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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at a number of mid to late '80s Series 3 Spiders, mostly in the 50-100k mileage range, but one with less than 30k just popped up. It's priced a bit above the others, but sounds very solid (at least equivalent condition physically).

What kind premium (% or dollar) would you be willing to pay for something with low mileage? Is >30k on a 20 year old car not that big of a deal?
 

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At some point low mileage is a negative in my book.

I want a car that has been driven on a regular basis, keeps everything in good working order. Stuff that sits seems to deteriorate more. Now if you're talking about a true collector car then low miles is what'll bring the $$$ to Barrett-Jackson or a museum piece.......but if you're looking for a driver.:eek:

Besides, who really believes an Alfa odometer anyway!! Mine never worked right ALL the time!!!;)

That's my opinion and worth every cent!!!:cool:

.
 

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Lower mileage doesn't always equate to better condition...

I tend to be a mileage snob; in my book lower is typically better. But as fetta mentioned, at some point is becomes a determent. I've seen low mileage cars in far worse condition that cars with twice the mileage so it really matters more about how the previous owner(s) took care if the car.

Of course, if the car isn't driven much you can expect to have to replace a bunch of rubber bits and all the fluids but the body and the interior should be in much better shape than a car with higher miles.

Would I put a premium on a low mileage car? Yes, but only it is merits more money. Some things I consider paying more for: full service records, original or second owner, and always stored inside, and no rust. So if you have two cars in front of you both meeting the above criteria, one with 30k, and another with 60k, then yes, to me it's worthy of a slight premium. Of course, to many others it's not. It also depends on what your planning on doing with the car. If it's going to turn into a daily driver than it's probably not worth paying for low mileage of you're going to put a lot on it in a short amount of time. If you're going to use the car sparingly, like the previous owner, then you may retain some of that value when you go to sell it later.

Ultimately it comes down to the car and your use for it. Low mileage doesn't guarantee a better car, just a car that hasn't been driven as much.
 

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Are you guys talking about the guy who is always posting the goofy pictures on the BB?
He makes me laugh, but I'm not sure he should be paid for it.
 

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Are you guys talking about the guy who is always posting the goofy pictures on the BB?
He makes me laugh, but I'm not sure he should be paid for it.
Now that is just freakin' funny!!!:D

I sure hope he doesn't find this thread............

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For me it depends on how much more is 30K version as oppposed to the others. Is it 2-3K more or 6-7K? There's a low mileage S3 on Ebay that looks wonderful but they want $14,000 plus and while the one I'm getting (fingers crossed) is straight, clean, runs real good and has a paper trail, it is one fifth the price. Sure it's no trophy winner but it has no dents, good paint, newer top and great mechanicals. So I guess what I'm blabbing about is do you want a real nice driver or a potential show entry car?
 

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Low mileage Alfas do command a premium. However in most cases it's not justified. I seem to find just as many problems on low mileage cars as high mileage units. The fact that the older Alfa odometers are not tamper proof doesn't help things.

Greg Gordon
 

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I'm looking at a number of mid to late '80s Series 3 Spiders, mostly in the 50-100k mileage range, but one with less than 30k just popped up. It's priced a bit above the others, but sounds very solid (at least equivalent condition physically).

What kind premium (% or dollar) would you be willing to pay for something with low mileage? Is >30k on a 20 year old car not that big of a deal?
Hooligan, My spider has over 100K miles and I'd stack it up against MOST lower mileage ones. But, it's DRIVEN and EVERYTHING is new [from the tires up] sitting on a fourth owner,almost rust-free(small spot at right rear quarter)
inland California car. You, being an ex-Michigander, are most likely familiar
with Trail Auto (Dean Russell). It was once his car, so the level of maintenace
was/is ALWAYS at a very high level. This does'nt mean that it's value is
less OR greater on a bell-curve scale.[for investment or re-sale consid-erations]. I would ALWAYS consider the history and previous owners'
level of care for the car. But a 'fresh engine/trans/suspension/interior/top/
tires/wheels/brakes/total mechanics' DOES HELP and influence what a
person 'perceives' as to the true "value" of a car...Ed K
BTW...How's Texas treating you ?:cool:
 

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The market has always placed a premium value on low mileage cars. One can see this in WTB ads where people specifically state that they are looking for a low mileage car, and also in FS ads where sellers stress that their car is a low miles example. Any collector will also stress the desirability of low miles, and marque specialists always comment on the low miles owner's dilemma: to drive and enjoy the car and watch its value go down, or to not drive it to preserve its value.

Low miles implies little use and hence little wear, with an interior that looks almost new, and also with mechanical components being in close to new condition and having a lot of life left in them. Furthermore, there is the distinction that this is a rare example, when compared to cars from the same period. That's the perception that commands a premium.

