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Well, I’ve been an Alfa owner for about six months now and I’d like to pass on a few observations I’ve made during this time.

First, the AlfaBB is a fantastic website. Reading the posts and following the advice given here has considerably flattened the learning curve for me. Researching this site should be at the top of the list of resources right along with the CarDisc manuals and Braden’s books.

Second, if my experience is at all typical, there are two things that greatly contribute to an Alfa’s demise: Sitting, and Ham-handed/ignorant previous mechanics. Most of the repairs that I have had to perform on my car have been due to these factors – and my Alfa was far from a basket case when I bought it. One owner, less than 30K miles, all receipts, always garaged, California car – sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Yes, until you factor in that the car is 18 years old and had been to a number of different mechanics. Don’t get me wrong, the car was a good find and I’ve been happily driving it for a couple of months now. However, there are so many things that can be wrong with our cars even with all of these “selling points”. All this moves me on to my next observation…

Anything could have happened to a car no matter how well it was kept or how little it was driven. My Alfa is a good example of this. With less than 30K on the road, the head has already been off for a valve job due to an overheating episode:eek:. Further, I’m pretty sure that whoever worked on dismantling the engine did not really know what he was doing. This little tidbit is important to keep in mind when buying any used car, but especially an exotic car that the average wrench bender does not usually see in his career. When I took the cam cover off, I discovered that the bearing block with the timing mark for the exhaust cam was on backwards! I wonder how many of the other cam bearing blocks have been installed wrongly. Also, the exhaust cam was out of time by one tooth. Valve clearances were all over the place and changed after I reinstalled and torqued the bearing blocks. The whole engine bay was filthy and the VVT was so clogged with grime that I was surprised that the little piston could move at all. Other things will also contribute to our cars’ less-than-stellar performance such as electrical device installations. My Alfa had an aftermarket stereo (included extra speakers in the package shelf!!!), a mobile phone, and a Lojack installed. None of the installations was clean and tidy. Each one had questionable electrical connections and unacceptable changes to the interior such as holes in the package shelf, repositioning of relays near the ECU, a slot ripped in the carpet to accommodate cables:mad:, holes in trim pieces, etc.

Next observation, our Alfas love to be driven! My Spider runs better the more I drive it. At first, the changes were very noticeable: each day the engine seemed to rev easier, the speedo and tach suddenly started working again, the cowl shake lessened, the doors work better, etc. Also, I have found that driving my Spider is very therapeutic. Even my coworkers have noticed that, on the days I come into the office with windblown hair, I seem to be happier and calmer:D!

I probably have rambled on long enough and, hopefully, haven’t lost anyone at this point. More work is scheduled: A driveline rebuild and clutch hydraulic overhaul are both in the very near future. Maybe I can drive it long-distance after that!
 

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Excellent observations, particularly with respect to sitting, shoddy mechanic (and I'd have to add Previous Owner) repair work and after-market electrics. Of the three Alfa's I've owned and the four I've worked on, those general issues probably account for 80+% of the problems I've dealt with. I have rarely had any true failures with any of my Alfas.
 

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With respect to being driven, I'll observe that a friend's father-in-law has a mid-80s Spider. He babies it and is into fourth gear before he reaches 30 mph (I almost never use fourth gear, staying in third as long as I can). It runs poorly and he feels it's a piece of crap. When our friend borrows it, though, she drives the hell out of it, and when she returns it, it's running better than ever. Her father-in-law is amazed and wonders what she did to it. She always tells him not to baby it, but despite the results, he won't listen. As Braden wrote, "The Italian tune-up is not a myth."
 

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Interesting thread, Slash!
I always cringe a little when someone tells me "I just found a (20 to 50 year old) Alfa and it only has 20k miles on it!" I try to smile and be nice. I have to be careful not to rain on their parade because the reality is that time, not miles take the toll. We have all been brainwashed into believing low miles makes any car better. In truth, it only makes relatively new cars better.
 
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