Advice for driving a 46 year old Spider across country - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for driving a 46 year old Spider across country

Yes, I'm doing it. I am purchasing a 1973 Alfa Spider in New York and driving it home to Los Angeles. I have some stops along the way - Chicago to see my mom and sister. Outside of Toledo to visit a sister school (I sit on the board of the school in Castaic). Seneca Caves in Toledo. Niagra Falls (US side).

The owner told me that the car is sound. He's done some recent maintenance (oil, trans oil, gear oil, master cyl, fuel pick up (in gas tank), plugs). Brakes are good. Tires are good. Battery good. Wheel bearings good. Radiator good. Water pump good. Fuel pump good. Hoses good. Electrical good. Exhaust good. SPICA adjusted and TA good.

If anyone has some advice, it's greatly appreciated. And please, no wise cracks - my plane tickets are bought and my better half and I have plans set.

We're leaving LAX on the 13th and we'll arrive in Buffalo early on the 14th. Pick up a rental car and head to Niagra Falls first, then to the Rochester area to pick up our '73 Alfa. We're hoping to get to Seneca Caves, then stay in Toledo the first night - unless someone advises otherwise. Next day to Chicago and a day there with friends and family.

The next leg of the trip we're planning to take I80 west to Lake Tahoe, then head down the 395 to the 15, then the 210 home. I've driven this route both ways and my only concern is the elevation and the climb. So, we're considering taking the 57 to I 44 and west, but we're going to hit some pretty hot weather near Kingman and then west. I don't think the little motor is going to like 100+ weather, but it is much lower elevation.

We're thinking it'll be a week trip, but we have two weeks set aside for any surprises. If worse comes to worse, we can either leave the car at a safe place, then send a truck to pick it up or we can rent a U Haul pick up with a tow dolly.

Any advice in the following areas is appreciated.
1. Route
2. Recommended tools and spare parts
3. General repair supplies: Oil, duct tape, etc.
4. How many hours per day on the car
5. Friendly places along the way (just in case something breaks)
6. Cool places to stop
7. FOOD recommendations!
8. Best places to stay

If you've done this trip (especially in an Alfa), let me know.

Thank you.
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post #2 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:22 PM
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Assuming the cooling system is in good shape you shouldn't have any issues with the heat or the climb. Spiders in general don't tend to overheat.

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And please, no wise cracks
Good luck with that
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post #3 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:26 PM
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I have the following suggestions for you:
  • If it hasn't been done (yet), I'd suggest a radiator flush and replacing coolant with a fresh premix before starting the trip.
  • By the time you make it to Chicago, you'll have a pretty good idea about how the car behaves and what it might need.
  • Take note of the North America Club Forums and the AROC Chapters, see which ones are along the planned route, google them for their web sites and see if you can find contact info for them. On average, people in the Chapters are an extremely helpful bunch and likely will bend over backwards to help you on your journey.
  • Use this very thread to update us on your progress on the trip (which would also give Alfisti along your route a chance to set expectations of when/how they may see you).
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[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
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Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]
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post #4 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:38 PM
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^^ These are all a good call.

Every time I see this question, the answer is always a charge card and a AAA card.

But I would say have it gone over by someone who knows these cars, for obvious issues....brakes bled? Fuel lines rotted? Giubo about to shred itself? Is the SPICA adjusted well? Oil in the rear end? Those kinds of things. Seems you've checked much of this.

Then a good basic tool kit, but not enough to rebuild an engine, and spares of belts, points, plugs. etc.


And good on you for taking a trip like this. Too bad it has to be Interstates, but that's the smoothest way to get there if you don't have two weeks! If it were me, I'd take 70 through CO - beautiful drive and the tunnel saves you from climbing Loveland Pass.

