Sorry, but I'm really late to this thread. Today, I saw a nice looking Silver '72 GTV go for $31K on BAT. There was a link to this thread (buyer beware warning). I jumped to this thread and I saw the notes on the first page and threw my response in. Then I noticed that there were 15 pages of responses. I've read them all and I understand the situation. I will give some professional advice - I'm in the car business in CA and there are laws that protect the purchaser.
Here's what the OP needs to look for.
1. In the docs you signed, was there anything that described the condition of the car? If so, did it say anything about a broken spring, brake booster, old tires or frame damage?
2. In the docs you signed, was there a sheet with a history disclosure? The generic one has a list of 15 or so potential issues - one is for the car being a Taxi Cab. Another for a Police Car. Etc.
3. The advertisement for the car has terms that are subjective, so one person can say a car is good, because it starts when you turn the key, while another believes a good car should not only start, but be able to be driven 50K miles with normal maintenance and no major repairs. Being a 40+ year old car makes the term even more obscure - a 2017 good car is easier to define than a 1970's good car. Get it? So the ad can be used in court, but be advised that the judge may not be on your side.
Things that are good for you.
1. If you didn't sign anything as in #1 above, then there's a safety issue with your car. Every used car (from a licensed dealer not a salvage yard) must pass a safety inspection, regardless of the age or miles. If a used car has 1 mile and is 1 day old it must pass a safety inspection. A broken spring, bad brakes, bad tires, an unsafe engine mount, etc. Those are safety issues and the car should not have been sold in that condition.
2. You have statements on this thread from people who are very knowledgeable about your specific type of car and they have given you advice that the car is not safe to drive. There are posts that tell you to tow the car in vs drive it. That's an unsafe car. You can use this in court as additional proof that the car isn't safe.
3. You have proof that the spring was broken when you received the car, the tires were old and unsafe and the frame is damaged and has a blotched repair (welded braces that are not factory spec). Also, you have an engine that was held in by one bolt vs three - also unsafe.
4. You noticed the problems in the first few days you owned the car. It didn't happen months after you've been driving it.
5. BHCC is a used car dealer and their cars must pass a safety inspection.
6. As long as you didn't sign a history disclosure (item #2 above) that tells you about the frame damage, accident or broken spring or engine mount, you were never told about the problem in writing. If you look at your purchase order (form 553) there's a place where you sign, right below the numbers. It states that all agreements are written on this page and no verbal changes are allowed. So, even if they tell you they put a new engine in the car or it was owned by Steve McQueen - it's not on the contract or the associated documents, so it won't hold up in court.
1. There is an assumption that the buyer needs to do his DD. If you've been looking at '74 GTV's, you've noticed that there are no good ones less than $30-40K. Logically, getting on in the $20K's from a dealership implies that the car has issues. Low compression, previous body work (bondo), interior flaws, worn parts, rust, etc - these are assumed problems.
2. When you found out about the broken spring, you didn't contact the dealer. Same for the old tires, engine mount and frame damage. When someone has a problem with a purchase, their first step is to call the store and let them know. It's assumed that IF they don't, the problem didn't bother them that much.
3. You never sent them a demand letter. When you're not feeling good about a purchase, the first thing is to write a demand letter (or email). State what the problem is and what you want them to do about it. For instance: The 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV I purchased from you, VIN xyz, is not in the condition you described. On top of that, there are some safety issues that make the car unsafe to drive. I made this purchase with the intent of driving and enjoying it and I cannot do so, therefore I request that you refund me the purchase price including all taxes and fees. Please include the cost to ship the car to me. Let me know when you will be refunding the money and when you will be sending the truck to pick it up. I will keep the car in my driveway and will not drive it from this point forward. Thank you.
4. You're a mechanical engineer, so it is assumed that you are intelligent and you have a sense of reason and logic. The seller may be able to reduce his liability by using this against you. You're not an average Joe - engineers are known to be great researchers and thinkers. It's suppose to be much harder to pull one over on an engineer.
5. Here's the kicker, and it'll hurt your case if the seller finds out about it. You posted on this site that you believe the car is safe and you had an expert confirm this (sans the spring). The seller could be responsible for the cost of the spring repair, brake booster, set of fresh tires and any other "safety" issues + use of vehicle. So, you may get $2000 out of it and you're stuck with the car. Remember that this is a public thread and you've now publicly stated that the car is safe.
