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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all, back again! my alfa is doing nicely, holding up fairly well in the college world, a few new dents and scratches but nothing a new paintjob and some bodywork can't fix when im outta here. plus its alot of fun - and im the only student here at FSU with one, definitely a good conversation starter.

anyway, though I love the car to death, mine seems to be missing some pep. Ive never actually driven another stock spider, so im not quite sure if its just the way the car is (with its 4-cyl engine) or if there is something wrong with my car - but either way, I'd like to boost the hp to a point where you can feel the tug. I dont exactly want a hot rod or muscle machine (id take steering over hp anyday), and maybe its the teenager in me speaking, but I just crave that extra boost.

now - enough chit chat, down to the nitty gritty. I've got a theoretical $2,000 set aside from scholarships this past semester that Im willing to use. What can be done to a stock 1987 Spider Veloce for under 2 grand that will noticably boost horsepower? here are my ideas:

upgrade ECU chip
Turbo/supercharge
free-flow exhaust system

aand they are very basic, very common ideas - havent had much time at all to really research anything sophisticated at all...but I have heard from a few tuner friends around here that turbocharging is the most cost efficient way to gain hp. I just read a thread about turbocharging a 2L spider so i already know the the basic info on that, aparently I'd have to get custom headers done (how much would that cost??). supercharging is (according to my friends) apparently easier and cheaper to do, but isnt nearly as efficient as turbo charging.

anyway, just thought I'd run the notion by some more experienced/more mechanically talented people...feel free to offer any suggestions, im not stuck on any specific method - just a college kid looking for a good bang/buck idea WITHOUT turning my car into a hotrod. Yes, I do appreciate its unique style! :)
 

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No chip available for the Ljet...

Your best bet is:
Correct valve adjustment
Hotter intake cam for VVT engines ($185 or so at IAP)
Freer flow exhaust
Ring and valve job if needed
Beyond that 2K$ is not enough.
TTFN Elio
 

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The '87 Spider (as well as all series 3 and even series 4 Spiders) is slow off the line. Once you get moving, then it's fine. In the series 3 Spider, the power has to do with how Alfa (as well as most car manufacturers of the period) limited the engine output in order to reduce emissions at the tail pipe and meet what were then new regulations. Hence, there is actually much more power to be had, but it will take some doing.

You cannot upgrade software (chip) in a Bosch L-Jetronic ECU, since there isn't any. (You can with the Bosch Motronic that Alfa starting fitting to the Spiders in 1990.) Going with a turbo is in fact the most cost effective way to increase power, but $2k won't be enough to finance such a set-up. In the eighties Shankle Engineering sold a kit for the Spiders, and the cost was $3500. Today, you would probably have to budget at least $5k to do such a set-up, and that's assuming that you will be doing some of the work yourself. If you pay a pro to do it for you, then it will cost more, since custom work is charged by the hour.

You can also increase power in a conventional manner by fitting a free flow exhaust, a free flow catalytic converter, and headers. Other upgrades that could follow could be a ported/polished head (there are different levels of upgrades here), higher compression pistons, high lift camshafts, and a modified ignition. This, as you pointed out, is not inexpensive, but it is effective. Please note that there isn't one single upgrade that will yield a "wow effect". Instead, every little bit will help and you can get to a point where your Spider could be significantly faster off the line, and going uphill, than a stock example. (One of my Spiders in fact has been fitted with upgrades such as the ones I described, and it is very fast off the line, and going uphill. It's a blast to drive.)

I think the best suggestion I could make is for you to lay out a detailed plan about everything you want to do related to power increase, with realistic $$ figures, and then follow it. That is not just the most time efficient (no $$ waisted) and cost effective approach, but it also allows you to firm up and/or refine your goal on paper and even drive other cars that have similar mods, before doing anything to yours. You may decide that even if you don't have the money now, it could be worth waiting for your finances to be in place in order to proceed with your ultimate set-up.

Best regards,
 

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NOS might be an option for quick & dirty horsepower, however, I would never use NOS on anything that I own.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I appreciate all your input, I had no idea it was so hard to get these cars going!! I guess its the price to pay for being unique. They do sell universal turbos for cheaper than $2k, but with the cost of custom headers I can see that price shooting up.

So im getting these thoughts that I dont particularly like - is there another model/year thats easier to mechanically modify? I was so close to getting a '74 spider three years ago before I got this one, but the lady sold it right when I showed up. Im guessing since emissions laws were less intense back then it was a naturally faster from the get go. Then again, I dont think I can part with my current S3.

so I may just go with a hotter intake cam and free flow exhaust - thatll push me close to the 2k mark.

just so I know the boundaries - money figures aside, would it ever be possible to get the S3 spider to about 250-300 hp? and even more daring, how about 400hp? That is, without Nitrous (thanks for the idea though, Geezer!!)
 

