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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings to everyone. I have been a member for about 6 years, but life intervened and I never got myself a drivable Spider. But my Alfa interest never ceased. Suddenly, there appears a silver 86 Quad at my local used car dealer! About crashed my truck rubbernecking to see if I saw what I saw...

The car runs, has about 127K on the odo, and the dealer is asking $6K. They handed me the keys and let me start it. It started right up idled smooth. No noxious smoke emitting from the tailpipe which was encouraging.

I know pictures are always wanted, so today I went and snapped off a few with my cellphone camera.

It appears that in one of our summer storms down here in Georgia a tree branch fell on the car and dented the boot lid as well as possibly the top. Both appear to be repairable. Otherwise it looks fine for a car nearly 30 years old and better than many much newer.

Any opinions on price, condition and general advice greatly appreciated. The admiral and I are going to go by tomorrow and take it for a drive. In the meantime I am beside myself hoping this car is a keeper and I can swing a deal.
 

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Rust tends to be the biggest killer of our cars. Check carefully in the sills & floorboards. Rust in the spare tire well is not structural and fairly easily repaired.

$6K seems like the high end of the price range - for that amount I'd expect the top to be replaced and the trunk lid repaired - but if everything else checks out paying a bit more for a good car is cheaper in the long run. Any local Alfa mechanics that could provide a Pre-Purchase Inspection? That could be a good investment of $100-$200...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I do have a 1982 that was a bonehead mistake on my part. Long story, suffice to say that it might wind up being my part car. It does have the Campy Daytona rims which I much prefer.

So question to the Alfisti. Is it a major bad move to swap out the phonedial wheels for the Campy's? I think my 82 also has a steering wheel I prefer over the leather wrapped wheel on this car. Is swapping out the wheels and steering wheel for something else considered gauche? I really like the wood wheels that are available out there aftermarket too. I'm also 6'2" tall and am thinking a wheel with a bit of "dish" to it might give me a little bit more leg room when shifting. Anyone have an opinion/advice on this?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Eric,

I think there may be some mechanics around. I know a guy with a Fiat Spider that had a guy who he used. Might be a possibility. There are some shops around that work on Porsches and other sports cars that I will investigate as well.

During my quick look yesterday, I didn't see anything terrible. No bubbled paint in the obvious areas. What I could see of the spare tire well looked good.

Tomorrow, I intend to look more closely. Car was kept under a pine tree for a while, so it's not really too clean at the moment. I think I can look past that.

The car is on consignment and I don't expect the owner or the dealer to want to fuss with fixing anything. But, I'm ok with that. I have a good shop that can do the sheet metal work. I have no problem using the obvious flaws as a bargaining chip for a more fair price. Owner lives near Atlanta and I think just wants it gone. So, maybe he's motivated. I'd think that this is a car at this dealer that could sit for a very long time looking for just the right buyer. Will try to press that angle.

For what it's worth, I'm an aircraft structures engineer and I'm used to seeing old rust bucket aircraft full of corrosion. This car seems to be better than some of the aircraft I deal with of similar age. Also, this car lived up in an area that was better than Savannah for rust. So, that makes me hopeful that it is fairly solid. Paint looks pretty shiny and not dull. Maybe it was garaged for much of it's life? Paint looks far better than my 01 Volvo!
 

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127K is not killer but you have to expect that with that kind of milage, burning some oil and leaking some more is kind of to be expected, unless it has had some major engine work in it's history already. Get the VIN and pay for a Carfax report. Maybe you can locate the previous owner and get some maintenance history on the car.

Given the high milage, top damage, and trunk lid dent, you should be able to get the car for less than the asking price. Just don't get too emotionally involved first. Just because the car is easily available locally is not good reason to buy it instead of a possibly better car long distance. Buying a car long distance is a PITA, but well worth it to get the best possible car at the best possible price.

My 88 Quad came from Seattle WA and I had it shipped to Memphis TN. I hated the looks of the 15 inch phone dial wheels, plus they are very heavy. Remakeably heavy since they are alloy wheels. I sold them off and bought a set of Superlites. Wheels and tires are unsprung weight and the greater the unsprung weight the worse the ride, especially over uneven road surfaces. The Superlites are a great improvement.

I got rid of the original steering wheel immediately and replaced it with a used Nardi wheel. But the Nardi had a very thin rim and truning the wheel at rest is a lot of work since there was no power steering in 88. I sold off the Nardi and bought one of IAP's wood rimed steering wheels, which has a better, heftier grip. Now I have road wheels and a steering wheel to my liking.

Personally I don't think there are any negatives about replacing road wheel and steering wheel with other than OEM. These cars are classics but not precious antiques. (but I do run an antique license pate for the low cost involved vs a regular registration).

I will add a couple of photos
 

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Discussion Starter #9
vf31rhill,

Thanks for that advice. I agree with that sentiment. I really like the Superlites, but given limited budget from the admiral, I would probably use the Campy's if I buy this one.

