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Hi,

I'm new to this site and I'm glad I found it.
I'm considering buying a 87 quadrifoglio. The price is amazingly good $2900, but (unfortunately there is always a but in this kind of purchase) the car has a salvage title.
My main concern is about reliability and safety - it wouldn't be only a sunday driving car. I plan to at least enjoy it on a few roads. I'm afraid of buying it and then having a lot of headaches with expensive repairs.

It would be my first Alfa. I own a 1976 Fiat, but that's completely different.

Thank you!
 

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Hi,
I'm considering buying a 87 quadrifoglio. The price is amazingly good $2900, but the car has a salvage title.
My main concern is about reliability and safety - it wouldn't be only a Sunday driving car. I plan to at least enjoy it on a few roads. I'm afraid of buying it and then having a lot of headaches with expensive repairs.
It would be my first Alfa. I own a 1976 Fiat, but that's completely different.
Thank you!
Hello Ivan,

Any time you buy a 28 year-old car there will always be maintenance issues, especially if you are getting it at a bargain price. At a minimum you will have 28 year-old rubber bits that have degraded over time.

I paid $5200 for my '88 Quad a little over a year ago and have spent the last 8 months refurbishing the interior (dash, seats, carpet and door skins), removing and rebuilding the transmission, replacing the downpipe and central muffler, rebuilding the driveline, replacing all the seals in the differential, getting the radiator re-cored, and so on.

The cost of the parts has probably equaled the price I paid for the car, but I managed to find a rust-free example with a straight body, and have enjoyed the rework as a hobby.

If you aren't interested in doing repairs, I would steer clear of a $2900 Spider, but if you don't mind twisting a wrench from time to time, and your wife doesn't control your checkbook, an Alfa Spider can be a great source of pleasure.

And at $2900 you can't go too wrong. Even if you just park it in a barn for a few years you should be able to get that much back out of it. I have seen non-running Spider "parts cars" selling for $1500-$2000.

I would just advise you to try and avoid buying something with massive areas of corrosion. The mechanical and cosmetic stuff, while not always easy to repair (thanks to Italian engineering) doesn't cost nearly as much to correct as rust does.

Bottom line, if you like the body style and it starts (and drives), take the plunge. You only live once. And this BB is a wealth of information.
 

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Welcome!

I agree with Edward's advice. Rust is the biggest killer of these cars, next is deferred maintenance. The '82-'89 Spiders are known as Series 3. The L-jetronic EFI is generally quite reliable if well sorted & cared for. If there is a local Alfa club I suggest you contact them. They'll know good places for repairs and will likely be willing to help you check out any potential purchases. Go to Alfa Romeo Owners Club - USA and look for a local chapter. Good luck!
 

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The salvage title sounds scarier than it is, it only means the insurance company declared the car a 'total loss' ....and given the book value of the car minus the expense of the repair, is in the negative territory. This could literally mean a minor fender bender in parking lot.

What you should do is take the car to someone who can properly evaluate both the structural damage and integrity of the car, as well as its mechanical condition.

I'm the original owner of my '89...the best automotive decision I ever made....and over the 26+ years, I can tell you without a doubt that you want a car that has been well maintained and cared for..unless you are a true gear head..not a car lover, but someone with actual mechanical aptitude.. and are looking for a toy. If you're looking for reliable daily transportation or are not so inclined within the wallet or tool box to restore a quarter century old Italian car... then I'd suggest you look for the absolute second best S3 you can find as mine is not for sale.:wink2:
 

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I came across another instance where a car was never wrecked, but had a salvage title. The owner brought his running, no rust, good paint, good top, and good interior 86 Spider to a salvage yard to sell it for quick cash. Once the car was purchased by the salvage yard it now had a salvage title. Like I said, nothing wrong with the car it was whom he sold it to. And, yes I wish I pulled the trigger on it before someone else purchased it from the salvage yard.
 

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I came across another instance where a car was never wrecked, but had a salvage title. The owner brought his running, no rust, good paint, good top, and good interior 86 Spider to a salvage yard to sell it for quick cash. Once the car was purchased by the salvage yard it now had a salvage title. Like I said, nothing wrong with the car it was whom he sold it to. And, yes I wish I pulled the trigger on it before someone else purchased it from the salvage yard.
randall , i'm sorry but that's not true at all. if the car is sold privately , regardless of who the purchaser is , the title transfers as a normal title. the only time a title is branded as " salvage " or " rebuilt " ( depending on the state ) is if an insurance company or state agency defines it as such. if you crash your car and the insurance company pays you for it and takes it away, its now their car. they can " brand " the title any way they want as can the DMV in any state . but if a junk yard buys your car unless THEY go to the DMV and declare it a salvage vehicle ( which would be crazy because a clean title is the holy grail ) , then it has a clean title and can be sold as such. in this guys case, all he has to do is look at the last signature on the title. if its an insurance company then he simply calls them on the phone and convinces them to give him a copy of the damage appraisal... ( I have done this 50 times ) and that tells him what he's up against. the only downside to a salvage title ( presuming the car is actually ok ) is the fact that it will have no resale value and getting it insured again may well be an issue of its own. I spent a full year rebuilding Nissan 280 zx' s with all kinds of titles and as long as everything is legit, there are no issues.
 

