Think of purchasing a 1992 Alfa Romeo Spyder with +/- 20K miles. Does anyone have an opinion of this car and what types of maintenance problems might be encountered?
This would be a nice sports car to motor around in, but it will require a certain amount of TLC from its owner. There is nothing inherently wrong with the car, but it’ll be more maintenance-intensive than, say, a Toyota.
As long as you’re willing to get your hands dirty, and take proper care of the car, you shouldn’t have any maintenance “problems,” other than those of a 17 year old car that has not been driven much.
You’ll need the owner’s manual and a good service manual, and I would discuss this purchase with your mechanic before you take the plunge. You’ll want and need the help of a good mechanic, preferably someone with at least a passing knowledge of Italian cars. There’s probably someone in your area who works on older sports cars. Maybe you’ll be lucky and find an Alfa mechanic.
In addition, I suggest you visit some of the Alfa enthusiast sites on the Internet for more information about this particular model, and Alfas in general. Alfa owners are your best source of information, before and after the purchase.
Calculated Risk…your user name says it all.
Great car that’s different and classic. But a nightmare to own from what little I know of them. I will second mcparadise’s advice. I think you would have to be a pretty good DIY’er to own.
My wife’s English professor, who is NOT mechanically inclined, had one of those. It gave him constant and expensive problems, especially the very sophisticated engine. So I agree with the others, if you are patient and like machinery well enough to get your hands dirty this may be the car for you! Letting a garage do all the work may drain your bank account.
It’s a CALCULATED RISK!!
They’re typical Italian cars, sexy and tempermental.
I’d love one myself, but I need a real car that I can rely on daily.
Indeed, let that be a lesson: English professors should not own Italian sports cars.
You’ll want to find a great Alfa mechanic to give it a thorough going over. The basic design is 1966. Rust can be an issue, make sure to have that checked. A '92 with 20k might have problems from lack of use, with fluids in bad shape, find out about the upkeep. Have you driven one? You’ll want to compare it to a Miata, similar performance. But there’s something about an Italian car…
As an owner of an 87 Spider (not Spyder) I have to say that I have had very little trouble after sorting out a few issues. Trouble spots are the Head Gasket Orings that allow oil to get into the coolant. Shift slowly or double clutch into second gear on Manual Transmission cars. Rust is always a problem but the Series 4 Spiders bodies (1991 to 1994) had Galvanized steel.
Contrary to what Docnick said, the engine is just a simple Twin Cam Hemispherical Head using the Bosch Motronic Engine Management system and is very reliable . Other than the Air filter, all maintenance parts can be bought off shelf at any Auto Parts store. Other parts are only found a specialty shops like Centerline, International Auto Parts, Diffata Auto etc.
As mentioned before, a low mileage car may have issues with lack of use. Rubber parts deteriorate and fluids gum up. Take this into account if you decide to purchase the vehicle.
For more info, go to www.Alfabb.com.
This English professor had these problems in 1979, and at for time the engine was quite sophisticated.
Call your favorite auto supply store and ask for pricing and availability for some typical parts. Say a fuel pump, a clutch kit, a Bosch computer box and maybe a head gasket kit. If you can’t get Autozone to price the parts, try your local dealer. Oh, he went out of business when they quit importing Alfas in 1995.
Ask yourself why this car only has 20K miles. It’s probably because the former owner(s) could not keep it running for long periods of time.
Quoted from a Wikipedia article found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo :
Return to the United States
In 1995 Alfa Romeo ceased exporting cars to the United States, the last model to be sold being the 164. Rumors began of their return, however as the FAQ on Alfa’s English website had said “The long-awaited return of Alfa Romeo to the United States market should take place by 2007, with a range of new models.”
Alfa Romeo’s return to United States was confirmed on 5 May 2006 by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. It will begin in 2008, by selling the 8C Competizione. Alfa Romeo resumed sales in the United States with the 8C Competizione in October 2008. In late 2009, Alfa Romeo will release the 159, Brera, and Spider after they receive a mid-life styling and technical refreshening. It is anticipated that a year or two later will see the introduction of the Kamal SUV, 169, and possibly the B-segment Mi.To (as a competitor for the MINI Cooper). As with the 8C Competizione, Alfa Romeos will be initially sold at Maserati dealers throughout United States. Alfa Romeo and Chrysler are currently in discussions, with Alfa Romeo possibly using Chrysler manufacturing plants that have been shut down due to unneeded product.
Due to the global financial crisis of 2008, the full return of Alfa Romeo to the US market with the release of Alfa Romeo models other than the 8C Competizione will be delayed until 2011.
Personally I’d run from this car, and I own SEVERAL MGs.
It was not the Engine, but the Fuel Injection system. From 1969 to 1981 Alfa used in the United States a variation of a Diesel Mechanical Fuel Injection System, adapted to use Gasoline called Spica. (Pronounced Speaker with a Bostonian accent!)
The Spica was treated like a State secret by Alfa and could be troubling to keep in tune. The system was used due to the US Emmission standards. European cars, other than the semi exotic Alfa Montreal, used Carbs.
The engine design was actually from the 1930’s when Enzo Ferrari was Alfa’s racing team manager!
I had an Alfa Spyder several years ago and it was a fun car. I would, however, suggest a Miata – just as much fun and a lot less worries. Since you are asking your question on this forum, you are probably not a true gear head. You will be driving the Miata and fixing the Alfa. Now, a late 1960’s boat-tail Duetto – that’s a different story!