As sung by Marianne Faithful, Lucy Jordan famously realised she’d never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair. Well that’s all very romantic but if Dave Dobbyn had written that song, Nelson would have been the location for Lucy’s lament – and I’ll suffer no argument on that thank you.

The Moutere Inn, New Zealand's oldest pub – still in its original building as established in 1850

Being a keen motorcyclist, I know Nelson’s roads pretty darn well, but I had a major itch that needed scratching; like many of you I love classics and especially convertibles, but space, money, and time (motorcycling takes up a lot of it) means there’s no spot in the garage of late. So how about a classic rental?

Thanks to RentAClassic I was able to take this beautiful Alfa Romeo out for a day over some of the best roads this country has to offer – my only lament is that it didn’t last for weeks so I could head down south. But never mind, I still had a brilliant day!

I’ve owned a few sports cars over the years but have never managed to get behind the wheel of a classic Alfa Romeo so, despite the range of cars available from RentAClassic, it just had to be this immaculate S2 Spider from 1975. This little beauty has the elegance of the original with the addition of a Kamm tail but without the big bumpers of the later Spiders that, to my eyes, just don’t quite work.

Looking across the Waimea Inlet towards Mapua and Tasman Bay

She’s a beauty, and yes this Alfa is a she – don’t ask why, she just is.

So what’s she like to drive? Wonderful, and very easy. Getting in and making yourself comfortable is easy even for my broken six-foot two-inch frame. There’s plenty of space, the driving set up isn’t as Italian centric as I expected (my arms aren’t longer than my legs), the gear change is syrupy sweet, and the brakes servoed and powerful. Only the non-assisted steering betrays her age – but since I had no intention of crawling through town that really didn’t matter and, once rolling, I had no trouble. The sound from the Alfa’s twin-cam engine was glorious and exactly what I was hoping for, but nicely silenced and not obtrusive. You could listen to music, though I never turned the stereo on to find out for sure. If you’re not used to older cars don’t worry, this Alfa’s a doddle to drive.

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