Archive for the 'History' Category

Herr Herpertz

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

According to the original German registration papers, the second owner of the car, Bernhard Herpertz, was 31 years old when he bought the secondhand Montreal from Hans Klaus Wirtz on 12. April 1977. When he sold it to Herr Irgel (or left it in commission; I am not sure) in 2000, he was 54. I recently learned that Bernhard Herpertz died just four months after I bought the Montreal off of Irgel in October 2005, aged 59. His obituary says he fought an illness for a long time before giving in.

The obituary further states that he was the proprietor of Spitzweg Apotheke in Bonn-Duisdorf, which is also stated on the original Fahrzeugbrief.

Riposi In Pace, Herr Herpertz.

The Montreal’s known history

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

According to the German vehicle registration papers, the Fahrzeugbrief, the Montreal spent its first 30 years in the Bonn area. According to Archivio Storico Alfa Romeo, it was produced 31. December 1972 and sold to the German importer in Frankfurt on 14. May 1973. I don’t know what happened to it after that, but it was eventually sold to Hans Klaus Wirtz from Ippendorf, a suburb in Bonn, on 16. January 1975. I don’t know where Herr Wirtz bought the car, but since Germany was (and is) a major market for Alfa Romeo, one can safely assume there were several Alfa dealers in Bonn, the then-capital of West-Germany. Wirtz’ got the license plates “BN-UU 6”. Herr Wirtz kept the Montreal until 12. April 1977, when he sold it to Bernhard (or Bernd) Herpertz from Duisdorf, Bonn.

Herpertz owned the Duisdorf branch of the Spitzweg-Apotheke, and was 31 years old when he took over the car from Wirtz. At the same time, the registration changed to “BN-VL 1″. Evidently Herpertz drove the Montreal mostly in the summer, because the fazhreugbrief bears the evidence of plates being handed in every September/October, only to be put on the car again the following April/May. I assume there are provisions in the German regulations for this, much the same as in Norway. It was reportedly his third car. Sometime during Herpertz’ ownership (I think), the car changed colour from AR521 Rosso into an unknown red. Most of the stainless steel trim along the sides and in the nose, as well as the rear badge and script was also removed in the process. The car bears no evidence of an accident, so it might just have been an attempt to give it a different look.

A Bescheinigung dated September 2000, gave Herpertz a temporary permission to drive the Montreal in regular traffi in order to go to Alfa Romeo club events or similar. I don’t know any details of what happened to the car after that, but Markus Irgel, the third owner, bought it from Herpertz in 2000 and handed in the plates. An emissions test from late 2000 shows only 300 kms less mileage than it had when I first saw it in October 2005. Irgels name is not in the car papers, so he may have sold the Montreal on Herpertz’ behalf. The pictures that was used to advertise the Montreal on were taken in the spring of 2004.

Herpertz had all the servicing done at Irgel’s garage (Auto Center Irgel). The head mechanic at Auto Center Irgel is (or was?) apparently somewhat of an Alfa Romeo expert, and had the kind of knowledge needed to service the already aging car. There is no documentation on what has been done, for in Irgel’s own words, they were all done “under the table”. In any case, the car has evidently been well maintained and cared for all its life. The only entry in the service carnet is from 1982 at 66.000 kms, but this entry does not carry a dealer stamp or any other evidence of where the service was done. The free service coupons for 6.000 and 12.000 kms have not been used and are still left in the service carnet.

I bought it 23. October 2005 and brought it the 1300 kms home on a car trailer. It was not in a condition for such a long trip. It is currently undergoing a restoration.

1975 – 1977 Hans Klaus Wirtz, Ippendorf, Bonn, Germany
1977 – 2000 Bernhard Herpertz, Duisdorf, Bonn, Germany
2000 – 2005 Markus Irgel, Königswinter-Oberpleis, Germany
2005 – Tor Willy Austerslått, Oslo, Norway

A closer close inspection

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

With the car safely stored in the garage, it was time to take a closer look and try to prioritise the upcoming work. I also sent a mail to Alfa Romeo to request information on the Montreal, based on its chassis number.

Archivio Storico Alfa Romeo informed me thusly:

Dear Mister Austerslått,

with reference to your request we are informing you as follows.

According to our documentation files, the chassis number AR 1428144
originally corresponds to an Alfa Romeo Montreal (105.64), manufactured on
the 31st December 1972 and sold on the 14th May 1973 to Alfa Romeo from
Frankfurt, Germany.
The body colour is red (AR 521), with black interiors.

Please be advised that this answer is intended solely for information use,
and its contents does not certify the authenticity of this car.

Yours, Sincerely,

Automobilismo Storico
Archivio Alfa Romeo

Antonio Magro

So, the story about the Monty originally being orange was indeed wrong, if Archivio Storico is to be believed, but their information and the original colour plaque corresponds. It’s also of interest that I have one of the “new years’s eve” Montreals, i.e. the production date is likely formal since new year’s eve 1972 was a Sunday.

