February 25, 2017
59 Degrees, Partly Cloudy, Dewy
Emerging at 5:45 am on Saturday was an extraordinary experience. It was pitch black and almost 60 degrees when I stepped off my DC front porch. In February, that’s not just unusual – it’s surreal. Yellow daffodils popped through the gloom. I yelled, “No, you gullible idiots! It’s not spring! Retreat!” Flowers don’t speak English, so they stayed put. I stood with them for a few moments. It hasn’t been a long winter, but still, the colors. How I had missed the colors.
Georgetown Pike was busy heading West. I wasn’t the only clever car devotee to predict a dry, warm, salt-free February morning would lure big fish. I was led by a BMW M4 GTS with paper tags and followed by a black Ferrari F430 (possibly 360) with the top down. Both cars were with me all the way from the beltway. Auspicious signs. I arrived to a full-swing Katie’s Cars and Coffee a little after 6:30 am and already it was as busy as a mid-summer Saturday. The lot was packed with precious chariots, once-a-year jewels normally reserved for special occasions, perhaps never before let out of their barns in February. My colorful morning continued.
I headed to the bottom of the parking lot where typically the air-cooled Porsches collect. As their value has skyrocketed, so too has the attention they garner. But this week they were scattered throughout the lot. Perhaps the vintage Porsche owners didn’t have time to organize. But that’s OK – they’re easy to spot: Even in the company of custom muscle and one-off hyper cars, those little gumdrops glow. Their psychedelic colors give away their decade in Caribbean blues, chromatic oranges and reds that shame Italians.
Towards the center of the main lot facing the coffee house I saw a Volvo I had never seen before. Volvo model naming conventions aren’t my specialty, but this looked like an early 80’s 240 coupe sporting what I would describe as a smooth, organic yellow. According to the Volvo Owners Club website, it’s called “yellow.” You’d think the Swedes, a people who truly understand the value of an early spring, would have come up with a better name for such a cheery color. Daffodil, perhaps?
Not far from the Volvo was a familiar Audi R8 wearing burnt orange. I think the kids call it Iron Man orange, which is not to be confused with arencia atlas, a color normally reserved for Lamborghinis, but available (for a modest fee) on some R8’s. In front of the coffee house loomed a Dodge Charger with a blacked-out hood, most of the rest an outrageous DayGlo green, probably a modern re-spray based on Green Go.
And all the way at the back of the lot – back where it was almost certainly missed by many – was an Alfa Romeo in a color I had never seen before. Alfa, my sweet sweet Alfa, what do they call that color you’re wearing? What wonderful, mellifluous word did the artisans in Turin come up with to name that magnificent shade of purple-pink? The only color I’ve ever seen an Alfa don that looked better at sunrise than red.
From Volvo I’m only a little surprised, but I’m shocked when a pitiful color name comes from you, Alfa. You’re the company that’s co-opting the cloverleaf from the Irish; the company that made “broken” a term of endearment; the company that designed the Giulietta Spider, a car so beautiful that if you buckled a chimpanzee into the passenger seat, he would look like Grace Kelly. No, Alfa, this will not do. I’m renaming it. It’s now Valentino viola.
Prego, Alfa Romeo.
Addio all’inizio della primavera. Goodbye, early spring. Back to winter we go. Everything looks worse in black and white. But don’t worry – Kodachrome spring will soon be here to give us those nice bright colors.