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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #1
I picked up a 1981 Spider Veloce a few days ago for really, really cheap, and this will be my thread of going through it with a fine toothed comb until I figure out why it was so cheap, or declare it good. We will see what happens.

I made an intro thread over here

I am new to Alfas, but have been wrenching on cars almost my whole life, so not shy around tools. Going to start taking as little apart as possible and work my way inwards.

The good and the working:
It runs and drives! Drove the mile from the sellers house to mine (Did I meantion it just popped up at the end of a driveway down the road on saturday?)
Trans seems to shift fine, clutch is good.
Power windows work
brake lights work
blinkers and hazards work
blower fan works
the red rocker switch next to the window switches lights up (Don't know what it does, but it lights up).
Shocks seem good
it's all one color
newish roof
decent tires
nice interior with only minimal cracking of the dash.
It's all one color
The wipers try really, really hard. They are doing their best.

Now to start the bad....
zero dash/interior lights.
I think the only "working" gauge is the OPG, and that seems to just do what it wants.
??? miles, 6 digit odo says 83k, title from when the PO bought it 12 years ago says 98k. I am betting 120-140k
wireing is a mess (not a surprise for an old alfa)
Needs fuel lines....
The worst repaint I have ever seen. There is overspray everywhere.
rust? (question mark because I expect rust. I am fairly sure the rockers are gone and covered over).
Really shoddy body work and bondo (again, not unexpected)
The fuel in the tank smells like it is only a few months from being varnish. Going to need to get that out....
lots of oil on the bottom (again, not a surprise at all).
Very loud tapping noise that comes and goes while it is running. Doesn't sound heavy enough to be a rod bearing, sounds top end. Valve? Chain? Don't know yet. Don't think it's an exhaust leak, but it might be.


The plan:
Go over everything with a fine tooth comb. Make sure it's safeish and solid enough to drive. Fix the wiring (hoo boy), check the engine health and go from there. I have a mechanical oil pressure tester on the way, need to find a spot to hook it to.

Anyway, onto the inspection. This is mostly going to be a place for me to depoist my ramblings, musings, and pictures for future perusing.

So! First, a general overview. I havn't cleaned it or anything yet (also, ignore the messy garage, I have been busy...)

It presents very well. A fine 20ft car.

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Going over the trunk. Trunk lid looks good, slight rust starting in a few spots, but no major dents/repairs I can see. It is bowed though on the one side.

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into the trunk, carpet needs a good cleaning, padding doesn't look too bad?

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Hey! It has it's jack. Also, paint over spray...

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The parts of the rear quarters I can see don't look too bad. No obvious body work on them. Hmm.. what is that weld....

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #2
Looks like the rear of the trunk was replace. Shoddy welding

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Shoddy fuel pump wiring. Tank looks a bit rusty? You can smell fuel back here, really bad if it has been running

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #3
Some rust at the front corners of the trunk starting. Not too bad.

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I think it may be time to replace the spare.... (was not expecting a 5th rim!)

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Starting to look at the body work. Definetly some bondo in there.

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Those body lines are going to need some work.

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #4
Door jambs are far better than I expected. Definetly some repair going on in the rocker areas though.

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Bottoms of the doors are far, far better than I expected.

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Hood looks surprisingly good.

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Maaaybe some repair to the nose? can't quite tell?

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #5
Fenders and cowl look good from above. Will have to get further inside and see though sometime.

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Some hoses replaced and obviously at least one connector missing from the SPICA pump thing. And more overspray...

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Far side of engine bay looks good

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Lots of crud in around the spark plugs (this was after vacuuming). Also, that looks like a sensor that is not connected? Oil cap is leaking, valve cover gasket, surprisingly, looks good?

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Plugs are saying rich, look like they have been in there a while. #3 needed some PB Blaster to come out smooth (it tightned up, I threaded it back in and let it soak for a bit. Don't want to strip any thread. It came out clean after).

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Shoved a bore scope down inside, 1, 3 and 4, all looked good. Maybe a little cross hatching? Do they hone these? #2 had some liquid in it. Looks like oil. I am thinking valve stem seal is why it is there? Hopefully?

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#2

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #6
I moved back to the interior to locate the fuel pump fuse and have a poke arround.

This is how the gauges read with the key on, not running...

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Still trying to figure out what that little joystick does (mirrors?) Also, the red switch on the left in the picture below. SHould probably read through the owners manual.

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Ahhh, wire taps.... Also a button? Any ideas? It doesn't look stock.

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There is this pull thing? It slides in and out? No idea. Also doesn;t look stock.

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Ah, good old aluminum fuse.... I am going to assume that means the cat temp sensor system is toast at this point.

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"No major oil leaks" Uhhu, sure, and I have a bridge to sell...

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Anyway, I finished off with a cold compression test. I know it's not good for much, but I want to change the oil, plugs, get some fresh fuel in it, and hook up the oil pressure gauge before I run it any more. I will try getting it in the air and change the oil in the next few days.

numbers were fairly even 1, 3, and 4. #2 was higher, but thats probably because it was wet. I am betting they all even out with a warm test. (Yes I held the throttle open.)

