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Discussion Starter #1
I am currently restoring a 1956 Spider #AR149500991 and I am trying to get the details right. I have started a separate discussion in this forum about the correct paint finishes for the chassis and undercarriage, but I realized my questions are broader than that and I thought this might be a good way to discuss my observations. First off, I have noticed the firewall has a large, hand-beaten recess in it to clear the Normale air filter. At first I thought it was either customization or accident damage, but I have since spotted the same feature on other early cars. I have attached photos of three other cars that have this same feature, chassis numbers 301, 412, and 450. Has anyone else noticed this?

I also found that my passenger seat was fixed to the floor with bolts, no slide adjusters. The driver seat has slide adjusters, but I now notice that they are very crudely welded in and have determined that my driver seat must have been fixed as well. I am not sure how this would have worked with different size drivers like my wife and I, so I will likely re-install the adjustable tracks, but do a nicer job of it. How was a fixed driver's seat supposed to work, given that the pedals and steering column are not adjustable?
 

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The early Spider Normale's had the 3 rib firewall with the crescent moon shaped pressing to clear the back of the air filter can

The driver's seat was on slides & the passenger seat was fixed to the floor

Here's 00450 prior to the restoration....

Ciao
Greig
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Greig,

My firewall looks just like yours, but I was surprised at how crudely shaped the crescent shape was on mine. Definitely looks hand-beaten as opposed to pressed. Either way, it seems to be an original feature, so I will leave it as-is.

As to the seats, it makes a lot more sense if the driver seat is adjustable, but the mounting of the tracks on my driver seat are a real mess, as are the attachments of the lower tracks to the floor. Maybe they were cut off by one owner and then reinstalled later on? From the looks of it, the reinstallation must have been done by the village blacksmith's junior apprentice. Thanks for sending the photo of your seats, as at least now I have something to copy. It is a nice old car and I would like to get it right.

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Another thing I have noticed about my 1956 Spider is that the rear axle check straps are steel, not canvas. Does anyone know if that was a factory part, or has someone gotten creative with repairs in the past on my car?

Rob
 

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My understanding is that early cars had steel straps, which tended to snap, so Alfa switched to more resilient cloth straps.
 

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My 57 Spider (01960) manufactured 06/57 had steel straps with a rubber (?) coating
Now replaced by Alfastop cloth.
Ulf
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks gentlemen. It sounds like the steel straps are original, but there may be good reason to change them to fabric. I am guessing that when one of those straps breaks going over a big bump it is a nasty surprise.

Rob
 

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Rob there is original & then there is practical - if your intention is to win concourse with a trailer queen, then use the steel ones, if your intention is to restore to original & enjoy the car, then Ulf is right, go with the fabric ones & keep the steel ones in a box on the shelf for posterity

Ciao
Greig
 

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My 58 spider veloce came with steel straps. With which I've had no problems. I suspect the cloth straps were installed for economic reasons (cheaper).

Mine are original to the car and still going strong after 60 yrs. That said, road salt may have caused early failures.

Reed
 

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My '58 750F had the steel straps until one of them came apart while the car was sitting in the garage.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My steel straps appear to be in excellent condition, but I think I will replace them with new fabric straps just in case.

Greig, your seat photos from 0450 look identical to mine, including the fatigue failures and repairs to the driver's seat near the hinge. Were your tracks welded to the seat or bolted to the seat? My tracks were welded on, and I see no evidence of bolt holes or threaded inserts in the seat frame, so it looks like they were made that way. Makes repair and maintenance pretty difficult, so I am thinking of installing doublers to reinforce the area near the hinge, then installing some really sturdy threaded inserts in the seat frame so I can bolt the tracks in.

Rob
 

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After 60 yrs, if the steel strap let's go on my spider, I can say that they have served me well. The fabric straps I've seen might last 10 yrs. Many times on customer cars, I've replaced broken fabric straps.

Since they are thicker, little more difficult to install. Difficult to line up the attachment bolts.

Reed
 

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Hi Rob

00450 isn't mine, I wanted to buy it years ago, but Al Rimer got in before me - he's done a nice job on the resto

The seats are just file Photo's from my '56 Spider picture archive, our '57 02806 has seat slides on both seats

Dave Brohan (Dave B) & Bill Gillham (Hooligansuper) on this forum are both incredibly knowledgeable on early Spiders, way more so than I am

Ciao
Greig
 

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Hello to everybody,

can anyone post a posture of the steel straps? I supppose my car (1098) should have steel ones, but she has not any more.

Many thanks

Carlo
 

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Here are a few pictures, the one on the bottom broke apart inside the rubber cushion that engages the axle:

1643670


Rubber axle cushion area:

1643671


There are plastic sleeves over the steel strap:

1643673
 

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Hello to everybdy,

Thanks a lot for the pictures, What is the thickness of the strap? Are they made of one layer or many layers?

Carlo
 

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I measured the steel strap from .025 to .030 inch. It's a steel strap with a rubber cushion presumably molded on in the area the axle would touch. The rest of the length excluding where the splice plates join the ends together is covered with plastic sleeves.

Doug
 

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00450 has an interesting ownership history, Al Rimer got it from me, I got it from Bob McGill who bought it from the original owner who had raced it and wrecked it a bit. (I can't remember his name), All the original 750 Veloce parts on McGill's "Old Blue" '58 Spider came from #00450s racing days. McGill switched in a Dave Rugh built 101 motor into "Old Blue" some time later. The original block is still with "Old Blue" and Bill Eastman. Fortunately "Old Blue" was stored in a different garage, but the original block and transmission went through my garage fire in 2002 and is likely not all that usable.

I have a '57 Spider in the shop at the moment that has lot of it's original goodies. I can take pictures if needed.

Steel rebound straps can be duplicated using spring steel strap with some neoprene rubber glued to each side using contact cement, the rubber is pulled tight with a good quality waterproof shrink tube heated to seal and hold it all in place. That would make a strap that looks original. The Industrial belting straps are stronger and hold up a lot better. If I was going to drive the car I'd switch.
Ciao,
Bill Gillham
Jefferson Oregon
 

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Discussion Starter #19
One more detail I am curious about, there was a plastic plate screwed to the passenger side door sill. I have mentioned this in another thread I have going about underbody paint details, but it really belongs here. It seems these were used as radio delete plates on 2600 Spiders and that some 2000 cars had them screwed to the dash. Possibly it was just a Max Hoffman thing, but I have read on another forum that you could purchase them from Alfa back in the day. It is kind of cool, so I plan to install it somewhere on my car, just maybe not on the door sill where it can get stepped on. Has anyone heard of them being attached to the door sill of a Guilietta Spider like on my car, or was this just something done by the owner?

Rob
 

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I know that as a 1900 Berlina radio blanking plate, I'm not sure if some of the early 2000 Sprints; Berlina's or Touring Spiders might have had them fitted as well ??

Here's one I have on file with the badge glued on

Aye
Greig
 

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