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Discussion Starter #1
Hello
Please forgive me if I use the wrong terminology. I have been an Alfa admirer since I was a child; I am finally about to cross off one of the things on my "to do in this lifetime" list and buy one.

My friend who is a certified Alfa mechanic located a 69 Duetto (one of his clients). Original owner, 100,000 miles. Not used since 1987! It has always been garaged. It has some extra stuff on it, upgraded suspension, different wheels and a wood steering wheel. The body is very straight but it does have some rust around the wheel openings in the back and on the rocker panels below the doors. It needs work. I plan to completely restore the vehicle and use it as an everyday runner (Yes... will not be selling my reliable 4-Runner).

What do fixer-uppers go for these days?

Are there any model specific concerns I should consider?

How important is the original color of the paint? I know I need to have it re-painted. Would prefer to go another color.

Anything else I should consider? What mechanical improvements should be a priority?

Any comments about this model?

Very excited. Will post photos when I get them.

Lora
 

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Personally, I'd avoid the 'fixer-upper' that hasn't run since 1987. It will cost you a LOT of money to get into the condition you need as an every day car. Unless you actually want the restoration to be a hobby in and of itself, I'd look for a car that has already been restored/in good running order.

By the time you've sorted the body, had a repaint, rebuilt the engine, gearbox and suspension - you're looking at >$20k + what you spent on the car in the first place.

I think for $20k you should be able to find a Duetto in good condition.

I'm personally a fan of the '67 - but then I would be wouldn't I :) No matter what you get '66-'69 - they are all great cars, and can be very reliable. No matter what you do - enjoy!
 

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Lora:

NicoSF is offering you good advice. The rust you describe can be significant to repair. You didn't indicate what part of the country (or even which country!) you live in - if you are in the salt belt, rocker panel rust can be fatal (or close to it), as Alfas are unibody cars, and the rocker area is structural. The wheel arches aren't structural, but are difficult (= expensive) to repair correctly.

If this was your grandfather's car, or it had some other sentimental value, then sure, spend the $20K and put it back on the road. But, there are a lot Alfas out there - Duettos come up on eBay all the time. Get a professional inspection on one that looks good, and be driving it within weeks rather than years.

Just to answer some of the questions that you posed:

- If you do decide to do a large-scale restoration, then sure change the color. A 60's Alfa isn't exactly a museum piece - you're not destroying a part of history by changing the color. However, be aware that painting a car properly is a big investment - to do it right, the engine needs to come out, all of the interior pulled, any rust repaired, .... Plus, paint & materials are ridiculously expensive - not worth doing unless other bodywork is involved.

- A fair price for a fixer? It really doesn't matter what you pay - you will spend so much on the restoration that the starting price is just noise.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for advice

Thanks for advice. To add....
My friend has been an Alfa mechanic for over 30 years. He said this is the nicest Duetto he has seen in a very long time. The rust is minimal. Hoping for him to give me a firm quote for restoration. I figure that whatever I buy is going to need some work. I just want to find it all at once and get it over with. I trust my friend to give me a great deal. Need to get photos (I am in another state) to get a better feel for the car.
Lora
 

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Newton's first law of motion - An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

That's also true of Alfa's. It seems from your description that this car has not been driven in decades. Storage for over 20 years may sound like a good thing but for a car it really isn't. It would have been far better if this car had been driven sparingly over that time.

It sounds like you really want this particular car. You may get lucky and with the help of your Alfa mechanic bring it back to good running condition without too much expense. But it is more likely that the car will not be the reliable everyday runner you envision without extensive mechanical and body work.

If you do look elsewhere for a Duetto, I would be careful of cars on ebay. They are sight unseen and usually someone elses problems. Better to look for a well restored car that has been sorted out and can be enjoyed from day 1. Try joining the AROC or place a Want to Buy ad on this bulletin board. I think you will be better off in the long run.

