Dream Makers SLO and the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Central California grant Peta Rimington’s wish – a spirited drive in an Alfa Romeo.
“You can tell the personality of a car, and the person who drives it, just by the sound.” Peta Rimington’s love affair with cars began as a small child in England at the start of World War II. The machines of war, with their engines and noise that both fascinated and terrified, profoundly changed the lives of everyone who heard.
It was the sharp resonant bark of a mid-fifties Alfa Romeo Giulietta, echoing at 4am through a deserted post-war Marble Arches neighborhood in London that introduced Peta to the magic of the Alfa brand. Racing through the pre-dawn streets in a Lotus, Aston Martin or Jaguar, “I kept hearing something, another car, approaching from behind – the noise was marvelous, but my first introduction to the Alfa was the sound…bloody marvelous.” She continued, “It just broke my heart, that little car.”
“I’ve always been able to get a ride in a car if I really wanted one, but for some reason it just never happened with the Alfa Romeo. On the rare occasions when I heard one I would swivel round and say, ‘Where is it, where is it?’ but I never was able to talk to the guy driving it.”
“I went to rallyes and frequently to the track at Brands Hatch, and I met a lot of people. I never lacked for an interesting car to drive.” Many of Peta’s stories recount a who’s-who of great 50’s and 60’s European sports cars: Jaguar XK120, Mercedes 190SL, Mercedes 300SL, Porsche 356, Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk 1, Morgan 3-wheeler, Morris Minor, Lotus Mark 7 and the occasional American car. She readily admits that through the years she chose more than one boyfriend based in part on the car he drove, and always on the quality of the driving.
“I like them low, fast and flash,” she says. “I like a maneuverable car; one that makes you feel part of it. But none of those cars broke my heart quite like that little Alfa Romeo did.”
Peta’s dream ride in an Alfa Romeo came true in San Luis Obispo, California when a local non-profit, Dream Makers of SLO granted her wish. Dr. Ronda Beaman, Founder and Executive Director, and volunteer Kannyn January reached out to the Central Coast chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club to find a member willing to make Peta’s wish come true. Chapter club President, Chris Armstrong contacted a club member, the proud owner of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti who was willing to help.
What does she think of the Giulia? “It looks, smells, sounds and handles like an Alfa Romeo,” she said. “I immediately feel part of the car, just sitting in it.” The impression of the Giulia is indelible, “This car was built by people who were paying attention, it’s built around the people inside. It gives something to you, it welcomes you into the car instead of asking something from you.”
In a ‘spirited drive’ from San Luis Obispo to the coast along Hwy 1, through Cayucos and north on Hwy 46 toward Paso Robles, Peta urges the Giulia on. The nervous driver senses disappointment whenever an apex has been missed. The road climbs quickly away from the dense cool air of the coast, across a coastal plain, through a riparian forest at the ridgeline and up and over the coastal range.
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Photos: Peta Rimington, Owen Main