The miles worry me a bit, but from what I've read these engines are reworkable and even can be improved with better pistons for even better performance (slightly), so that might be something to consider down the road. Tomorrow, I will for sure check exhaust for signs of burning oil. Nothing apparent now and doesn't look like any effort was made to make the car look nicer than it is.

Are you current Coast Guard? My son in law is a chief in Cape Cod. Soon to move as he is promoted to Chief Warrent. Not sure where yet, but options sound not that great.
 

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First, repaint it in RED..that makes it go faster. The Turbino wheels, if you can find a good set are very light (lowers the unsprung weight by a lot), and find a Nardi wood wheel...Nardi was supplier for over 25 years, and they are great...Keep the rubber on the road, and drive safe and FAST!!!:detective:
 

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Only you can decide if price is right....at sellers price (considering body damage) I'd expect pristine mechanics WITH all service records...without that, it's just sellers verbiage.
Check out resent sales on ebay....with good mechanics comps (& betters, it appears) are going for ~$4K. I'd print some examples and use them for negotiation...
Good Luck
Paul
89 Graduate
Phoenix, AZ
ebay completed lists are:...
alfa romeo spider | eBay
 

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Bob,

Yes the engines are very reworkable but this comes at a high cost, even if you are doing the work yourself. So if the admiral is tight fisted about new wheels she will also be equally so on an engine rebuild. When you are checking the car out be sure to check the down shift into second gear. These syncros on second usually get pretty weak and very often require a double clutching to make that downshift without grinding. Replacing the transmission fluid with Redline NS may help some, but is no substitute for a new scycro. Yes, if the transmission in your 82 is better, it can be substituted for the original Quad transmission with a bell housing swap.

The very best way to check for oil burning is to have someone else agressively drive the car while you are following immediately behind in another car and can watch the tailpipe. If the driver of the Alfa throws a hard downshift on it , you will see the burning oil smoke coming out of the tailpipe at the time of the downshift. Nothing better than seeing it with your own eyes to be convinced.

I am retired USN and USCG. (War cruises on a heavy attack carrier during the Vietnam War were year long. CG patrols are NEVER that long - hence the change) Later I became a civilian employee of the CG, thus my photo in front of my last duty station. I had to retire at 70 YOA last June 30, due to having developed a heart condition. After 23 years of regular service I retired as Chief Warrant Officer. Congrats to your son in law - Warrant is the best rank in the military. He must be very proud and deservedly so. Making Warrant always requires a change of duty station. The first one may be pretty weak, but later duty stations will improve and the improvement in work assignments, job satisfaction, and retirement benefits will more than compensate for a lousy duty station at first.

Robert
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Robert,

Tranny stuff I think I can deal with. Have a good tranny guy that I trust that is very reasonable. Also have a regular mechanic of the same stripe, that will inspect this for me if we make an offer. Probably have him do a compression test for me.

We are very proud of our son in law. I have to say, that everyone we've come into contact with in the USCG have just been great people. I think he has chosen a great service to be in.

Thanks for all of your service to our country. We really do appreciate our service men and women!
 

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DoubleDawg,
I don't think $6k is too much for the Quad if there is no rust. If it is running on the original engine, it will probably blow the head gasket at some time in the near future if it has not been retorqued often [unlikely]. At that point you will likely find worn valve guides, bearings, rings, etc. but the bottom ends are pretty decent if oil was changed regularly.
As for the sheet metal, I would look for a replacement trunk...much cheaper than body shop repair for that...just a sanding and re-shoot. Tops are in the A$300-600 range if you install yourself.

Transmission will probably have weak synchro on 2nd gear but you can drive them a long time on that if you don't plan to speed shift/race etc.

I like the phonedials..they just look right on the Quads but they are heavy as mentioned earlier.

Good luck on the buy.
 

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Hi DoubleDawg,

I changed the phonedials and steering wheel on my '91 S4, and it is still an Alfa. Centerline has very nice Minilite replicas, and their steering wheel eliminated the airbag steering wheel (that probably wouldn't have worked after 23 years).
 

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Perhaps it is just the photos or the fact that it was raining, but that car looks pretty rough for $6,000. If they won't knock off a couple grand off the price, I would keep looking.
 

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I agree with Rich. If they don't seriously consider a 5 K offer I would leave my name and address and walk. Nothing beats walking through the door after making a serious cash offer to get someone's attention.

Robert
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ok, so I drove it. Tranny needs a rebuild. Everything else wrong can be dealt with. Told the broker it was overpriced and needed $2500 of immediate repairs to be roadworthy. I could go 3500, maybe 4000. He called the owner and he came back at 4200.

What say the Alfisti cognesceti? What's a tranny rebuild run?

Hmmm....
 

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What makes you say it needs a rebuilt transmission?

Sometimes simply replacing the transmission oil with the 'right' stuff makes a difficult to shift transmission behave. (I wouldn't tell the dealer or seller that, however...)

I am not sure what the cost of a rebuild is.
 

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Obviously, the hope would be that it doesn't need a rebuild. But if you only need replacement of synchros and seals, it might be $1000-$1500 for a rebuild (excluding removal/installation of gearbox). If it needs gears, shafts, or bearings, the price will go up.
 
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