First published 1998 July
Buying a Spider or any Alfa Romeo! Part #1
me tell you once and for all, spares are no problem for your Alfa
Romeo. There are lots of vendors
and sources on the web. Try Google
for instance. The tricky part might instead be to find the Alfa
you are looking for.
When the first Spider, named the Duetto in
a competition, was launched at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, it
attracted a mixed reception. BTW, Alfa Romeo never launched the
Spider under this name, they only used Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider in the
official sales material. The name Duetto was abandoned by Alfa,
there was a biscuit! with the same name and Volvo had a delivery van
with a similar name, the Duett in the 60's. Many spectators felt
that the Pininfarina-designed body missed the mark. But everybody
agreed the new Alfa drove delightfully. Its 1,6-liter alloy engine
and sharp handling were universally praised.
A year later in 1967, the Duetto became the
legendary 1750 Spider Veloce, when it was given the 1779 cc
engine used in the GTV and, in 1968, it was joined by the identical
1,3 liter 1300 Spider Junior. Round-tailed rear end of early
Spiders considered by most to be the more desirable. Even with the
optional hardtop fitted, the car still retains its elegant lines. In
1970, both versions received a re-styled rump, the rounded
attractive round-tail being replaced by a sharply cut off Kamm-tail.
In 1971 the Spider got the sweet 2-liter Alfa
engine which it retains today. The name was now Spider 2000.
UK imports of the Spider ceased in 1977 while most production was
diverted to the insatiable American market, besotted with images of
Dustin Hoffman behind the wheel in The Graduate. However, in the UK
Bell & Colvill began to import Spiders from 1983 onwards,
converting cars to right-hand drive. As of July 1990, the Spider
once again was available direct from Alfa Romeo. The
Spider has been a classic hit for several years. The combination of
the syllables in "Alfa Romeo", coupled with the rarity of
any affordable open sports cars from this era, makes the Spider
In today's market, even the best of the early
Spiders and Duetto is unlikely to exceed £ 12 - 15.000, and
reasonable cars can be picked up for half that figure. But,
inevitably, there are pitfalls awaiting the aspiring Spider owner,
who must be certain not to be blinded by the undoubted charms of
this smooth Italian. As with most Alfas, the
biggest single enemy is rust. True, the Spider is not afflicted to
the same extent as the Alfetta or the Alfasud, but compared to other
metal-clad cars, the Spider is a body just itching dissolve. Alfas
need to be driven regularly since they do not deal well with
This picture of my Alfa Romeo
Duetto Spider was taken in Luca in Toscany, May 2007.
The problem stems from Alfa Romeo's rather feeble
attempts at rust prevention. Pininfarina assembled the bodies before
given a primer coat, so that areas unexposed to the spraying
machinery were left bare and unprotected. Keeping a Spider garaged
or car covered always pays off.. Just storing it outside and not
driven it will sooner or later cause rust, electrical problems etc.
Water pools and muck and everything, you know what I mean. . .
Trouble ahead if so! The best advice when
checking an Alfa is therefore; make sure that the bodywork is sound.
Go to the service-station and lift the car so you can examine it
from every angle. Mechanically, any problem can be sorted out fairly
simply, but a rotten body is a lousy project.
The bottom six inches of the bodywork should be
thoroughly checked. Often, small signs of corrosion on the outside
of the car might indicate serious trouble on inner panels. The inner
sills are structural on the Spider body, and corrode very badly. If
they are damaged, the remedial work is expensive, as the wings have
to be chopped and new pieces fabricated when the inner sills are
replaced. The cost of those might be high. Check here for panels
It is important to check all around the sill
areas. Do not forget the wheelarches, which sometimes are notorious
water-traps, the entire floor including the boot, plus the front
cross-member underneath the radiator. Watch out for patch-up jobs
using bridging pieces of metal to disguise more serious corrosion
elsewhere. Very poor Spiders can be made to look great cosmetically,
and fetch a high price on the strength of that. But still, it's the
underneath that counts. What may look like superficial rust bubbling
could mean that the inner section is badly corroded. Peeling back
the rubber mats at the door base can reveal a rotten inner sill
wall. Check seat runners, they can indicate a rotting floor too.
Another rust area is the front jacking point. If
this is gone, the crucial inner sill is also likely to be rusted.
Any plating preventing a look at the inner sill around the jacking
point is bad news. Lift the carpets to check the floor, inspect the
inner sills from the cockpit, and check the seat sliders for rust.
On Duetto and Spiders, the Round-tail rear tends
to be a vulnerable to attacks of the orange enemy, rust. Replacement
panels are available, but might make a big hole in your wallet.
Sometimes, the rear wings are close to impossible to find, but don't
give up. Try the vendors on the web.
Availability of spares is generally good. Alfa
Romeo still supports the Spider. The mechanical parts, engine,
gearbox, brakes etc. are no problem to find. There are lots of
companies on the web. Highwood
Motors have a good reputation among Alfisti. Some other
companies on the web that sell spares are listed
here. In addition, many parts can be obtained from specialists.
However, some parts are beginning to become difficult to fond, items
such as bumpers, lights and lenses and perhaps instruments. The
Spiders have Jaeger instruments and gauges. Here are some advice
about the speedometer and how to adjust it.
If you are looking for a Spider, than either plan to
restore it fairly promptly, buy one which has already been restored
and stock up some spare parts you're likely to need.
Buying a Spider part
If you have any comments or suggestions er
even questions, please send an E-mail,
If you have any comments, please send an E-mail