Alfa Romeo Forums banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was hoping you could answer a question I’ve been pondering over for the last couple of years. I’m restoring the body right now on a 1969 (1750 Spider) and I’m thinking about replacing the Spica injection system with the Weber carburetor and manifold kit. I’m looking to make this a summer runner and not a show job. Does anyone out there have any experience and advice of the spica vs. carburetion? I would appreciate your time on this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
It would be a crime. Send the Spica to Wes Ingram (206-762-3931) for a proper tuning and it will run perfectly.

Carbs are wrong for the car, will ruin the value of the vehicle and don't get you any more real world power.

If you do defile the car with carbs keep all the SPICA parts and have them ready to fit when you sell it.

Having driven my 69 1750 back and forth to LA from Seattle twice, never touched the Spica setup once. It just runs like a top eating about 1 Qt of oil evey 2000 miles.

If you ever have a chance to see the actual guts of the SPICA (like at Wes's shop - never open it yourself as it's horribly complicated) you'd really appreciate it. It's like a big 3-D swiss watch and an engineering marvel.

Before you make a decision call Wes. He's the best and he won't steer you wrong.

J
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,975 Posts
I would also leave the FI on the car. While the 69 system was a little archaic compared to the later FI pumps, I think most owner that switch do so because they don't want to take the time to understand the system and tune it well. Tuning a SPICA car is very easy and quick, and the system stays in tune Plus, the cost of a new T/A and a pump overhaul is much less than a new conversion kit. If Wes Ingram does the overhaul, the pump will be much better than new, because he incorporates several reliability and service life improvements, such as larger cam follower ball bearing, more robust compensator spring, etc. If you do decide to convert, DON'T throw out any of your FI compenents. They're rapidly becoming irreplaceable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
486 Posts
69Spider said:

Carbs are wrong for the car, will ruin the value of the vehicle ...
While I agree that Berini should keep the SPICA (it's a very cool analogue computer), I think it's incorrect to say that carbs are 'wrong' for the car. Carbs were standard fitment to the 1750 Spider in every market except the US and were clearly considered 'right' by the Italian engineers of the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
761 Posts
IMHO carbs would ruin the value of a US Market Alfa that should have SPICA. If you ever expect to sell your car for market value, you won't get it with a carb conversion. Whenever I hear carb conversion, I wonder what else has been modified. I think the 1974 and earlier cars are old enough now to warrant keeping them stock. Think of it this way, you're preserving the car for the next Alfista to enjoy in another 30 years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
Nikos,

I think that's my point. The 1969 1750 Spider came with SPICA and is correct for the US market car and to change such an obvious major system would devalue the car enormously. If this were a Euro market car it would never have had them to start with so why bastardize it?

Besides the SPICA rebuild from Wes with a stage 1 head job would likely get him a car that's more fun to drive and less general hassle than the same one with a "conversion." Besides he'll have the satisfaction of owning one of the coolest analogue computers ever produced and the FI that is 'original' and correct for his specific car.

If you're going to start modifying them why not just go buy some other, less rare and soon to be valuable car. The 1750 Spiders are the most desirable of the round tails and they are few and far between. I would try to preserve it in as stcock a configuration as possible.

J
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
Carbs vs Spica

The age old question ... .. .

First thing I will say is that both induction systems will work very well. Each has its own good and bad points.

If you do not service the car yourself or want a simpler job of tuning, troubleshooting, and adjustments- get the carbs. Most local mechanics will shake their head at the SPICA system and they would prefer to work on a simpler setup.

I am not saying that the SPICA system cannot be tuned, it can more tedious to do so, and may require some special tools. Some SPICA systems, depending on the car's history, my require more fiddling with than others. But the 'fiddling factor' is also true for carbs.

The carb conversion should not cost more than a rebuilt SPICA pump. Manifolds and carbs are always available on Ebay for a fair price. The conversion can be completed for under $500. I personally did one for this dollar amount. Look at the parts used in the Centerline conversion kit (using the Euro manifold) and then find them on your own. I would not recommend the kit that uses the SPICA manifold-to-carb adapters with the rubber O-rings. The O-rings have been reported to work their way loose, allowing more air to leak into the fuel to air mixture, thereby causing uneven running.

