1976 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 25/10/2014

1976 Alfa

This car had been advertised on kijiji, and though it wasn’t within my preferred year range (1971 – 1974) I thought it would still be worth a look. It was about an hour’s drive from where I live. The car was parked in the driveway when I pulled around the corner, and looked very good indeed. However, when I parked my Golf and walked up the other side of the car I saw some pretty nasty rear bumper damage. A closer inspection revealed paint bubbling in the rocker panels, and also some sort of “film” or “protectant” applied to the rockers which picked out the highlights differently and rather sub-divided the paint job. The rear bumper was obviously a concern, and the sketch isn’t an exaggeration, it really looked like it had been gnawed by a shark, and the plastic facet that stretched the length of the bumper in the centre was sagging and awry. Obviously this would need replacing. The interior looked good although the carpet and floor mats were worn and the gear shift knob was aftermarket and a little cheesy.

So, I knocked on the door and asked the fellow about his car. Apparently he and his father (a mechanic, I was informed) fixed the car up and did the bodywork and mechanics themselves. He noted that the bumper would need to be replaced… (really? 😉  ) but didn’t offer an explanation of the cause of the damage (and I didn’t pursue it). The rockers had apparently been replaced in 2011, so I was a bit surprised to see as much bubbling of the paint in that area. Sadly, when we opened the hood, I noted that the SPICA injection had been removed and replaced with dual carbs I didn’t recognize. So, off for the test drive. The convertible top of the car was new canvas, which was very nice, but the rear window had suffered and had a couple of hazy blemishes in the centre, exactly where the rear view mirror points. The car drove and shifted well (even in and out of second gear), but the brakes were shot – the owner suggested the master cylinder might be causing problems – either way, braking was seriously dodgy, so I drove the car exceedingly gingerly, and never really got a real sense of the power delivery (which seemed smooth) or the handling. The car tracked well though and the steering was solid and predictable without play in the wheel. During the drive the owner let slip that he’d thought of putting on the preferred (to me) chrome bumpers, but had found them very difficult to find, and too expensive ($2,500) when he did.

I actually liked the colour – second Alfa I’ve seen and they’ve both been this colour – btw – apparently it’s not “silver” but “metallic grey”. This Alfa had “turbina” wheels – and I do like the look of them, but I wondered how many toothbrushes I would go through in a season cleaning those… “shudder”.

The owner was asking $11,000 for the car and I told him that I’d think about it. In reality, I had already made my decision. The bubbling paint was a concern to me, and as I’ve suggested, I wasn’t bonkers about the extra paint protection on the rockers and lower wings – also, there was some “softness” under the rockers behind the front wheels which seemed like bad news. The engine ran well, but the brakes were of course, a concern but, probably, not a hugely expensive one. Between the standard carb, the incipient bodywork issues, the brakes and the shark-attack bumper, I was already thinking about what car I’d like to view next.

Value for Money: 4/10 – Too much needs to be done here for this to be worth that particular ask, imho.
Driving Impression: 6/10 – I did enjoy driving this, but the brakes were a serious problem which compromised the driving impression.
Body: 4/10: I include the bumpers in the “body”, and between the rockers, the underside and the body, this needed work. 
Engine: 7/10: Seemed good. Disappointed about the carbs though. 
Handling: 7/10 – Good, but not fully explored. 

Again, Evelyn wasn’t here for this one so she won’t be submitting rankings.

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