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Discussion Starter #1
Thinking of picking up an 81 spider in excellent condition, very low miles, one owner, etc... But the whole Spica issue is lurking in the back of my mind. Since replacement pumps are very hard to rebuild or find at this juncture, should I choose another vehicle with Bosch L or Montronic injection? Does anyone have anthing positive to say about Spica? Very few 81 models were even brought into the states, never mind that it was the last year that spica was used. I am looking for trouble later on down the road, or do I have a chance that this unit will hold up if it's continued to be maintained? The car has about 20K original miles, so I'm wondering if it's going to fail due to lack of use and the drying out of all rubber fittings, etc... ?

Are the 81's the least desireable of all spiders? I'd love a 94 late model, but they're pretty rare these days.
 

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if the car is in excellent condition then the SPICA should not give you any trouble. If the SPICA needs replacing, contact Wes Ingram of Ingram engineering and a re-built pump can be had for not too much money.

The real question should be in the overall condition of the car and if it suits your wants/needs. I say seek and buy your MOST desirable model and enjoy it to the fullest.
 

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Strack,

Your understanding of the SPICA is very outdated. Ingram Enterprises will rebuild your unit, or take it in for an exchange. They have been working on the SPICA system for several decades, and their rebuilds are better than when these were new, as they have worked out every potential failure and replaced it with material that will hold up pretty much forever. They also build very nice performance units. Do spend some time perusing through their web site, and also reading here on the BB. Start with the "stickys" and note that John Stewart (Roadtrip) is a heavy contributor to this Board.

I would also encourage you to search for threads that provide comments about the different Spiders for potential owners. Yes, the '81 Spider, in stock form is the most "de-tuned" model, since it's SPICA was purposely set-up with the monofarfalla to deliver less fuel. (We've come a long way since the days when emissions were a huge hurdle, and the way to jump over it was to deliver less gas into the combustion chamber.) The '81 does have a reputation for being the slowest, based on it's stock configuration, but the SPICA units are the same and the '81 SPICA can be set-up like in an earlier year. ('74 SPICA injected Spiders were the fastest in stock form, compared to any later car from '75 to '94.) I would never pass on an '81 Spider based solely on it's SPICA set-up.

As far as 1994 models, these were in fact left over '93 cars. Furthermore, to close out the traditional Spider line in an elegant manner, Alfa badged 200 of the Spiders to be sold in 1994 as Commemorative Editions.

Best regards,
 

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Although I agree with most of above comments. I'd ask you, where are you located? If you are in a restrictive smog-check area, altering the unique qualities of the 80-81 SPICA/engine set-up is not an option. The '81 has a more complex under the hood set-up from a maintenence perspective, compared to the earlier cars, without the gain in reliability of the later cars. So if you going to work on it yourself, more time and effort, if your mechanic does it, more $, and I'd think you'd have to find someone very knowledgable as it has certain unique subsystems. But it's still an ALFA Spider, if it really is only 20,000 miles, and bone dry rust free, that is a great thing. The 80-81 years are the least desirable (of a very desirable car), but if it is clean, solid and really original, not missing stuff, it would be worth considering. Stuff wears out, most any unrestored old cars will need freshening. Drive it, take it to a reliable specialist, get his/her opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks- glad to hear that there are a few options for improving both performance of the spica editions as well as their reliability. I've been a Fiat, MG, Triumph driver for years and just now getting into Alfa. Sort of saved the best for last.. Is IAP still one of the better resources for parts? Mot too many Alfa dealers left who want to stock parts or offer service....
 

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... I've been a Fiat, MG, Triumph driver for years and just now getting into Alfa. Sort of saved the best for last..
Yes, you did... I still own a 124 Sport Spider, and the British cars were my first love, but it only took one driving event (many years ago) to move me over to the Alfa camp...

... Is IAP still one of the better resources for parts? Mot too many Alfa dealers left who want to stock parts or offer service....
IAP is an excellent source for parts, but it is certainly not the only one. Just to name a few of the better known outfits, we have Centerline, Vicks, DiFatta, Alfa Parts Catalog, AR Ricambi, etc. This doesn't include the outfits in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, or Italy. Since Alfa never left those markets, they seem to carry pretty much everything. Have a look at the "Supplier List" sticky in the general forum "Anything About Alfa Romeos and AlfaBB.com".

Best regards,
 

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Did not notice anyone with an 81 in the replies. So here is one.

Been driving an 81 for a little over a year now and have yet to discover the down side of an 81. Mine has 76K miles and was well maintained. One with 20,000 miles or so sounds like a good find to me. The main thing is condition. If you don't want it because it is an 81, It's price is good and it's not far from southern Alabama, I'll Take It!!
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Tom- glad to hear that your enjoying your 81 spider. Has it been reliable? How's the Spica injection doing? What do you think an 81 is worth these days?
 

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Hi Tom- glad to hear that your enjoying your 81 spider. Has it been reliable? How's the Spica injection doing? What do you think an 81 is worth these days?
Stack, Mine has been very reliable. Spica? I have heard that they can be a problem but I have yet to have one. Worth? Well I'm not really one to say what one is worth. Last year I paid $5500 for mine and was told by some that it should have been more like $3500. Most people around here have never seen an Alfa and think I must have paid $15000 to $20000 for such a car. I am in a rural area. To me I would think a spider with 20K miles and was in the kind of condition to reflect the miles that it would be worth more than a current year Kia with the same miles on it. You should be able to get it for a lot less though and that should make you SMILE.
Have Fun,
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What engine oil have you been using? I hear that 10W/50 is no longer available and choosing the correct oil with proper zinc/phosphorus chemistry helps keep the engine running strong.
 

