When head office learned about the 147 shoot they only gave me one advice. Shoot it on a sunny day, the livery will look good in the sun. Well… we postponed the first shoot because a snow storm. Not that we would not shoot, but the track got closed. Great, next time it will be sunny. Next time it was Storm Freya. Not so sunny. Actually, it was pretty miserable.
Was I upset? No. Not one bit. You see, I always felt that it takes such miserable weather to fully appreciate just how pretty this car is. On a damp, dark day at Brands Hatch, the 147 shined like a beacon from another world. The bright design seemed to blow life into the yellow lines on the asphalt. It seemed to make the grass a little greener. And when you added the red brake lights to the mix, the set was completely transformed.
It seems this 147 has something special about it. First time I saw it, it a crowded hall at Autosport International, it instantly made my pulse go a little faster. Why? Not sure. The thing is, the more I asked about the car the more I became unsure about where the magic was really coming from. Let me explain.
The story of this car started before the war. With an immortal 8C. A racing 8C. A certain Eugenio Fontana was at the helm. He was not as highly rated as the top drivers of the era. Perhaps he was a little frustrated by this, but, to his credit, he devoted quite a lot of time to building the family business. Together with the founder’s daughter, Albertina, he was running Filippo Berio.
His moment came at the Coppa Ciano. Competing against the likes of Tazio Nuvolari and Luigi Fagioli, Eugenio showed his true colours. He progressed from a distant 17th at the start to end the race 5th. In 8 laps. Remember that 5th position. Enter Andrew Fulcher. A seasoned racing driver, on both cars and trucks. Wait, trucks? Well, he works for a logistics company, so it’s not that hard to imagine. The company, Lenham Storage, is the UK storage and distribution partner for Filippo Berio. As a true Alfista, Andrew wanted an authentic livery for his racing 147. And Walter Zanre, a fellow Alfista and Chief Executive of Filippo Berio UK made it happen.
Eugenio had to hang up his gloves. His family eventually convinced him to put safety first and devote his talent to the business, not to blasting through corners in fast Alfas. His children and grandchildren were forbidden to race. Yet this is not the end of the story. When Andrew lined up 8th on the grid at last year’s Silverstone debut event, he did not feel very happy with himself. After all, his car is a race winner, it deserved better. Then, in the race, everything came together. And he finished, you guessed it, 5th. There is something more to this car.
The one thing you realise very quickly in the Alfa community, is that you are always just one step away from a legend. Just like builders excavating for a building’s foundation on Rome, the glory of the fascinating past reveals itself when you least expect it. And, for all its ancient origin, the legend still feels incredibly alive. Why did I like this 147 in the first place? Is it because it looked lighter, more nimble, more elegant and more intense than the stock model? Or is it that 8C gold dust that grandfather Eugenio blowed over the times to bring this racing tradition back to life?