Some thoughts and advice on the lovely old Alfa Spider.
I wont go into the history of these cars, I will assume if you are reading this you may be interested in buying one. What I will do is share some of my 15 years experience buying, selling, breaking and restoring them.
Basically 4 categories:
Round Tail/ Boat Tail. Made famous by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.
These are 1960's classics and very sought after.Good ones can fetch a fortune whilst even breakers can be worth over £1K. If they come up cheap for restoration, dont hesitate, buy them ! For simple guide see below on S3
Kamm tail/ S2. 1971(ish) to 1981(ish)
This is the one to buy really. They are plentiful, parts are cheap and easy to get and they have a the real useable classic appeal. Avoid the American imports if possible, these may still have the black rubber bumpers and possibly the awful Spica fuel injection system. All these will do is dissapointed. The engine will be lethargic due to the US emissions laws.
Go for a European, 2 litre carburetor version.Remember left hand drive is always better ( in my opinion ). No silly brake conversions or difficult to access engine bays. The car was designed for LHD and this is how it should be. It does NOT effect value. Expect to pay £500 or less for a beaker, About a £1000 for a major restoration project or £3000 upwards for a good one.
Series 3. 1982 to 1990
This is what I have actually, only for sentimental value really, I just found the one I liked and spent a lot of time on it. I am also a bit of a fan of 1980's cars.
Cloverleaf (QV) is the nice one as it has the high compression engine.
Same advice and prices as above really. Plus the below.
Series 4. 1990 to 1994(ish)
I think very pretty, upgraded interior, smoother lines and Bosch fuel injection. But as above and below really.These have similar prices to the above but are more difficult to find projects.
Things to check for any of the above.
Sills sills sills and again sills ! These are 3 part and structural. They rust from the inside out and are remarkably expensive to repair ! The panels are cheap enough ( see names below ) but the work involved to fix is frightening ! Budget on £500 per side.
Floors. They do rust but panels are quite cheap and are not that tough to do.
Boot floors. Rust alot but again quite easy.
Body. Rusts, alot ! Rear arches, bottom of front wings etc. Nothing that cant be repaired, plenty of panels available.
Roof. Cheap to buy, expensive to fit. Budget on £1K for a nice mohair fitted.
Mechanical: Engines are lovely. Twin cam 8V all aluminium. Loads of parts off the shelf and easy to work on. They should pull well and sound sweet. Misfires are common and usually due to the rubber carb mounts perishing. They only seem to have a life of about 5 years. Cheap and easy to fix. Look for corrosion evidence in the radiator. These are all ali engines and if used with plain water they oxidise and block up. Always use a "coolant" rather than water.
Gearbox: Synchros always wear, second will usually crunch. Other than that they are nice. A rebuild will cost about £350 if you remove yourself. Propshaft donuts wear too but are cheap and easy to fix.
Electrics: They are Italian, dont expect everything to wok at the same time or to be able to find out why not, or to even begin to understand what the hell they did with those wires!!
Performance: I heartily recomend a handling kit. Without one they handle like a jelly in a heat wave, with one ( mine is an AlfaHolics own ) they are superb, pin sharp and so very different from standard but they still hav a nice ride, you dont lose your fillings driving over a manhole ! Cams, there are loads of faster cams on the market and these will give a far better power band than the original. Or, if you want to go allout for modern performance, change the engine for a later Twin Spark from a GTV or 75. 150HP out of the box giving a 30 HP increase immediately.
Driving: Great fun but can be a bit uncomfortable. If you have 5 foot arms and 2 foot legs you will be fine !! I love driving mine, last year I did over 10k in it, will always make you smile and if we ever get any sun in this country they are the nicest open top available !
For further advice or parts search for the following companies ( I cant put links on ):
These are personal opinions based on years of contact:
Alfa holics: Friendly advice and help from Max and more available parts than you will ever need.
Highwood Alfa: Chris is a nice guy, very knowledgable and has lots of parts especially body stuff.
Classic Alfa: Nice and informative chaps with some real rare parts.
BenAlfa: Cost effective specialist Alfa mechanics based in Westbury, Wiltshire and well worth the trip.
EB Spares: Good spares holding and many used parts.
EBay: Always great for parts, if you see something rare, buy it, even if you dont need it now, you will in te future !
I hope all this helps, if anyone would like to contact me for any further advice, I am always happy to help if I can.