Bipolar S3 Value? 3 questions. - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Bipolar S3 Value? 3 questions.

1) So I'm still pursuing an 86 Graduate and have learned a great deal about them from this forum, however I don't understand the the extreme range of prices for spiders that are very similar. For instance, " 1986 Graduate, like new 48K miles always garaged blah blah blah... $8200". "1986 Graduate, excellent condition 104K miles, minor paint chips, $14,500" To me those prices should be reversed.

2) Why does "everyone" say these cars need to be driven or else they're going to require a lot of maintenance? That sounds like I should be looking for a high mileage spider instead of low. And if I do get the one I have my eye on with under 40K miles I'd better drive the crap out of it if I want it to keep running???

3) "S3's will never be collectible", why? If that's the case will they just keep depreciating?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 11:35 AM
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1) So I'm still pursuing an 86 Graduate and have learned a great deal about them from this forum, however I don't understand the the extreme range of prices for spiders that are very similar. For instance, " 1986 Graduate, like new 48K miles always garaged blah blah blah... $8200". "1986 Graduate, excellent condition 104K miles, minor paint chips, $14,500" To me those prices should be reversed.

2) Why does "everyone" say these cars need to be driven or else they're going to require a lot of maintenance? That sounds like I should be looking for a high mileage spider instead of low. And if I do get the one I have my eye on with under 40K miles I'd better drive the crap out of it if I want it to keep running???

3) "S3's will never be collectible", why? If that's the case will they just keep depreciating?
Absent spectacular condition, the value is much closer to the $8200 number than the $14,500 number. There are a few extreme cases of higher prices being paid, but even $8200 sounds pretty high for a normal 86 Graduate.

My car has 188,000 miles on it and needs regular maintenance. I just rebuilt then engine and restored it cosmetically. I figure it's good for another 100k miles.

It's not to say that they won't be "collectible," but rather, they won't be as collectible as other versions of the Alfa Spider (S1/S2/S4). I think that the prices will continue to inch up, but not likely to the extent that the S1 Duettos/Boattails have in recent years. The styling of the S3 with the big bumpers, odd spoilers, and rubberized front "Alfa Heart" make them less attractive than earlier (and later) Spiders.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 11:48 AM
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I like the early S-3 with dual pods, hydraulic cam advance and no A/C, they are straight forward to work on, reliable if you keep up with routine maintenance, smog compliant and have long lived motors due to the BOSCH EFI unlike SPICA and carbed motors; good looks and a blast to drive. In 85 the cam advance became electrically controlled adding a number of potential problems/costs. In 1986 the redesigned A/C adds difficulty to both under-hood and dash console complexity (time and costs) the monopod dash unit is problematic and not structurally sound.

That being said, the value is up to the buyer, it only takes one buyer to justify the selling price. These are hand assembled exotic Italian Pininfarina bodied vehicles. In the early 2000's Berlina's had no love, I restored four quite successfully; we've seen there value increase over the years. I think the S-3 will follow, the 4:10 rear end makes for better drivability and the BOSCH EFI adds to reliability, it is a matter of time

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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So value wise an 86 Graduate in excellent condition with just under 40K miles, always garaged, new top, no rust anywhere, original paint with no chips or dents, no accidents, nice interior I should be looking to spend around $7000 to $7500?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 12:17 PM
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So value wise an 86 Graduate in excellent condition with just under 40K miles, always garaged, new top, no rust anywhere, original paint with no chips or dents, no accidents, nice interior I should be looking to spend around $7000 to $7500?
Here's a clean (fairly low miles) '85 Graduate that sold on Bring a Trailer recently for $8,500. In a private sale, I think that your range would be appropriate.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/19...omeo-spider-7/

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a clean (fairly low miles) '85 Graduate that sold on Bring a Trailer recently for $8,500. In a private sale, I think that your range would be appropriate.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/19...omeo-spider-7/
Nuts, I was hoping the Graduate that I'm looking at was a steal at around $7k and that I would be able to drive it a few years and if the thrill wore off maybe sell it for a profit. If this is just fair market price I'll probably pass.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:03 PM
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You want bipolar? This just sold a week ago at $29000.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/19...-romeo-spider/

