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Discussion Starter #1
Hi
I'm after a bit of advice / knowledge from you Alfa guru types...I'm very new to this forum, so please bear with me if my questions have been heard many times before, I did a few searches for older threads but with not much success...
I have been lusting after a Roundtail Spider for some time, and have just recently decided to start researching with the hopeful outcome of Alfa ownership. For many years I've been into MG ownership for my sins, so I know a lot about them, but almost nothing about the intricacies of the Roundtail.What I'd be very grateful for would be for someone to point me in the right direction for some buying guide advice and also a general idea of how much I might have to pay for a 10 footer type car, something I could use as opposed to look at...
Sorry to have rambled on a bit....Any advice / suggestions would be gratefully received.
Thanks in advance
Regards
Jon
 

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...a general idea of how much I might have to pay for a 10 footer type car, something I could use as opposed to look at...
Welcome to the BB, Jon!

There are other people on this BB who actually own roundtails, so I will let them comment on their intricacies. In the meantime, here is some very basic information which you may find useful:

1966:
  • 1st year of the "roundtail" Spider, replacing the Giulia model.
  • 1600cc engine with carburetors.
  • Carello covered headlights.
  • Steel wheels with steel hubcaps.
  • Alfa organized contest to name new car. "Duetto" chosen as winning name, but never officially adopted by Alfa.
1967:
  • Last year for the Duetto.
  • Note however that in Europe, all Spiders are referred to as "Duettos".
1968:
  • SPICA mechanical fuel injection introduced for the U.S.A. to comply with emission regulations (It will last until 1981)
  • Engine enlarged to 1750 cc.
  • In spite of SPICA, very few cars are imported to the U.S.A. (They are imported to Canada, and some are imported to the U.S.A privately.)
  • Last year that covered headlights are allowed by the D.O.T.
1969:
  • Last year for the "roundtail" Spider.
  • Today, all roundtails have also achieved collectible status, although only the '66 - '67 are Duettos.
  • Cars come with covered headlight kits in the trunk.
  • The 1750 engine is very zippy, and tuned to produce with 132 hp.
I would say that I have not seen good drivers for less than $12k, and I would expect that this price is a bit on the low side, and that mid teens is more appropriate for the low end. A truly correct concours car will easily double mid teens, and there are cars advertised as concours correct that come up for sale in that price range. (I haven't seen however, a documented concours winner, such as one rated at the national Alfa Owners Convention concours, come up for sale in years.) Hence, the price of a decent driver is climbing, and since roundtails have achieved collectible status this will continue to be the trend.

Best regards,
 

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Former British Guy chimes in

Hi Jon,

As a longtime Triumph guy (TR3, TR4a, TR250 & 6 - yes, all of them!), I'll share with you my experiences on become a "convert". In April I purchased a 69 Spyder.

The first thing I noticed is that the build quality/design is of a much higher quality than the British. In particular, the amount of rattles and overall ride quality, in my opinion, is better. This is particularly true of the engine - the free reving nature of powerplant is a big, big step up over any of the british cars I've owned. The interior also has a higher quality appearance. The British cars I've owned and been around just seem more simple (read plain) when compared to the Alfa.

There are two big differences to consider when comparing the British and the Italian: the first is the cost of parts. Everything is more expensive, and some items for the roundtails are incredibly expensive when compared to the British. Ahh, the price of exclusivity I guess. The second thing I've noticed is that, due to their simpler build design, the British cars seem to be easier to work on - in particular things like the brakes/clutch ect. This is not true for everything, but in my experiences so far, this holds true. This may be due to my overall familiarity with Triumphs, but I don't think so as I work on all my cars. The British sports cars seem more open to "tinkering" while the Alfa is much more finicky in its setup (I have the Spica, so even more so). Finally - the transmissions are an annoying weak spot compared to anything TR :mad:

All that said, it is a very, very worthwhile move. In April I paid $6500 for a 2 owner 69 Spyder. The mechanicals are a bit "tired" (the 2nd/3rd gear crunch drives me crazy, but the engine runs/revs strong with good compression and isn't burning oil), the interior original and in good condition and the body in pretty good shape too (needs paint eventually, small dent in the rear, very very little rust though), and mostly original throughout. Some maybe wouldn't consider this a "driver", but since I drive it often, I sure do. I'd like to think its worth more, but probably isn't. I may be finding out soon though as I just came into ownership of a 66 Giulia Sprint Speciale and may have to make a decision on the Spyder.....hmmm, I guess that speaks to my opinion about Alfa ownership as well as I've already expanded the stable.

