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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I am looking to purchase a spider, and posted a want ad in the classifieds here. Upon discussion we ran over the question of whether or not the '91 really has suffered from the added weight (due to the a/c, power steering, etc.) and become somewhat of a "cruiser" as a result.

In an attempt to find the answer to this question, I'm posting here, because no one really knew the answer on my classified.

So, any thoughts? My classified here:

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/alfa-romeo-cars-sale-wanted/162066-looking-spider-other-alfa.html
 

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Let me see if I understand you correctly:
You want to spend $5K and you have been an Alfa fan for a long time. You love alfas and want to keep the one you buy for 20 years.
You are looking for a spider (S2, S3, or S4) but another alfa is OK.
I think you ask too much of this Board....
With all due respect,
Elio
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure what you meant by this, but if you mean say that I'm never going to find a reasonable one for that price, then I suggest you look on craigslist.com. It's a good web site. If you mean to insult my budget, then understand that I will go up if I find the perfect one for me. But, if your interjection meant to sarcastically convey that this board can help me in my search for a Spider, then thank you, and I look forward to hearing more responses.
 

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No one else's opinion really matters (except maybe your girlfriend's) when it comes to subjective things like styling and the feel of the car. If it's a spider that you want, why not test drive an S2 and S4 before deciding which to target. You may not like the S3's styling but it may be the best compromise of performance and age considering you want an everyday driver and classic spider performance. Only S1 basket cases are in your stated price range, so I wouldn't consider those.

Chuck
 

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Let me see if I understand you correctly:
You want to spend $5K and you have been an Alfa fan for a long time. You love alfas and want to keep the one you buy for 20 years.
You are looking for a spider (S2, S3, or S4) but another alfa is OK.
I think you ask too much of this Board....
With all due respect,
Elio
I have to agree with Elio,... and it's not meant to belittle or discourage your quest in any way...

I also saw post #8 in your classified thread referring to a "buyers market in LA area", and while I agree that it is a buyers market, all those cars advertised come no where near being what I would consider someone's pride and joy. To me, someone's pride and joy is a Spider that has been properly maintained over the years, where properly means that the work was performed by someone knowledgeable on Spiders, and someone who did not skimp on the parts. When I see re-done interiors in incorrect materials and colors, I know that it is because it's too expensive to re-furbish a Spider using OEM materials.

The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of Spiders have now gone through several owners, and usually the next owner is less affluent that the previous one... At $5k, what I would look for is a car that is still solid and basically unmolested. (There are such examples). Nonetheless, such a Spider will easily require another $5k just to get her up to original spec. (There are plenty of examples on this BB that you can find on how much is spent on a $5k or less car, after the car is bought.) If you are truly looking for a keeper, then it will be more cost effective for you to double your estimate before you start shopping. Of course, if $10k is not possible, then the solid and unmolested route will still work, but do realize that once you get the solid/unmolested car to the same level of one that was $10k, you will have spent a lot more than $10k...

About the weight of the s4 Spiders... It's not true that they are slower or noticeably heavier. I used to think that they were noticeably heavier (not slower, just heavier), but we've had several discussions on this BB and at the last one I recall, without going into the lengthy discussion, BB member Gubi had his s4 Spider weighed. (I have also weighed an s4 Spider, but with a hardtop and chassis stiffener.) They are heavier, but only by ~ 120 lbs. On the other hand, they do have higher compression pistons and higher lift cams than the series 3 cars.

In reality, all Bosch injected Spiders (s3 and s4) are the same when it comes to performance, and they are not fast off the line. (A driver that has taken time to improve his skills however, will know how to get the most out of a Spider, even off the line.) The fastest of the "modern" USA Spiders is the 1974 (and earlier) edition. From 1975 through 1981 the power goes down progressively, and when Bosch injection is fitted in 1982, it comes back to a very respectable level.

The other myth you should watch out for is that the Graduate edition is lighter and faster. It's not. You may read that a Grad is lighter because it doesn't have an air conditioner, but a/c has always been an option, and plenty of Graduates came with a/c. The Graduate simply does not have any weight savings equipment, and it was offered with a base trim level (steel wheels, cheaper interior materials and no power options) as a marketing strategy to sell more cars.

I would suggest that you get in touch with your local AROC chapter and speak with owners of the various years, and ask them to give you a ride, or better yet, ask them if you may drive their cars. (Make sure your insurance covers you in case anything happens.)

In the mean time, perhaps these posts may be of help:
BTW, the Spiders in my signature are current cars, and I have also driven s4 Spiders on short and long trips. Nonetheless, IMO, preference for a particular Spider edition is akin to which color one prefers, rather than which one is better.

Best regards,
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys, very helpful. I'm gonna take every word into consideration.
 

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As for the S-3. I have an 86 since new, and it runs really, tops out at 115..on the QE in Canada a few years ago. I got the ticket to prove it...top up. Top down I can only hit about 105...can't imagine why. It is my daily driver in the summer...as I get snow here for 7 - 8 months a year. It is still a real sports car...abet a kind of dinasaur, as it is a 5 speed. It weighs in (according to a truck scale at 2300#, including factory AC. It has the Chromodoro magnesium wheels, that cut the weight by a lot, as the rims weigh about 4 -5 # each. Look for the best you can afford, as you will grow to love it. As an afterthought..MINE IS DEFINATELY NOT FOR SALE, OR LOAN !!!!!!!!
 