My take. First, I will disclose that I'm an engineer (electrical) also, though I don't work in the field. I also am an Alfa owner - four in my stable as we speak (1983 Spider, 1980 Spider, 1971 Spider and 1974 Spider - in the order purchased). I was burned with my first Spider - the 1983. A warm day in the SF Valley - I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted the car so badly and since I had never owned an Italian car and I've watched so many Top Gear shows, it was now formed in my mind that I had to own one of these things. Mind you, I've owned some cool cars from nearly every manufacturer, so my foray into the Italian realm got me going. I answered a CL ad and it was a story car - the seller drove the car for years, but the battery went out and he let it sit too long and the gas got bad, so his mechanic told him not to start the car until he cleaned the tank. Life kept going with family, etc and he decided to sell the car for a loss and to pass it on to someone who appreciates it. I sensed it was a story, but I wanted it so badly that I talked myself into buying it. So, I handed him $2,000 cash, he gave me the keys and title and I set up a time for my transport guy to pick it up. Body was clean. Interior okay shape, but that's fine. Trunk full of junk - ditto for the glove box and map pockets. I sent it to my mechanic and he gave me the bad news. He cleaned the tank and put some nice new premium in it. No start! Then he tells me there's no Guibo, throttle cable and fuel pump doesn't work. So, there was no way this guy drove it. I called the seller and he answered - I asked questions and there was a lot of ummm's and uhhhhh's. I asked for some money back and he said he had to go, but I could call him tomorrow. Well, he never answered another call from me. It turns out that both computers were fried (someone may have put the battery in backward, then tried to start the car??? So, it still sits at my mechanic's shop - he gives me a big discount on labor when he works on it on his free time. I learned a good lesson and the other three I'm okay with. In fact, I'm super happy with my recent purchase of the 1974!
So, back to your situation. I know you're upset and disheartened. I get it and your dream is slipping away. Alfa's have a great fun factor and they have a great cool factor too. You feel young and alive when you drive one! I also feel you shouldn't dump your problem on someone else. So, what do you do? Four logical options:
1. You build your dream track car. The frame is bent and it's not a small problem - you're an engineer, so you know what happens when metal stretches - how do you put it back to the way it was? Bend it back? Cut it out and replace with a new piece? Leave it alone and weld an extra brace? And how strong will the repair be? In my business, cars with frame damage are to be avoided like the plague. They don't cut and weld these days - they just bend them back, however the dimension are wrong and there's a weak spot - remember molecular metallurgy! For your car, I think you'll need to cut and weld - I've seen it done and it's the only way to do the job right. Remove the motor, tranny, doors, interior and get the shell right first. Now your motor mounts will be right and your suspension will align. The cost of cutting and welding isn't that expensive; it's the labor to remove all the other stuff first + the cost of the parts. While it's out, get the synchros changed and check for worn/damaged gears. If it was grinding for a while, the edge of the gear could be bad. Is it hard to move the shift lever to the gate with the engine off? Hopefully not and it's only a synchro problem. Throw a new clutch in, unless it's like new - do it while you're in there. Then rebuild the motor. Pull the head and rebuild it. Low compression typically means worn rings - while it's apart, check it. New bearing below, a set of fresh gaskets and seals and a new oil pump. Spark plugs, wires, dist cap, rotor and points. Tune up the carbs and drop everything in. Check the Guibo, drive shaft and rear diff. Now you have a rock solid drive train. Suspension just bolts back in place. Check the steering box and rebuild as necessary. Interior back together and install doors. If you want to do the body work, do it with the motor out. I have a bad feeling you're going to find that there's a lot more damage than you think, but you can get it all straight and throw a nice two stage paint job on the car. You can do a lot of the work yourself, so that'll save on labor. $10-15K labor, $3-5K in parts and a year of time. And you'll learn a ton about your car and you'll appreciate how special these cars are.
2. Sell it, but disclose the major issues. Accident, broken spring (I'd at least fix this before selling - change two also), engine mount, body work, etc. BAT is going to be your best bet, but don't be surprised if you get $13-15K. Say you get $3K from the seller. You're down a little, but you no longer own the problem.
3. Get the main things fixed (tires, springs and other minor items), then enjoy the car. Do the complete rear suspension first, before tackling the front. If it wrecks a set of tires, who cares - tires are $300-400 a set - cheap in the scheme of things. Learn to rev match - a trick is to rent a manual transmission car for the weekend and try to shift without using the clutch. The synchros will help you get into the gear. Try getting to the point where the shifts are smooth, in and out of gear - based on matching the engine rpm with the speed/gear of the car.
4. Put it in the garage as a "sometime" project. Not a great idea, but these cars are going up in value and even with the damage, you may be able to break out even, BUT your replacement will be that much more too.
Good luck and know that most of us have been in your situation with a car (Alfa or other) - something that we wanted so badly that we didn't do our DD, nor did we thing straight. I know it's painful now, but it's okay. And look at the great connections you've found here on this site! The guys here are awesome and that's worth every penny of the $20K + you spent on the car. In fact, this is the site where I picked up my '74 Spider. 43K mile original!
Most importantly - do what you know is right. Imagine if you sold your car to someone like yourself and they wrapped it around a tree or skidded off a canyon road? Yes, we work hard for our money, but people are always much more important.
Thanks for listening to me.