Guess what? It's an S3. In my humble opinion paying somewhere in the seven to eight thousand range for a well-sorted spider with under 40000 miles is a great deal if it doesn't need any work and is ready to drive with confidence. I have never understood why the S3 is so maligned by so many spider enthusiasts. It is arguably one of the most recognizable Alfa Spider iterations, and if you speak to people outside of the Alfa Club communities you'll find that they don't even really notice a difference between an S2 car and an S3 car like we do. When it's running well and set up properly, it's dead reliable, and it has enough creature comforts and a smooth enough ride to make it an enjoyable cruiser (even for my wife, who is super picky). :-) Yes, they are going up in value, just not at the same level of "irrational exuberance" that is being evidenced in the asking prices of some of the duettos and Series 2 cars.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:07 PM
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1)I don't understand the the extreme range of prices for spiders that are very similar
You are expecting a degree of precision that simply doesn't exist in the used/classic car market. As others have written, any seller can ask whatever price they want. Sometimes an over-enthusiastic buyer will take the bait, sometimes they won't. Part of the country, season of the year, color of the car, dumb luck, ... all play a part in setting classic car prices.

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2) Why does "everyone" say these cars need to be driven or else they're going to require a lot of maintenance? That sounds like I should be looking for a high mileage spider instead of low.
Good point. I think that idea applied when these cars were carburated and gaskets & seals were made of materials like leather. A S3 spider is a sufficiently modern car that the idea of an "Italian tune up" is less applicable. So yea, look for a low mileage car. But flush the fluids if it has been off the road a long time.

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3) "S3's will never be collectible", why? If that's the case will they just keep depreciating?
Yup, they'll just keep depreciating relative to the overall classic car market. No one can predict the future - if classic cars in general keep climbing, S3's will get pulled along. But their price appreciation won't match short wheel base 911's and Enzo-era Ferraris. Alternatively, if the classic car market crashes, S3's are going to tumble too.

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I was hoping the Graduate that I'm looking at was a steal at around $7k .... If this is just fair market price I'll probably pass.
As RenaissanceMan writes, whether you pay $7K or $8.5K for your S3 spider, it's a heck of a deal relative to a new car. Also, that $7K "bargain" may need $2,000 worth of tires, batteries, radiators, ... in your first year of ownership, while the $8,500 car may be maintenance free. As I said at the outset, there is little precision in these things.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:08 PM
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1) So I'm still pursuing an 86 Graduate and have learned a great deal about them from this forum, however I don't understand the the extreme range of prices for spiders that are very similar. For instance, " 1986 Graduate, like new 48K miles always garaged blah blah blah... $8200". "1986 Graduate, excellent condition 104K miles, minor paint chips, $14,500" To me those prices should be reversed.

2) Why does "everyone" say these cars need to be driven or else they're going to require a lot of maintenance? That sounds like I should be looking for a high mileage spider instead of low. And if I do get the one I have my eye on with under 40K miles I'd better drive the crap out of it if I want it to keep running???

3) "S3's will never be collectible", why? If that's the case will they just keep depreciating?
1) I think many of those super high asking numbers are owners who have put a lot of money into a car and misguidedly think they are going to get it back on a sale. Doubtful if many go for prices like $14,500 unless they are absolutely pebble beach pristine.

2) I think this is true for any 30+ year old car. Cars that have been sitting tend to have dried up rubber parts and other things that have been neglected over the years. A car that has been regularly driven throughout its life is more likely to have seen regular replacement of such items to keep it in running shape. Personally, I tend to agree that a high-mile car can be preferable to a low one unless you are looking for a garage queen or a fully restored example (rare for an s3 to get that treatment). Leave the ultra-low mile examples for the museums. If you are looking for a car to drive, don't be afraid of miles but make sure you have a good sense of its history (documented to the extent possible).

3) I wouldn't say "never" but they were some of the highest-production number spiders and have some styling features that are a bit polarizing and less associated with "classics"- i.e. plastic bumpers, ducktail spoiler, etc. They will probably never be worth more than other varieties of spider. The S4s were comparatively low production and have features like power steering and a higher compression motor that make them uniquely desirable. That said, I don't think S3s have been really depreciating (in real non-inflation terms) for 10-15 years. Their value is mostly condition-related.

