The Misconception

1. © Alfa-Romeo (Type 116) GTV-6 by Centro Stile Alfa-Romeo - Donga Tshabalala - ENLISTED by Donga Tshabalala

Alfa-Romeo (Type 116) GTV/6 by Centro Stile Alfa-Romeo

There are certain people who possess an aura that everybody gravitates to. This is an aura that tends to capture the hearts and minds of both their allies and foes. This is an aura that does not elicit fear in the minds of others. Instead, it has a tendency to heighten the degree to which allies are endeared by it. This is an aura that has the capacity to command respect in the minds of individuals who have the conviction to relegate the existence of the person who they may loathe, detest, abhor or reject to that of being a permanent enemy. This aura has the capacity to expose the humanity that hides in the hearts of all the people who may be steadfast enough to believe that the HATE they have for the person in possession of this aura is undeniable, unquestionable, unquenchable and destined to last a lifetime. The extent to which the people who the world tends to gravitate towards serves as evidence of their authenticity and unwavering pursuit to never compromise themselves for the sake of others. These are people who do not conform to the pressures that cast individuals into that tell-tale abyss where everybody is found when they try to please everyone. These are people who respect themselves, and the world respects them in return. This aura that such individuals possess is a virtue that denies them the misfortune of falling victim to the misconception of assuming that love, decency and humility will be shown to them by all of those who they come across. These are people who live their lives in complete awareness of the Aesopian adage “PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.”

Beauty is subjective by nature. As such, beauty is a concept that possesses different connotations for different people. The concept of beauty has the capacity to create opinions that can polarize society. It is a concept that depends on the senses, the manner in which someone has been socialized and the manner in which a person defines and interprets reality. As such, the classic idea of beauty being in the eyes of the beholder carries a great and infinite truth. This classic idea holds true for another classic – the Alfa-Romeo GTV/6 – a car that continues to polarize opinions among petrolheads, classic car enthusiasts and Alfa-Romeo fanatics alike. The polarizing nature of this car causes certain individuals to love it for its positive attributes, whilst the opinions of others are driven purely by the known faults of the car, for which there can be no denying. One positive aspect of the GTV/6 involves the concept of weight distribution – a term that defines how the mass of the mechanical components of a vehicle is spread throughout the length of the body of a car. In terms of the Alfa-Romeo GTV/6, weight distribution represents one such concept for which the configuration of the car has been touted. As a matter of fact, the GTV/6 had a 50:50 weight distribution, thanks to an engine mounted in the front of the car, coupled to a gearbox mounted in its rear. The result of all the engineering that comes from such a configuration created a vehicle that has been praised for its traction, balance and handling. Conversely, the known faults of the GTV/6 penetrate the mind like heroin from a syringe pulsating through the veins of an addict – there can be no denying of its effects on the perception of reality. One such fault involved rust – a consequence of the financial difficulties that plagued Alfa-Romeo during the production era of the GTV/6. Such financial difficulties eroded at the integrity of Alfa-Romeo to the extent where it was purchased by Fiat, ultimately creating a chapter in the history of the Alfa-Romeo Bible, during which the term “quality control” was completely eradicated from Alfa-Romeo vocabulary. In addition, during the proverbial “glory days” of the GTV/6, the original owners of these cars were frustrated by such faults which were met with warranty claims that Alfa-Romeo simply reneged on. It is a shame to consider that the beauty underlying the sloping roof-line of this car has been fraught with the sort of maladies that really do run skin-deep. This is not dissimilar to meeting an individual whose aesthetic appeal cannot be denied, only to discover that whilst their beauty may be enchanting, they are not immune from the issues that affect people on a psychological level. This is almost as if meeting someone as mesmerizing as Halle Berry, only to discover that she has spent the past twenty years of her life suffering from depression. In this regard, the GTV/6 brings the misconception of assuming that beauty and perfection are one and the same to the fore.

