The second day of the Alfa Romeo Centenary weekend in Kuala Lumpur organized by the brand’s official Malaysian importer, Sime Darby, and the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club with the close participation of the Singapore Alfa Romeo Owners, saw a Concours d’Elegance” taking place in the prestigious setting of the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) followed by a gala dinner.

The second day of the Alfa Romeo Centenary weekend in Kuala Lumpur organized by the brand’s official Malaysian importer, Sime Darby, and the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club with the close participation of the Singapore Alfa Romeo Owners, saw a "Concours d’Elegance" taking place in the prestigious setting of the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) followed by a gala dinner.

All the participants formed up at the Sime Darby Auto Connexion dealership, a first group left for the KLGCC, five kilometers away, then the 30 cars taking part in the Concours, lined up in age order ready to roll starting with a superb 1972 Giulia Super, which emerged from a ground up restoration only days before, now wearing the famous dark blue colours of the “Carabinieri”, complete with flashing blue roof light. Next up is a two tone black/silver GT 1600 Junior, then a 1750 GTV in “mustard”, a colour that so perfectly ties the Bertone-penned coupé into the scene of the 1960s and early 1970s, and then a serene white 2000 Berlina, before racing up the age scale through cars such as the Alfetta in sedan, GTV and GTV 6 2.5 format, an Alfasud Series 1 4-door as well as its coupé spin-off, the Sprint (in Series 3 “Green Cloverleaf” trim), the square-cut lines of the Giulietta sedan, the executive flagship 164 and 166, the “hot hatch” 145 Green Cloverleaf and the equally-hot 146 sedan, also in Green Cloverleaf finish, all the way through to the current-generation of Alfa Romeo represented by the Giugiaro’s aggressively-styled Brera 3.2 V6 and the in-house designed MiTo compact hatchback.

The convoy, a rolling cavalcade of a timelined history in action, rolled the short distance from flagship Sime Darby Auto Connexion showroom to the upmarket KLGCC in the Mont Kiara area passing by the stadium and convention center that are also integral parts of this sprawling Sime Darby-owned complex. The historic convoy leaders powered up the final ascent to the golf club before forming up ready to roll one-by-one round the circular paved track of the courtyard of the club’s stone-clad building, to a backdrop of well-manicured shrub beds, which provides a perfect 'parading' route for the entrants to pass by the swelling crowd of “Alfisti” and right under the eagle eyes of the cluster of judges which included in its ranks the most distinguished guest of the day, the Ambassador of Italy, His Excellency Mr. Folco de Luca Gabrielli. Forming a backdrop, on what was turning into a hot, dry and sunny Sunday morning, was a black Spider 3.2 V6 positioned imperiously astride a water feature while it was flanked on one side by the highlight of the day: a glorious red Alfa 8C Competizione, the only example to make it to Malaysia.

One by one the cars, the real ‘stars’ of today’s event, start to roll through the “Piazza Concours d’Elegance” stage, in age order kicking off with the "Carabinieri" Giulia Super, the Alfa Romeos gliding to a halt on the red carpet to be individually introduced by an enthusiastic compere to an equally enthusiastic crowd of spectators most betraying their automotive passion through the choice of red garb. The thirty cars develop the historical timeline of this evocative brand perfectly, the unmistakable design language that emanated and evolved from a stream of talented Italian designers - both at Alfa Romeo Centro Stile and through design houses such as Pininfarina, Bertone and Zagato - through the eras to date. Cars to stand out included an evocative SZ (“Il Monstro”), the only example in Malaysia.

The standard and originality was amazingly high and the judging panel had several hours of study and deliberation to carry out before the prizes were awarded. Ong Chong Soo won the “Best Saloon” category for the pretty, attention grabbing “Carabinieri” 1972 Giulia Super which had led out the cavalcade from Sime Darby Auto Connexion to the KLGCC and then led the “beauty contest” participants across the red carpet. First runner up went to AROC Singapore President Rashid Karyeo (Giulietta) while second runner-up spot was clinched by Gurcharan Singh (Alfetta).