Other things:

  • Mileage is 91,930 km / 57,122 miles. Based on pedal wear, it appears to be original mileage
  • Car seems to be slightly lowered and has red shocks
  • Bertone emblems missing from both mud guards
  • Aftermarket self-adhesive trim along the side of the car. One missing
  • Eyelid and “banana” trim missing
  • Heart wings broken. The Alfa heart itself is in pretty bad shape too
  • Exhaust is shot. Rear silencers have rust holes
  • Unorignal paint. Looks almost like Farina Red, but it’s got an orange hue. There’s a masking tape behind the fuel door that says “Alfa Xb1″. It’s supposedly the colour code. See picture below
  • The car’s got a poor paintjob. There are cracks in the paint a couple of places, but I don’t think there is any body filler below them
  • The seller claimed the car was resprayed in 1977, but it can’t be right. The paint looks too new
  • Alfa Romeo script missing from the rear. The screw grooves for it can be felt behind the rear body work
  • Rear Alfa Romeo badge missing. The badge indentation have been blanked with body filler
  • Battery cover missing, but that’s normal on Montreals
  • Last entry in the service carnet is from 1982 at 66,000 kilometers. The coupons for free services are unused
  • Bottom interior carpets are in tatters. The rest of the carpeting are partially sunbleached.
  • Dirty engine compartment. One of the previous owners have probably sprayed it in some kind of preservation oil, which has become sticky
  • The newest tire on the car is from 1984. The spare is an original Michelin XWX 195/70 VR14 from 1977. The others are V-rated Goodyear Grand Prix 205/70-14.
  • Original left hand nut threads on driver’s side
  • The Campagnolo elektron alloy rims have chipped paint but doesn’t seem to have been kerbed

There is (as mentioned earlier) a bit of rust in the sills, and the rims have seen better days. The exhaust system really has got to go, but it’s not a priority right now.

The first thing I’ll do is to take the callipers off and do a complete overhaul. The test drive in Germany scared the hell out of me, since the brakes exhibited all manners of strange behaviour. Sticking pistons, very (very!) low pedal and brake fluid which by every indication hadn’t been changed for at least five years.

Other than that, the underside looks pretty good, with no visible rust and an undercoating in good condition.

Sills and exhaust, seen from behind, leftSills, seen from behind, leftFront, left wheelMissing trim in the front, broken heartCrack in the interior, rightThe current Montreal colour code

Inspecting the Montreal

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Friday morning at nine o’clock, we arrived at Auto Center Irgel in Königswinter. Herr Irgel received us and went inside to drive the Montreal outside so we could have a closer look.

How the Montreal was presented on mobile.deSigns of body filler?We had already viewed the car up close and established that the beautiful paint job was a bit shoddier than what the pictures could reveal. Some time during the last few years, it had obviously been resprayed with an unoriginal colour, but the detailing left a few things to desire. The sills and jack points had some rust, and almost all of the exterior trim were either third party or had simply been removed. The 205/70-14 tyres tyres were almost as old as me, and the Michelin XWX spare wheel was stamped 1977. The exhaust was original and had a few minor holes. It still bore the Alfa Romeo part number.

Apparently, some time during the 90’s, the previous owner had attempted to give the Montreal a racing look, removing most of the trim and respraying it a kind of Ferrari red in the process. The paint code sticker in the trunk said “521 Rosso”, but Herr Irgel claimed it had originally been flat orange and resprayed in 1977! From then on, it was obvious that the seller didn’t know anything about the car’s previous history. In the engine compartment, the chassis number plate had obvious signs of a respray too.

The upside of it all was that the interior and mechanicals were in very, very good condition. I asked for a test drive, something the seller accepted with a bit of hesitation. After the seller had done a warm-up around the outskirts of Königswinter (along the L143), the wheel was mine. This was actually the first time I had ever sat behind the wheel of a Montreal, or any Italian old-style GT for that matter.

Chassis # 1428144I did some hard acceleration and downshifting, looking for mis-coloured smoke from the exhaust. I could only see the normal grey puffs. This looked very promising, but the smell gave away an overly rich fuel mixture. I didn’t particulary care, because ignition and fuel mixture can be adjusted, whereas leaking gaskets and engine coughing are bad signs. No bubbles were visible in the coolant expansion tank, meaning the engine gaskets were in good condition.

After a lot of second thoughts, we found that the car was “salvageable”. Not least because of one particular comment Kjetil had while we discussed it:

“We drove 1,300 kms to look at a rare, 30+ year old italian car. Reason has no part in this, no matter how you look at it.”

I had to admit that he had a point.

Loading the Montreal on the trailerThe next thing I did was to give Herr Irgel a bunch of euros, whereafter we strapped the car to the trailer and went on our way.

I should mention that Herr Irgel was very displeased with me haggling over a dent in the passenger door the advert had failed to mention. The price was eventually EUR 400 lower than advertised.