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Joe,

Do you know the internal condition of your engine? Any compression results? Some of the comments made above re: increased power apply to cars with intact internals. If you have a burned valve or broken rings, then there are much cheaper routes to "increased power." Just fix everything that's broken. Our '86 Graduate has a problem with the #2 cylinder compression. We think it would respond well to head rework, but we've not been in a position recently to take it down for a month. Realistically, in our case, a month is an appropriate time span. It doesn't work out that way for everyone, as some folks are much more driven and get things done quickly.

Michael
 

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Increasing Horsepower

First, please make sure that everything on the car works as it should. A non-functioning VVT will make the car seem quite dead. I have 3 Spiders to compare between, and a set of headers alone with a high flow cat converter gives a noticeable improvement, probably 5-6 horsepower with stock exhaust. I have a higher lift VVT cam, but have not got to install it yet, but that would be a next step and about $200.00.
 

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Does the school have a dyno? if so you might be able to get a run on it free or very cheap. then you will know where you are to start with. and if you do anything you can retest and see if it is good/bad or =

a run on a dyno will also let you know if you have somthing else barfed up too.
some where there was a dyno day posted on the BB and there was lots of alfas ran there do a search and I think there were some stock 2L ran that you could compair to.
 

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....
just so I know the boundaries - money figures aside, would it ever be possible to get the S3 spider to about 250-300 hp? and even more daring, how about 400hp? That is, without Nitrous (thanks for the idea though, Geezer!!)
I'm far from an expert on Spiders, but I don't see how you could come close to 250 streetable horsepower without forced induction or an engine swap from something like a Honda S2000.
 

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I don't see how you could come close to 250 streetable horsepower without forced induction.
It really isn't that hard or impossible, shove more air and fuel into the engine and be sure the exhaust can handle the extra flow=more power. The heads, cam and exhaust is the best route to go (also the heads will be sure there is no compression lost through the valves, new gaskets, etc...would be nice and clean).
 

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It really isn't that hard or impossible, shove more air and fuel into the engine and be sure the exhaust can handle the extra flow=more power. The heads, cam and exhaust is the best route to go (also the heads will be sure there is no compression lost through the valves, new gaskets, etc...would be nice and clean).
Has anyone on the board been able to get a normally aspirated Spider engine up to that level of power while still retaining driveability for the street? If so, that's pretty impressive.
 

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Has anyone on the board been able to get a normally aspirated Spider engine up to that level of power while still retaining driveability for the street? If so, that's pretty impressive.
Enrique pulls 230, then there is also Murray with his souped up spider that is naturally aspirated and street driven. By todays standards, there is enough out there to make our 2.0s even more powerful, take a look at the small displacement hondas that come from the factory with almost 300 naturally aspirated.
 

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the spider should feel pretty light and nimble in stock form. the bosch system has set of about 6 sensors that should be taking a crap (meaning giving eroneous data or being fouled up with wear) right about now at 20years of age.

dont test, just replace the o2 sensor (huge result) and the throttle and ref-mark and give a real deep cleaning to the air-flow sensors. a complete hose-replacement and maybe those injectors and wires/distro/plugs is in order.

proper clutch-operation and shifting at the torque ratios (not wasting horsepower when over that gears power-band) and you should be pretty satisfied with your car. its as light as can be.
 

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Enrique pulls 230, then there is also Murray with his souped up spider that is naturally aspirated and street driven. By todays standards, there is enough out there to make our 2.0s even more powerful, take a look at the small displacement hondas that come from the factory with almost 300 naturally aspirated.
I thought I recall Murray getting 170 rear wheel hp on the dyno.

Murray and Enrique, what kind of horsepower and torque figures can the original poster expect to get from a max'ed out normally aspirated 2 liter Spider motor that is driveable on the street?
 

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I thought I recall Murray getting 170 rear wheel hp on the dyno.

Murray and Enrique, what kind of horsepower and torque figures can the original poster expect to get from a max'ed out normally aspirated 2 liter Spider motor that is driveable on the street?
Hi TCL,

I wish it was 170 HP but it was 167 HP at the rear wheels.

I haven't heard of anyone else that has gotten more then 167 HP at the wheels with 10.5 CR and runs on preimun gas? You'll can get more power with a higher CR but then you have to start blending race fuel with pump gas or just run straight race fuel.

I would guess that 190 HP at the wheels would be the max with a 12.5 CR ???
 

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I thought I recall Murray getting 170 rear wheel hp on the dyno.
You may be right on that and Enrique maybe misquoted as he said he pulls 30bhp, I figured he meant 230bhp as 130 is just above stock figures...who knows. I do wonder what your definition of street driveable engine is, when it comes to a manual transmission car.
 
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