jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/21/22 12:56 a.m.

We were driving down a country road near our place and spotted this:

I've never had an Alfa and know near nothing about them.  Called the owner and he tells me it's mechanically sound, 76K miles, "A little rust on the drivers side", and it needs a battery and the passenger door is pretty dented/rippled.  The current owner bought it at an estate sale a couple of weeks ago and in the meantime found a '71 Triumph he'd rather have.  Sounds like a flip to me, but whatever. Just spent the night reading buyers guides and watching videos.  If it does run out OK and the rust is limited, how far could I go wrong with an asking price of $5,800?

Thoughts, and especially what to look for and watch out for, would be appreciated.

 

 

TheTallOne17
TheTallOne17 Reader
6/21/22 7:22 a.m.

Having dragged home two incredibly rusty Fiat 124s, which should be similar, if there's a little rust on the driver's side there's probably a lot more. With paint that nice it's probably safer. Still bring a screwdriver and poke all the way along the carpeted sills on both sides, and you may even be able to remove the driver's side rocker panel to peek under.

Both the cars I pulled home the rot started at the cross member behind the driver's seat right where the trailing arm suspension picked up. Even if it looks solid check underneath because the trailing arm pickup could be rotted out and have the axle ready to depart from the vehicle.

Good luck, they're beautiful cars

 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
6/21/22 7:59 a.m.

The rockers usually go on those first. If it's just starting to go through, you should plan on having those cut out and new ones welded in.  Been a long time since I worked at the Alfa dealership but I would check floors, suspension mounts and the front aprons in the engine bay for rot. If it's just the rockers, not that horrible, but replacing/painting will cost you a couple grand 'till you're done.

Mechanically, you don't want one that smokes. Trans syncros can go bad with any kind of abuse. Plastic radiator fans get brittle and fly apart. Radiators weren't great. Valve adjustment is shim under bucket. Suspension bushings by now will probably be worn/rotten. Parts availability was usually pretty good but I've been out of it too long. Price seems about right but hard to tell from one photo.

The ergonomics are weird. I never cared for these vs the Fiat 124. You either get Alfas, or you don't. I never did.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
6/21/22 8:49 a.m.

We fix a lot of these at Eclectic. What ddavidv said, plus it's probably been parked for awhile so plan on a lot more rubber bits like radiator and brake hoses.  It looks like it's newer than 1981, so it's got EFI instead of SPICA. SPICA has a bad reputation and it's okay, just a little fussy sometimes. I think it's a bit overpriced if it's been parked for awhile and needs some work.  Prices on so many things are crazy now, but to me that's more like a $3K car, especially if you don't need it. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/21/22 9:44 a.m.

For sure, that's an 80's version with the Bosch injection.  

Before buying it, drive it.  Not just to check that it's in good condition, but that you fit.  It's kind of an unusual position- but if you fit, it's not bad.  BTW, lowering the gas pedal isn't too hard- takes a little fabrication, but it's worth it.

If you want to check comparisons, check the classifieds area over at alfabb.com.  

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/21/22 9:45 a.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman :

If you can find that car for $3k, there must be some good challenge cars that are out there.  Which I would be surprised to find anymore.  

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
6/21/22 9:53 a.m.

I agree with everything that David and Carl have said. I had a '77 Spider, similar to that one but mine was carbureted. Fun cars to drive but I found it difficult to work on. It helps if you have small hands, as they packed a lot into small places. Indeed, the driving position was quite laid back/arms out. The 5 speed was very nice for cruising. I found that the Redline non-synthetic gear oil works well to keep the synchro's happy. I also agree that it would be a better deal if you can get it for ~$3K.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/21/22 10:24 a.m.

This one's an '89.  We go look at it tomorrow.  If it runs as the owner described, I think it will come down to the rust situation.  I'm not afraid of mechanical work but don't want to get into bodywork/rust remediation on a $5K car.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/21/22 10:59 a.m.

I know you mentioned have read the buyer's guides and watched the videos, but I figured I'd share these to make sure all the bases are covered:

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/21/22 11:17 a.m.

Most of what you can say about these cars has already been said, so I'll just chime in to say that my '88 Spider was one of my favorite vehicles I have ever owned.

It was objectively slow and weird but there is a certain kind of experience that the Alfas provide that you can't get out of, say, an MGB. It's not for everyone but it really scratched an itch for me.

Surprisingly, it was one of the most reliable vehicles I've ever owned, but I ultimately sold it because of rust that was too much for me to handle. The guy who bought it said he had done a few Spider restorations before and was going to put it on a rotisserie and make it a show winner. Occasionally wonder if he went through with it all and the car is still out there.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
6/21/22 11:49 a.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to Carl Heideman :

If you can find that car for $3k, there must be some good challenge cars that are out there.  Which I would be surprised to find anymore.  

I may be out of touch with prices in this crazy economy, plus I own a shop and cars tend to come to me at bargain prices. I think better deals are still out there.  I'll overpay for a really solid project, but not for an average project. This looks more like an average project.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/21/22 1:21 p.m.
Carl Heideman said:
alfadriver said:

In reply to Carl Heideman :

If you can find that car for $3k, there must be some good challenge cars that are out there.  Which I would be surprised to find anymore.  

I may be out of touch with prices in this crazy economy, plus I own a shop and cars tend to come to me at bargain prices. I think better deals are still out there.  I'll overpay for a really solid project, but not for an average project. This looks more like an average project.

Seems that the cars that can be saved have been.  Especially since the least loved of the Spiders are also the ones that rust the most- '75-'81.  

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/22/22 8:47 p.m.

Saw and drove the car today.  Car ran well and was fun to drive.  All seemed OK except for the rust on the drivers side.  Not sure I want to get into a $5K project with rust remediation., which might lead to fixing the faded paint, etc...

There's a pretty good area where the passenger door is pushed in.  Not very visible from the pic.

Driver's side rust

 

 

 

 

 

 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/22/22 8:53 p.m.

I think you are right to walk away from that one for $5k. I would be second-guessing myself at $3500.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
6/23/22 7:21 a.m.

The rockers rust from the inside out. It would need rockers welded in. Couple grand till you're done if you have to pay someone.

All Alfas rust like that. If it doesn't have rust visible, then you have to wonder how well it was repaired.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
6/23/22 8:41 a.m.

The photo of the front of the rocker panel also shows the inner structure below the steering box mounting, and it is starting to swell.  Also the transverse box from there to the rocker is failing. Walk away swiftly.

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
6/23/22 8:42 a.m.

Good decision to walk away.  They are pretty, make cool noises but have a solid axle and should be IRS.  In addition made from the same crappy metals used by fiat in that era.  Can't remember the year I bought but it was fuel injected.  Rear springs cracked in multiple places.  And this is the really neat thing, the threads between the engine and trans were so worn they wouldn't hold a bolt.  every few weeks I had to get under and tighten them or the trans and engine would start separating.  Made for  very tough shifting when that happened!  Eventually I put some loctite on and sold it.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/23/22 10:14 a.m.

In reply to porschenut :

As an opposite view- other Alfas are not that bad of cars- we've had ours for 25 years, and since it's been rebuilt over 20 years ago, there have been no problems.  We've driven it a handful of times since we parked it in 2012, and it starts and drives the first time every single time.

You kind of have a point about the IRS, except that IRS back in the 60's wasn't that well understood- the Alfa TZ had some scary properties, whereas the live axle was incredibly well behaved- winning races even in the 70's Trans Am races.

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