COTD: Breaking The Law And The Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Illustration for article titled COTD: Breaking The Law And The Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Alfa Romeo is remembered today as one of the most successful racing companies of all time. Their cars dominated in grand prix racing in before and after WWII. How did they stay relevant for so long? By breaking the law.


In 1937, Alfa Romeo debuted a successful single seater called the 158 "Alfetta." It wasn't long before Hitler started blitzkrieging people and Italy allied (Axis'd?) with the Germans. Alfa's racing team knew that if their cars were left out during the war, they could be taken as spoils of war by Nazis, or destroyed for scrap. So they dismantled five of their 158s and hid them in a cheese factory for the duration of the war. Italy's war effort needed all the metal it could get, but they weren't going to get any Alfettas.

After the war, Alfa put its 158s back together and went racing again. All the other racing manufacturers had been wrecked by the war, so Alfa walked the field. It took years for anyone else to catch up. Alfa may have been disobeying wartime government in hiding their cars away, but it was for good.

As we went over all of our car accident stories, Earthbound And Down told us his own story in the car world of people stretching what's legal, but doing it for a good cause.

Last time I got into an accident, about 4 years ago, a woman in front of me slammed on her brakes to do a U-turn about 100 feet past a stoplight — right in front of a No U-Turn sign. I held my brakes just outside of ABS engagement, smashed the hazards button and managed to stop with about an inch to spare. Just as I breathe a sigh of relief, I look into my rearview and realize the Accord behind me is not prepared to stop in time. So I brace, and he hits me. Hard.
Now, knowing this was most definitely not my fault in the eyes of the law, I proceeded to start memorizing the offending u-turner's license plate number as the Accord behind me follows me off the road onto a side street. The woman in front of me did this as well, at the behest of my honking, brights-flashing and yelling, but then she took off for whatever reason her pea brain could afford at the time.

Thankfully, I remembered the license plate number all the way through this ordeal, having not thought to write it down by then. The guy who hit me gets out of the car with his passenger, I get out with my two passengers. He knows it was that woman's fault for stopping illegally, as well, so he's not concerned with getting me in trouble. Which is good, because at that moment, he looks me right in the eyes and says the following:

"Oh shit, you guys were smoking, weren't you?"

And yes, I'll admit it, we were young and stupid and smoking in the car. But hey, I was still the one with the eyes and brains requisite to stop in time (and there was traffic to the right of me, so changing lanes was a non-option). So, he looks at both my friends, and says, "Grab all the shit out of the car, call a friend and get picked up a couple blocks away at the gas station. Let's make this easy for everybody, seeing as how it was neither of our faults technically. I only ever saw one of you in this car." So my friends pack up the pot and leave, and then we call the cops.

Cops show up, make us file the accident reports, etc. etc., take down the woman's license plate number and say, "We'll have a surprise waiting for her when she gets home. She's only a few blocks away." No ticket for me, and virtually no damage, as well — the Accord behind me royally fucked up his front end, but my car seemed to escape any damage minus a small scratch at the bottom of the rear bumper (later, I'd find out that it actually sheared my transmission mount clear off the car, resting the trans against the subframe, a $100 fix). Cops never even wanted to look in either of our cars as neither of us were at fault, but I still to this day thank my lucky stars that this dude was relatively cool.

For the TL/DR crowd, check out this Pink Floyd lyricization, because it was also pretty brilliant. We do recommend you read the whole car accidents thread, as there's more than a little knowledge getting dropped over there.


Photo Credit: Getty Images


Earthbound And Down

Hey! That's me! It's my first CotD, so I'm pretty tickled at the props for my storytelling, that being my job and all (not commenting on Jalopnik — I wish).

Thanks for the props, Raph! You're not named after my favorite turtle, but in honor of this, I'll change it from Michelangelo for the day.