Best of luck with your experience. This BB is just an awesome resource and has reallly made the Alfa ownership much more satisfying.

Cheers...Dan
 

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Hi Jon,
...
Cheers...Dan
As I think the Brits would say... a most insightful post, indeed! Many years ago, as young college kid, I was very interested in MGBs and TR6s. I wanted to get one, but it only took one drive in their Italian counterparts to sway me over... I've never regretted my decision, but when I see the British cars I think back and wonder what it would have been like to have gone down that road... Great post, Dan!

Best regards,
 

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Thanks for your reply Dan....
As the post after yours says, ‘a most insightful post, indeed!
I had the MG bug since my early teens, had a long list like your Triumph's, Midget, B roadster and GT, a BGT V8, an MGA MkI which I still have, and lots of other shrapnel from the 60s and 70s, only Triumph’s I had were a convertible Herald and a Triumph Hurricane bike which was the nicest looking bike I have ever owned, another of those ‘I wish I never sold it’ situations…
What is a 69 Spyder? Am I right in thinking it’s the same as the roundtail but called a Spyder instead of ‘Duetto’??
Thanks again for your post.

Regards

Jon
 

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I've never regretted my decision, but when I see the British cars I think back and wonder what it would have been like to have gone down that road...
Down that road in an equivalent MG or Triumph? - it would have been slow, uncomfortable and ultimately disappointing.

Cast iron engines, drum brakes, 4 speed gear boxes and cart spring suspensions do not make for real sports cars. It is excusable in the late 50s and early 60s but Alfa showed what could and should be done.

But today, it is a lot cheaper and easier to keep an MG on the road than it is a Spider.
 

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...What is a 69 Spyder? Am I right in thinking it’s the same as the roundtail but called a Spyder instead of ‘Duetto’??
Yes, it is a roundtail but called Spider instead of "Duetto". In fact, the '68s are also "Spiders". (I have a friend who is an original owner of a '68 and he is adamant about how he refers to his car.) In the U.S.A. only the 1600 engine '66 and '67 models are called "Duettos", but all series 1 Spiders ('66 - '69) are referred to as "roundtails". All other subsequent series are Spiders. It is curious however, that in Italy all Spiders ('66 through '94) are called "Duettos".

Best regards,
 

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Welcome to the BB

I have two Duettos that I am converting into one decent driver. One I purchased in the late 70's and the other I purchased several years ago to get a decent body with relatively little rust. Rust is the downfall of these cars. Look for rust in the floor boards, in the rockers, and in the lower fender wells (both front and rear). Rust can also appear in the spare tire well. Unless you are willing to accept a "rust bucket", look for one with minimal rust. I paid $2750 for the most recent Duetto, but it needs a lot of work to get it into driving condition. At least it had a decent body with rust only in the front floor boards. If you are looking for a 10 footer, that you can hop into and drive on a daily basis, you are probably looking at at least $10K. But that is much less than the British cars of similar vintage sold by Barrett-Jackson, et. al., so at least you are getting a decent start on having a reliable driver for a moderate price.

I don't think you can compare the mechanical equipment of British versus Alfa cars of the same vintage. As they say, the British put tractor engines in their sports cars, whereas the Italians put sports car engines in their tractors! Where else can you get an all aluminum twin cam engine with dual Webers, four wheel disc brakes, a 5 speed transmission, and cutting edge styling for the same price in a British sports car versus an Alfa roundtail.

Good luck in your search. It may take a while to get the car you want, but it will be worth it.
 

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Duetto's are wonderful cars. Spend as much as you can afford to get a good one, particularly, find a rust free car. You'll love it!:)
 

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Down that road in an equivalent MG or Triumph? - it would have been slow, uncomfortable and ultimately disappointing.

Cast iron engines, drum brakes, 4 speed gear boxes and cart spring suspensions do not make for real sports cars. It is excusable in the late 50s and early 60s but Alfa showed what could and should be done.

But today, it is a lot cheaper and easier to keep an MG on the road than it is a Spider.
Hi Cosmo,

Yes, back then I noticed the dual overhead cams, the 5 speed gearboxes and the disc brakes all around... Then I drove one and wow! - I was sold... I will always have a soft spot for the British marques, as so many examples are so elegant and yet there is great affinity for really driving these vintage cars, rather than turning them into "garage queens".

Best regards,
 

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As much as love the mechanicals of our Alfa's (especially the SPICA pump!), to me the ride of an Alfa is what separates it from the typical British car. Prior to owning one I thought that in order to handle well a sports car had to jar your teeth loose. Then I bought my first Duetto and I was stunned at how comfortable it is. Also, I find (and I know I am in the minority here) the driving position to be quite comfortable. I sat in an MGB recently (hadn't been in one in 30 years) and felt really confined.