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i purchased my 92 alfa in april, 2007 with 9,000 miles.

it is as brand new as one can find on the market.

if i had my choice it would be red / tan.

just because a car has low miles doesn't necessarily mean that they would be the most reliable. it all depends on who works on it.

i was very lucky that it was well maintained.

most likely, any alfa you purchase in the 5k range will require some fair amount of work.

just make sure you get it checked out by an alfa specialist and not a "european" specialist.
 

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Just as another data point and confirmation to what Enrique and others have said about how much you end up spending....

I bought my '91 with 87K miles back in 2008 for $6K. The interior is worn but OK, seats need to be re-upholstered. There is some road rash on the front hood and bumper, but otherwise, paint looks good. Mechanically, I had it checked out by an Alfa expert and it was OK except for brakes. Since the PO did all maintenance himself (or claimed to), I went ahead and did all the regular maintenance. So, I spent another $1K on this stuff. A few months later I got a valve adjustment and a new exhaust cam because it was worn...not long after I realized I needed a new serpentine belt and engine mounts.

So, you get the idea...w/o good records, you'll spend another $2-$3K, not counting the interior refurbishing expense, which I'm holding off on. Unfortunately for me, the prices have dropped a bit since, but I've enjoyed the car a lot, so no complaints.

Regarding S4 compared to others...I drove a few S3s and S4s. Not enough test drives really, but what I found for the ones I drove is that S4s seemed faster and "smoother" - I liked them much better. But, I might've simply driven some crappy S3s and some decent S4s. I would encourage you to stay unemotional, be patient, and drive a bunch of them until you really get a feel for what you prefer.
 

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Another thing to keep in mind is that some owners, like myself, will upgrade or modify their Alfa's just because they want a different look. It's the old adage "opinions are like noses, everybody has one." In my case, the mirrors that came on the S4's looked too big, (Old ones ride in the trunk), and I didn't like the fact that the Phone dials obscured the disks and rotors, (Lighter and stronger wheels from an outfit in Calif.) I added the hard top recently, and am a second owner, personally knew the original purchaser.



Bottom line is REALLY pay attention to the Powerplant and drive line, the rest is aesthetics that can be changed.

KKKKFL
 

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I didn't like the fact that the Phone dials obscured the disks and rotors, (Lighter and stronger wheels from an outfit in Calif.)
Looks like Serpent Autosport wheels if it matters to anyone.
 

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Enrique, I think your comments are right on target. Especially about maintenance and the cost of ownership. Cars that are routinely driven and well maintained with correct parts by qualified mechanics can trump low mileage cars that have sat and sat.

For example, I recently picked up an original low milesage 74 GTV asleep for 22 years in a garage. Got it running well, but these cars need to be driven and time wears too. The list of work already includes, fluid/filter changes, tuneup, lines and hoses, valve seals, valve adjustment, exhaust, gas tank reline, brake caliper rebuilds and brakes, tires, battery, suspension and driveline components...etc. This car is so much fun though and I knew what I was getting into, so that's ok.

The point is condition and maintanence are key. No guarantees, but it really is best to find a car with a well documented history of maintenance that has been gone over by a mechanic that knows Alfa's before purchasing.

Igbalfa - That's a great looking car! My favorite combination for the S4.
 

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My '82 Spider has 157,565 miles on the clock. It is 'good-weather' driven only. Most
everything is new and up-to-date and "religiously" maintained. I drive it 'soft'; I drive it 'hard'. I'll put it up against any low-mileage example. NEVER let mileage scare you off.
Let the car scare you off.............Ed K.
 

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Kind of relates to this topic. Just saw this on ebay, an '85 S3 with only 700 miles, garaged for 25 years. Amazing one would survive like that!
Interesting...was a double tip tailpipe standard?? And no VIN available, does this raise suspicions?? Looks like a very clean car though.
 

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Regarding S4 compared to others...I drove a few S3s and S4s. Not enough test drives really, but what I found for the ones I drove is that S4s seemed faster and "smoother" .
Forsure the S-4 Spider's are the fastest ones and the black Spiders are the fastest of them all!!! :D:D:D
 

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1990 w/ 50k for $5k

Just this fall, I purchased my 1990 S3.5 for $5k, it has 53k miles, pretty good maintenance history from the PO, main problems are/were rubber wearing out due to age. While I was looking I saw another 1986 Quad for $5k (w/ hard top) but w/ 150k miles, although heavily over-hauled (but not re-built) by the local Seattle Alfa shop.

I guess this is my way of saying, you can definitely get a reasonable spider for $5k, but you should also expect that you may need to spend another $2-3k getting it sorted out over the coming year. In Seattle, it also definitely helps to be buying towards the end of summer. As the rains come, the market for convertibles dries up ;)

That's my $0.02,
--brendan
 

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There are loads of these cars in the Bay Area. You should be able to find a decent one for 5k or less. Just take your time, test drive a few and wait till the right one comes along. Give me a shout if you want evaluating any candidates, I'm in the East Bay too.

As for the S3 / S4 thing...

My impressions are the S4 seems quieter, smoother and more refined. Has power steering of course, I find the seats more comfortable on the S4. If it is a daily driver and you are covering a lot of commuter miles the S4 may be a good intro to the Alfa lineup.

The S3 seems a smidge quicker, a little lighter on its feet. Has no power steering which gives better road feel but takes getting used to parking etc. The pre-86's have the retro interior with the wood steering wheel and twin gauge pods.

But really the differences are subtle and sometimes subjective. There will be a lot of variation from car to car.

Best of luck!
 
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