Sorry, I think I got up on the cynical side of the bed today. :rolleyes:
 

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I guess I am a little more adventureous, but I would definately consider the car you are looking at - WITH - a lot closer inspection rust wise. Not that these things are necessarily cheap, but you can usually fix or replace most of a Duetto. The primary exception to this rule is a rusty body. If you find a solid car to start with, you can usually repair or replace most of the rest of it. A rusty body is usually the deal breaker in IMO. The big problem with rust is that there is usually more of it than meets the eye. So if you continue your interest, you need to schedule a lift and slide under inspection of the vehicle before you lay down the $$. Take a good magnet, a powerful flashight, and an ice pick. If the current owner refuses your inspection request, then it is probably wise to decline on the car at that point. You don't need to stab all the painted surfaces with the ice pick, but on the underside the ice pick will tell you far more that a visual inspection alone can do. Basically you want to do a through underside inspection, a painted surface inspection with the magnet, and lift and look under every mat, carpet or part which can be lifted or shifted out of the way. I would be pretty safe in betting you that if there is rust in the rockers and over the rear arches, then there is more rust elsewhere. Primary points to look closely at are under the spare tire, under the battery, under the seats and floor mats, and in the frame rails and jacking points. The car is unit construction, but it still has frame rails and these are quite prone to rust on Alfas. Jacking points can become so rotten that if you attempt to use the factory jack, it will just pull the jacking point off the car, or the jack will collapse into the rocker panel. Never owned a Duetto, but on a 1300 Spider Veloce, I've been there and done that. Ended up junking the pretty (but rust eaten up) car and using it for parts to rebuild a wrecked but solid Spider.

Good luck, and keep us informed on what you do - and post pictures.
Robert 88 Veloce
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for input...

Just wanted to add that my friend is a mechanic.... not my mechanic is my friend. He has my best interest at heart and is not in it for the money. He is semi retired and a busy man. He has been looking for the perfect car for me for awhile. It takes a lot for him to get excited about a car and he is excited about this one. If I don't pick it up I think he is going to. He has it at his shop and is starting to go over it. I think the rust is only surface and only in the few locations I identified earlier. The guy who owns it, loves it. He is now in his late 70's. His wife will not let him fix it up. He just wants to see it go to a good home... I can probably get it for a few thousand. I think for less than another 10,000 I can get it cleaned up. Can't wait for the photos to come through. Will post them when I get them.

Lora
 

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Go for the Best, Forget the Rest (IMO)

The first post is spot on. Not being run in 20 years is a problem, even if garaged. I just mechanically rehabed my 69 (had since 1975 and in nice condition and was garaged), that I let sit 7 years when life got too busy. Long story. I wanted a 20 year car. Even with a solid engine and tranny not touched (spec rebuld 14k ago), that was $14k of parts and work done out. Just finished interior and top rehab at $6k (combo me and out). Suspension and paint next year ($5-7k+). That will make it a nice runner and possible people's choice car in a small local event, but not concourse. This is a 40 year old car and even if reasonably well cared for, will have significant deferred maintenance. Sitting 20 years just rots it (Newton's 1st Law above).

One unusual thing on 69's is unique brakes - a dual circuit. If it's sat, you'll need a complete resto of the brakes from the MC (NLA), new boosters ([email protected]$375 ea), to the switch cluster, PV and to the calipers. Perhaps even hard lines. That's $2k+.

Either plan on a labor of love and money >$20k, or get the best car you can afford with an eye to a solid body, and still expect surprises. Knowing what I know, I'd do the latter (with a thorough inspection) unless you are retired, need a hobby, or have a $40/hr mechanic and body guy.

Cost depends on your desired end point expectations: average runner, 20 footer, nice runner, people's choice, etc.. As to paint, best advice IMO it to keep it as original (OE) as possible. Major job as pointed point above to change over. Non-OE-69 colors will affect future sale price as we see some cars are on the BB and e-Bay now. This car is unique and near-classic.

Best of luck whichever way you go. Note that there are several other threads in Spiders (and elsewhere) on this exact topic. Comments are similar - optimists and pessimists. Best regards, Bruce
 

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Anfanuts had written:

"Suspension and paint next year ($5-7k+)"

By "suspension" I hope you mean "changing the air in the tires", 'cause anything more is gonna blow your budget after painting.

