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May 2008: Andy’s love affair with an Italian beauty

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TO say that Andy Bowley is an Alfa Romeo fan is something of an understatement. He has more than 120 of them.

Most are on display in a glass cabinet at Red, the Italian car specialists he runs with business partner Dave Summers at Spetisbury, near Blandford.

Collecting Alfa models has become quite an obsession for 36-year-old Andy and he admits to having spent at least £4,000 on them since being bitten by the bug 18 years ago.

“It began when the garage I was working for in Poole took on the Alfa Romeo franchise back in 1990 and I started to get more and more into Alfas,” he says.

“Then the company produced a set of four model cars, which I collected, and it sort of took off from there.”

In the early days of his hobby, he got his models from attending touring car meetings, Alfa Romeo events or from thoughtful friends and contacts who knew of his passion.

Nowadays, though, the internet is the source for most of his new additions, often through eBay. They come from far and wide – many from Italy, of course, but also from Germany, where collecting model Alfas seems to be a popular pastime.

“I probably have about 120 models now, I think, although it’s a while since I actually counted them,” he says.

His collection comprises all shapes and sizes of Alfa Romeo, from tiny matchbox-sized replicas up to his latest acquisition, a 45cms-long eBay-generated version of a classic blood-red 1930s Alfa racer.

“I’ll never stop now,” he says. “I did give up collecting for a couple of years but since I came to Red nearly two years ago, after 10 years working at a tyre depot, I have started again with a vengeance.”

Andy’s love of Alfa Romeos extends beyond the miniature, however. As well as working on them all day or selling them at Red, he also owns four of them, two of which he regularly drives.

“Alfas are just very different from every other car,” he says. “Once you own one you tend to stay with them. I have tried other models but found them dull and have always come back to Alfas.”

But what does Andy’s wife Amanda make of his curious hobby? “She indulges me, but she doesn’t like the rate at which I change my cars – I have had rather a lot. She thinks I am mad.”

And what about Red’s co-proprietor? Although he teases Andy about his obsession, Dave himself has a touch of the anorak about him when it comes to Alfa Romeos.

“Dave reckons there must be better things to spend your money on but he actually has six Alfas himself, mainly classic older types, as well as some models, so he can’t really say too much,” says Andy.

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