Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Mission Viejo, CA
Here are a couple of points from another alfa newbie that made a few mistakes:
1. Paint is more important than you think. I knew this but thought the "lowish" price of the car I wanted made up for a lousy paint job. I forgot to think about the real cost of things like overspray on the wiring loom, engine areas and rubber. Much more expensive to fix than simply a new paint job. Also decide before you go in how important it is to you personally that the car is the original color or not. I thought this wasn't important to me but now that I have the car and see how rare the original color is I really want to change it back. And that is a lot more money than just a repaint.
2. Check how crisp the lines and various shapes of the sheet metal look. This is hard to see in pictures. I bought my car without going to see it and was disappointed with the lines. I know this is going to be another expensive thing for me to address because there are probably some things hiding in there.
3. Lots of little things add up fast. I know this sounds really obvious, but I just paid almost $75 for a hazard switch because I couldn't wait to find a used one. So when you are figuring what you should be paying relative to what you could get for the car should you sell at any particular point during your ownership period you need to think about this. Some of the parts are fairly easy to find but others are hard and therefore expensive. USA taillight lenses and fixtures come to mind. I just sort of threw some quick estimates at things but probably missed by something like $5K. One alfabb person said something like "you spend in $1K increments". I am currently rebuilding brakes, hoses and lines and using premium rotors and by the time I'm done I will be approaching that magic number. Next up are springs and shocks and that is another $1K. My point is put as much detail into the cost estimates as you can.
4. Think about things that trigger other things. For example I had to get the SPICA restored which led to renovating the fuel tank. That was another $250 or so that I hadn't planned on. When I went to register the car (out of state) I was told there would be an inspection. That moved fixing the wipers up the priority on my list. Turns out the motor was trashed and you can't buy the exact motor anymore (there are some late '70s Bosch units from BMWs that work). It turned out that I got my restored for $130 which I thought was pretty decent since I examined the guts and knew it was beyond my skills. There are a lot of things like this that just keep adding up.
5. Make sure you know exactly the year and model you really want. I got kind of lucky on this point because I actually made an offer on a '74 GTV 2000 when I decided later on that I really wanted a late '70 or '71 because I personally liked the older dashboard but didn't want pedals that hinge on the floor. You just don't want to put a bunch of time into a car that isn't exactly the one you want.
Depending on how pretty you want your "runner", the ones I would enjoy out here in SoCal are between $15K and $20K. I offered $16K on a pretty nice '74 in So Cal. The owner was asking $20 and would go $18K. It had been lowered, which I didn't want and I was factoring $2K to fix it (along with other things that I was likely to find). That's how I was at $16K. I ended up spending $11K on a '71 1750 but I had to fix my SPICA. I figure I'll be at about $25K once I get things in decent (not perfect!) order and fix the paint.
All that being said once you have the car then just know that it is a labor of love and don't sweat being off by a couple thousand. I told my wife going in "My goal is to have fun with the car and not lose too much money when we sell." Controlling the wife's expectations is very important...
Hope this helps and I hope you have as much fun as we are!
'71 GTV 1750 USA SPICA