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Alfa Spider

Alfa Spider Published: 8th May 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Alfa Spider
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£3000-£40,000+ - Long production run - Modern make up - Still good to drive - Models to suit all budgets

Spider was unique in its prime, not only because of the styling, but also because, whilst most competitors only sported a four-speed ’box, primitive side windows, elementary carburettors and steam age engines, the little Alfa came with a spec decades ahead of its time. Today, top models now sell for big money, but, having said that, some good bargains are still around, thanks to this classic surviving into the 1990s, so you don’t need to be Dustin Hoffman to be a Romeo in an Alfa Spider!

Driving

Compared to the antiquated MGB and Triumph TRs, this Alfa Romeo was simply streets ahead and, thanks to its modern make up, still feels surprisingly modern. By today’s standards, Spiders aren’t particularly quick; even the top fuel injected 2-litre car kicks out a paltry 133bhp (with a 0-60mph in just under ten seconds), while the 1750 is only slightly slower (albeit a lot sweeter).

Spiders are a lot more cultured than a TR or MG and are all about character, but with that comes typical Latin foibles. In terms of fun, the early cars are best; later (mostly LHD US cars) may boast the same recipe, but they lose the taste. Try one first, though, as the S4 with standard power steering may be beneficial for some, even if it loses out on precision to the earlier set ups. In the same vein, S3 and S4 RHD converted cars aren’t done too well according to some experts.

Best models

In terms of ‘collectability’, original ‘osso di seppia’ (cuttlefish bone) Duetto is way ahead, with the 1779cc Spider Veloce (known as 1750) the best of all. Only 6325 Duetto versions were produced before the end of 1967, making this particular model highly valuable indeed. Later, truncated tail (coda tronca) variants, are more plentiful and are better cars in general, although in terms of style the earlier car shades it, according to the majority. All credit to Alfa for producing the Spider for almost 30 years and keeping it updated as and when, but the S3 and S4 are lesser cars to drive, plus the subtle styling was sullied in the 1980s care of plastic bumpers and body kitting; Pininfarina penned the last version of the original Alfa Spider in 1990 and got rid of unsightly spoilers and fussy design, hailing a return to simpler, better integrated, chic lines. Power steering, fuel injection and three-speed autoboxes (for the United States market) were among the goodies lavished upon the restyled car, which was now only available in 1.6 and 2.0 guises.

Values

Prices have soared of late, essentially on the S1 and S2 Spiders where over £40,000 for an early model is often touted, which is around double what is asked for the S2, which is now considered the best buy. It’s a bit of paradox; S3 and S4s are, in the opinion of Alfa experts, the best made and use the best metal, yet are worth significantly less, again half the price of the S2s. Cheapest of all are the S3s, at ten grand maximium but they are also the hardest to sell on.

Buying advice

Look beyond the gloss as there are many nice looking cars out there which aren’t as good as they first look. If given a choice, always buy a car with a good body – the oily bits can be far more easily sorted. Beware of US cars; on the one hand these may be free from rot, but the interiors don’t fare as well in the hot sun. Worse still, they feature detuned engines and softer suspensions. It’s reckoned that S2 cars are best served for parts; boat-tailed cars the least with some panels virtually extinct.

Biggest rust concerns are the front crossmember and the double-skinned sills, A pillars, inner wings, bulkheads, front anti roll bar location points and similar at the rear. The twin cam is well known. Oil pressure gauges can drop to zero at idling but it’s nothing to fret about. The 1750 is the sweetest and the 2000 the fastest, but the latter unit can suffer from head and head gasket woes. Fuel injected Alfas used Bosch or the earlier Spica systems, which can be unreliable. Don’t fret if you can’t select second from cold – it’s an old Alfa/Ferrari trait… Tired springs are common but a nose-down stance could be due to body and chassis rot at the spring pans – check!



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