NASHVILLE CONNECTIONS - Cherish the old ones, look forward to making new ones!
Marc Hungerford sends us his fond memories of Nashville, and the guy that got him involved in all this fun...
Thoughts on Nashville and Bob McKeown:
I spent five years in Nashville in the 90's and bought my first vintage Alfa there, a 69 Boat tail spider. I had owned a Triumph TR6 in college and it was a miserable experience. No one could fix it (but they could charge me for trying), it broke down, rusted, etc. When I first bought the car, I decided to join the local chapter of AROC, which at that time had Bob McKeown and Bill Sinclair as active members. Bob very graciously pointed me in the right direction for parts, service, manuals and even helped diagnose the meaning of various bumps and noises in my car. He was a great friend, although I’m sure he saw me a bit more than he really wanted to, he was always generous with his time and advice.
He even let me drive his time trial car. The experience with the club completely transformed my experience with the cars. Far from being old, unreliable rust buckets they were rumored to be, I found Alfas to be delightful to drive, easy to understand and rewarding to work on. Over the years I have owned eight Alfas. I still own four, and enjoy driving at least one of them every sunny day. My Alfa addiction would never have developed without Bob. Please convey my sincere thanks to him.
Marc Hungerford / Baltimore
After reading the Nashville 2016 convention overview in November’s Alfa Owner, David Rivkin sent the following email to one of our Tennessee chapter members. It is printed with his permission. Thank you, David for sharing your Nashville connection.
Perhaps you remember that we chatted in the Registration Room at the 2015 AROC Convention, where you were kindly assisting us.
I was reading Bob McKeown's fine article on the 2016 Convention in the November issue of the Alfa Owner, when I spied the top photo on page 7. Putting on my glasses for a better looksee, I saw the sign of Ernest Tubb's Record Shop. A coincidence ?
I got into my Jeep to go to our local supermarket here in a New York City suburb, opened up the center console, checked my travelling collection of CD's and sure enough there was my Ernest Tubb CD! Naturally I played it to and from the food store.
How did a New York City boy end up with a GOO [Grand Ole Opry] legend ? When I was a kid, about 4 or 5, due to the Depression I lived with my Aunt and Uncle on their small farm that, believe it or not, was just inside the city limits of New York. At night, if the weather cooperated, you could listen to WSM, which my cousins and their parents did. So you might say that I have been listening to the GOO since the days of
I look forward to being with you all this coming summer and finally seeing the Ryman Auditorium.
After reading David Rivkin’s letter to Nashville member Bo Richardson in the January Alfa Owner, Tom Letourneau and Cheryl Braden
wanted to share their own Nashville connections:
An Alfa 164, well its "Platform" was "Kind-of" introduced in Nashville in 1984.
In reading the latest Alfa Owner (arrived today) I noticed wherein David Rivkin wrote to you regarding some experiences he had in Nashville...your then asking others that also may have had experiences there to write to you.
The Saab 9000, and the company for whom I worked all during the 1980's, was produced by the Swedish company SAAB from 1984 to 1998...
it representing the company's foray into the executive car scene. The 9000 remained in production until it was replaced by the SAAB 9-5 in late 1999...approximately 5-years after its sister car, the Alfa Romeo 164, stopped being sold in America.
Saab designed the 9000 as part of the "Type Four Platform" in conjunction with the Italian automaker Fiat Automobiles. Fiat retailed similar derivative versions as the more basic Fiat Croma, the luxury-themed Lancia Thema (which had a Ferrari V-8 engine) and the sports-oriented Alfa Romeo 164 series.
Unlike the 164, which shares only the chassis of the 9000, the Croma and Thema are outwardly similar to the 9000. As such, much of the bodywork appeared interchangeable between the 9000, Croma and Thema; for example, the doors. However, because Saab fitted heavier side impact protection they would not fit.
Also the front of the Saab is radically different from the Italian siblings due to the much improved crash protection. Only seven different parts are actually interchangeable. The 9000's body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro...hence it having a lot of Italian 'Heritage' to go along with its Alfa Romeo chassis!
As stated in my subject line, an Alfa 164, well its "Platform" was then, "Kind-of" introduced in Nashville in 1984 as that was the location chosen by SAAB Cars USA management for the launch of the 9000...exactly 6-years before its sister car, the the Alfa 164 series arrived on our shores replacing the Milano. That launch necessitated my being present, as I was the head of Dealership Development & Business Management for the Eastern US. As a result of the launch I got to see Nashville up-close and personal for the first time...and I LOVED IT! S***-Kicking Music and All! :-P , the Gatlin Brothers having performed for us.
I know one thing I will miss, that I loved, and that was staying at the Grand Old Opry Hotel and going to Opryland Amusement Park. I still
think that getting rid of that was a BIG mistake?
That's it...my story on Nashville...that also, as I have tried to indicate, was "The Launch of the Alfa Romeo 164 Series Chassis" in America! :-D
Tom Letourneau (Also spelled, and pronounced: 'Tom' Lets-Tour-Now.)
Memories of Pat Braden with daughter, Patricia, at the Grand Ole Opry.
Pat and my youngest daughter, Patricia Braden, performed on the Grand 'Ole Opry stage in Nashville in 2010, as a member of the Los Alamitos High School SoundTrax Show Choir. They won first place in the National competition and were named Grand Champions. Not only was it a prestigious honor, but a memorable experience for her as an achievement in her senior year a couple of months prior to graduation.
