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Under the hood: Robbie Pyle

December 24th, 2009 by Nick

Pictured – Robbie Pyle and his 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

Robbie Pyle and his 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GT
An Alfa Romeo isn’t exactly the car people picture when referencing a self-proclaimed “skate-rat.” But believe it or not, a dirty skateboard fits just as nicely in the back of a vintage European classic as it does in any other cool car usually associated with younger “hip” kids in LA. However, looks can be deceiving. In a town where appearance is viewed as being essential to status, Robbie breaks the stereotype.
Looking as if he just got back from a skate session at the park, Robbie pulls up, having come from work, where he daylights as a mechanical engineer, designing ultra high-end automotive components for exclusive clients. You can take the kid out of the skatepark, but you can’t take the skatepark out of the mechanical engineering, 26 year-old go-getter. There is a very distinguishable line between being fashionable and stylish. Although the right suit and shoes in a brand new BMW may be fashionable, it lacks the style exuded by the people who care about neither, effortlessly making them the most stylish ones at the red light.

Robbie Pyle and his ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTWHAT’S YOUR OCCUPATION?
Design Engineer
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTDESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE.
That’s a tough one, I’ve never been asked to describe my style. I would say it has and always will be inspired by skateboard culture, probably a result of growing up a S.F. skate rat in the early 90s. I also admire clothes that aren’t necessarily able to be placed in any specific decade, if that makes any sense. A simple pair of boots, jeans, and utility shirt are usually par for most of my occasions, but I do always have a pair of Halfcabs and my board in the trunk for those random skate sessions. I try to keep my life and style simple. People go through many different phases of style in life, and I am no exception, but if I could land on one that I am able to respect 30 or 40 years down the road, I would be happy.
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTIS THIS YOUR DREAM CAR? IF NOT, WHAT IS?
For now, yah it’s my dream car. It just seems to do everything so well. I tend to have a little bit of A.D.D. when it comes to automobiles, so I cannot say how long this love affair might last, but out of the 20 or so odd cars I’ve ever owned, I have never enjoyed driving one more than this little Giulia Sprint GT. I would love to own an unrestored mid-sixties Ferrari 330GTC someday, but who knows if that will ever be feasible. Or maybe one of those big brown UPS trucks, I’ve always wanted to drive one of those.
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTWHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT A CAR LIKE THIS IN LA?
One thing I notice is the respect and attention you get from non-car people. I mean, performance wise, it’s nothing special by today’s standards, but the people that hone in on the car over the newer exotic parked next to it, understand that this is the last thing anyone is trying to prove by driving something like this. It’s more of an appreciation of a piece of art than of an automobile. For me, it’s my own little sanctuary and escape from reality. I find myself waking up early on the weekends to drive. Never really a set plan, sometimes end up in Ojai or Santa Barbara. There’s something about driving a car that is identical to how it left the factory 45 years ago on a lone country road that is pretty therapeutic.
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTWHERE DID YOU PICK IT UP?
I knew I wanted a 2-headlight (aka “step-nose” or “scalino”, ’63-‘70) Bertone styled couple, but it seems people like to hold onto them as they are rarely seen for sale. I looked for over a year, even flew out to Utah to look at a car that turned out to be a basket case. I was at the point where I wondered if I’d ever find something or if i should just forget it. I was about to give up when I found a lead on a ’65 out of Tennessee with 40k original miles. I looked at so many cars in person that I began to know exactly where most problem areas would hide. As weary as I was to buy sight unseen, I finally committed after talking to and grilling the previous owner on its condition. It was originally a west coast car from Vancouver and lived there until 2007 when it moved east. The car arrived with zero rust and every factory panel straight and in place, so I was a happy camper.
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTWHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?
A white 1991 Toyota MR2.
ROBBIE PYLE 1965 ALPHA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT GTYOUNG GUYS IN LA ARE USUALLY DRAWN TO THE MUSCLE CARS, WHY THE ALFA?
I grew up with a father and older brother who were American muscle fanatics, so I can and still do respect domestics. With the Alfa, I wanted something I could drive and rarely, if ever, see another on the road. I also noticed that Alfa Romeos and other classic European cars were hardly ever driven by younger guys. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that so many are priced to a point that drives the younger crowed away, but I wanted something I could enjoy now, not later in life.

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