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Fell in love with Spider Convertible. I am NOT a car guy. Any advice regarding the 3rd vs 4th generation spider? Is the later model with power and a/c more or less reliable? Any advantage to the "simpler" '84? I drove the '84 2.0. Nice. Different feel in the '92? Assuming both cars are in similar shape, any advice as to which is better for someone that has limited car IQ? A/C is nice, but not at the expense of a car that is more complicated and less reliable.

Thanks!!!
 

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Welcome. We have an '84 Spider. I've briefly driven a Series 4 but never owned one. My impression from the brief drive is that it is the equal or better than our '84 in handling & power. I didn't like the knee bolsters - I'm 6'1" and it felt cramped.

If well maintained I'd think either would be as reliable as the other. A little newer is probably a plus in that regard but I don't think it'd be huge. If not well maintained then walk away - it can get expensive playing catch-up. Rust is the biggest killer of these cars. I think the newer models had better corrosion protection so that could be another plus. The '84 or '85 was the last year for the dual pod dash which I think looks better.

I suggest you contact a local Alfa club and ask for help checking out the cars. Plus club members may know of good cars for sale (sometimes an Alfa owner will sell a car so they can buy another...).
 

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Fell in love with Spider Convertible. I am NOT a car guy. Any advice regarding the 3rd vs 4th generation spider? Is the later model with power and a/c more or less reliable? Any advantage to the "simpler" '84? I drove the '84 2.0. Nice. Different feel in the '92? Assuming both cars are in similar shape, any advice as to which is better for someone that has limited car IQ? A/C is nice, but not at the expense of a car that is more complicated and less reliable.

Thanks!!!
The biggest difference would be if you prefer the look of the older vs newer, it is mostly at the tail and bumpers, as well as different interior. I used to have an '86 which is a mix of the newer interior and earlier exterior. I don't recall the difference in power over the years, they were probably minor across the Bosch injected ones. Personally since it is not the original Duetto boattail style anyway, I would try and get the newest model possible, this will likely have less rust issues and wear areas. I happen to like the newest tail restyle. Another element adds some peace of mind is the newer interior has a driver airbag.
 

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Kinda depends on your tastes and goals.

The series 4 mostly fixed the styling miscues of the series 3. A variety of sub systems were improved. One in good shape and admirable maintenance history will cost 2 X what a series 3 will cost.

The later series 3s are good cars. There were some emission-driven compromises in the early ones. If your goal is a fun driving car, with a tightly contained budget, the series 3 is hard to beat. But, they're not the most attractive cars Alfa ever built.

For my money, the series 2 have a lot of appeal. Lighter that the later cars, thus a more invigorating drive. However, their rust never sleeps.
 
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I'd call them about equal mechanically, although slight differences motor management wise.
So it really comes down to interior and exterior styling.
83-85 S3's have an older looking interior. 86+ have an interior similar to the 91+ S4.
Exterior styling changed in 91. I like both.

One advantage of the S3, especially for a DIY guy or somebody willing to learn, is the indispensable (L-Jet) Troubleshooting guide found in ghnl's signature. Its a life saver, even for mechanic types not overly familiar with this vintage of car. A similar document (Motronic) troubleshooting guide does not exist for the S4.
 

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if you like the S3 style above the S4, maybe go for a 1990 spider, as that has the newer Bosch motronic engine management of the S4, minus the power steering, but with the S3 look.

Yes, L-Jet troulbeshooting guide is great, but imo, the Bosch Motronic generally seems to give less problems (thats a generalization of course)...it doesn't have dual computors, dual sensors, that AAV that is always troublesome and dear etc etc.

Most all the info required on the later Motronic management is out there (well, on BB actually!!), it just hasn't been collated into one useful doc, like the L-Jet diagnosis.
 

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both cars are considered old by today's standard.

i would base it on which one you like looks better.

both cars will be about the same from a reliability issue if maintained correctly.

let us know what you decide.
 

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One advantage of the S3, especially for a DIY guy or somebody willing to learn, is the indispensable (L-Jet) Troubleshooting guide found in ghnl's signature. Its a life saver, even for mechanic types not overly familiar with this vintage of car. A similar document (Motronic) troubleshooting guide does not exist for the S4.
I guess there just isn't an author handsome enough (and also sufficiently modest) that wants to write up an S4 troubleshooting guide...
 

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Welcome to Alfa ownership, but be warned: ALFA stands for Always Looking For Another. :grin2:

Not really... but based on what you tell us about yourself, I suggest a nice, well cared for series 4 car, 1991 to 1994. I have a '91 I bought new, and it has never once let me down on the side of the road. It has the Bosch Motronic engine controls, power steering, various refinements over the series 3, and could even be had with an automatic (although they are not common).

There's nothing at all wrong with the S3 Spiders, and the suggestion to get a 1990 model was a good idea also, but again-- based on your statements, I think you'd be happiest with the newest Spider available. The Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC | Alfa Romeo Owners Club USA) and the good folks on this forum can put you in touch with someone, hopefully near to your location, who could possibly help you in the assessment of a car you find for sale.

But please, please be aware of this: You do NOT want to allow anyone unfamiliar with Alfas to tinker with or "maintain" your Spider. Alfas are somewhat conventional in some ways, but unconventional in design in other respects, and they do not suffer fools with tools very well. They are durable and extremely well engineered, however, for their time period. Just check the oil regularly, take care of it properly, and you'll enjoy the ownership.
 
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