1978 Alfa Romeo: Grandpa’s Graduate

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It’s hard to admit, but we all get older every day. And for those of us with project cars, having a plan in place for how they’ll be cared for in our later years might be worth thinking about. The elderly owner of this 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider here on eBay parked the car in his garage in the late ’90s, where it’s been gathering dust ever since.

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A few months ago, I spotted a Spider in the local pick-and-pull. I was struck by how beautiful the interior was, even in its dilapidated state. From the extra gauges to the three-spoke steering wheel, it all still looked positively sporting. This car isn’t perfect, but the interior looks reasonably solid. A cleaning will definitely be in order for the next owner, along with making sure the fuel gauge works so you don’t end up like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.

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I actually have one of these valve covers hanging on my wall as art, so I can attest that this one will look great with some fresh gray paint. Fortunately for the next owner, the engine fired right up even after sitting for many years. I always cringe when I see that mentioned in listings. Did they change the oil? The coolant? Check the plugs and wires? All simple things I would do before running an untested motor. Here’s hoping the 132 bhp mill is ready for summer driving.

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This generation Alfa Spider lost the classic boat-tail rear end for a more chiseled look, also known as the “Kamm tail.” While I like the former design better, these later models are much cheaper to buy. You can see in this photo that cosmetic issues abound, so an appointment with the detailer is definitely in order. If the sale price stays below $3,000, I’d say it’s a good day to be a potential buyer.

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff
    • George

      The Porsche is a project car. But it looks like it may be rust free which is a big issue with 914s. Alas not the 2.0 liter 6, it has a 2.0 liter type 4 engine. Alas no place to work on it and store it.

  2. bcavileer

    Had a boat tail, sorry I ever sold it. Truly the best of these bodies. They got even uglier with the glue on rear spoiler.
    As for the story , well it is a story I guess.

  3. Dolphin Member

    There are one or two small glitches underneath, but if all the old cars we consider buying looked as good as this one does underneath we’d all own far too many old cars. Likely due in part to living well inland in the dry hills of 1000 Oaks, CA. I drove thru there in August, and they were very dry hills indeed.

    It’s had some paintwork done in the past, and it looks like it will need paint to shine again, and it has some miles on it, but if the bidding stays reasonable this could be a nice cheap little convertible for someone. Factor in lots of cleanup time and elbow grease, plus an engine tune and probably some new seat upholstery in addition to some maintenance on brakes, cooling, and maybe some other needs.

    It’s refreshing to read a sane description that doesn’t ramble on in endless stories that sound less and less believable the longer you read. And a collection of books and paperwork for the car is always very encouraging.

    And for someone wanting a 2.0 914 the seller’s other car definitely is worth a look.

  4. Dave Wright

    I have a twin to this car we are just finishing from a new paint job. I have owned and done Alfas since the early 70’s. Many people like the Webbers and so do I but this mechanical fuel injection makes an incredible driver. My car will sit for 6 months at a time while being worked on. We make sure the battery is good, pull the choke cable and it starts immediately. It always runs smooth even when cold. My cars with carbs would choke, stumble and stall a couple of times until they were warm. We are looking for a set of chrome bumpers and some marker lights to finish mine, well…..I actually bought it for my wife……these are nice cars that have a huge upside with the prices the boat tail cars are getting today.

  5. Jason Houston

    This seller is not the original owner, but another slimy used-car hustler who probably stole it from the true owner for a hundred bucks. As always with online cars, use caution.

    • PaulG

      Guy seems pretty honest and straightforward to me. If you can’t say anything nice…

    • Audifan

      It almost sounds like you are jealous that YOU did not get it from the original owner. Too bad.
      The seller sounds very reasonable and so far the price is more than right.

  6. Dave Wright

    I have never understood the vitreal against someone that buys and sells cars. I think it comes from being jealous because the whiners are not smart or knowledgable enough to do it.

    • PaulG

      Dave, I agree. If EVERY find was sold by the original owner, well you get the point.
      Unfortunately, some others (see above) don’t…

  7. Tirefriar

    Overpriced by a factor of 2. Clean later years (’75-’82) in Series 2 can still be had for around $5k, while it will certainly take more than $2k to bring this one up to the same level. Just because the car is in TO, doesn’t mean it spent its entire life there. Few years ago I purchased a ’74 Spider plated in Arizona that looked so clean and dry at the rockers and the spare wheel well that I didn’t even bother putting it up on the lift – major rookie mistake. Once I did get the car on the lift I found a nice rot spot in the passenger floor pan…

    P.s. California buyers don’t forget that this car being ’78 is still subject to smog

  8. Tundra/BMW Guy

    Somebody has to sell. Somebody will buy. Doesn’t mean a hill of beans to your world, does it? If they are honest, forthcoming, and reasonable it sure beats the heck out of the “it ran when it was parked” “all it needs is a charge” “never been wrecked” crowd.
    You could be paying their Food Stamps, Welfare, ………………………

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