1988 Graduate in Maryland, inexpensive project, Brewster Thackeray's first Alfa
You know how they say you never forget your first love? That's definitely the case with Alfa Romeos! Yesterday I tracked down my very first Alfa, a 1988 Spider Graduate named Gloria di Arese. I owned Gloria from 1996 to 2000. When I sold her for $5,600 in 2000 she was in tip-top shape. She has had some rough times since then but remains overall a very solid car with terrific potential, and she's available CHEAP ($2,000 OBO). I rediscovered her because a fellow named Don, who had bought her at a charity auction, listed her on Craigslist locally. I am not in a position to take on another project, much as sentimentality makes me want to; so I'll do the next best thing and try and find this fine car another good Alfa loving home.
Before I bought Gloria in 1996 she had been owned by a well-known club and concert promoter in D.C., and was apparently a part of his jet-setting image lifestyle. The car was shiny and black and had just 58,000 miles; other than needing new motor mounts she was happy to drive. I put 30,000 miles on Gloria, including trips to Delaware, West Virginia, and New York. Met my wife while driving her. Perhaps the most memorable trip we took was to Woodstock '99 in upstate New York, where we literally packed a week of camping gear into this little car. During the time I had her, this first Alfa was joined by a 1991 164L and then a 1987 Quad, the latter becoming her replacement. I sold her to a young lady who was treating herself to something special upon graduating law school.
Gloria was well-kept when I had her and I didn't change much, just did routine maintenance. I did remove the stock steel wheels with plastic covers and bought a set of 1970s Turbina alloys that I think look great on these cars. I also put in a CD stereo and a cloth top.
One very good thing has happened to this car in the past decade: Someone repaired the split vinyl seats (which I had simply put covers on). The work looks to have been well done and they are nice.
Some other things are not so nice. A cover scratched the rear paintwork and it's now got some primer on in spots. The mirrors rusted. There is some rust on the front spoiler. The trunk carpet is missing. The rear window is out of the top, but the seller has a complete top to include. I suspect it needs a new center muffler. There is a little kink over the driver side rear wheel to straighten. Something is mis-wired with the lights so the headlights stay on all the time. This is all do-able stuff and well worth the effort and cost. The car will be worth three times what you've paid when it's finished.
The tires have nearly new tread, but are dry-rotted. They are not what I had on the car so were replaced sometime in the decade, but then the car was likely off the road for a while. The odometer appears to have been replaced; I sold the car with 88,000 miles and it now shows 76,000. My bet is that its actual miles are around 95,000 or less based on wear since I sold it.
Overall this is a very straight Spider with tons of potential. I heard the motor run and it sounds perfect and has good compression. I was not able to drive the car due to some issue in the fuel delivery system; Don is working to resolve that now. He already changed the fuel filter which was unsurprisingly clogged, another reflection that this car has done some sitting. I have an excellent mechanic (Crown Auto) in Gaithersburg MD and if the car were not operable I would recommend towing it there for an inexpensive diagnosis and expert repair.
Don is eager to sell Gloria and he's not being greedy. He's asking $2,000 and would listen to offers. Especially if the fuel delivery issue needs to be resolved, he's going to be quite flexible. He has other project cars and while I think he's drawn to this one (who wouldn't be?) he realizes it's a whole new world to learn.
I have nothing in this sale other than some serious goodwill toward this old friend of a car that got me hooked on Alfas and introduced me to the wonderful folks in the Alfa club! I would love to see the car enjoyed and brought up to looking nice again, which is only a modest challenge. I'd be glad to assist anyone interested in the car.
Don can be reached at: 571/276-0331. He lives in Brandywine Maryland, within a half hour of Washington DC.
Thanks for checking this out and I hope this will be a win/win situation for Gloria di Arese and some lucky person in search of a nice project Spider!
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