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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a newbie here, so forgive me if I missed anything in my searches of previous posts. I recently acquired a 1986 Spider Veloce with 39K miles in great shape. The engine is all stock and well maintained. Modifications by previous owner include bolt-on frame stiffener, racing suspension springs, headers with straight exhaust. The engine and transmission mounts have been replaced recently, the steering linkages have been rebuilt/restored, and the trailing arm bushings replaced. It has a new top and the seat cushions have been replaced. I just had a new stereo put in it because the old Alpine had blown speakers and I wanted something that plays cds and has and ipod port.
My plan is to do some performance upgrades to the engine. I am looking to have a local machinist port the heads, and I have a good mechanic lined up to install racing cams and some forged pistons. I am looking for suggestions for other internal engine upgrades to increase the horsepower. I also need some suggestions on how to tune the ingnition and fuel injection. Can the stock computers be tuned, or should I invest in new ignition and fuel injections systems so it can all be tuned to the mechanical upgrades? By the way it is equipped with the Bosch L-jetronic system, not SPICA.
 

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L-jetronic is not 'tune-able' or 'chip-able'. It sounds like you have a pretty nice Spider there with a lot of reasonable up-grades/improvements already done. The only thing that hasn't been done that should be done is to post some photos here. We likes photos. They could even be of your Spider...

IMO, rather than spending a lot of money on engine upgrades you'd be better off spending it on tightening up the nut holding the steering wheel...!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Eric,
It'll take a lot more money to fix this nut than getting more hp out of the 2L 4 banger under the hood. I'll try to post some pics soon. Anyone got any opinions on the best source for performance engine parts (I have found IAP and Centerline.) Also wondering if anyone has experince/opinions/advice on what systems work well with this engine when considering changing the fuel injection and ignition to ones that can be tuned. I really want to get some more hp, but if I do the mechanical upgrades for higher CR, higher cam lift, bigger valves, etc., then I won't see the gains unless the injection and ignition can be tuned accordingly.

Will
 

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I suggest you contact Greg Gordon at Hi Performance Store. He has supercharged the Alfa V6 & I4. He also is a dealer for SDS - Simple Digital Systems - an aftermarket FI management system.

Now then, no more replies until we sees some photos. If they gots a pretty female in the picture we might be inclined to offer you forgiveness. Otherwise we send Guido over to have a little 'talk' wid youse.
 

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First, welcome to the BB!

Yes, you can get a lot more performance out of your series 3 Spider... It is really a matter of knowledge (not a small factor) and how much money you want to spend, as it will add up pretty quickly... If done correctly, the results will be dramatic...

Performance-wise, series 3 Spiders still belong to an era when Alfa Romeo and auto manufacturers in general were still struggling to meet USA emission regulations. Hence, while the stock 115 hp (at the crank) is respectable, the OEM set-up still represents a slightly de-tuned state when compared to say, the stock OEM 1974 Spider, which produces 129 hp.

Regardless, the good news is that you can make reasonable mods to get more out of the engine. IAP and Centerline offer proven approaches, and a lot of bang for your buck, although from reading your post (racing cams, forged pistons), it sounds like you want to take your car to a whole different level...

With any series 3 Spider the place to start is with the exhaust system. Since the PO replaced the manifold with headers and the exhaust with a straight pipe, I don't think you need to do more. Headers are a definite improvement over the short tubes of the stock manifold, but I'm not sure why he felt he had to go with a straight pipe. (Even tracks are enforcing noise level restrictions...) Anyway, suffice to say that you car can now breathe without restrictions. (You do realize however, that exhaust set-ups work best at a certain RPM range, and whatever the PO did may not be what ultimately works best for what you will do, right?)

The next step is to modify the head, and here is where some serious power may be unleashed. There are certainly different levels of preparation. I would venture to say that IAP and Centerline heads will probably give you about 80% of what may be gotten out of an Alfa head. When you look at their prices, that is a lot of bang for the buck, for it will probably cost you twice as much to get the remaining 20%. And I would not take the head to any local machine shop, no matter how good they are. In order to truly get the power out of the head, you need to go to someone who has done many Alfa heads and has a proven record. Experience makes a huge difference, and the head gurus do not share their secrets on this BB. They also charge accordingly, but IMO, they are worth the money as you simply will not be able to duplicate their results. (Two heads built to the same specs will be very different if one is prepared by an expert and the other one is not.)

With a well prepared head and some slightly hotter cams (and the mods to the exhaust) your Spider will have very nice power on demand. With just those two mods, the result is noticeable right away.