Unfortunately, not all low miles are equal. If an owner drove his/her car to church once a week for 20 years, did regular oil changes, and the car looks to be in great cosmetic shape, then that's a premium car. If another owner drove his/her car for 3 years as a daily driver, and parked it when he/she couldn't afford to pay for maintenance, essentially letting it sit for long periods of time, then that's not a premium car. Having to tear down the engine to replace the sticking rings of a parked-for-years "low miles" example erases the premium paid for mechanical components that should be trouble free for years.

What would one pay for a 20 year old car with 30k original miles? If the car was special to its owner from day one, and it is clear that it was well cared for, the owner will most likely expect what he perceives as top dollar. This could range anywhere from $8k to the high $teens, depending on his/her perception. If such is the case I would pay the owner's asking price, although I would make every effort to bargain him down. If this is just a used car that ended up with low-miles, runs ok, but was used in some years but not in others, and comparable condition cars are in the $5k - $6k range, then I wouldn't pay more than $2k over the range. If this car sat for years, I wouldn't buy it unless I am willing to go through a full mechanical restoration. It is not necessarily hard or prohibitively expensive to refurbish the mechanics of a car that sat for some time but that is complete, looks decent and runs, and once done one does have a great car. However, this does represent a significantly higher $$ commitment.

I think being clear of what one is looking for, and how the car will be used is key in making a decision that one will be happy with. One thing is for sure: Alfa sold a lot of Spiders, and our cars are simply not that rare, so a patient buyer can reasonably expect to find his/her ideal buy.

Best regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all. I'm kind of torn between two cars right now... one with a lot of miles (120k, granted that's not a ton - I had one with 145k) and one with low (28k) miles. Condition appears to be quite similar, although the 120k car might be a small notch above the 28k car. But both are good, potential trophy winners at a smaller show.

Both are priced about the same, but neither has a really long paper trail. This is a shame, especially since my first two Spiders, while not in as nice condition as either of these, had fairly deep service records.

I would not plan to use either as a daily driver year round. My commute is only a couple of miles and I ride my bike at least a couple of days a week (and drive my 2004 Saab the rest of the time), so it would be likely to keep mileage under 2000 a year.



And Ed, I definitely know Dean. When did you get your Spider from him? I worked near Dearborn/Detroit (although I lived over in Ann Arbor), so I made periodic visits to his shop. Great guy and I do miss the Michigan car culture, although I don't miss the summer humidity or the winter snow. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The market has always placed a premium value on low mileage cars. One can see this in WTB ads where people specifically state that they are looking for a low mileage car, and also in FS ads where sellers stress that their car is a low miles example. Any collector will also stress the desirability of low miles, and marque specialists always comment on the low miles owner's dilemma: to drive and enjoy the car and watch its value go down, or to not drive it to preserve its value.

Low miles implies little use and hence little wear, with an interior that looks almost new, and also with mechanical components being in close to new condition and having a lot of life left in them. Furthermore, there is the distinction that this is a rare example, when compared to cars from the same period. That's the perception that commands a premium.

Unfortunately, not all low miles are equal. If an owner drove his/her car to church once a week for 20 years, did regular oil changes, and the car looks to be in great cosmetic shape, then that's a premium car. If another owner drove his/her car for 3 years as a daily driver, and parked it when he/she couldn't afford to pay for maintenance, essentially letting it sit for long periods of time, then that's not a premium car. Having to tear down the engine to replace the sticking rings of a parked-for-years "low miles" example erases the premium paid for mechanical components that should be trouble free for years.

What would one pay for a 20 year old car with 30k original miles? If the car was special to its owner from day one, and it is clear that it was well cared for, the owner will most likely expect what he perceives as top dollar. This could range anywhere from $8k to the high $teens, depending on his/her perception. If such is the case I would pay the owner's asking price, although I would make every effort to bargain him down. If this is just a used car that ended up with low-miles, runs ok, but was used in some years but not in others, and comparable condition cars are in the $5k - $6k range, then I wouldn't pay more than $2k over the range. If this car sat for years, I wouldn't buy it unless I am willing to go through a full mechanical restoration. It is not necessarily hard or prohibitively expensive to refurbish the mechanics of a car that sat for some time but that is complete, looks decent and runs, and once done one does have a great car. However, this does represent a significantly higher $$ commitment.

I think being clear of what one is looking for, and how the car will be used is key in making a decision that one will be happy with. One thing is for sure: Alfa sold a lot of Spiders, and our cars are simply not that rare, so a patient buyer can reasonably expect to find his/her ideal buy.

Best regards,
Enrique,

Thanks for the response. It looks like we were typing at the same time. It's kind of a toss up between the car you looked at in NJ (he's to get back to me today if it's still available and what he'll want out of it) and a roughly $5500 (about the same price) 28,000 mile car that's otherwise identical (although the carpet is fading a bit and it has a small dash crack - two major demerits in my opinion). The 28,000 mile car was sparingly used, but doesn't appear to have sat other than seasonal storage.

