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Hey everyone! New to this forum so apologies if I'm committing any faux pas. I read through the guidelines and i think i'm doing everything proper.

I'm in the market right now for an S3 spider and i found one for sale - 86 Veloce with just under 70k miles. Most of the car causes me no concern but i took some photos underneath that give me hesitation. The owner is not comfortable with me taking it to an Alfa mechanic so i thought i would post here to get some expert advice before negotiating cost or walking away.

Primarily what i saw is it looks like the suspension will need to be completely redone but also rust on what appears to be the rocker panels and surrounding area?

Should this be a deal breaker or something i can still salvage without completely draining my bank account? My main concern is the chassis collapsing as soon as i drive it home and I'm left with a pile of parts.


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I'd immediately walk away from any used car if the owner refused an independent PPI. Most of the photos look bad, anyway.

Better Spiders are available.

David OD
Laguna CA
 

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I'm in the market right now for an S3 spider and i found one for sale - 86 Veloce with just under 70k miles. Most of the car causes me no concern but i took some photos underneath that give me hesitation.
Most of what I saw in the photos is dirt & surface rust. (But I am originally from Massachusetts and descriptions of 'rust' seem to vary depending on what one is used to seeing...) What do the outer rockers & inner sills look like? The inner sills are under the carpet so you won't get a good look at them but I'd try rapping them with your knuckle to assess how solid they seem.

The owner is not comfortable with me taking it to an Alfa mechanic...
This, to me, is a huge red flag. What is the seller afraid of? What does he know that he is not telling you? I'd suggest contacting a local Ala club - it is likely a member would be willing to help you look over the car. They might even know of better prospects. See: AROC – Alfa Romeo Owners Club USA
 

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What you see is only a portion of what you don't see. What I see makes me believe the Spider sat outside on a lawn, dirt, bark dust. Lots of surface rust low on the frame.
If you are hesitant, that's good.
Cheers Jon
 

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Most of what I saw in the photos is dirt & surface rust. ... What do the outer rockers & inner sills look like?
Yea. The photos you posted are of the heavy-gauge metal in the undercarriage. Sure those components are rusty, but they're far from rusted through. Typical of a salt belt car.

Show us what the rockers and wheel arches look like. That's where rust can be fatal.

But all this is moot if the seller won't accept a PPI. If that's his attitude, then you don't need to pay for a PPI to know that he's trying to hide something!
 

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that car has trouble written all over it's face
It has obviously never been well looked after, engine pan covered in thick oily grunge, and if the rust has taken hold on most of the underneath like it has (even the springs are crumbling with rust), you can be almost sure the rockers too have been affected.

A full rocker replacement job is more expensive than most of these cars cost is great condition.
Better just up the budget, it'll save you in the long run..there are plenty out there.

And what is the asking price?
 

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from the photos you posted, most of the ' rust ' is just serface scale,, a wire brush should clean it up.. a help on some of the rust, soak some paper towels with vinegar and stick the wetted paper towels to the rusty spots keep the towels wet with vinegar from a spray bottle, the vinegar will remove the rust.. then get some por15 paint and paint the parts over.. but i also would remove the spring pans to clean them out( soak the spring pans in a bucket filled with vinegar, after 24 hours of soaking the rust will wipe away..none of the rust look like its heavy.. behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels, you will find a rubber plug,, put the car on jackstands( safe ones ) remove the rubber plugs and flush the rocker panels out with fresh water,, let it run for a while, and clear the drain holes in the rocker panels,, i think there are 4 of them per-side keep running fresh water till the water comes out clean.there are some products you can buy to seal the inside of the rocker panels.. i also have a recipe for some stuff that will never dry, and prevent rust from forming inside the rocker panels..
 

