment that loads a single CD in the top, and transmits the audio output via a special cassette to the play head in the car's radio cassette unit.

I still regularly play some old tapes in the car from the late 80's that have moved from car to car over 3 decades, but it will be lovely to play some of my favourite 90's CDs in the car too. I've tried one, and the sound quality was clearer than tape, and sounded great through my 1980s Alpine 9 inch speakers!

27th December 2018

Superb Siem Foglights

Post Christmas, I've started looking at random car and bike items on Ebay with dreams of what I might do in 2019 when Spring and Summer come.

By chance I came across the most fabulous item, which was a Siem spotlight/ foglight set complete with yellow reflectors and white plastic 'Siem' embossed covers.

I'm guessing this set dates back to the mid 1980s and is made all the more magnificent by having a picture of a Lancia 037 group B rally car on the box. The 037 is probably my favourite car ever, and images of the 'Siem' logo'd front end are lodged in my brain, and I'm sure they are in many other car and rally fans of a certain age.

These rectangular lamps were actually fitted low as standard equipment foglamps/ driving lamps to Peugeot 205 GTIs (and possibly CTI and XS), early Alfa 33s and others. My own Alfa Sprint Cloverleaf owned many years ago had these fitted and I even had the plastic covers, but in black and with Alfa Romeo circle logos on them.

If you're feeling flush and they're still available you can buy this amazing set from Italy via Ebay for around 300 posted, and by the way, one of the covers is actually broken at that price!

See the Siem listing here

Photo from

Mid November 2018

Italian nostalgia

I've 'borrowed' this fabulous photo' from someone on Twitter as it evoked a wonderful childhood memory.

The first time I ever rode on a powered two-wheeler was aged just 6, and on the back of a white Vespa ridden by a beautiful, blonde, young Italian lady called Sylvia, and it was in Rome!

It was in the 1970s and my parents did some hosting of foreign students at our house for an organisation called European Friendship or 'EF' for short. I remember one girl from Germany and a couple from Italy, in particular Sylvia. When she stayed at our house one summer she was about 18 years old, smoked cigarettes and told me that she had a Vespa- I was beguiled, even at 6 years old!

The following spring her family had invited our family to visit them at their home in Rome and my parents jumped at the chance. Her father had a Moto Guzzi and I hadn't forgotten that Sylvia had a Vespa, and pleaded with her and my parents to let me have a go on the back. She obliged, and took me for a few magical circles around their large garage with me clutching on around her waist.

It's a fond memory that has never left me. I've never owned a Vespa or Lambretta but I've always had an affinity with them, especially when I see them and smell the two-stroke smoke on holidays in Italy.

1st and 6th November 2018

Two more MOT's in one week!

There's nothing like having two cars in for MOT testing in the space of one week to raise stress levels.

Having had the 25 year old Alfa 33 pass the other week without advisories, it was the turn of the Fiat Grande Punto and Alfa Romeo GT which are both just turning 10 years old.

I'd been 'through' them recently but was a bit worried about the GT's exhaust back box as it looks like it has come off the Titanic it's so corroded. It is however a two core affair and the inner core seems to be holding up for now and it doesn't blow. It was in good enough shape to get through the test as an advisory along with two others for front disc and rear pad wear.

The Fiat slipped through with just an advisory for a weepy gearbox that has been an issue for years, although I regularly run a rag over it and check the oil level.

What was a first was that the MOT test centre now allows you to watch the proceedure via CCTV and their waiting room TV screen, so you can see what they are shaking and poking.

5th November 2018

Rear lights clean up

Having washed and waxed the old Alfa (Autoglym Super Resin) ready for the winter, I wanted to clean up the gunky rear lights and more importantly, behind them. They hadn't been out for a few years, but are very quick and simple to remove. It was well worth the effort as the lights and body work were caked in black sludge. Everything was cleaned up, dried, basted in Waxoyl and refitted. Much satisfaction.

2nd November 2018

Fiddly bulb!

I've done it before, and so when my wife said she had a sidelight out on the Alfa GT, I was filled with dread. What a fiddly little bulb, that has to be removed and refitted mostly by feel alone.

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