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Hi Ivan,
At that price, I would go ahead and buy it. I know from experience (I have an '88 Spider Veloce) that these cars known as the S3 series are a lot of fun to drive and relatively easy to work on, even if your mechanical skills are average like mine. I agree with the other posts that the "salvage title" designation has a nasty ring to it, but it could mean that the insurance company declared it a total loss for a minor reason. I had that happen when State Farm declared my daughter's car a total loss after an accident. I bought it back from them, had it fixed with new doors, front fender and bumper, and it drives like new again.
 

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Don't be seduced by a low price.....the head aches involved in bringing an S3 of unknown provenance to "Driver standard" are incomprehensible.

Get her checked out...
 

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Hey Steve,

That's what the owner of the junkyard told me. I don't know, maybe it varies from state to state or he was just giving me a line.
either way, the car will speak for itself. I did a bunch of " theft recovery " cars that were declared total loss where the only damage was interior vandalism... have the seats recovered replace the rugs , dash and door cards with used and the cars were as new. on the other hand I have seen flood cars that in every exterior way looked virgin yet were complete scrap in every other sense... you just never know until you poke around and find out. this car may be the deal of the year or it may well be a scrap car that's been hacked to look good. he won't know until he knows.
 

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Try to get it for $2250, heck even $2000. If it's a total lemon and you don't care to dive into all the repairs, part it out, get your purchase price back plus an extra two grand. Worst case scenario. I'm assuming the hard top is not missing. Just that alone, if in pretty good shape with all mounting hardware present can fetch a grand to the right buyer... just my ten cents.
 

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Thank you all for the help!

Today I finally went to see the car. It is very nice. The paint is 7/10, and the interior 6/10.

But the car has some issues. It needs to be tune up and there are major vacuum problems. The seller told me that the engine only works when the throttle is open, otherwise it dies. I couldn't check by myself because the throttle body and some other parts were not assembled, they were in the trunk.

I'm starting to think that this car would demand too much time and money...

(fish343434: and no hardtop!)
 

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Thank you all for the help!

Today I finally went to see the car. It is very nice. The paint is 7/10, and the interior 6/10.

But the car has some issues. It needs to be tune up and there are major vacuum problems. The seller told me that the engine only works when the throttle is open, otherwise it dies. I couldn't check by myself because the throttle body and some other parts were not assembled, they were in the trunk.

I'm starting to think that this car would demand too much time and money...

(fish343434: and no hardtop!)

well... two points to make , if I may. first and in a clinical sense, you should make this decision by backing into the price. how much can you buy this identical car for in great running condition and needing less than 400 $ worth of work to make it perfect for ? I have no idea what that answer is but for the sake of example, lets say its 6000. now you say... what would be a GREAT deal on that car ... 4000 ?

so... that means you have to buy a car like the one you are looking at for the purchase price , plus the repair time and work and come up to less than 4 k to make it worth the time and effort to do it. in this case you are looking at a car this is :

1) disassembled so you can't hear it run, test anything or drive it.

2) has disclosed faults that could cost you a $1000 bucks if it needs electronics or expensive hard parts

3) it will have all manner of undisclosed faults that you don't know about

4) AND it has a salvage title which means quite clearly two things on its own... first that the resale value and insurability will be severely compromised and second that SOMEONE has already been in there and seriously worked on some stuff ( that you don't know about yet ) and you have no idea at all whether the quality of that work was great or garbage.

so from the clinical economic standpoint, the previous suggestion to buy it cheap with the option of parting it as a back up plan is not bad at all IF that is something you are interested in doing because that's a project in itself.

the second point is one you alluded to in your own language in this post when you said " it could demand too much time and money " . good point and correct observation. if you are a trained professional with the skill sets in hand to do both complex diagnosis and mechanical repair as well as the mind numbing filthy and horrible structural work that these cars often require the you have nothing to fear from the purchase... it becomes just time and money to get what you want. but if you do not have these skills and have to pay someone to do it or " learn on the job " then this suddenly becomes a 500$ car because while enthusiasm will make you write the check now, by the third day cutting rust out or setting wires on fire you will be ready to pay someone 25 $ to haul it out of your garage... for me this comes down to final value... what can you buy a really good example of this car for ? if that is 10 or 12 grand or something then you have a lot of room to end up with a nice car to drive. if that number is 5 or 6 grand , then I think this car is a pass...
 

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Thank you all for the help!

Today I finally went to see the car. It is very nice. The paint is 7/10, and the interior 6/10.

But the car has some issues. It needs to be tune up and there are major vacuum problems. The seller told me that the engine only works when the throttle is open, otherwise it dies. I couldn't check by myself because the throttle body and some other parts were not assembled, they were in the trunk.

I'm starting to think that this car would demand too much time and money...

(fish343434: and no hardtop!)

Good call. It's only a bargain if it doesn't need a lot of money to enjoy

There are a lot of Spiders out there, go find yourself one that you can enjoy from day one.
 

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From the pics I can see that the "throttle body" (actually the intake manifold assembly) is still in place. What's missing, and presumably in the trunk, is the Air Flow Meter and associated plumbing. You really, REALLY, need to get a knowledgeable Alfista over to look at it. If it wasn't a rust bucket and not more than 100 miles away, I'd whip out a $2250.00 check in a heartbeat. Where are you located? If not too far.....I'll come look at it for you.
 
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