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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I am considering an s3 spider for my first car. I have been looking at a few different cars, but keep coming back to the Alfa. I'm looking to spend around 6k for a car. Would this be enough for an s3 in good mechanical condition? How much would you expect to spend on maintenance for a car in this price bracket? There is an Alfa mechanic relatively close, so that is not an issue. Is it practical enough to use as a daily driver? I am also considering a Miata, but would much rather have the Spider if it is possible. What are you opinions on this as a first car?
 

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Welcome to the board.

Do you have a garage? Where do you live (climate, road salt, etc.)?

I've never owned an S3, but I think those are good questions for a potential convertible owner to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I live in PA. I have a garage that could be used to perform maintenance, but otherwise the car would be kept on the street, since we have two other classic cars that are kept in the garage.
 

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I think a Series 3 Spider is a good first car. They are reliable enough to drive daily, and well-known enough to keep in good running order.

$6000 should buy an very good 'driver' quality Spider. But I would suggest two things. Budget $4500-$5000 on the car and $1000 on maintenance. And contact a local Alfa club to seek assistance checking out any potential buys. They will know the pitfalls to avoid and will also likely know of good cars for sale.
 

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Rust is your most important deal breaker.
If you are not able to do most of your own maintenance it is predictable that you will be spending...after all rhe S3 is 20+ years old, so if it has not been replaced recently...you will be doing it on your dime.
I Have a great 87 Quad, that's how I know, it is rust free. Leaving an S3 Spider outdoors does not sound practical to me.
Welcome...ciao for now.
 

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Alfa Spider for a first car, must be nice. My first car was like a 20 year old Monte Carlo for $800 that was painted with a brush. Good for you!

If you have other classic cars, you know what its about... anything can go at anytime. The more you do yourself the more you save. If you manage to get a car that has been well maintained, you might be good with $500-$1000 in upkeep per season.

As Elio said, a rust free car is the way to go but won't stay that way long if you can't find somewhere to park it out of the elements.

Good luck
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Well you don't say what your economic and wrenching levels are. But if you're like most folks when buying a first car, buy the Miata. It'll be cheaper to maintain, more reliable, fun to drive, and you won't have to feel bad about leaving it out on the street.

Learn to wrench on it. Buy the classic car when you have your own garage, money to cover unscheduled surprises, and the ability to go without it for a week or two if something serious breaks.
 

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Gubi, good point about be able to go a week or two if something serious breaks. With a Miata you can always go to the dealer and they will have immediate know how and either have parts in stock or can get them over night. With a Spider, you can go several days just trying to figure out which parts to try and start replacing, then whatever time it takes to get them. Not trying to discourage, but I'm thinking of the guy with the car that won't run and has tried everything including sending his computer for testing (twice).
 

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If:

you don't absolutely need it for daily transportation,

you have understanding parents (could be - 2 other classic cars in the garage),

Have the ability to do or learn to do a lot of the basic service (lots of knowledge and support here on the BB),

Have some $$ in reserve - even the Miata will soon need something.


Go for it, you will only be this young and have as few responsibilities for a short while in your life.

By maintenance do you mean maintenance or maintenance and repairs?
 

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Looks like you're getting good advise here. Welcome to the board. If you're like most of us, you'll buy an Alfa. It will give you some problems and you'll sell it. Then you'll regret selling it.

I have an old boss who told me he owned a Guilietta Spider when he was in college. He's retired now and I was over at his house a while back, in my 164S, and we were talking Alfa and he told me his old Giulietta had no reverse gear and the starter kept going out. He had to always park facing out and downhill or had to get folks to push him off. He said it was the worst car he ever owned. Then his wife said "And you miss that car." "Every single day" he said.

Alfas are like that. They get in your blood.

By the way here, your screen name, does it come from:

???
I rode this train from Marfa to Valentine, TX back in the 80's. It was making west coast to New Orleans and back run for some expo in NO and couldn't pass a chance to catch a ride.
 

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Welcome,

I think you could buy a well sorted spider for that money. Taking the time to find the right one would be a good move.

I think, it would be a good car for running around town, staying close to home, using to go to school locally, and all that. If you have friends that can come get you when you break down and that you can bum rides off of, then it would probably work out ok for you if you can afford to have it fixed. There are several S3's out there and they arent that colletible. They arent that safe either, if your driving skills are questionable, then look for an automatic to start with, and that rules out an S3 Spider.

If you are looking for a car to take away to school, I wouldnt recommend it. In fact, I bought my spider from a college kid whose parents sent him the spider from their collection to drive while at school. He was overwellmed with the maintenance and said he was going to buy a used honda with the money i paid him.

Let us know what you buy, good luck.
 

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My vote: buy a $3500, 2001 Honda 5-speed or comparable with over 100K that was pampered by the original owner, maintained, garaged, etc. You'll be able to drive your friends around, have places to throw your stuff, and you'll have heat, air conditioning, etc. It will be safe, reliable transportation and you can thrash through the gears and park it anywhere and not give a crap what happens to it.