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From the photos you provided, I didn't see anything that would prevent me from buying the car if the body was straight, it started and idled, and the price was right, but before I made my final decision, I would want to look under the spare tire well, under the battery, and under the carpets in the cabin footwells. However, you can get a very clear picture of the condition of the critcal sheet metal sections (rockers, floor pans, jack points) with the car on a lift. Remember it's a "unibody" type chassis, so rusted body sheet metal can destroy the frame.
 

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Even if there were no rust, the ONLY reason for a seller to refuse a PPI is to avoid discovery of shortcomings. You can be sure there's something (several things?) he doesn't want you to know about.

These shortcomings won't suit a meagre budget.

Might be better to be patient, keep looking, and save for a better car.

David OD
Laguna CA
 

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The photos don't show anything that would bother me, surface rust, however as everyone else has said the rockers are really important, if they are rotten walk away, its just not worth it, best way to check is to ask if you can jack it on the jacking points and keep an eye on the door gaps and if he says no then again walk away, get him to jack it up otherwise he will blame you for any damage resulting. At the end of the day is this a project car or something you just want to get on the road and drive? Of course much depends on the price asking and have you time to sort it out bearing in mind fettling an old Alfa is a lifelong project, sounds like he is a bit cagey so maybe that's good reason to walk away anyway
 

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You guys in California are spoiled. All looks like surface rust to me. And as far as some oil residue, unless it's a heavy active leak, it's normal. Yeah, the owner wasn't as anal about keeping it clean like a lot of the guys here but I don't see anything that looks alarming. Assuming no rust through on the body panels and no evidence of filler, it looks fine to me.
 

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tap on the rocker panels with a wood spoon( the seller might not like a steel object ) listen to the taps.look for bubbles in the paint on the rocker panels.
 

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of course it is all dependant on asking price...if the original poster says the guy is asking 10,000$
.....then it is quite easy....


you run;)
 

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$10,000???? WAY TOO MUCH..
😆 that was tongue in cheek....

I meant you run (away)....;)

I wouldn't take it off his hands for 500 bucks......not someone whose attitude is, no you cannot do a PPI
in 2 years time it will have rotted away anyway...
 

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Hard to tell how serious that is without getting up close and personal, but it's certainly not ideal and refusal of PPI is a bad sign. Miles are irrelevant for a 35 year old car- it's all about how it was taken care of, and that doesn't look like an always garaged well kept car to me. Good condition S3 spiders are so cheap that I don't see the value of buying one in questionable condition except as a parts car.
 

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As most have said on here that appears for the most part to be surface rust. An 86 is not an especially unique or unusual car so it depends a great deal on price and why he doesn't want an independent inspection. If it runs great, looks good on the topside, doesn't need paint, tires, engine, transmission work or interior, passes smog and you can buy it for under $5,000.00 might be worth considering.
 

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from the photos you posted, most of the ' rust ' is just serface scale,, a wire brush should clean it up.. a help on some of the rust, soak some paper towels with vinegar and stick the wetted paper towels to the rusty spots keep the towels wet with vinegar from a spray bottle, the vinegar will remove the rust.. then get some por15 paint and paint the parts over.. but i also would remove the spring pans to clean them out( soak the spring pans in a bucket filled with vinegar, after 24 hours of soaking the rust will wipe away..none of the rust look like its heavy.. behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels, you will find a rubber plug,, put the car on jackstands( safe ones ) remove the rubber plugs and flush the rocker panels out with fresh water,, let it run for a while, and clear the drain holes in the rocker panels,, i think there are 4 of them per-side keep running fresh water till the water comes out clean.there are some products you can buy to seal the inside of the rocker panels.. i also have a recipe for some stuff that will never dry, and prevent rust from forming inside the rocker panels..

Now go back to the photo's and look at 2 and 3 again.. still claiming it's only surface rust? The lower valance, the sheetmetal that runs from below the bumper is supposed to be spotwelded to to the bottom of the radiator support.
Maybe I'm looking at different photo's, but in the ones I'm looking at it's gone..
Walk away.
 
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