At $2,800, Is This Project 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider a ‘Fair’ Deal?
Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Alfa Romeo Spider is called the “Graduate” after the 1966 movie of the same name. Like that movie’s Alfa-driving mom-bedding protagonist, it isn’t working. Let’s see if it’s worth helping it matriculate to running status.
I was happy to offer you all some morning wood yesterday in the form of a 1972 Ford Pinto Woodie Wagon. As we discussed, that well-preserved and updated wagon was probably one of the nicest Pintos around. Unfortunately for the seller, “Nicest Pinto Around” isn’t a phrase that gets many people all that excited. At $14,500, our Woodie didn’t exactly wow. The result was a woeful 88 percent No Dice loss.
Owing to its infamy (makes explosion noises) Pinto production never made it very far out of the 1970s. Its engine, however, — the dependable “Pinto four” —lived on in various guises into this century.
Another engine with staying power is Alfa Romeo’s Bialbero (twin-camshaft) all-alloy four. Designed under the leadership of Alfa’s then Head of Engineering, Giuseppe Busso, the “Nord” debuted in 1954 and served as Alfa’s staple base for the next four decades.
Along the way, a two-liter edition of the engine was dropped into this 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate. It was a 1.6-liter version that powered the 1966 Alfa Duetto Spider driven (more appropriately, beaten-on) by Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film for which this edition is named.
This one is a little worse for wear and hence won’t be carving up any coastlines anytime soon. According to the seller, this non-runner is, at a minimum, in need of a fuel pump to get back on the road. Per the ad:
The engine coughs on starting fluid so it has spark but it doesn’t start up right now. I traced the problem to the fuel tank fuel pump so that needs to be replaced or fixed.
That’s probably not the only mechanical issue the car suffers. These are also notorious for poor synchros in the five-speed gearbox and electrical gremlins. Come on, though. It’s an Alfa.
The mechanical issues are matched by some structural and aesthetic problems. The top needs to be replaced due to a plastic back window that offers some undesirable flow-through ventilation. There’s also a good chunk of the spare tire well floor that’s gone missing due to rust. Rusted spare saucers are such a common problem on these cars that aftermarket parts are readily available and there are plenty of tutorials around for cutting out the old well and welding in the shiny new dish.
Aside from that score of 1:0 (rust to Alfa), the car is said to be solid, with no perforations in the floorboards or hard points. The paint is claimed to be ok, but in need of a polish, while the interior looks to be complete, if a bit grubby. The dash suffers some cracking and from being an ‘80s Alfa, which means it’s full of cheap plastics.
The title is clean and the car sports a modest 78,897 miles on the clock. Obviously, I’m using the term “modest” in the general sense and not in the Alfa Romeo sense since that’s a lot for any of the Italian maker’s older cars.
As one would expect of a non-runner, the car will need to be towed away, and that cost should be considered when thinking about what to offer to take over the title. The asking price is $2,800, and you’ll now have to start doing some math on what that, the tow, the fuel pump, the top, and the spare well might eventually all cost. Would that total still be less than the cost of buying a presently running and rust-free car?
What do you think? Is this Alfa project worth that kind of cash as it sits? And sits…? Or, despite the seller’s description, is the price and the car, far from fair?
Seattle, Washington, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Don R. for the hookup!
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