So my first Alfa was a rust bucket '67 - loved it but had to part with it. Twenty years later I found a '69. To me roundtails were the only way to go and I couldn't imagine why anyone would cut the back end off. Then a couple of years ago I really started looking at the series 2 (Kamm tails) and suddenly it hit me: These are cool cars too! They have some nice upgrades including a more modern dash (some people like, others don't), a much nicer top, more modern brake/clutch system, and a more powerful motor (again a matter of taste, many of us prefer the 1750 motor. Also, performace started to take a nosedive after '74). And, what I like about them is that they are much cheaper then a series 1 (roundtail), lots and lots more parts available and because they are not as "significant" I don't feel guilty about modifying them. So I picked up a '76 Spider cheap and am retrofitting the nice looking early Spider SS bumpers, lowering it, wider tires and wheels, changing the color to something I like, carpets, stereo and a warmed up 2 liter. I wouldn't of think of doing that to my '69.

I've had my '69 for nearly 10 years and it has been a 10 footer and a 3 season driver for most of that time. Now that the value is going up quickly ($30k for one on eBay last month and I don't think it was concours) I'm looking at a real resto but that means no more parking in Target parking lot, etc. So the '76 will become my 3 season driver.

So my point is this: If what you burn for is a roundtail - get a roundtail. But if money is an issue, don't discount the other Spiders (or hardtops for that matter). For maybe $3k you could get a legit series 2 driver or a roundtail in a cardboard box...
 

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Unless you are willing to accept a "rust bucket", look for one with minimal rust.
Good luck in your search. It may take a while to get the car you want, but it will be worth it.
Looks like the Alfa's have the same problem as the MGA, it took me about a year to find my MG, there's a lot of overpriced crap on the market. I finally found a nice example from Texas, nice driver, but with no rust anywhere...That's really what I'm looking for in a spider, I have a fairly restricted budget of about 10 grand. My biggest requirement for the MGA was the rust issue, mine needed an engine and gearbox rebuild when I brought it, which was no problem for me. I quite like working of tractor engines! So what I think I'm after is something largely rust free possibly needing a bit of mechanical work, I suppose time will tell if I have to adjust my budget a bit....
 

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Although I'd like one, I've never owned a 'round tail'. I do have an '84 Spider plus an MGA (my first car, owned it since 1971) and a '78 MGB (de-smogged & converted to dual SU's). I like them all. Yeah the MG's are not as sophisticated as the Alfa but they are lots of fun still.

One item no has mentioned is the wonderful Alfa folding top. Sit in the driver's seat, undo two clamps at the top of the windshield and flip the top backwards - done. Raising it is just as easy.

MGB convertible top - undo two clamps at the top of the windscreen, undo four snaps inside. Get out of car, undo 3 - 4 lift-the-dot fasteners (snaps) on each side (6 - 8 total), slide edge of top off clips near the rear of door openings, loosen top from windscreen, fold back sides up (running from left side to right side), maneuver top down into space behind seats. Partially re-erect top and re-fold sides. Get top tucked down, secure with two straps.

Earlier model MGB's had a removable top. Undo top, remove from frame, fold up and place in boot (trunk). Remove top frame, disassemble left side from right side, secure in boot.

The Brits must be maschocists...
 

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I recently bought a '69. It what you might call a "ten footer" because of some minor cracks in the paint, but it runs strong. They are lighter on their feet, and more playful than later models for sure.

You're right to look for one with no rust, but it can be just as frustrating to deal with rewired electricals, and countless "quick fixes" that have accrued over the years. I discovered that my car has on brake boosters, a rewired cigarette lighter, a non functioning "starter button", but so far few other issues. You might get as lucky as I imagine I am, but for ten grand I might suggest trying to find the perfectly restored 71-74 car. They really are great cars too.
 

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I recently bought a '69. It what you might call a "ten footer" because of some minor cracks in the paint, but it runs strong. They are lighter on their feet, and more playful than later models for sure.

You're right to look for one with no rust, but it can be just as frustrating to deal with rewired electricals, and countless "quick fixes" that have accrued over the years. I discovered that my car has on brake boosters, a rewired cigarette lighter, a non functioning "starter button", but so far few other issues. You might get as lucky as I imagine I am, but for ten grand I might suggest trying to find the perfectly restored 71-74 car. They really are great cars too.
I`ll switch with pleasure my rustbucket for the one with electrical problems...
 
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