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That's where I left off. I will keep this thread updated as I work through more things.
 

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I would be inclined to check the rockers first as that's (looking at the pics) where a lot of your expenditure will be and will be the decider if you want to carry on or not, it'd be nice to see another Alfa rescued, good luck with your project whatever you decide
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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The left red switch and the button are not stock. The silver knurled thing under the dash is the odometer reset: push and turn.

On the dash lights, check the rheostat, might be turned down or bad. It should have three terminals, you can bypass it by connecting the two wires that are not black.
 

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #9
I know the rockers are bad. The outer painted one is rivited on on the bottom on the driver side and the front driver side jack point is missing a good chunk. That said, I plan to keep it out of the rain and definitely not drive it in the salt, so it shouldn't get any worse with any speed. I am not to worried about expense there, sheet metal and welding wire is cheap.

Also, I just realized I never quantified what cheap was. This was a $500 car, I can put a lot into it before expenses get out of hand.
 

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #10
The left red switch and the button are not stock. The silver knurled thing under the dash is the odometer reset: push and turn.

On the dash lights, check the rheostat, might be turned down or bad. It should have three terminals, you can bypass it by connecting the two wires that are not black.
I figured the red switch and the button weren't stock. Good to have that confirmed. I would have never figured out what that silver knob was.

I tried the rheostat in both directions and the headlight stalk in all it's positions and no dice on the dash lights.
 

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what part?
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where are you located? on some of the surface rust. make this past up,, just flour and vinegar.. clean the rust bast you can,, use the past, let it sit for a day, rinse off, dry and primer it then paint it,,, remove the spare tire, clean the tire well to all the junk that is in there,, clean..any rust? if yes do the above,,( surface rust ) again clean really well primer and paint.. let cure for a week, then get some rubber blocks 1 inch wide x 1 inch tall x 4 inch long.. use some contact cement on the long axis on the rubber ( oh yes you will need 4 of them )glue these in at 90 degrees to each other,, this will keep the spare tire off the the floor( steel ) and let air flow around the area= less chance of rust coing back.. ask me question, or any of us, we will try to help you with your new affliction
 

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You have a single throttle body Spica system. Spiderserie4 gave it the Italian name!

Performance is hampered by the single throttle body, smog parts and the Spica system - adjusted for lower emissions = lean burning.

You can still have a lot of fun with the car. The parts are worth more than what you paid, so you're in good shape!
 

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".... #3 needed some PB Blaster to come out smooth (it tightned up, I threaded it back in and let it soak for a bit. Don't want to strip any thread. It came out clean after)."

that was clever...just saved yourself a helicoil job!
:)
 

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1981 Alfa Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter #16
Bianchi2, I am up in the salt belt in Northwest NJ and this car has lived in NY/NJ it's whole life. Hence the surprise at how little rust it has so far. I know there is a good bit, but for the price and age, the fact it even has floor pans is amazing. It didn't make it into the pictures, but I am currently patching up a rusty 1999 Miata in the other bay in the garage.

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How did I miss posting a picture of the spare tire well? I checked that all out and it is mostly solid. I am going to get some bettwr pictures when I get time to get this up in the air (four of my jack stands are under the Miata, so I need to get get get another pair... For now, the Alfa needs to stay mobile so I can move it in and out of the garage at least. Only one non movable car at a time!)

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I will reply to the other posts in a bit! Posting on a phone is a bit clunky.
 

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Looks like your passenger side frame rail going up along the firewall looks to be badly patched. Maybe stick an ice pick and screw driver in there to see if it is full of filler before you go to crazy on your car.Hope you put a shop vac down in the spark plug area before you pulled those plugs to keep the debris from falling into the cylinders.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
PSk and zedsn: That area is one I am going yo be taking a much closer look at when I get this thing up off the ground. It looks like some plate steel and ruberized undercoating to me.

Spiderserie4 and autobroker: Yes, I have been doing some reading and it is definetly an emissions choked single throttke body setup. We will see what I decide to do with it. I have been playing with programable EFI systems on Miatas for a few years now, so I may make an adapter or get a later k-jet intake manifold and pop in a progamable efi system. It is going to depend a lot on the condition of the SPICA pump. Anything I take off will be packed away safely and kept with the car and all mods will be set up to be easilly reversable if I do any.

I expect any car of this time period in the US to be choked by emissions stuff.

As far as parts, that's the reason I grabbed it. It even has a roof that's only a few years old. It is worth far, far more than I paid for in parts alone so that make it a "buy first, ask questions later" type thing.

On the PB Blaster, I have been working on cars abd other things for over 25 years at this point ("helped" my dad replace a fuel pump in in his '83 Golf when I was 2) so I have learned what threads feel like before they strip. Though this head looks far easier to helicoil than and of the other aluminum head cars I have worked with (subaru, honda, mazda).
 

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Don't go too crazy on this car. In my opinion unless they are real nice cars they are not worth much. I hope to pick up a pair sometime this week for $1850. A 74 and 78 and both were converted to carbs at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Good to know. I never expect to get what I put into a car back out of it. The plan for this winter is triage and then wait until spring on this, since I need to get that NB Miata back together and on the road again.
 
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