2. © Alfa-Romeo (Type 116) GTV-6 by Centro Stile Alfa-Romeo - Donga Tshabalala - ENLISTED by Donga Tshabalala

“It is a shame to consider that the beauty underlying the sloping roof-line of this car has been fraught with the sort of maladies that really do run skin-deep.”

Considering the fact that a large number of GTV/6 Alfa-Romeos were built in South Africa, it would be assumed that as a member of the South African population, my experience with this car would be adequate. However, never before has the contrary been more true. I have only ever seen an Alfa-Romeo GTV/6 once in my life, covered in dust and cobwebs in a junkyard just outside the Johannesburg Central Business District. This is a sight that has lived with me ever since, making me realize a horrible truth about human behavior. Often, people find themselves in the midst of greatness, genius, panache, glamour, personality and exuberance whilst being completely oblivious to its existence. This leaves me in mind of the sort of people who spend the majority of their lives disguised in the back of crowds – disappearing right in front of the very eyes of the people who they are surrounded by – whilst being present to the needs, wants, opinions and suggestions made by society at a specific moment in time. These are people whose contribution to society is akin to the gears responsible for the functioning of an analogue watch. Each gear in that watch serves its role with diligence and discipline, and when all the parts come together, they create something that is much greater than what the individual parts could have ever been. The watch becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and it has an even greater meaning by virtue of the fact that it can tell time, which gives meaning to all of existence. This is meaning that may not be consciously acknowledged, but it is unconsciously felt and depended upon. However, the horrible truth about human behavior is made apparent by the inability for human beings to recognize value when it is within sight. It is only when such value disappears from our line of sight that we begin to recognize the gaping hole left inside our souls from its departure. The experience of seeing that GTV/6 in such an unholy and dilapidated state made me confront another misconception that I had about human life. This car made me realize that excellence does not necessarily meet its equivalent in the form of accolades, acknowledgement or recognition. Sure, the GTV/6 may be a car plagued with flaws, however these flaws are not dissimilar to the imperfections that result in the crafting of a human being. These are imperfections that make it possible to pose the following philosophical questions: how perfect can the creation of a human being be, when everything human beings create is nothing more than an extension of themselves – an extension of human nature that is characterized by imperfection? How can flair and passion be judged through a combination of empirical and statistical analyses when it is a concept so abstract and subjective that it has different meanings to different people? How can the Alfa-Romeo GTV/6 be maligned for problems that are not of its own doing but rather those of its creators? This car is nothing more than a product of its era, but its essence possesses much more substance than what people are consciously willing to acknowledge. This is a car that has a value that has barely even been recognized, a value that exists in the geniuses among us, quietly going about the business of immortalizing themselves in history, whilst everyone remains blissfully unaware of their contributions to society.

3. © Alfa-Romeo (Type 116) GTV-6 by Centro Stile Alfa-Romeo - Donga Tshabalala - ENLISTED by Donga Tshabalala

“This is a car that has a value that has barely even been recognized, a value that exists in the geniuses among us, quietly going about the business of immortalizing themselves in history, whilst everyone remains blissfully unaware of their contributions to society.”

There is sound reason to justify the existence of rational and logical human beings in positions of power. Their accolades and reputations warrant them a certain degree of veneration, which leaves them in a stratosphere dominated by the rich and famous. However, the inability to attain the recognition that has the capacity to relegate a person into this stratospheric social hierarchy is no reason to merely neglect and reject their existence. If this were true, then punishing people for their flaws would be a true and orthodox convention. However, more sane and moral minds have prevailed. Similarly, if the Alfa-Romeo GTV/6 was to be punished for its mechanical and structural imperfections, then it would have never graced the highways, driveways and back roads that the world has to offer. This may be a car that the uninitiated motorist, who does not form part of the world of the petrolhead, would be too scared to consider purchasing. However, the beauty, appeal, presence and charisma of this car grants it the aura of an individual who the world gravitates to. Its faults are identical to the stubbornness that leaves people to their own devices in the pursuit of authenticity. This is a vehicle which proves that cars are far more than the sum of their parts.

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