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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I just bought my first Alfa and I've got a few questions. I've never owned one so I'm not sure how well it should perform but so far Im a bit disappointed. The car runs great but it doesn't seem to have the power I would expect from it. It doesn't hesitate but the throttle response isn't really there and it takes awhile to get up to speed. Everything on this car is original and I'm sure it's not had a tune up in years (if at all). It's only got 38k miles and sat in storage for the past 8 years. My question is where do I start? I did replace the brakes/lines, oil and am rebuilding the clutch cylinders now but what can I do to bring the performance back? Also, my speedo seems to be inaccurate, it starts at about 20mph. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Joe
 

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There's a pin in the speedo that won't let the needle drop below about 15-20mph.

Define what you'd expect in performance.

You're not going to get your eyelids peeled back or your kidneys bruised, nor are you likely to win any drag races against the winged ricer set if it's in stock configuration.

For a short list: Cap, rotor, plugs, wires, air and fuel filters, change diff and trans fluid, check valve lash and cam timing, and it might not hurt to replace the vacuum lines and go through a very close inspection of the fat soft tube and plastic tube on the top of the engine for cracks/leaks.
 

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We have an '84 Spider. I find it quite peppy. It isn't the fastest 'off the line' but once moving & the engine is above 3000rpm it has plenty of zip. It pulls strong to redline.

Here's a link to the L-jet Spider tune up & diagnosis page. Make sure the VVT is working and there are no intake air leaks. How is the oxygen sensor? The ECU (computer) uses that to adjust mixture. If the O2 sensor is faulty the ECU defaults to a slightly rich condition*. It'll run OK that way but it won't be at it's peak for performance or economy.

Finally, how is the catalytic converter? They don't last forever (*and rich running will hasten their demise). As they age they get plugged up and restrictive. If the cat needs replacement, have an exhaust shop cut out the old and weld in a modern, low restiction cat. The whole cat/pipe assembly costs $300 - $450 ! A replacement cat is less than $100.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys. I had a Fiat Spider years ago which I thought only had a 1300cc engine and that had a bit better performance. As I look through the maintanence records there has not been any work done to the car since 1990 and only 8k miles since then. Looks like a major tune up. I just pulled the plugs and the tips are totally white...running lean? Anyway, I'll follow your tips and let you know how it works out. I'm totally hooked on this car and can't wait to get it back to the way it should be.
Joe
 

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Your Alfa sounds like there is something wrong with it if your 1300 cc Fiat was quicker. Probably the best "start" would be to make sure everything is running correctly. Do a tune up as well.
The quickest, most effective performance mod would be to get a set of headers to replace your really restrictive downpipe. I have an 86 as well and that made a world of difference.
It is an anachronistic Italian sports car, it is never going to be able to blow away the "fast and furious" kids. It can however be a real blast to drive down a twisty road with the top down.
 

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Thanks Head Gasket. Im just about to start the L-jet tuneup that ghnl suggested. I never knew that air leaks could rob so much power. Im not expecting to be able to burn modern technology cars, I just think it's not running to it's potential. I gotta say that this is by far the most interesting car I've ever owned and probably wont be the last. Where did you get your headers and how difficult is it to put them on? Do you have to reprogram the injection?
Joe
 

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It is an anachronistic Italian sports car, it is never going to be able to blow away the "fast and furious" kids.
Well, not in a straight line, but carving turns? Whole 'nother matter :D


Headers are available from several suppliers up in the suppliers list thread in the 'general' section.

There's a few different types/styles available from more or less generic up to full on race. It all depends on what you want to do and what you want to spend to do it.

Tinkering the injection won't be neccisary for just a header. (nor for a mild to moderate cam swap)
 

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Hi Joe,

I just got my first Alfa about a year-and-a-half ago and it had been sitting for a long time also. I faced a situation similar to yours and I was duly impressed with the improvement in performance after adjusting the valves and replacing the plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, and air filter. Checking that VVT is important, too, since it gives the engine added performance through advanced timing at higher RPMs. You should also replace anything made of rubber like belts, coolant hoses, fuel lines, etc. The big intake hose might be OK but, as you have read in the tune-up guide, it is imperative that it have no leaks.

Let us know how it goes!
 

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"gotta say that this is by far the most interesting car I've ever owned and probably wont be the last."

ALFA (Always looking for another)

"Where did you get your headers and how difficult is it to put them on?"

The ones on my spider came from Shankle but International Auto parts sells them and I believe theirs have more clearance between the steering box and the header pipe. They aren't that difficult to put on (You have to jack up the car and wiggle them around until they get past the tie rod) and represent what I think is the biggest bang for the buck. (While you are at it get stainless exhaust nuts to replace the brass ones) The headers will add about 10-15 hp. More if you eliminate the catalytic converter, but for my everyone elses sake, don't. (I have a magnaflow catalytic converter that I got for about $50, it passes emissions now even without the customary bribe. amd no noticeable loss in power)

There really is no end to what you can do to these engines or what you can spend on them, but usually the boosts in performance come at the expense of drive-ability. ( IE: It handles great on the track but it feels like riding in a coal cart or it makes tons of power but you have to keep the engine revving like a dremel drill. She is beautiful and great in bed but she is crazy and spends all your money... Life is full of compromise.)

"Do you have to reprogram the injection?"

No. IMHO you are best off leaving that alone. Just make sure there is no "false air" getting into the system through bad hoses and that the oxygen sensor works. That and a fresh fuel filter are about it for regular maintenance. It is a very well thought out system that will self adjust for about whatever you can do to the engine.

Best luck
 
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