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Discussion Starter #1
I am contemplating buying a used Alfa Romeo and found this forum. I am impressed with the number and quality of the posts, especially considering the relatively small number of cars sold. The number of problems owners have is somewhat disconcerting though.

One more thing... The absence of political discussions is nice.
 

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You have to realize that Alfa Romeo did not sell any cars after 1995 and only started to sell cars in the US after a twenty year absence. I would buy the best used car that you can afford because the last car sold is twenty-four years old unless you buy a new Alfa. The Bulletin gives information about what to do if you own an old car and this information is very valuable. I have been driving Alfas since 1968 and have helped many Alfa owners repair and restore their cars without any compensation. I now give information only and work on my restoration projects.
 

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I am contemplating buying a used Alfa Romeo and found this forum. I am impressed with the number and quality of the posts, especially considering the relatively small number of cars sold. The number of problems owners have is somewhat disconcerting though.
One more thing... The absence of political discussions is nice.
Hi Adowns,
You really have to do your research when it comes to what you want to buy.
If it's a 105 coupe there is some evidence on Alfabb as what to look for depending on your requirements. As the focus as moved away from the GTAs and GTAms (which tend to be a tightly held market), onto the GT Sprint, GT Veloce 1600, 1750 GTV, 2L GTV and 1300/1600 GTJ. People are asking things like what where the interior materials/colours? as well as about the car's mechanical and body options?
There has been some miss-information that has continued for decades up until recently when some of it has been challenged. Have a look at some of the evidence as presented from primary sources on the following models GTV 1750, GTV 2L, 1600 GTV, GTJ 1300 and GTAm on Alfabb or on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo_105/115_Series_Coupés to correct miss information aswell as adding new information.
Regards Steve (S. Angeli)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the welcome, Steve and Kuni. I've also been following forums on Fiat Spider and MG. The Fiats seem very similar to Alfas, but much more plentiful. MG's have the advantage of very large numbers and a simpler design that would be easier to work on. Parts seem cheaper too.

I've been looking at a 1985 Graduate that's on eBay now. Price seems reasonable, but no reply from the seller on some questions I had so I am reluctant to pull the trigger.

Thank you again for the welcome.

Alan
 

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1. Welcome!
2. Consider that some of these cars discussed are 30, 40, 60 years old. Any marque will have issues at that age - it all depends on how they were taken care of and stored.

In my opinion, an Alfa is a well-built car, hand-made until maybe mid-60s. Mine started every single day in the rain in Seattle.
A Fiat is maybe a lesser build quality, no rustproofing for the most part, and often not as reliable as the Alfa. However, that may have been because the less expensive car eventually had owners who wouldn't spend the money to maintain them.
Everything you say about MGs is true, but the other side of that is a more agricultural mechanical design in engine and suspension - a huge contrast to an Alfa. Also - a Lucas electrical system.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A Fiat is maybe a lesser build quality, no rustproofing for the most part, and often not as reliable as the Alfa..... Also - a Lucas electrical system.
Fiat - "Fix it again, Tony"
MG's Lucas electrical - "Why do the English drink warm beer?"

Do Alfas have any similar well-worn jokes?

Vivace... Thanks for your perspective on the 3 makes.

I made an offer on an Alfa. The seller wants time to think it over for a few days. (or wait for a better offer)
 

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Welcome to the Alfa BB and to Alfa ownership, if that's what you choose to do. What attracted you to Alfa Romeo, if I may ask? Among the makes you mentioned, Alfa is without a doubt, the best engineered and potentially the most reliable, IF you target a car that was not modified or neglected by previous owners. Whatever you do, stay away from cars that show signs of "improvements" to the electrics, or other dubious wiring hacks. Except for headlight relay installation, which is a plus if well executed.

I bought my '91 series 4 Spider new, and it has never left me stranded out on the road (except for a tire failure, or maybe a dead battery at one point). I can't say that for a couple of new domestic cars I've owned in the past. A well maintained series 3 Spider should treat you well, as long as you are sure of what you're buying. A pre-purchase inspection by a veteran Alfista on this forum, or an experienced Alfa mechanic, is worth the cost up front. There may be a BB member nearby to this Spider who would be willing to look it over for you, or a good local shop that Knows Alfas.

So you may not want to pull the trigger right away, since there are tons of nice Spiders for sale out there right now. Be picky, and patient, and get yourself the best one you can afford.
 

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Do Alfas have any similar well-worn jokes?
yea:

Always
Looking
For
Another

Does that tell you anything?

MG's have the advantage of very large numbers and a simpler design that would be easier to work on. Parts seem cheaper too.
Well, you get what you pay for...
 

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Do Alfas have any similar well-worn jokes?)
"If it's not leaking oil, it's - out - of oil."

I had two different early Fiat 124 Spiders. They were fairly reliable, but were a mess of screwed up wiring, bodged repairs, and hidden problems. I've often wondered what kind of ownership time I would have had if they weren't so neglected. On the other hand, they were the ones I could afford on my college kid budget!

And I've always had a soft spot for a nice early MGB-GT, or one of the V8 factory Sebring cars.
 

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Welcome Alan

We're all pretty biased here, seeing as it is the Alfa BB, but we've all experienced good reliable service out of a well maintained car that hasn't been Frankensteined around with.

My Dad was an MG man, MGA / MGB daily drivers, he still has his TC. He was quite skeptical when I brought my first GT Junior home. Now his MGB is a memory and he loves his '57 Giulietta Spider. In fact we've got quite a few Alfa's in the collection now, 13 at last count.

