1976 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 21/03/2015

1976 Alfa white

I didn’t actually expect to like this car. I’d seen photographs of “bits” of it, and those looked good, but in general, this was not the car I was looking for – why? Well, first it was a 1976 with all that that entails – heavy bumpers, emissions equipment – and – well – it was “white”. I know you’re not supposed to buy a car based upon it’s colour, but I didn’t think the white served the shape of a Spider all that well…

So I walked into this blokes garage looking to see what I could get out of the 1972 Spider but was continuously distracted by this understated beauty sitting just behind (and below  – it wasn’t on a hoist) the ’72. It would be an exaggeration to describe it as “perfect” but it wasn’t far off. This car was pristine, in all the ways that the bloke trying to sell the first TR6 (see 1971 TR6, Viewed 28/09/2104) I looked at would have wished his car was. The seller had described this car to me as a “cream puff” and I was finding it hard to disagree, as my glance darted from my “preferred 1972 to the “less desirable” 1976.

There is too much GOOD about this car to describe it in detail – the best thing I can do is to start with its imperfections; the paint wasn’t perfect. There – I’ve said it. The paint had some chips, evidence of the removal of an unattractive trim piece on the detail line above the rocker panel, and the odd spot where there was the suggestion of a little bodywork beneath the paint – bit very little. The interior was astonishing –  – really – there’s no other word for it – and according to the seller, original. There’s an original Blaupunkt AM/AM/FM/FM/FM radio, and – hold your breath – even the original cigarette lighter.

I’m gonna buy a cigar. 😉

The engine bay was – well – pristine. SPICA injection there, all the emission crap (ooops – stuff) removed, and looked,on the whole, to be about 2 years old – the only thing that wasn’t “stand out” “shiny” perfection was the head that was VERY slightly mottled. Otherwise, this was beautiful. I’m a little ashamed to say that I brushed my fingers across the head to feel for heat – none (more on that later).

The interior? Wow. The interior was “oxblood” (the seller informs me this is actually called, I think, “Amaranth”) and this included the seats and the door cards – but the top strip of the door cards and the dash (of course) were black. The dash was original but had a tiny (about 1cm) tear in it  – and this is from the front of one of the vents  -so if it continues it will tap out at the windshield – far preferable to the other way around. I don’t know how else to describe the interior than “pristine”.

The boot was beautiful too. paint was near perfect. I did not remove the spare tire, but I will, to check for rot (there will be none). The original and complete tool kit is still mounted to the rear wall, as is the original (and rarely used by the look of it) jack. The car sported period correct Compagnolo wheels (a tad worse for wear) and of course the dreaded  “American Appeasement” bumpers. By this time, I was finding it hard to see anything but beauty in this car, though. Remember the Alfa of the same vintage from 25/10/2014? It had the same bumpers but I couldn’t stand them – why? because they were delaminating, and looked like “JAWS” had had a go at the right rear driver’s side. These were – like the rest of the car, pristine. I don’t look at them and think “hey – these are WAY better than the 1974 versions” – but, viewing them in situ, these looked damned good.

The underside – well – simply, it was as good, or better than the rest- solid metal and no deterioration. The seller (or a previous owner) had added an oil pan protector, but again, this was perfect – no rust, no deterioration-  the same could be said of the parts behind it. A squat beneath the rear end revealed equally clean components.

A test drive was impossible due to poor roads, salt, and slightly inhospitable weather, but the seller was happy to start the car for me nonetheless. He sat in the car, pulled the choke out a little and turned the key – and the engined purred into life. There was no worrisome smoke from the dual ANZA tailpipe, the engine hummed away happily and when he stepped out of the car and grabbed the throttle mechanism in the engine bay, it happily growled to about 6000 rpm.

I started this visit “wanting” to dislike this car – but instead found myself somewhat besotted by it. It’s not just that it’s in brilliant shape (one could argue that this is almost a disincentive in a 1976) it’s that the car is “quirky”. White is not a colour I thought would look “good” on an Alfa – it does (especially with the oxblood [amaranth?] interior). The rubber bumpers? Can’t stand them. Well. I could put up with them. Well – they’re really not that bad. The seller tells me I can de-gas the shocks to move the rear bumper in a bit – but – why bother?

This car is largely stock, and it is a beauty. The seller is asking – wait for it – $11,900.

Value for money: 10/10 – This is NOT a desirable 71 – 74 Spider, but this one has no emissions rubbish and the bumpers could (should I wish) be replaced. The price is right and appropriate, as far as I can discern.
Driving Impression: TBD – I’m setting up a date to test drive this. More to follow. 
Body: 9/10 – looks great – a couple of paint issues.
Engine (Speculative): 9/10 -started cold with no smoke, revved well, and ran like a top – but I do want to feel how it pulls on the road – TBD
Handling: TBD

I’m seriously interested in this car. Evelyn and I are going to head up to take a test drive as soon as the weather permits. I expect a couple of other test drives before this, as the seller is a busy man – but I can’t wait… 🙂

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2 thoughts on “1976 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 21/03/2015”

    1. Fingers crossed! Could still take a while – it took me over 2 months to arrange the first viewing… but I’m hoping the test drive will be arranged more quickly – the weather is starting to get nice here… 🙂

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