The next step could be pistons. Stock compression is 9:1. You can get Borgo off the shelf pistons with 10:1 or even 10.4:1. (The 10:1 Motronic design is favored over the 10.4:1, but you need to read up on that...) Borgo is the OEM supplier, well known, and well respected, but their Spider pistons are not aluminum forged. For that, you need to check out the Paul Spruell web site: Spruell Motorsport, Inc - Your online Store for Alfa Romeo and selected Sports Car Performance and Racing Parts and Equipment. (There are also other sources across the pond.) Now, you are starting to get into money... You can certainly go with higher compression than 10.4:1. You may also consider rods, etc. Here too, I would be selective on who builds the bottom part of the engine, and again, IMO, it's not just a matter of specs, and experience counts a lot...

You may run a seriously modified head and engine with very streetable cams and have great power, but of course, if you really want to get everything out of your enhanced engine, then you'll need to do more extreme mods. Here's where it gets tricky (not to mention expensive). You can go with extreme cams, but then you will have to solve the fuel delivery issue, as the L-Jet works with sensors and is not programmable in any way. I've seen some L-Jet Spiders with 11 mm cams, and some ping and some don't. There are also 12 mm cams available for the Spider. Cams cannot be compared based on lift alone, but just so that you get an idea, stock series 3 cams are 9 mm. Whatever you decide, do know that replacing the fuel management system is not an insignificant step.

Besides the fuel delivery issue, and based on your post, it does seem like you realize that all mods have to work in unison, and within parameters that make them all compatible. Thus, you realize that the you may also have to modify (replace, actually) the timing system. When you get to this stage all of this is serious work. I would suggest that you continue doing what you are doing now, which is research options and get to know who does what type of work and the cost. (There are different approaches for sure.) Once you have all the info, you'll be able to decide what will work for you.

Best regards,
 

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I love my spider and I wish it was faster. As others have mentioned, you really need to think about this. It would probably be cheaper and produce much better results to buy something else.
 

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As others have said, the Bosch L-Jet computer is a limiting factor. I suggest that you install a fuel/air mixture meter if you make changes but keep the L-jet. You will then be able to see when you are losing the fuel delivery battle.

Check out Murray's black spider thread to discover what you can do if you take the radical big bucks approach.

I suggest that you contact Richard Jemison - Alfar7 before you make a decision on cams. He has also posted a lot about head modifications and other engine building issues. Do a search on him and extend your Alfa education.

The European Spiders had Webers until the mid 80's. They may be the simple option if your state does not have emissions testing.
 

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You are about to spend a lot of money you haven't yet earned trying to boost HP in an already quick little Italian convertible. Like others, I say contact a pro if you are really serious about wasting tires and catching V-8 muscle. Turbo $$ makes more sense than head work in a series 3 or 4 IMHO.

Look out for Guido
 

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quick little Italian convertible.
Compared with what? IMO, the standard S3's are far from quick. You do not need to spend a fortune to be able to challenge Miata's. I am enjoying the adventure.
 

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There is also the v6 swap. Lary at APE has the kit for that.
but bang for buck boost is the best bet. but you can do everything + boost too. it all depends on how deep you pockets are.
if deep you can do the v6 swap with a big bore 24V something like 4L
money is the only real limit here.

I would start with how much you want to spend and see what options there are.
There is a lot here that have pushed the motors very far NA and that will always cost more. but some like to race and rules dictate what you can and cannot do.
 

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Lots of sage advice. However no one has mentioned transplanting a 4cyl twin spark alfa engine into your Spider. That will give you 200hp. Engines are often available in the $1000 range.
Dave Munro (69Alfa) has done this.
He decided that was the least expensive way to get 200hp result in a 4 cyl Alfa Spider.
Ciao for now.
Elio
 

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A standard 2L twin spark makes about 150 HP.
 

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Pat Braden wrote that Alfas are quick - not fast cars. (If you are looking for a fast car, then you have the wrong car.) I've actually never driven a Series 3...

Perhaps its not quick now - to be clear - but was considered quick in the 70s.

For similar money, 86er could sell the Alfa - add 5K - and get a ton more HP and a camera.
 

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get jim k. 's book , if you want to play with your motor the way to get the most power.. drop you 40mm exhaust valve to 38 mm even autodelta cars did this. they found out that the 40 mm exhaust valve was sucking out the intake charge,, so they went to 38 mm exhaust valves and gain a nice bit of power.
 
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