Tag Archives: Alfa Romeo

Fixes…

Tank Brake Master

Got the car back this past week. It has been a rather involved story – I dropped the car off in late August – later than I had wanted to get it looked after, but the guy I usually take it to was unavailable, and the new guy I had found was going on holiday. I took it in to get the brake master cylinder rebuilt (as it was leaking  – see drawing above – red arrow points to main leak) and to see if he could figure out what was going on with the fuel pressure. He rebuilt the master cylinder and told me that he’d have to replace the fuel pump – but that this was hard to source. I said I’d wait. He found a new pump – but – two things – the “new” (old actually) pump leaked, and it didn’t help the fuel pressure issue at all. So he looked at the filters again and found them full of crap  – so he opened the top of the tank – and – hey – presto! Rust. So – he phoned me – told me he was going to return the fuel pump (so no cost to me!) and that the tank needed to be removed and re-lined. I approved this and he told me it would take a week or two. It was closer to two, but I picked it up last Tuesday. While I was there he showed me another tank which had had the same thing done… they take the tank out, remove the circular plate in the middle of the tank, on top where all the gauge senders go in, and they sand blast it out. They drill a hole in the top back end of the tank (where I’ve indicated the plug) and I think (this is a guess) that this is where they spray the lining material in (which is a sort of epoxy) and I suspect they do a sort of “rotational moulding” distribution of the lining around the tank by hand – I did look in the tank and saw some very small “waves” in the set material which suggested this process.

My mechanic told me that this was a one time fix – that if this happened again, I’d need a new tank. Apparently, they are quite aggressive with the cleaning of the tank, and though there is a good solid epoxy type lining in there now, the metal won’t stand up to another blasting of this sort. The mechanic also, for a small fee, removed the steering wheel and re-set it so that the spokes lined up properly at “ten to two” instead of what it was previous – more like “13 minutes to almost two” if that’s even possible…

Oh – and he leaned out the SPICA injection as he thought it was running too rich. Finally, he told me that I shouldn’t rev the engine on start up (or even give it much gas to catch) as the SPICA injection is different than most other types of injection and that aggressive “gassing” at start up will flood the injection. Better to wait and allow it to catch “almost” on it’s own, apparently…

The long and short of it? I’ve driven the car below a half tank of fuel (where the fuel pressure light would inevitably come on) and have driven it close to 100 miles with no appearance of the dreaded orange fuel pressure light. I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders… 🙂

1972 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 21/03/2015

72 Alfa SpiderKVT

This is one of 2 cars I viewed today (both owned by the same seller). This is the one that initially attracted me – it’s exactly what I’m looking for in a Spider – the right year, SPICA injection, Carello headlamp covers, lovely shade of red.., The seller had warned me , however that the car was “rough”. Still the price it was on offer for was very good and I had thoughts of getting it restored “just so”.

When I arrived, I knew a test drive was out of the question, as the car was on a hoist. This did allow me a great view of the undercarriage, though. It was rough, but I’ve seen worse. The floors looked reasonably solid as did the attachment points, but the rockers were rough, with the driver’s side sporting a 12cm rent, and bubbling paint. The chrome wasn’t quite as clean as I would’ve hoped, and the paint had a slightly flat, faded appearance. None of this should have been a surprise to me as the seller had told me pretty much all of this before I arrived. He describes it as a mechanically sound car that would pass inspection and is fun to drive, but needs a lot of work in terms of the cosmetics and body. I was tempted before arriving, but actually seeing the car was an eye-opener…

Beyond the body and cosmetic issues, the car had originally been silver and this can be seen in the engine bay. The “matching interior” (for the silver) was a dark red that seemed a little like overkill with the red paint of the car. In my head, the dollar figures were beginning to increase at an alarming rate – Rotisserie paint job with consequent engine and interior removal, re-doing the seats and doorcards in a colour to match the red (black, I presume) bodywork… it was all beginning to look like a bit much for me.

I think for the right person – someone who has the workspace and the tools – this would be a brilliant car. It’s certainly an excellent starting point, and 1972 is one of THE years to have for this model. But given my circumstances, and according to my “rules” for this purchase, I should be looking for the best car I can afford – and though this one is tempting, I think it would be time consuming to get to the state I want it in, and probably more important, expensive to achieve, given that I don’t have a place to work on it myself and would have to contract the entire job out.

The asking price for this car is $4900, which I think is a fair ask – especially if you’re able to tinker with it as you go. I can’t. So;

Value for Money: 8/10 – A good deal, I think – but not for me.
Driving Impression: NA
Body: 5/10 – The body was rough but looked generally solid – it would need some metal replacement – but not all that much. Engine: 7/10 – NA – The seller claims it’s a “driver” and I tend to believe him, based upon our conversation and his other car (more on this to follow)
Handling: NA

So – this car, as much as I like it, and see promise in it, is not for me. The seller did have another car to show me though, and he’d already suggested that, given my circumstances (which I had told him about) this car might be more up my alley… I’ll post on this next one soonest.