Used carbs - Weber DCOE or DCOM or Dellorto DHLA. Any of these units can be easily rebuilt as long as there is no damage to the body of the unit itself. Parts and jets are readily available for both makes of carbs. Just make sure when you are buying, that they are a matched pair.

SPICA will keep the 'stock USA market' look. I am not sure of the dollar value difference, but it cannot be that much. Both units, can be considered stock, as both were used from the factory in different markets.

The SPICA system is an engineering masterpiece. At some of the Brand X car shows that one will go to, many will look in awe at it, and wonder what it is and how it works.

Parts - SPICA has a few items that will need replacing when they go bad - thermostatic actuator, etc. The actuator will run at least $120. Compare this to a $29 carb rebuild kit. Carb internals (chokes, jets, etc.) are very reasonable also.

Performance air filters - Available for both. AR Ricambi sold a 'quadraflow' filter kit for the SPICA system that included a air horn setup and K/N filters. For carbs, air filters and air horns are everywhere.

Engine performance - From what I have been told, the stock SPICA system starts to run out of steam around 5500 RPM because of the mechanical limits of the unit. Carbs will allow slightly more RPM on a engine, up to 6500+ RPM.

Engine modifications - both systems will work well, unless one installs some of the higher lift/higher duration camshafts out there. The SPICA system does not provide adequate performance with some of these units. Typically, SPICA limits out with cams that have an 11mm lift and duration around 240 degrees.

What it eventually comes down to is one's personal preference and what they want to spend in time and materials. Also, it depends on if one wants a show car that is 100% correct, or not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
"SPICA will keep the 'stock USA market' look. I am not sure of the dollar value difference, but it cannot be that much. Both units, can be considered stock, as both were used from the factory in different markets."

Actually the difference in price CAN be that much. Remember, the '69 spider was the ONLY 1750 round tail.

All the previous years were 1600's.

They only made 1155 of the 1750 Spiders for the US market in 1969 and of that an estimated 300 or so remain making this an extremely undervalued collector's car at the moment.

It's not about look. It's about what's right for the car.

1969 was a watershed year and Alfa released both the 1750 engine and the Inection to meet US import requirements. It was a first of it's kind year and the injection system is amazingly sophisticated for it's era.

1969 was the first year Alfa made a model specifically for the US market (the US was Alfa's largest merket) and these cars even have their own chassis prefix (105.62). Chris Rees notes in his book, "The Original Alfa Spider" that this car "set the tone for future editions of the Spider." In fact most people don't realise that there was no 1968 Duetto at all for the US as Alfa was totally unable to meet the emissions requirements set forth by the fed for 1968 so no Spiders were imported that year and the 1969 model did not make it's arrival into the US market until late February of that year.

Other important differences include that nice little low fuel pressure light in the dash and the "INIEZIEONE" badge on the trunk lid telling everyone yo have one of those rare beauties.

As Wes will tell you it's as good as many much later electronic systems.

As vintage Alfa prices (and note that these cars go antique this year) rise steadily around the world you can be sure that this year Spider will become one of the most desirable (read: valuable) years ever produced. With carbs that will not be the case unless you keep the bits handy for reconversion.

You contention that the SPICA system is harder to maintain is rediculous. Carbs require adjustment, proper jetting, etc.. and my SPICA injected motor has never required but minor adjustment once a year or so I drive over 10,000 miles per year).

Having built world class two stroke GP motors for years I can assure you I know carbs, and in my book the value issues and the reliability of the SPICA system make this an absolute no-brainer in an around town road going car.

Engine performance - From what I have been told, the stock SPICA system starts to run out of steam around 5500 RPM because of the mechanical limits of the unit. Carbs will allow slightly more RPM on a engine, up to 6500+ RPM.

Again I disagree with this contention. I regularly rev my motor into the mid to upper 6k range and scratch 7k often enough to know the SPICA system in my 69 1750 does not run out of steam at 5500.

If you rev the piss out of these motors and there isn't 1/4 inchof carbon on top of the pistons it's not going to run out of punch at 5500 if the SPICA pump is set up properly in the first place. Years of neglect and misadjustment will of course adversely effect this, but the same would do so on any carb as well.

Don't get me wrong, I love carbs but not on this car. If I had a 66 or 67 I would be happy as a clam to have carbs on it but the 1969 car is special in too many ways to go maching it up with conversion kits.

This exact sentiment was echoed to me by more than one resoration specialist who noted this as one of the most undervalued Alfa's ever made and prices for top quality restorations could easily break the $30k mark by 2005. With 66-8 models already auctioning for upwards of that figure I suspect this may be a consevative estimate.

I guess the point of the matter is that if you want a Duetto with carbs get a 66-68 one as that was the stock fitment during these years. If you have a '69 US model the leave it alone if you have any sense. This is a rare vintage car and making changes to major systems is simply not a good idea. It's not a Ford escort or some car they made 300,000 of.

If you want more info pop over to Wes' home page and look over the info. Anyone who claims more power from carbs is just not being honest and Wes has the data to prove it. In fact they can get more by making slight changes to the Spica pumps. So what's the point of making the change?

If the Spica is reliable, dependable and easy to maintain AND it is capable of equal or better power deliery then what's the point of changing it?

My opinion, for what it's worth, is to leave the Spica system in place and just have Wes do a rebuild or service this winter. You'll never be sorry you left the car as it was intended by the manufacturer.

See for yourself:

http://www.wesingram.com/hp.htm

J
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,975 Posts
I wouldn't worry too much about the future value. You're buying this thing to enjoy and have fun with, not to show at concours. BUT, I wouldn't do anthing that wasn't reversable (for posssible future value). . . IMHO. I'm a big fan of keeping things looking stock, as Alfa intended, but I certainly don't look down upon anyone who wants to convert to carbs. In fact, if I had the room in my garage, I'd like to have a carb'd GTV, but alas, there's the spousal unit to deal with.

I'll correct one thing that kjp said . . . Thermostatic Actuators (T/As) are really more like $200 (not including a $100 core charge). If you do decide to convert, DON'T damage the TA when you remove it. Send it to me along with the rest of the system! You could try and sell it on ebay, but 69 FI pumps have unique parts (3D cam, for instance, is not interchangable with other years and lack of a fuel cutoff solenoid). Hence, you won't get much for it to offset carb conversion costs.

Now, if you're FI pump is leaking fuel into the oil, then you have another thing altogether. If the pump is in fundamentally good shape, then I'd say keep it for sure.

As far as performance goes, I think that's a moot point unless you're going to rebuild the rest of the engine to high performance specs. I would NOT push the limits on an old engine that you don't know the history of. If you're want a 6500 rpm screamer and want to keep the fuel injection, high lift cams, etc. yes, you'll need one of Wes Ingrams HP-150 street performance pumps. The 1750 cams are already pretty nice, provides a nice idle and is very revvy. I think the 1750 engine is a lot "sweeter" than the 2L just as it is. If it's just power and speed you want (and will rarely use on the street) then a 2L car might be a better candidate for a hi-po mod. As a minor note, your gas mileage will probably decrease with carbs.

What I would suggest that you save your money and keep the SPICA for now and give it a good tuneup. Drive it for a while with a good functioning SPICA system and I'll bet you'll stay with it.

You don't need special tools, and I can give you a dummy T/A tool to keep. The SPICA system is really exquisitely simple and not hard to work on once you understand it. If you're willing to spend a couple of hours studying the book, it's easy. I can't even imagine how many people have ltaken one look at the system, declared it "too hard to understand," then converted. In reality, if they had bothered to study it, they'd have spent a lot less money, less time, and had a better performing car. Webers aren't the bolt-on miracle that many people think. There have been a lot of frustration getting the settings and jettings right.

In short, there's no right or wrong answer. But, at least go into this with a logical and informed decision . . . . and not one based on fear and old wives' tales.

One more time . . . . if you do convert DON'T break anything removing it from the engine and DON'T throw anything away, PLEASE!! Also, if you don't send me the parts . . make sure you pickle them so they won't corrode in storage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
I want to add my vote in favor of the SPICA system as well.

Here is a story to showcase the performance equality of the SPICA system:

Last year at a club track event, I was on the track in my '69 GTV (SPICA) along with a '69 Spider and '71 Spider both with 1750s and carb coversions. Lap after lap, I was more than able to keep up with these cars and even able to "pass" the '69 Spider (I got so close to him, he let me pass on the straight). After the session, the other two drivers and I were "debreifing" (bullshtting) the session. Both were amazed to find I have a dead stock 1750 w/ SPICA. They both were under the impression that carbs would give them significantly more power vs SPICA FI. I jokingly said my speed was due to my vastly superior driving skills (not true)!

I beleive my car here at altitude in Denver performs better with the SPICA vs carbs. As I have said before, I drive my car everyday, the SPICA is well set up (and I don't fuss with it), is very reliable and performs to my best expectations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,536 Posts
In regards to performance, the SPICA system was used on Alfa race cars including thier endurance racers of the 1970's as well as the Montreal. So, to say that Spica cannot be a performance FI system is incorrect.

I would keep the car visually stock, but have Ingram rebuid the original unit to HI-PO specs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
SPICA vs. Weber Carb Conversion

When I owned a 73 GTV I did this conversion because I thought I would get a lot more power - I did'nt. It did rev freely with the Euro cams. It took forever to jet the carbs properly since I did not have a dyno and the ones fitted were way off - car would load up heavily in traffic but was lean on top end. Gas mileage was never better than 20 MPG . I often got 30 with the SPICA.

They were really pretty! Real racecar look that I loved. Sold them seperately when I put SPICA back on. I then used stack filters (sorta not much filtering) that also looked really racecar like. My big complaint with the SPICA was a no re-start when engine was not fully warmed - an actuator issue fixed by pulling wire off the cold start solenoid when it happened. My car originally had a cut-off switch that did this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
OK OK OK

I was merely trying to state a neutral opinion here based on personal experience and research.

The '69 1750 is truely the best of both worlds. It has one of the most highly regarded engines, and a SPICA system that I believe has one of the most aggresive 3D cam profiles. Plus the equisite roundtail stying.

As with the SPICA, once carbs are setup they rarely need adjusted also. For most, it is easier to use a screwdriver to adjust the carbs. No belts to replace, actuators, solenoids, etc.

Carb jetting should not be a nightmare. Start with the stock settings, and adjust from there based on altitude and other modifications. There are several good books out there for setting up Weber and Dellorto sidedrafts.

Don't get me wrong here, I love the cars and own a Spider, but $30k by 2005? One must remember that the big auto auctions are for the priviledged few. Part of me would love to see that happen, but part doesn't. All that happens then is that the prices for all the parts you need rise correspondingly. Remember the 80's when the collector cars started to get the big money? The used door handle you bought once for $10 was now worth $50 because everyone thought they had something and wanted a piece of the action. Maybe the quote from the restoration specialist was a bit biased because he wanted the business?

Some of the conversions that I have done were done based on economics, SPICA systems that were missing items, and broken/leaking pumps. Also one where the previous owner had done just about everything wrong, including trying to repair his own pump.

I have also worked on several cars that we kept the SPICA installed after tuning them successfully.

I have also noted a decrease in gas mileage on carbureted cars. But on something you drive for fun, does this really matter?

Remember I did say that the SPICA system does provide adequate performance in most cases. Stock motors usually have similar performance figures for both induction systems, but if one wants to install higher lift cams with longer duration, carbs are most likely the answer.

Enjoy the hobby and the cars and for what they are - fun as heck to work on yourself and drive.
 

·
Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP
Joined
·
16,230 Posts
Welcome to the BB, Berini. Nothing like opening up a can of worms with your first post, eh?

First, a few comparisons.

Performance - equal. HP ratings are the same for both carb and Spica version 1750s. The Spica cars should breath a little better because of the 37mm intake throats vs. 32mm for the carbs.