THEN, keep your eye out for a fun project Spider to work on - something decent, with good paint, no major rust, perhaps needs a top and new seat covers, and just some basic mechanical TLC: motor mounts, oil change, new radio, tires. $2500 total.

This way, you can have a fun car to fiddle with, and a car that you can run to the parts store in.
 

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My first car was a hand me down 85 Cavalier Type-10, mostly in Primer.. I would of LOVED a Spider for my first car!! Skip the Miata, Spider all the way!!! I do agree with a few of the other members, leaving it outside through harsh weather and winters will eat these cars away.
 

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What part of Pennsylvania? Philly and Erie are very different driving conditions in winter.... How do they handle the snow there? If you're parking on the street or in the drive and you get considerable plow -build-up, the low clearance of a Spider can be a pain. Additionally, how long have you been driving? Neither a Miata nor a Spider is the easiest car in which to learn to drive on the snow/ice. They do fine but you'll want a light hand on the wheel and the brakes as that lovely weight distribution and rwd without abs or traction control make slides and spins more probable in bad conditions. Finally, to state the obvious, convertibles are cold in the winter, and you have to be careful clearing the snow off the rear (crackable, scratchable) window.

When shopping for a Spider, remember that any 20 year-old car will have needs and desires, and Italian mistresses are particularly demanding about attention. So, start out with a car that needs as little as possible and don't delude yourself into thinking that you are going to replace the clutch et al in the garage in January by yourself. You're going to have some money in reserve after buying the car and buying insurance and you'll end up at your mechanics for -something- unexpected. That's just the way life goes, so, don't go into this expecting to just get in and drive away everytime, every day like you would with a Lexus.

Next, you're going to learn an ugly truth about girls and convertibles. Girls (generally speaking, of course) love convertibles -conceptually-. However, girls don't like to be cold or too hot, like to have their hair all messed up, wear baseball caps to protect their hair, wear knit caps to protect their hair, and will never, ever, wear a scarf on their hair. On any day where these conditions don't apply you can put the top down and she'll enjoy it.

So, go into this with your eyes open. Love is a madness, part pleasure but part pain too. It won't be what you expect no matter what you're expecting and it will cost you way more than you plan. I'm tempted to say that a Miata might be a better first car choice but since I have a Spider (at the shop, fixing something I couldn't do myself) I understand why you want one. These cars are special.
 

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From a Miata forum site.

Zoomer195313th June 2004, 12:47

I am a 50 year old male Miata owner. Last night, while at a social gathering, the topic of cars came up. I mentioned that I was an owner of a new Miata. This women who I had just met, burst out with "that's a girls car"! I was a bit taken aback by that comment having never thought about it one way or the other. The best comeback I could muster was "Well maybe with the automatic transmission". Her comment ate at me all night, hence this post.
What are the demographics of Miata ownership? Does anyone have anything to share on this topic?
 

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Aldo, you are right. I've looked at Miata's in the past and thought the same thing, and never thought to mention it.

Lokki, why don't you tell us what you really think! Reading your post makes me want to sell my Spider. But you too couldn't be more right.
 

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Guys who only think they're car guys say the Miata is a chick car. Real car guys know how good the Miata really is.

Anyway, every time these threads come up it's always the same thing: it reads like a bunch of old guys trying to relive their misspent youth. "Man, having an old Alfa in high school/college would've been AWESOME!". They forget the bit about having to choose between that new alternator or eating for a week :D

There's a reason we didn't all own 25 year old Italian cars when we were 18 - for most people it would've been Bad Idea Jeans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Spider as First Car

Thanks for your advice. I'm still undecided as to which car to choose, but you insight has been very helpful. I make a passive income of around $300 from a few websites that I own, so that should take care of insurance and some of the maintenance, and I plan on getting a job this summer. Does anyone know how the safety of the spider compares to that of the Miata?
 

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BUY an S3 !!!
I bought my 1990 S3 14 months ago and love it. It's a west coast car and spent its last 5 years in a NJ garage out of the element. Totally mint condition. S3's are very dependable and I drive it every week, especially with the winter we are having. You should be able to get a real nice one with your budget. You'll be happy with it, and you can always get a car cover to use.
Go for it !!
 

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Being that this will be you first car as you say, I assume you want to rely on it for transportation in addition to it looking cool. If that is the case - and I must assume you are not Mr/Ms money bags, this should be at least car #2. Spiders are good looking and incredibly fun to drive, but you really need to be a mechanic and enjoy it if you are going to be friends with the Alfa you speak of. I have had one for 10+ years, Porsche, Austin H., Triumph before and definately have one hand shaped as a spanner. Admire it and get one when it doesn't trash your personal life.
 
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