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Hello AlfaBB, can't believe I'm here - long time German car fan and I somehow caught the bug to own a Spider. Don't know if it was the "Alfa Ready to Rumble" article in European Car or the Italian designed tires I just put on my 2004 Audi S4 - but something made me start researching the history of Alfa and the legacy of the great Italian designers, and here I am.

At any rate, looking for a weekend driver/project car and am wondering if there are specific years/models of the Spider that I should try to avoid. I don't need the most "collectible" edition nor the perfect car, just something to "fiddle around" with (sink my money into). I am already gathering that the '81 was kind of a low point from a performance perspective, but also wondering if there are any years that were particularly troublesome and should be avoided.

Thanks for the help!
 

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First of all, Welcome.

To answer your question, it's best to say that Spider models are desirable based on the opinion of the enthusiast. Here's how I would break it down if you were to ask me.

1966-1969 - These spiders are known as boat-tails or Duettos and are distinguished by their rounded-off rear-ends. They are among the most desirable Alfa Spiders. They are rare and good examples are expensive.

1970-1974 - Known as Kamm Tails. They are light and because they came out before the United States employed strict safety and emission laws they are the among the best performers of any Alfa Spider. You can still find very good bargains for good Alfas in this category. But I think it's only a matter before that changes.

1975-1981 - These are the ones that I would try to avoid. They have ugly rubber bumpers on both ends and are relatively heavy. This means they are not performers. They don't really demand a lot of money from those who are trying to sell them. They can be nice and there are those who like them...but that's not me.

1982-1990 - Lots of good deals here...but you either love them or hate them. They are distinguished by a small spoiler that came stock and are the most aggressive looking cars of the run. They are very good performers but the design keeps some enthusiasts away. 1990 is often the model year of choice out of this category.

1991-1994 - Known by enthusiasts as S4's they are the forth and final series of Alfas to be released in North America. They are distinguished by fully integrated color-matching bumpers. They have a very smooth and elegant appearance overall. These are the only Spiders in the states that came with power steering and driver-side airbags. They are popular cars but not always easy to find. Performance is good but these are also the heaviest Spiders around. Clean examples with lower miles usually cost around $12K+.

The S4 and Duetto are my overall favorites by the way. For what your looking for however, I would suggest finding an Alfa made between 1970-1974 or 1982-1990.

More detailed info can be found here:

http://spiderfaq.home.att.net/dev_his.htm
 

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losingit;
Where are you? If you are on the east coast (US) I'd gladly offer you the chance to ride in both of my spiders to see the difference a couple of years makes.

I too, was once a fan of the German cars - but that was only until I got bit by a spider.

There's a lot of material on the board about how to go about buying Alfas. The best advice is to find one with as least rust as possible - everything else is easy.

BEST of LUCK!
 

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I can't say that I was ever a German car fan in general but I did own an E36 series M3 coupe for a time. I find the Alfa GTV-6 more enjoyable as a pleasure use vehicle. Although it's not nearly as fast, it feels more exciting because you can push it a lot harder on the street without ending up in jail. In my opinion, it also makes much better sounds and has better lines. You'll probably experience something similar when comparing the Spider to your Audi S4. Elemental versus civilized.
 

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Welcome, get the best car you can, rust is probably the main issue, everything else is fairly straight forward. Parts and knowledge and available here on the BB. International Auto Parts, Centerline, DiFatta, Vicks etc all keep our cars running.

Jump on down to the Spider forum and make sure you check out the Spider FAQ also.

By the way, it's a well known fact that 1986 Red Spiders are the best.......:D

.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to all!

This was a huge help - heading out for some test drives today and a chat with the local Alfa mechanics.

Aghevli - thanks for the model breakdowns and the attached article.

Fibonacci - appreciate the offer for the test rides, but I'm in Denver... One question, big difference in performance between your '81 and '85?

TCL - "Elemental versus civilized" - exactly what I'm looking for!

And fetta78 -yea, I have always heard that red cars have an extra 20-30HP...

Thanks again to all.
 

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One of the best quotes by Bob Lutz (ex Chrysler prez, and a car guy): "It's more fun to drive a slow car fast, than drive a fast car slow"

This was a huge help - heading out for some test drives today and a chat with the local Alfa mechanics.

Aghevli - thanks for the model breakdowns and the attached article.

Fibonacci - appreciate the offer for the test rides, but I'm in Denver... One question, big difference in performance between your '81 and '85?

TCL - "Elemental versus civilized" - exactly what I'm looking for!

And fetta78 -yea, I have always heard that red cars have an extra 20-30HP...

Thanks again to all.
 

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Probably wouldn't hurt to join the local Alfa Romeo Owners Club. I did this before buying my spider, and found the group to be very helpful. Learned a lot before making a purchase. Plus finding an Alfa person to help me check out a purchase.

Bill
'83 GTV6
'85 spider-went to my grandson
'74 GTV-sold
'89 spider-sold
 

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Fibonacci - appreciate the offer for the test rides, but I'm in Denver... One question, big difference in performance between your '81 and '85?
My 81 has had some work done so it is has more power, seems quicker off the line and not surprisingly, is louder than the 1985
Many if not all of the usual reasons 1981 are so unpopular (restrictive emission controls, crappy fuel injection, bumpers, etc) can all be addressed.

The 1985 and earlier have the dual pod dashboard, wood steering wheel, which I like, no small amount of chrome and shiny parts - that - and the lack of a third tail light - makes it very difficult for a typical passer-by to really place the age of the car. She's all original, has A/C, quiet, smooth and runs like a top.

Both of my cars seem to have been well taken care of prior to my owning them, as neither has any rust to speak of, or 2nd gear issues other people report. My biggest complaint? 1980's Factory Paint quality!

Keep looking, over the past 12 months there have been about 5 or so cars I saw advertised in the Denver area that I'd not hesitate to fly out to see, if only my wife would let me have a third Alfa.

The car you seek is out there!
 

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A review of Spiders could include the Giulietta and Giulia models.:)
 
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