There were a couple very good threads recently about budgets for re-painting (see "Bare metal respray" started by tomcotez on 06/05/2008, and "$6000 paint job vs maaco" started by howieb4 on 06/11/08). The posters pointed out that once you get the old paint off you invariably find rust, Bondo, accident damage, ... and can spend several thousand just on metal work (I know, it can cost a less if you do it yourself, but a lot of this work requires skill & equipment). Then the labor to properly apply the new finish is substantial. Plus the cost of materials.

I just bought the paint to re-do my BMW CS coupe - a car a bit larger than a GTV. Materials alone cost me $1,500, and that's after applying my body shop's discount. Every layer requires three components: paint, catalyst, solvent - all of which are priced in the $100's/gal. And, you need primer, color, and (possibly) clear. The price of automotive paint is really unbelievable.

I just don't think you can do it for "($5-7k+)" - or perhaps you had meant to type "($5K + $7K)"

Lora had written:

"I think for less than another 10,000 I can get it cleaned up."

OK, well I don't want to discourage your enthusiasm. Let us know how it all works out.
 

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I bought a 69 spider a little over a year ago that was in need of work but was a driver and fairly straight. I have spent the past year restoring it. It can be alot of fun but you can also spend as much money as your pockets will allow. It is getting painted at the end of August back to its original color. The advice that you have been given is spot on.
It could cost 20,000 easy. If you are good with a wrench it could be less. This
BB is a wealth of info. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Nice to hear feedback and enthusiasm. I have always been into european sportscars. As a female my friends would just look at me strangely when I would excitedly point out classics and suggest to go to the mall....

I am better than most laymen with vehicles and wiring. I have my masters in information technology (can build a computer), have constructed and wired several off-grid homes, and have owned some high maintenance vehicles in the past (1989 325ix BMW, 1980 CJ7, 1980 Thiokol Imp SnoCat - used on my 2 mile snowed in driveway for 6 months out of the year in Colorado- Good times!). I haven't really worked on cars. Looking forward to getting my hands dirty. I want my mechanic to make the exterior shine and get it running reasonably well. I want to pick away at the details and do my own upgrades in the years to come. Will not be getting rid of reliable 4-runner.

Not sure if this car is the one, but will be picking up a project in the next few months. Open to any suggestions if anyone has or knows of a nice one for sale. I love the 69 model. I am not looking to spend a lot. I want to be able to invest money in it as I go.
Lora
Humboldt County, Northern CA
 

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Anfanuts had written:

"Suspension and paint next year ($5-7k+)"

By "suspension" I hope you mean "changing the air in the tires", 'cause anything more is gonna blow your budget after painting.
Ok, then, Rev 1. Suspension next year at $3K (tie-red ends, bushings, upper control arms, etc. and shocks) and paint in 2010 at $7k+. Actually it has a nice "patina"; I just may keep it that way and not worry.

I actually think even just a good solid and reliable resto, not ground up, will cost way more than buying a good car. We just forget how much we have in them and/or lost the receipts so our wife does not find out. Whether you do it over a short period of time or a decade, it will add up depending on your desired end point. Setting that goal will drive all else, assuming no bad surprises (rustmites). Best luck. Bruce
 

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Go for it!

Project cars for a couple of thousand dollars are well worth it. It going to be a hard long road to completion but if you are a do it yourselfer and enjoy trying new things then go for it! Everytime you drive the car you will have a great sense of accomplishment. If you are worried about how much it will cost or how long it will take then just buy a car that is already completed. Fixing an old car is about love and your satisfaction. There is no law that says you can't have a less expensive (Macco) paint job or a less then perfect bodywork. As long as you are happy with the results and willing to make the commitment to completing the project then buy it. And beleive me you will have those days that you want to throw your hands up in the air and say forget this its too much trouble. Hang in there in and in words of Pierre S. Dupont "Its nothing that time money or both can't fix"
Ed
 