The “Carabinieri” liveried Giulia Super was a real draw over both days, leading the long parades with its blue light flashing. “I actually owned the same car about 15 years ago and sold it after I decided to live in Thailand,” says the owner, Soo. “It’s the ‘Biscione’ model that was produced from 1969 to 1972 with a few extra trimmings added such as the chrome bonnet strip, oval shaped chrome molding on side repeaters, rocker sill chrome molding and Biscione emblem on aluminium plate on the C-pillar as well as a indentation on the boot lid to fit an Alfa badge though somewhere through the restoration that was misplaced and I am looking for one now.

“I managed to buy the car back after I returned to Malaysia three years ago and have put her through a rolling restoration as some work had been already carried out by the previous owner on the bodywork. The car is completely mechanically restored with high compression pistons and high lift cams with Shankel springs and Konis. It’s really too much to list but the Giulia runs...fast. I’ve also redone the interior twice having it changed from tan to the current red leather and also had the original veneers on the dash and console restored by my carpenters.

“I had been toying with the Carabinieri idea for some time now and very close to the event; about two days actually, I got going! It was a mad rush to get everything done in time but luckily it all paid off,” continues Soo who also adds: “I’m currently restoring another one in Bangkok this time to be painted in Biancospino also with red seats and interior trim.”

In the “Best Coupé” category Eric Yong’s (1750 GTV, 1973) ran out the favourite of the judges to collect its second major concours honour in Kuala Lumpur in less than a month, while two Alfetta coupés collected he two runners-up spots: Peter Rajnak (GTV) edging out Albert Yesudian (GTV6 2.5). Finally in the hotly-fought “Best Spider” category the winner’s trophy was collected by Ezudeen Mohd Norís (Spider, 1976), he beat off Tuan Syed Kadir  Giulia Spider, 1963) and Tee Arasoo  (Duetto, 1966).

The day finished with a gala dinner in the KLGCCC with the guests including the Ambassador of Italy H.E. Mr. Folco de Luca Gabrielli, who had spent the afternoon judging the Concours and stayed on to show is support. Other distinguished guests included Datuk Aishah Ahmad (President – Malaysian Automotive Association), En. Hazem Abdul Rahman (Managing Director – Sime Darby Auto Connexion) and Dato' Dr. Foo Wan Kien, the man who brought Alfa Romeo to Malaysia with his company City Motors. Also attending were hundreds of Alfisti including En. Othman (President of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club Malaysia) and Rashid Karyeo (President of the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club Singapore).

The Alfa Romeo theme had really taken over the KLGCC for the day and the foyer of the Banquet Hall was decked out with banners and flags from events such as the Giulietta 50th Anniversary event in 2004, brought back from Milan and most recently from the official Centenary celebrations in Italy. Alongside a whole host of memorabilia was also on display, courtesy of Alfisti from Malaysia (Bismi Shah) and Singapore (Rashid Karyeo), most notably the “Alfa Romeo Competizione” racing bicycle and a “mini” Museo Storico of over 200 miniature Alfa Romeo models.

The evening’s talking point was certainly the stunning Centro Stile designed Alfa Romeo bicycle, styled after the 8C Competizione Coupé and finished in evocative “Alfa Competizione” red. Sporting “Campagnolo Khamsin” lightweight racing wheels and weighing in at just 7 kg, the lightweight alloy/carbon-fiber frame comes complete with carbon-fiber water bottle holder and protective satin cover. Queries were ably fielded by one of the “Centenary Angels”, appropriately wearing an Alfa Romeo Bicycle Racing Team outfit. The bicycle was displayed courtesy of its owner, Abdul Rashid Karyeo.

The mini-museum of miniature 1:43 scale replica models on display perfectly demonstrated the evolution of the Alfa Romeo marque, from the early Darracq, the first ALFA 24HP of 1910 right through to the current 2010 model range. Early legend-building Alfa Romeos such as the 6Cs and 8Cs that won the Mille Miglia, Le Mans and Targa Florio from the 1920s to the 1940s were also available for viewing. Other race-winning models to shown included competition cars from Formula 1 history (Alfetta 158/159, Brabham BT44/45/46, Alfa 177/179/184), as well as the 155 V6 TI (DTM) and 156 Super Touring (WTCC).

Included in the display were concept cars such as the 1913 Ricotti Aerodynamica, twin-engined 1935 Bimotore, 1941 8C 2900B Sperimentale, 1952 Disco Volante, 1953 Conrero Spider, 1953 6C 2500 Bucci Special, Bertone’s lavish BAT series of show cars from 1953 to 1955, Zagato’s Giulietta SZ, Giulia TZs and ES 30 SZ/RZ. Other prototypes included the Carabo, Scarabeo, P33, Montreal, Nuvola, Dardo, Brera and 8C coupé.