1976 Alfa Romeo Spider, Viewed 01/19/2015 (kid in the candy store, part II)

76 DSpider

This 1976 Spider was sitting two cars over from the Duetto, and it’s the car I looked at first. If anything, it’s in even better nick than the Duetto. I looked all over and under it, and it appeared solid and very well maintained – not perfect – but not far off. It’s a New Hampshire car, so I looked very carefully for rust, but it’s been very well maintained. The previous owner had the pre-1974 chrome bumpers installed front and back, and had the interior adjusted to the same period. Sadly, he also put (wire) wheels on this – I parenthesize this because they’re not “real wires”, there’s a “rim” behind. All in all, it’s not a good look – though the salesman shared my opinion and said he could easily swap the panasports from the Duetto onto this (but could I do that to a Duetto?). Other than that everything here checked – good paint, great interior, solid footwells, solid spare tire holder, good underside… the only real issues I could find were that there was a small crack in the dash, between the air vent and the windshield – but it’s tiny at about 1cm, and is “tapped out”, with nowhere to go. The passenger side door doesn’t quite line up at the lower trailing edge, (about 5mm out) and the car has carbs (again), not Spica. This car does not have the headlamp covers that the Duetto does – too bad.

The interior is lovely – this feels a lot more “enclosed” and more like a “cockpit” than the Duetto. Everything is period correct except the radio and the shift knob. There are speakers on both sides of the rear deck that I’d probably want to remove so my dog could repose there, but again, the salesman said they’d be happy to adjust this to my requirements.

There’s not an awful lot to dislike here, but I am curious about the price. The salesman did tell me that the previous owner had spent a large sum of money fettling this and they had all the bills to prove it, but I’m still surprised that a well presented Duetto could be offered at the same price as this… makes me wonder if the Duetto is hiding anything and makes me wish I could test drive these both. Seriously tempted by both…

Will follow with sketches of some of the rare and interesting “not for sale stuff” at this dealership.

Alfa Romeo Duetto, Viewed 01/19/2015 (The kid in the candystore, Part 1)

Thomson_Duetto I’d seen a 1976 Spider (more on this one later) advertised at Hemmings, and I knew that it was in Toronto – but for various reasons, I was finding it hard to pin down. Last Saturday, Evelyn and I headed out to the general area and started looking. Sadly, the street on which we were searching was chock full of used car dealerships – but all were selling pretty recent stuff, and the only guy who seemed to click to the idea that an Alfa might be for sale nearby, tried to be helpful, but ultimately, wasn’t – unfortunately he was a chainsmoker and Evelyn was less than impressed when I returned to the car more odiferous than I had left. Anyway, we were searching up and down the road and I found a sideroad I could loop back on… and… there it was!!! It was rather inconspicuous from the road, so you really had to look to find it. But we spot it we did. Yay! I jumped out of the car and pressed my face to the glass. There were 3 Alfa Spiders glowing seductively inside, beside a 1962 Giulietta convertible, several Fiat Multiplas in absolutely prisitine condition, and – shock of shocks, an Autobianchi Bianchina – the first I’d ever seen this side of the pond (any good Italian car enthusiast from Woodbridge will know now the showroom of which I speak). Sadly, after circumnavigating the entire building, we had to accept that it was closed, and after leaving further nose prints and drool marks on the windows, returned home. I phoned early Monday and arranged an appointment to view the 1976 Spider, but on entering found a lovely Duetto, which I proceeded to ogle. The salesman informed me that the Duetto was on sale for exactly the same price as the 1976 Spider… oooooh. I wore a path between the two, but first I will describe the Duetto; I hadn’t expected to see this and wasn’t prepared for it. Regardless, it appears to be a 1967 or 1969 (have to check, wasn’t concentrating) Duetto. It sports panasport rims, which give the car a refreshing stance due to the slightly wider tyres required for such rims. The car was a lovely red (surprise, surprise) with black interior, and was in very good condition indeed. So much so that I can comment on the negatives in a paragraph or less; Paint was very good, but had notable “chipping” on the trailing edge of the driver’s side door. Interior was good but missing a couple of things  – the gas pedal needed a “footpad” (which the salesman said would be sorted). And… that’s about it. I didn’t get to test drive it as – even though Toronto was going through a brief balmy period (above zero!!!) there was no way I was going to request a drive of this on salty roads and I’m sure, in spite of his helpfulness and pleasantness, no way the salesman would have allowed it. Later. The car was in VERY good nick. My only real issue with it was the lack of SPICA injection – more on this later – it had dual webers, and the fact that the car sported the 1750 engine (I think, it could have been the earlier and smaller displacement too). Finally, the interior of the Duetto is not as slick as the Series 2 cars (which the “76” is) – much more basic. I’ll write about the 76 Spider tomorrow or Thursday. Again, given the fact that I didn’t get to drive this, I’m not going to post impressions – but what I can say is that this showroom was very impressive. Some of the cars were concourse (and many “not for sale”), and the cars that were for sale appeared well sorted, well presented, and if not “perfect”, not far off. The showroom reminded me of the maxim: “buy the very best car you can afford”. Both the Duetto and the Spider (to be featured next) are available for Cdn $24,000, negotiable. The high end of my budget (and more than I hope to spend), but immensely tempting nonetheless. I’ll post some drawings of some of the other lovely cars displayed here later – even though many (like the Autobinachi) are not for sale. An amazing find. These cars are so impressive that Evelyn is interested in in arranging to see them after having had to view them through the condensation that my heavy breathing created on the showroom windows….

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.