Alfaloco has given you the 2 best pieces of advice below:
  • If you really want this Spider, get someone knowledgeable to inspect it
  • If it turns out to be not that good, then there are lots to choose from, it was mass produced and lots were sold in the day, so good ones are out there - be patient & always buy the best you can afford, even if it's a stretch.... 99.9% that will end up as a cost saving down the line
as long as you are sure of what you're buying. A pre-purchase inspection by a veteran Alfista on this forum, or an experienced Alfa mechanic, is worth the cost up front. There may be a BB member nearby to this Spider who would be willing to look it over for you, or a good local shop that Knows Alfas.

So you may not want to pull the trigger right away, since there are tons of nice Spiders for sale out there right now. Be picky, and patient, and get yourself the best one you can afford.
Ciao
Greig
 

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I owned a very nice lightly used '74 Fiat Sport Spider, 1756cc, for a couple of years way back when, and it was very reliable... but definitely not an Alfa Romeo when it came down to product design and engineering. It thrived on a daily diet of 6000 to 7000 RPM, autocross, and spent quite a bit of time somewhat sideways :grin2: .

I also have owned and/or serviced a fair share of British sports cars, including Spitfires, MGB's, a TR4 and Sunbeam Alpine series 3. Yes, they were all charming in their own way, even endearing. But when it came down to measured road time versus garage time, they spent more hours with the hood up than cruising happily down the road.

Our Alfas have included a long-gone Giulietta Sprint normale (with Lucas electrics...), a 164LS owned for 7 years, two S4 Spiders and a GTV 6. Except for the Lucas-possessed Giulietta Sprint, all of our Alfas have compared favorably to most any other make of car we have owned, in the reliability department. In fact, my son's '86 GTV 6 was and is a restored and updated daily driver, that starts and runs like a train.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks to all who have provided information and advice. The seller accepted my offer and I hope to have the car in a week or two. When it arrives I will try to post pictures and my first impressions.

I don't think I have ever seen a group more enthusiastic about their car brand.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks to all who have provided information and advice. The seller accepted my offer and I hope to have the car in a week or two. When it arrives I will try to post pictures and my first impressions.

I don't think I have ever seen a group more enthusiastic about their car brand.
The car arrived yesterday. After I get car registration and tag I'll drive it and give my impressions in a new thread in the Spider sub-forum. A few initial observations...

Price was very reasonable, $4500.

Shipping was hard to line up and expensive, $1500, from Wyoming to Alabama.

Ship time was almost 2 weeks in transit, but after all this time on the top level of an open trailer it did not leak.

It started instantly when the truck driver unloaded it.

Truck driver unloading it in picture below.
 

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Congrats and welcome to the BB. The pic of your car coming off the trailer reminds me of my own Spider when it was delivered a few months ago. Good times:clap:
Don't be shy about posting and make sure we get lots of photos.
 

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@adowns --> That's a really nice Spider & in a really pretty colour too !!

Glad it's a good one, you can spend some time detailing it, but I'll bet you would rather spend time driving it !!

Don't worry about little things, very soon the others will arrive to fill up your life with restoring big things Always Looking For Another remember ??

Post some pics in the Spider forum, they really like their pictures --> https://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spider-105-115-series-1966-1994/489458-what-did-you-do-alfa-spider-related-today.html

Ciao
Greig
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you Jack and Greig for the welcomes. I have enjoyed my short time with this 85 Spider. My kids and grandchildren like it too.

I've fixed several items so far. 1) passenger side door latch 2) speedometer repair 3) had to get a new battery

Its good points: 1) No 2nd gear synchro issues 2) starts instantly and runs perfectly 3) all instruments and lights work 4) 61000 miles, which I think is accurate, no discrepancies found in Autocheck report 5) No rust in spare tire well or inside the door I had apart 5) I don't think it has ever been repainted except for touch-ups 6) top doesn't leak

Bad points: I can tell it's 34 years old. 1) Droopy sun visors. 2) Seats sag. 3) Suspension bottoms if you hit a bump too hard. 4) Lots of dings and chips covered with touchup paint 5) Region below the doors has been bondo-ed and touched up. 6) Outside rear-view mirrors are tiny.

The most dramatic impression is how small it is and how low it sits. Picture attached - I took granddaughter for a short ride.
 

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Bad points: I can tell it's 34 years old. 1) Droopy sun visors. 2) Seats sag. 3) Suspension bottoms if you hit a bump too hard. 4) Lots of dings and chips covered with touchup paint 5) Region below the doors has been bondo-ed and touched up. 6) Outside rear-view mirrors are tiny.
Well, most of that is normal for a 34-year old car.

1) The BB has a thread about fixing droopy visors
2) It's probably time to visit an upholsterer - foam rubber disintegrates after 34 years
3) You probably need new shocks - how does the car rebound when you push down hard on a fender? If you do need shocks, Konis are my recommendation. Lots of threads on how to adjust them.
4) Now you don't have to worry about future dings & chips.
6) Tiny rear view mirrors are one of the charms of a vintage car.

Uh, but about #5: By "Region below the doors" do you mean the rocker panels? This one could be serious, as the rockers are part of the structure of a unibody car like your Alfa. Might be worthwhile having a good body shop take a look at this.
 

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The number of problems owners have is somewhat disconcerting though.
Let's put this in perspective - I'm also on the Honda Odyssey Owner's BBS. These vans are generally less than 15 years old, and the issues they have are jaw-dropping. (Sliding door kills the battery? VVT blows up the engine????)

I've worked on Alfas and Odysseys - and the Alfa is by far easier - and.... wait for it... the parts ARE CHEAPER!! (Alternator for Odyssey - $600, Spider $200)
 

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Nice start to Alfas.
Yeah--Koni Reds.
The saggy springs can be improved by putting in rubber wedges, or threading on a bit of hose to the bottom coils of each spring.
No need to go to a "performance" suspension kit.
 
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