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post #5 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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#Gubi

Do you know if the SPICA will have problems with altitude. I've read about an altitude compensator on the SPICA.
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post #6 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
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#Gubi

Do you know if the SPICA will have problems with altitude. I've read about an altitude compensator on the SPICA.
I don't own a SPICA car, but assuming the altitude compensator is working properly it should handle the altitude changes better than carbs.
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post #7 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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#tubut

Thanks for the tips. We're excited about the trip and hopefully it's going to be a mechanically sound one ... though if not, support along the way is greatly appreciated!

We'll keep updates as we drive across country!
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post #8 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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#Vivace

Thanks for the tips. I was thinking about I70 as it's much prettier and more direct, but I was wondering about 11K feet elevation. The air is pretty thin up there. I had a problem with my 1996 Volvo 850R when we were at Bryce Canyon near the top. I think it's close to 10K there. And that was a modernish Bosch EFI system. It actually didn't like being about 7,500 ft - I'm not sure why, but maybe the turbo?

We were also thinking of taking old Rte 66. In fact, we're still considering it vs the interstate system. It'd be cool to see the old Americana stops along the way!
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post #9 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 01:18 PM
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Ow, I grew up there but forgot it was that high...

"The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system, with an elevation of 11,158 ft (3,401 m)."

That's up there.

There's a long-time member here from (ND?) who is the resident SPICA wizard. I'll think of his user name in a minute.
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post #10 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 01:22 PM
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Oh, here he is - "Roadtrip," and he's in SD.

https://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/car...ca-newbie.html

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post #11 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 02:15 PM
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This sounds like a bucket list item!! Go for it, heck the adventure is half the fun! I'm jealous! This will be a total blast! Keep updating the thread with lots of photos and as mentioned before, take a copy of Alfa Owner with you so that you know the local repair shops-- but I think every Alfista/Alfisto out there will be happy to help you with any needs!

Cheers, bob

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post #12 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by autobroker View Post
#Vivace

Thanks for the tips. I was thinking about I70 as it's much prettier and more direct, but I was wondering about 11K feet elevation. The air is pretty thin up there. I had a problem with my 1996 Volvo 850R when we were at Bryce Canyon near the top. I think it's close to 10K there. And that was a modernish Bosch EFI system. It actually didn't like being about 7,500 ft - I'm not sure why, but maybe the turbo?

We were also thinking of taking old Rte 66. In fact, we're still considering it vs the interstate system. It'd be cool to see the old Americana stops along the way!
It took me YEARS to finish all of Route 66 but about '98 got it done. That would be the way I'd go!
Enjoy the road, as Goats says, I'm jealous too.
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post #13 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 03:33 PM
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I wish you good travels ...I Would not do it...
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post #14 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 03:49 PM
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Hi there, sounds fun, there is a classic motorsports magazine article about them doing just this, but the other way, I would highly recommend reading.

With it still having Spica I would go to this thread, print off and take the roadside repairs guide.

Might also recommend having a copy of Pat Bradens owners bible with you.

Make sure at least the rear fuel filter has been changed, if not both, before you hit the road. Have a spare set with you, maybe a throttle cable too. Is it original points distributor or now electronic? Does the fuel pressure light on the dash work correctly?

There are several classic car rallies all over the place like this one, I'm just familiar with this one but they probably all have similar ideas on how the car should be prepped and what bits are recommended to have in the car with you, have a look at their vehicle prep link/guide. I would follow their advise.

There are so many avenues to offer words of wisdom for a venture like.....

Hope it's a blast, stay off the interstate...

Cheers,
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Last edited by vintagemilano; 07-05-2019 at 04:00 PM.
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post #15 of 136 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 05:49 PM
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Just do it. I drove my ‘74 GTV from Arcata, CA to Minneapolis...no big issues. I did blue highways for nearly the entire trip. I drove over Independence Pass (12,000’), stopped off at Centerline Alfa in Boulder to replace the muffler, and had no big issues. I really had a great time.

Otherwise: tires, brakes, coolant...you should be good to go...have a blast!
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