I tend to like that my S3 isn't too collectible because nobody is accusing me of butchering a rare classic with all my modifications. There could be some pitchforks out if I had started with a pristine S1.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:24 PM
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it's all about time, read the R&T or Sports Car Graphic classifieds from the late 50's, Alfa's that are now $1,000,00+ could be had for $3,000. From my own experience I worked with folks in the late 80's who exported old 2000 Touring Spiders back to Europe, we'd pull them out of fields in NJ/NY at $500 a piece. In 1988 had a beautiful restored 2600 touring spider purchased for $3500. I drove it for a year, put 10,000 miles on it, after Enzo passed the market "spiked" thought I was the smartest guy in the world getting $9500. The S-3's aren't going to be million dollar cars, on the other hand they are under valued and will follow along sooner than later, especially, nice, low mileage examples.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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You want bipolar? This just sold a week ago at $29000.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/19...-romeo-spider/

Guess what? It's an S3. In my humble opinion paying somewhere in the seven to eight thousand range for a well-sorted spider with under 40000 miles is a great deal if it doesn't need any work and is ready to drive with confidence. I have never understood why the S3 is so maligned by so many spider enthusiasts. It is arguably one of the most recognizable Alfa Spider iterations, and if you speak to people outside of the Alfa Club communities you'll find that they don't even really notice a difference between an S2 car and an S3 car like we do. When it's running well and set up properly, it's dead reliable, and it has enough creature comforts and a smooth enough ride to make it an enjoyable cruiser (even for my wife, who is super picky). :-) Yes, they are going up in value, just not at the same level of "irrational exuberance" that is being evidenced in the asking prices of some of the duettos and Series 2 cars.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
The current and second owner of this Graduate has had it since 1995, says he has all the documentation for the regular maintenance that was needed through the years, plus the original owners records. He says it runs great and has no shifting issues. I guess If its as good as described I shouldn't be concerned about depreciation.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:41 PM
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The current and second owner of this Graduate has had it since 1995, says he has all the documentation for the regular maintenance that was needed through the years, plus the original owners records. He says it runs great and has no shifting issues. I guess If its as good as described I shouldn't be concerned about depreciation.
After 31 years, the depreciation a car experiences in its lifetime is gone. Now, changes in value will be driven by the market and by the condition of the car.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-01-2018, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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https://www.hagerty.com/articles-vid...-romeo-spiders
The 12th paragraph in this article on why Alfa S3s don't hold their value is one of the things that make absolutely no sense to me. Yes I understand hoses and seals may dry rot and fluids need to be replaced, but I'd buy a "garage queen" over a high mileage car every time. My 1968 Ford F100 has 80k original miles and only gets driven a few times a year and I'm not concerned that it's going to fall apart
These articles make me crazy.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-01-2018, 09:04 AM
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https://www.hagerty.com/articles-vid...-romeo-spiders
The 12th paragraph in this article on why Alfa S3s don't hold their value is one of the things that make absolutely no sense to me. Yes I understand hoses and seals may dry rot and fluids need to be replaced, but I'd buy a "garage queen" over a high mileage car every time. My 1968 Ford F100 has 80k original miles and only gets driven a few times a year and I'm not concerned that it's going to fall apart
These articles make me crazy.
Your Ford F100 is a bit of a different kettle of fish. Truck engines are relatively simple and low-compression affairs compared to Alfa engines- they are also less likely to be driven hard. The F100 also has a simple leaf-spring suspension with fewer rubber bushings to worry about. As to whether you want a "garage queen", I suppose it depends on what you want the car for. If you want it to look pretty and take a drive on the occasional sunny day, it may be worthwhile. If you ever want to drive the car hard, I'd prefer something with miles.

Perhaps I have a personal bias. My spider had 135k miles about a decade ago when the odometer stopped working. However, the engine and transmission are not original. Like Thesius' ship, it's almost a totally different car from when it left the factory.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-01-2018, 10:36 AM
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new advert in the BB classifieds, shows an 89 grad for 4.5k $ (or 4k $ w/o the hardtop)
seems nice enough, albeit a few things to sort.
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