Production models were on show too with many models represented through their variants, for instance the 1987 Alfa 164 Series 1 chased through to the 1992 Alfa 164 Super with the Formula 1 technology prototype Alfa 164 Pro-Car included in their midst. There were also various rare and hand-built models in various scales of 1:24 and 1:18 also shown, like the 1931 8C 2300, 1932 P3 and the 2006 8C Spider; all in all a display that perfectly captured the evolution of the automobile focused through Alfa Romeo’s development of cutting-edge automotive engineering in its pursuit of the creation of elegant, sporty and desirable cars for the past 100 years.

During the meal a presentation by club member Shanmugam Inderan traced the historic timeline of Alfa Romeo in Malaysia on the road and track and the notable milestones achieved along the way. The story began when “City Motors” was formed in 1965 by Dato Foo Wan Kien and was appointed as the distributor for Malaysia & Singapore. Curiously City Motors started assembly of a handful of Alfa Romeos in 1969.

Meanwhile on the race tracks Alfa Romeo started to excel in Malaysia. City Motors started racing in 1967 at the prestigious Singapore Grand Prix with its GTA driven by the famous Albert Phoon of Hong Kong. His ability behind the wheel saw him eventually become the number one driver for City Motors Racing Team Malaysia and he won the important Selangor Grand Prix, held at Batu Tiga, in 1969. However the next year was to prove the richest for the City Motors team: Albert Phoon achieved an historic “Grand Slam” by sweeping tough opposition away to win the Singapore GP, Selangor GP, Royal Perak 200 and Malaysian GP in 1970. Other prominent drivers who raced for City Motors included Australian Brian Foley who won the “Saloons & Touring Cars” event at the 1972 Royal Perak 200 and the a year later emerged victorious in the 1973 Singapore Grand Prix; badminton legend Datuk Eddy Choong who won the first-ever Series Production Race in the country at the 1972 Royal Perak 200, an initiative of Foo Wan Kien; and also Mr. Chong Kim Fah who ‘switched’ from a rival marque, to win numerous production cars races at the wheel of various Alfa Romeo models from mid-1970s right through to the early 80s. Fast forward and in 2006 AROC Malaysia member Tee Arasoo, who was at the gala dinner, won the “Best Rookie” award in the MSS series driving an Alfetta GTV6 2.5.

The guests were reminded that it wasn’t just on the race tracks that City Motors found success, but on the rally tracks too: “Team Alfasud”, comprising of Tony Wong, Tony Leow, Tang Weng Hong, Stephen Loh, Philip Leong and Johnny Deng, won the “Teams’ Award” and “Manufacturers’ Award” on the 1976 ASEAN Rally, while rally legend Andrew Cowan, a Safari Rally and two-time London to Sydney Rally winner, participated in the 1979 edition in a locally-prepared Alfetta. Meanwhile “The National Economy Run”, an event held from 1977 through to 1982, saw the Alfasud emerging as the “most economical non-Japanese car” on every single occasion. All in all a highly impressive racing and rally history for the brand in Malaysia, Alfa Romeo proving that competition is just as part of its DNA here as it is anywhere.

Finally another footnote to Alfa Romeo history here was mentioned: The Malaysian Royal Police & Customs was the first authority outside Italy to use Alfa Romeo as their preferred patrol Police car. Among the models used by the authorities in Malaysia were the Giulia 1.3 and 1.6, Berlina and later on the Alfetta sedan which was aided the fight against crime from 1970 right through to 1979.

"We are pleased that the Centenary Celebration Weekend managed to bring the Alfa community together with the assembly various Alfa Romeo models from the early sixties up to the latest model,” noted Shanmugam Inderan. “Another history is in the making next year in March when the AROC Tri-Nation [Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand] will embark an historic journey to Kunming, China. It will be a testimony of Alfa Romeo’s reliability and the ‘Cuore Sportivo’ spirit of Alfisti community.”

by Edd Ellison

ItaliaspeedTV: Sime Darby Auto Connexion & AROC Malaysia, Gala Dinner

Additional material by Nishdev Singh, Bismi Shah & Shanmugam Inderan / © 2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed