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Hello,

I'm quite interested in a few 1978 Alfa Romeo Spiders in my area, but a bit concerned about the safety. I know that cars of such age don't usually feature some, if any more modern safety features, but I am more interested in how they deal with more blunt impacts. If I choose to buy one, it will likely become my "everyday" car. I am content with many of the problems that likely come with owning an Alfa, but I haven't been able to find anything about the safety aspects. Namely, how is the "crumple zone" performance, and how does it do in a rollover? Would a rollbar help? I am more of a saloon person myself, but I can't afford the prices of a GTV right now. I don't plan to crash it, but best to have an idea.
 

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On a weighted scale, comparing all safety features about a vehicle, its the nut behind the wheel that has a 98% affect on the safety of that vehicle.
These are about the driving experience, wind in your hair, bugs in your teeth, the subtle scent of the interior, trunk, engine bay, your garage after parking over night.
They are twice as safe and a quarter as safe as every other vehicle out there but that is not on the consciousness of anyone as the lower their backside into the drivers seat, twist the key and feel calm and happiness come around them as the glorious sounds of the engine burble to life.
 

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'84 Spider Veloce
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IMHO the Spider is a calculated risk. When you drive alongside a behemoth SUV or an 18-wheeler, it can feel more like a pedal car.

Even the S3s & 4s are way down on safety compared to a modern car. No air bags, no ABS. With a 78, no door beams, no third brake light, no anti-whiplash headrests, no 3-point seatbelts.

All Spiders have crumple zones, for what it's worth. I've never heard of a Spider turning over on the road, and many think a roll bar is more a skull-fracture risk than a safety feature.

Three-point belts can be retrofitted, along with seats that properly support the chest strap, and have a headrest, to a '78 Spider.

On my '84 S3, I replaced the 35-year old webbing on my belts, and added a third brake light. I'd pay good money to add ABS, if it were possible.

As vintagemilano said, all this pales compared to an alert driver.

David OD
Laguna CA
 

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Here is a hint: try finding an instructor who will sit next to you in a convertible of any kind at a track day.
 
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IMHO the Spider is a calculated risk. When you drive alongside a behemoth SUV or an 18-wheeler, it can feel more like a pedal car. Even the S3s & 4s are way down on safety compared to a modern car. No air bags, no ABS. With a 78, no door beams, no third brake light, no anti-whiplash headrests, no 3-point seatbelts.
Yup, all true. A '78 Alfa is no more or less safe than any other small car of that era: compared with even a modern subcompact, they're not very safe. Plus, the average car on the road today has gotten a lot more massive - and their drivers a lot less attentive - than those of 42 years ago. Wish I could tell you otherwise, but that's the way it is.
 
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I have had the misfortune of crashing an S3 spider twice. Both were front end collisions where the other driver pulled out in front of me. I probably hit at between 25 and 35 MPH, and walked away with the worst injuries to my pride (even though it wasn't my fault) and my shoulder from the 3 point belt.

I have a 78, and one of my winter projects is a set of 3 point belts. I just can't see my face withstanding a meeting with the steering wheel in a future event.

Mo in NJ
Face for radio.
 

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what part?
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my 84 gas door beams
 

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Driving a small convertible is a small step above driving a motorcycle. Drive accordingly or don't buy one.
 

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Driving a small convertible is a small step above driving a motorcycle. Drive accordingly or don't buy one.
Yup, I consider my 78 a motorcycle with doors. I've had a couple near misses, so I'm hesitant to drive in any weather with poor visibility and I always pay attention to other drivers and stay out of their blind spots. 98% of drivers don't know how to properly adjust their mirrors.
 

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1978 Alfa Romeo Spider
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I have had the misfortune of crashing an S3 spider twice. Both were front end collisions where the other driver pulled out in front of me. I probably hit at between 25 and 35 MPH, and walked away with the worst injuries to my pride (even though it wasn't my fault) and my shoulder from the 3 point belt.

I have a 78, and one of my winter projects is a set of 3 point belts. I just can't see my face withstanding a meeting with the steering wheel in a future event.

Mo in NJ
Face for radio.
Hi Mo in NJ,

I am in NJ as well and have a 78 as well. I have been thinking of putting in 3 point belts but haven't found a good solution. What are you looking at?

Vincent
 

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just copy a 81 and later for the belts
 

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To counter your statement about "many problems", there shouldn't be as long as its maintained properly, they just take more TLC because that's how cars were back in the day, you have to remember many of the components are forty years old and its a good idea to pre-emptively replace the more vulnerable ones, usually electrical. As to safety i sometimes worry about it when I'm not driving but when I'm behind the steering wheel I forget about it, just treat everyone else on the road as an eejit and do an advanced driving course
 

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this thread shows a rear end hit by a golf.
you can see the spare wheel helps!
Breaks my heart

and this shows a roll:
rolled spider.jpg

and both are S4 spiders that supposedly are a bit safer: S4 does have a driver's air bag but only in USA, as well as a UJ on the steering column, and the safety struts in the doors)

You don't really want to be in either situation, especially the last....
 

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Hi Mo in NJ,

I am in NJ as well and have a 78 as well. I have been thinking of putting in 3 point belts but haven't found a good solution. What are you looking at?

Vincent
Vincent
I looked around, and I will probably pull the trigger on the setup at Vick Auto. Almost $400, but it will make me feel better.

I'm in Basking Ridge. I'll try to post photos once I get it done. If you are in North Jersey, I can show you how it came out.
.
Mo in NJ
 

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Driving a small convertible is a small step above driving a motorcycle. Drive accordingly or don't buy one.
I ride a motorcycle that is a few years older than my Spider. The step up in risk when riding the bike is significant. I told my wife that 80 mph on the bike feels like 100 mph in the Spider and 120 mph in the Jag. I typically do not go much over those speeds.
 

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1978 Spider 115.41
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I have a 78 and really enjoy driving it, but that's what I do...drive it. I don't listen to the radio and think about work. I'm much more aware of other drivers than when I drive my truck but it's also made me a safer driver with my truck.
 
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