She has in recent years taken an interest in her father's Alfa achievements and has been attending conventions with me to continue to honor her father's memory and contributions to the Alfa community.
If other Alfisti would like to share a Nashville Connection, please email your thoughts to Phyllis Tilden, email@example.com.
We look forward to making many new Nashville Connections at Citta della Musica, June 2016.
People from around the world flock to Nashville’s Parthenon to get their pictures taken in front of the unique backdrop. A.L.F.A. Inc. members, John & Teri Vasileff on the left
and Bo and Penny Richardson on the right came from around Tennessee to do just that.
Photo: Bo Richardson
Tennessee Alfisti are ready to greet you with open arms next June! Not only is Nashville a terrific place to be, getting there can be a ton of fun too with lots of great drives to, from and around the area. For example, the Northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway is a few miles South of the city. One of the first sights along the parkway from there is the Highway 96 Double-Arch Bridge. It’s the nation’s first arch bridge and spans 1,648 feet. Y'all come!
Photo: Bo Richardson
Original home of the Grand Ole Opry, The Ryman Auditorium is a popular entertainment site
with exceptional acoustics.
Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Nashville’s Parthenon provides a terrific photo op
for the cars, as well as their drivers.
Photo: Bo Richardson
A 40-foot tall Athena greets visitors entering the Parthenon.
Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation.
BEST OF NASHVILLE: TOP TEN COUNTDOWN
by Bo Richardson and Laura Greason
Truth is, this should be a Top 25 or 30 countdown.
The city literally vibrates with concert halls, unique museums, recreation, celebration and history. There’s good reason why Nashville is a top destination location! Plus, it’s within a day’s drive of more than 60% of the U.S. population.
Nashville. Headquarters for the 2016 Alfa National Convention,
Citta della Musica. Come early. Stay late. Spending time in Nashville may be just what the Alfa orders.
#10: THE LANE MOTOR MUSEUM
This little gem of a museum is one of the nation’s premiere specialty auto collections and boasts the largest collection of propeller-driven cars in the world. Site of Citta della Musica Wednesday Welcome Party.
#9: UNION STATION
The stunningly restored, 100-year-old train station sports the Greek god, Mercury, on top with his winged helmet and shoes, a nod to Nashville’s “Athens of the South” mantra from the late 1800's.
The Romanesque architecture features the original 65-foot barrel-vaulted stained glass ceiling and rare bas-relief sculptures.
This beautiful place is now a $400 a night hotel, but it is on the National Record of Historic Places so they are used to tourists.
AND, there’s a pub just to the rear side of the Union Station called Flying Saucer with over 100 unique beers on tap!
#8: THE FRIST CENTER
Right next door to Union Station, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts opened in April 2001 and has hosted “a spectacular array of art from the region, the country, and around the world.” But unlike many museums, this amazing Art Deco building has also become a magnet for the local Nashville arts scene. Plus, during summer 2016, the Frist will host a special exhibit that no Alfisti will want to miss.
(See Tour Page) A Citta della Musica Wednesday afternoon tour.
#7: THE OPRYLAND HOTEL
This 2,800 room monster has three indoor “conservatories,” including the amazing Cascade Conservatory near the main check-in entrance. It’s a beautiful garden, with a nice bar at the base of a big indoor waterfall! (Tip: Instead of the current check-in entrance, valet park near the Magnolia Lobby entrance. You’ll miss the crowds as well as a half mile walk – well worth the $20-$24 price tag for parking.) Pose for pictures on the spectacular "Gone-With-The-Wind" staircase. Then mosey down the ballroom corridor to view a 300' wide x 75' tall mural depicting Tennessee’s centennial celebration of statehood and several exceptional Nashville historic places.
#6: THE GRAND OLE OPRY
There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come to town early and take in a show. Or take in a backstage tour and walk in the footsteps of country music greats. The Grand Ole Opry house is off Briley parkway, just four miles from the Convention hotel. It’s also right next to one of the largest shopping malls in the South, Opry Mills.
#5: THE RYMAN
The Ryman was built in the 1880s by Steamboat Captain Tom Ryman who found the Lord and built it as The Union Gospel Tabernacle, a church with powerful acoustics for preaching and singing. Now The Ryman Auditorium, it became an extremely popular entertainment site and in 1943, became the home of the Grand Ole Opry. Nashvillians dubbed it “The Mother Church of Country Music".
From opera to bluegrass to Bob Hope, The Ryman is a well-seasoned performance hall with some of the best acoustics in the world.
#4: HONKY TONK
Honky Tonkin’ is happening in Nashville, like Beale St. in Memphis.
It’s people-watching, souvenir-shopping, music-making and drinking
at its best. A Citta della Musica Thursday evening out.
#3: THE PARTHENON
Famous as the site of the Centennial celebration of 100 years of Tennessee statehood in 1898, this structure epitomizes Nashville's nickname as the "Athens of the South". In fact there is a 40' tall statue of the Greek goddess Athena inside the building, the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world, as well as many pictures of the Centennial. Close to downtown and plenty of free parking. Everyone should get their picture taken in front of the Parthenon!
# 2: THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME
Even non-country music lovers will marvel at the history of the industry that made "Citta della Musica" the backbone of the country music business. It’s the world’s largest popular music museum,
right in the heart of downtown. Plan to spend about $20 for the tour.
# 1 CITTA DELLA MUSICA
AROC National Convention, June 12-19, 2016
Be there! It’s gonna be fun. ‘Nuff said.