So... who knows. Or I could wind up passing on these two.
 

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Hey, I may be mistaking but I think I saw the NJ car somewhere under "post a pic of your Alfa", a guy had just bought it..
 

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Enrique,

Thanks for the response. It looks like we were typing at the same time. It's kind of a toss up between the car you looked at in NJ (he's to get back to me today if it's still available and what he'll want out of it) and a roughly $5500 (about the same price) 28,000 mile car that's otherwise identical (although the carpet is fading a bit and it has a small dash crack - two major demerits in my opinion). The 28,000 mile car was sparingly used, but doesn't appear to have sat other than seasonal storage.

So... who knows. Or I could wind up passing on these two.
Andrew,

If the mechanics of the $28k mi. car are good, i.e. engine and tranny are strong (no 2nd gear crunch, and flawless reverse), fluids are not leaking, and the car isn't burning excessive oil, I think that it could present an interesting opportunity. For sure a carpet that is fading a bit and a cracked dash are huge demerits - and will make this car a hard sell, even at $5500. The cracked dash and faded carpet will turn away any buyer who is truly interested in a fine low miles example. Furthermore, there are just too many late series 3 cars with perfect dashes, so its not unreasonable for buyers to expect a dash to be in good shape. (The dashes in the later cars are much more durable than those of the earlier cars, where a cracked dash is pretty much normal.)

It's just reality that perfect cars go for all the money in the world, while cars with undesirable cosmetic issues take a huge hit in the perceived value. The financial loss is always significantly greater than what it would actually cost to correct the issues. Herein lies the opportunity. Pulling out a dash to replace it, and while so doing, also do the same with the seats to expose the carpet to re-dye it is a lot of work, and it would be very expensive to pay your local mechanic to do this. However, this is something that one can do. It is possible to find a used but perfect series 3 dash, and I can't see why the carpet color dye could not be matched by a specialty shop... If the seller finds (as I suspect he will) that many people are very interested in his car until they find out that it has these cosmetic issues, he may be much more willing to negotiate...

Best regards,
 

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Enrique,

The 28,000 mile car was sparingly used, but doesn't appear to have sat other than seasonal storage.

So... who knows. Or I could wind up passing on these two.
After buying many low mile cars over the years, and generally giving them first look when shopping, I've found that you have to kiss a lot of toads in the process. One is likely to find the reason for low miles was the number of years a nearly totalled car spent in storage before someone tackled the body work.

I also found a huge number of sellers that had a fairly sharp car with 28,000 showing, but obviously 128,000 or 228,000 upon close inspection. Sad to find so many in this catagory. If paper documentation is available, it helps a lot, as is the case with both my Fiat and Alfa spiders and I consider 100,000 to be very low miles on a 30 year old car. I do much prefer and recommend a true low mile car, no question about it. They most often sell for a lower price than a comparable high mile car that the owner had to spend large amounts of money on to maintain or restore. That owner wants to recoop the cost of his pile of receipts whereas the car that sat was purchased and maintained relatively cheaply.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
All,

Thanks for the notes.

Ronan, yes the car you linked is one under consideration.

Enrique, yeah, carpet install I'm not afraid of. I forget his username, but a BB member from Ohio did a very, very nice install on his '90 red Graduate. It didn't scare me off of doing it myself, although I'd consider black carpet. I believe it was just the '86 S3 Spiders with tan seats that had black carpet. Dash install is a bit trickier a proposition and one I'm a little more wary about. I'm not sure what I'd do on that. The crack is small and is only forward of the vents, so it's better than it could be.

RC, no, I'm certain the car's mileage is fairly accurate. The odometer was replaced, but the CarFax, while not entirely accurate, seems to verify that it was replaced shortly after it stopped operating. It was replaced at something like 26,500 and it now shows 1,500.

Interestingly, the two cars in question are just two vehicles apart in the VIN sequence! I'd love to reunite the two.
 

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All,
Enrique, yeah, carpet install I'm not afraid of. I forget his username, but a BB member from Ohio did a very, very nice install on his '90 red Graduate. It didn't scare me off of doing it myself, although I'd consider black carpet. I believe it was just the '86 S3 Spiders with tan seats that had black carpet. Dash install is a bit trickier a proposition and one I'm a little more wary about. I'm not sure what I'd do on that. The crack is small and is only forward of the vents, so it's better than it could be.
The GREAT thread can be found under "1990 Graduate Interior", jkunzman was the bber who did such a wonderful job of tracking his progress. Interesting even if you don't own a S3.5 Spider (or a Spider at all, for that matter).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The GREAT thread can be found under "1990 Graduate Interior", jkunzman was the bber who did such a wonderful job of tracking his progress. Interesting even if you don't own a S3.5 Spider (or a Spider at all, for that matter).
Yup, that's who I was referencing before. He did an amazing job on that car, total transformation.
 

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