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We've owned our '81 for 4 years now. I had to have the clutch replaced. Well, I guess I had a little work down on the driver's door window mechanism. But never a problem with the engine or fuel delivery system.

As for it being the most "detuned," I wouldn't argue with that. But then again, for me a convertible is more about a "relaxed" top down driving experience.

If the rest of the car meets your expectations...don't worry about the SPICA.
 

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Spice is Fine

I've had a stock Spica for 38 years and only needed TA's, and only had to have Wes work it over recently after I let the car sit for a few years. Seems pretty bullet proof to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Glad to hear that Spica has held up for many owners. If you only had one injection problem in 38 years, that's an incredible track record for any type of system. Whatkind of oil are you running? Being in TX, you probably run a thicker oil than those living in colder climates? Is running anthing thinner than 10W/40 asking for trouble? I know Alfa's rev like no ones business, so they need plenty of oil pressure & lubrication.

Thanks all!!
 

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Spica & Oil

It was a CA car for 23 years and in TX for 15 now. I've always run Castrol 20/50 and changed the Spica oil filter every other oil change. I suspect the only reason it failed is that I let it sit for several years and the seals got bad but it would have probably given up the ghost anyway. I think I replaced about 5 TA's over that time. Wes turned it around quickly recently.
 

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... If you only had one injection problem in 38 years, that's an incredible track record for any type of system. Whatkind of oil are you running? ...
I know you didn't ask me, but since we're raving about the SPICA... The one in my '74 is original and totally unmolested. :) (Regardless, I will send it to Wes for his "performance" enhancement, when I begin the restoration of my '74. :D) And so as to not miss "part B" of this thread, I use Castrol Syntec 20W-50.

Best regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Zunige

Have you considered using Agip's 10W/60 motorcycle oil? It has zinc/phosphorus chemistry. The rep from Agip spoke highly of this oil as well as their 5W/40 synthetic which bmw uses for their extended service intervals.

Have you tried Mobil 1, 15W/50? I hear they reformulated it and it has the right chemistry for Alfa service.

I presently drive a 06 VW TDI (diesel)- and we are mandated to uses vw spec. 505.01 rated oil in order to keep the warranty in force. Our diesel injection pump ( Bosch Pumpe Duese) rides off the cam shaft, it has a very very high pressure rating and standard oil will not protect the cam unless it meets the 505.01 spec. I'm used to hunting down obscure products for unique applications, so this is par for the course.
 

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Zunige

Have you considered using Agip's 10W/60 motorcycle oil? It has zinc/phosphorus chemistry. The rep from Agip spoke highly of this oil as well as their 5W/40 synthetic which bmw uses for their extended service intervals.

Have you tried Mobil 1, 15W/50? I hear they reformulated it and it has the right chemistry for Alfa service.

I presently drive a 06 VW TDI (diesel)- and we are mandated to uses vw spec. 505.01 rated oil in order to keep the warranty in force. Our diesel injection pump ( Bosch Pumpe Duese) rides off the cam shaft, it has a very very high pressure rating and standard oil will not protect the cam unless it meets the 505.01 spec. I'm used to hunting down obscure products for unique applications, so this is par for the course.
Strack,

I'm probably not a very good source for an opinion on this subject, as it isn't one that I even do much reading on, but I will give my two cents' worth. Quite frankly, I believe that we have such a variety of good oils today that is hard to go wrong with any of the well known preferences. Yes, for breaking-in a re-built engine you do need to go with a traditional type, but after that, it seems like many preferences work. There are many knowledgeable people who use different types, and I have yet to hear from them that they've found any problems when they tore down an engine. There were issues reported when the Zinc additives were removed, but that has been corrected now, and certainly the problems of years ago, like sludge, just don't occur with modern oils.

I have used Mobil 1, and still like it, but I use Castrol Syntec 20W-50 today. My '84 Spider goes on the track once a year, and even then my mechanic, who does prepare and support track cars, has told me often that there is no need for me to worry. (My '84 was fitted with 10:1 compression pistons and 16k mi. later, it consumes no oil, and I do mean zero.) I have friends that use other brands in the racing variety on their street cars, and even with the lack of detergent additives, their engines are doing fine. For that reason, I haven't asked for Agip. The Alfa shop that I use in NJ does carry it, but I know it used more as a "cool factor", rather than as an oil with a tangible advantage over other good lubricants. I'm convinced that for our older cars the more important factor is to change the oil by the recommended intervals, rather than which of the several types are actually used.

Best regards,
 

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Agreed, not looking to buy more than I need or overpay for trendy products. I like the idea of buying off the retail shelf lubricants when possible. MY VW TDI has forced me into another arena in making sure that it meets VW 505.01 specs. Very few manufacturers make this oil, never mind take the time to have it approved in VW's labs. I'm used to sourcing odd spec products- glad to hear that old Alfa's can use newer synthetic motor oil.
 
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