Performance upgrades - also equal. Both systems can be equally tweaked.

Ease of upgrades - advantage carbs. There's only a few people on the planet who can modify a Spica pump at a cost of many hundreds of dollars. Carb jets can be changed in five minutes at a cost of a few bucks a piece - venturis for less than a hundred in less than an hour.

Emissions/efficiency - slight advantage to Spica because of more precise fuel metering.

Drivability - advantage carbs. Slightly better throttle response.

Reliability - equal. When properly set up, both systems will go for years without further adjustments.

Repairs/adjustments - advantage carbs. While setting up a Spica is not all that difficult, finding someone who is competent at it is.

Repair costs - advantage carbs. Complete carbs can be purchased for the price of a Spica thermostatic actuator. Some Spica parts are no longer available.

Market value with carb conversion - no change. While most purists will (and already have) cry foul, it doesn't matter what the market value is if the car is not for sale. If you do decide to sell the car someday, many non-purists (that I know of) would prefer the carbs anyway for the reasons listed above. If a purist wants to buy the car and all the original Spica parts come with it, the point is virtually moot since the original parts are still with the car.

The "WOW! HOLY S*** LOOK AT THAT! Factor - Spica - hands down.

Some things to consider. Are you going to do all the maintenance yourself? Is the car being restored with original parts? (trim, badges, etc.) Does it still have the original engine? Do you want to keep it original? Is the car going to be a 'fling' or a long term relationship? A daily driver or a weekend toy?
I'm a carb guy, but also a semi-purist. If the car is being restored to original, I'd retain the Spica. But the bottom line is, what do YOU want YOUR car to be?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
I'll put in a vote for the Spica... most of the reasons have been covered, originality, pretty much equal performance (except for the gas milage due to the fuel cutoff during deacceleration) and the unique and cool factor..

Just get Wes Ingram's Spica book and you'll have everything you need to tune it yourself, and it's pretty easy once you understand things.

My first Alfa was a 69 Berlina.. and it was a great running car. Oh, the 2002's I embarrased at stoplights.. And the 1750 I always liked a little better than the later 2L cars I've had.. they're just a bit freer to rev, more responsive, felt like it had just about the same power as the 74 Spider I got, even though it couldn't have.

Anyway.. a rebuilt Spica from Wes is virtually a new pump, he'll work with you and what you want, and once a Spica is set up.. it stays that way for a long time.

Jon
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
The registry shows about 225 noted over the last few years. An alfa collector at the seattle concours threw the 300 number out in September and it sounded reasonable. Many of the 225 in the registry aren't salvagable without major work and some are listed as wrecked.

The info on the 1968 production is interesting. It contradicts the info I read but my source could be wrong. I suspect that those were 69 model year cars produced in 1968 that did not make it to the states until Feb of 69. At least that's my guess. I'd like to know more on this if we can get any reliable info from Alfa. Keep us posted if you investigate further.
 

·
Premium Member
1969 1750 Spider Dual 45DCOE (converted)
Joined
·
31 Posts
Reviving this very dated thread with the same question, FI or Carbs? In 1979 when I bought my car, I put webers on it. I was a kid and had a set of webers from my Dad's collection of 67 spider parts. I still have the Spica parts and am really wondering if at this point in time should I try to get the FI working or stick with the webers. I have just re-started a long awaited restoration journey on my 69 1750. I really don't care that much about car valuation as I have no intention of selling at this point. Thoughts?
 

·
Administrator
'66 Sprint GT, '67 Duetto, '70 BMW 2800CS
Joined
·
13,219 Posts
Gee, I doubt whether people here will have any opinions about Spica versus Webers; I mean, either will work, what's the difference?

And yes, that was a joke. You'll get less passionate opinions if you ask about politics or religion.

I'll begin the fireworks by giving my opinion: as long as you really don't care that much about car valuation, just keep your life simple and stick with the Webers. Webers work pretty well, as long as you use the factory carburetor manifold and linkage, and not try adapting the Spica manifold/linkage.

But I suspect others may have dissenting opinions. 😀
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top