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My last word. Somewhere between the optimists and pessimists live the realists. They just want a reasonably reliable number and budget. As put to me, do you want it just roadworthy and safe, or then maybe reliable, and then cosmetics. If your mechanic friend is worth his grease, he'll go though it and give you a detailed estimate of all work that fits those classifications. He'll tell you of prudent urban renewal work. Then you make your choices and live with THE consequences. Even at that there are big surprises. You did the whole brake system but the boosters you hoped would hold do not ($900 adder), an original Spica pump you hope holds does not and you do that and new injectors ($1100), the old clutch that seemed fine starts slipping after one week on the freeway ($1200 and another few weeks). And so on. Just get a good detailed rehab estimate . . and then add 25-50% if it's a good one, 100% if it's not. No worries. From my original detailed estimate of $8000 of an Alfa-knowledgeable mechanic, with those hidden and discussed risks and adders (and others), it ended up $14k. And it only sat 7 years. That was to get it safe and reliable and do a bit of prudent urban renewal while in the neighborhood (motor/tranny mounts, etc.). No worries. Have fun. Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter #16
$5000 ??? Worth it?

The guy wants $5000. I think I can get it for $4000. Everything is original except the wheels/rims, and suspension. Mechanic estimates $5000 in body work and paint (nominal rust). From there it is anyone's guess. Mechanic is going to get it up and go over it really well. Will upload photos when they come through. My friend is having issues uploading the photos. Can't wait.
 

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Talk to Daron (Akitaman) once you have photos!

The guy wants $5000. I think I can get it for $4000. Everything is original except the wheels/rims, and suspension. Mechanic estimates $5000 in body work and paint (nominal rust). From there it is anyone's guess. Mechanic is going to get it up and go over it really well. Will upload photos when they come through. My friend is having issues uploading the photos. Can't wait.
He is the most knowledgeable person regarding bodywork on Alfas! If you were at his convention presentation and saw the sorry tales of supposed "repairs," you would be amazed! I don't think that $5K for bodywork and paint is realistic if it shows visible rust.

Is your mechanic familiar with Alfas? If not, he may be basing his estimates on his experience with American cars. Could be a big difference.

Also, please remember that a 69 Series 1 Spider is substantially different than a 66-67 (normally and correctly referred to as a Duetto). As mentioned, the 69 has a dual braking system, but with standing pedals. Only year (in the US) that had that. Similar to later vintages, it is a 1750 cc with Spica injection, rather than the 1600/Webers of the previous roundtails. Also has different body markings (side lights, badging, etc.).

If you want a 69, are willing to accept the possible "money pit" issues of restoring an older car, and are mechanically and bodywork adept enough to do much of the work yourself, and have the time to work on the car, then by all means go for it. It will be "your" car when you are done and will bring you much joy. But you will have many sorrows during the rebuild. If not, continue to look, join the local Alfa club if there is one, and wait for the right car.
 

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Pictures, pictures and pictures. And . . . .

And I would never buy such a car without a reputable first-hand inspection with someone I know and trust and who knows Alfas well, or myself as a distant second, with a detailed list of work and reasnoable estimates.

For me here, now, on this - NO. It is almost starting to sound too good to be true. I know your good mechanic friend would not deliberately poon you but $5000 as you describe seems way too low. Really, my last post on this without much more info.
 

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A car that has not been run in years is definitely the most expensive way to acquire an Alfa... Regardless of who the mechanic is, a total refurbishing of the mechanics is unavoidable, and cosmetics are expensive even to refurbish to just a driver quality. As long as you realize that a project is a labor of love and a source on enjoyment that will cost you much more than any "done" Spider, you will have no regrets... I'm not trying to discourage you from doing a restoration. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that there is a tremendous sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when a project is completed. Just realize that it will take serious $$ to get there.

Best regards,
 

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A car that has not been run in years is definitely the most expensive way to acquire an Alfa... Regardless of who the mechanic is, a total refurbishing of the mechanics is unavoidable, and cosmetics are expensive even to refurbish to just a driver quality. As long as you realize that a project is a labor of love and a source on enjoyment that will cost you much more than any "done" Spider, you will have no regrets... I'm not trying to discourage you from doing a restoration. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that there is a tremendous sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when a project is completed. Just realize that it will take serious $$ to get there.

Best regards,
Been there, did that (on my own car no less), PAID for it DEARLY. Result: priceless. Still waiting for the T-shirt.

Just trying to pass on some hard-earned (spent) experience.
 
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