Bargain Twin-Cam? 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider

This 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider seems far too cheap at the moment, with the listing (curiously) offering an identical opening bid and Buy-It-Now price of just $3,750. The seller describes having purchased the car not knowing it came with a salvage title from New Jersey, and also notes it has undergone a color change from its original shade of blue. Find it here on eBay located in a Massapequa, New York.

The Alfa looks great sitting here in a cozy garage, with the seller noting its soft top as being in good condition with a clear rear window (unlike the seriously fogged unit on my new BMW E36 M3 convertible project.) The repaint looks quite nice as well, although it’s impossible to tell from here how well it was done. The integrated rear spoiler and five-spoke Star Campa wheels are hallmarks of the Alfa’s long-enduring design.

The interior looks fair, with the iconic shifter sticking out of the dash that somehow just works despite looking downright weird given where most shifters reside in the console. The seller notes the fusebox is exposed “….due to the fact that previous owner was trying to repair headlights,” which begs the question as to whether the headlights currently work and if the next owner can expect to encounter a wonky electronics system. Christmas tree air freshener = never a good sign.

The repaint at least extended into the door jambs and under the hood, so I suppose that’s a bonus even if the original color would have made the Alfa stand out more in a crowded marketplace of red convertibles. The salvage title, potential electrical issues, and lack of clarity into whether the original mileage is genuine are all red flags for this car, but it’s also cheap enough to take a chance on given the seller’s claims of rust-free condition and smooth running condition.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Mrs. Robinson,,Mrs. Robinson,,very cool cars, why aren’t these 5 figures? As neat as Alfas are, it’s one car that should bring more than this. Apparently, nobody wants the nicest Italian sports car( without going exotic), just no interest. My brother had an older Alfa roadster, and was the coolest car, really. As shown, probably a great time to buy one. Parts? Maybe that’s the sticky wicket.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6Dkmw_Pajw

    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Good morning, Howard A.! Beat me to the punch line..

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      • Bob

        Hey Nevada, Is that a Matchless Motorcycle? A G80?

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Good eye, Bob! Yes it is-my Holy Grail but like the Chalice always just out of reach. Saw this one at The Quail some time back and knew it was as close as I may ever come again to seeing another rideable one hence the photo.
        The twin to this started my love for motorcycling, as I had a Honda 50 when I saw one chained to a stair post while delivering newspapers and was immediately smitten then awestruck when the rider told me it was a 500single…
        You’re familiar with old iron, then, Bob! I take it you’ve had a time with them?

  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    “Paging Mrs. Robinson….”

    Seriously, I’d want to know WHY there was a salvage title. If it’s the typical routine by the insurance company in replacing hard to find body parts then that’s not a big deal to me; if it’s structural then the big question of course is to what end it was damaged and was it fixed correctly..
    Fun cars, but I’ve never known of any Italian car that didn’t have their own version of a Lucas system within!

    1
    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Lavery Staff

      I personally feel like this is a seller who got spooked by a salvage title and doesn’t know the tiniest things can “total” one of these when not insured on a collector car policy. Who knows – could be a score for someone that can inspect it and confirm the frame is straight.

      1
      • That AMC guy

        Could be – but in NJ don’t forget hurricane flood cars. I’d check carefully for signs of water damage.

  3. Kurt

    Something triggered that new paint job, bring a magnet wrapped in a hankie to check for filler!

    1
  4. John

    Had an 84 alpha for several years. Fun car to drive. Check under the spare in the trunk for rust, and the wiring can be interesting at the very least to deal with .

  5. Sherminator

    Salvage title and air fresheners always make me thing flood damage. That might explain the electrical issues…

    5
  6. ken tillyUK

    The shifter doesn’t stick out from the dash, the lever is bent downwards and drops into the top of the gearbox like any other Alfa, although it is situated under the dash. (apart from the Alfa Sud maybe as I don’t know much about them.)

    1
  7. KEVIN L HARPER

    A pretty decent S3 spider will cost you 10k or more. This one suffers from a repaint that may be covering a multitude of sins and a salvage title.
    If I was in a position to check it out, and I wanted another alfa spider it could be a bargain.
    Oh salvage titles are interesting. In my state you can take a vehicle that has been damaged and branded salvage and repair it. The state then inspects the vehicle and issues a rebuilt title. With a rebuilt title you can get insurance and even take out a loan to purchase the vehicle. The vehicles value is of course less than a non dinged vehicle.
    On something like this alfa a dinged nose could cause it to get totaled, but a decent body guy could fix it with several hours of labor, and 500 dollars in parts plus paint. Salvage vehicles don’t scare me they just require a little scrutiny.

    2
  8. Skippy

    I have a couple of S1 spiders (’66 and ’69) and have owned many Alfas. The mid 80’s variety of spider were among most touble-prone years for this car. Although the price is OK, the year, the odd repaint, the salvage title and misc. issues mean that this car will never be a reliable driver. The mid-run year means it will porbably never be a valuable classic. Oh, wait…it has a salvage title from New Jersey??? It is absolutely going to be rusty. Spend a little more and get the same year in much better shape or an early ’70s (S2) or end-of-run S4 version. It will cost much more to make this car right than it is worth, even if you are an Alfa expert.

    • KEVIN L HARPER

      I currently own 8 alfa spiders from a 59 Giulietta veloce to a 1990 veloce, and I run a shop that specializes in Alfa’s.
      My experience is the exact opposite of this. The most reliable and least rusty with the stiffest chassis are the series 3. They have the silly rear spoiler, but they did mot rust nearly as bad as the series 2 and have a greater survival rate. Series 3’s got the bosch injection which is far more reliable than SPICA. Series 4’s are good but heavy and Alfa’s tooling must have been getting old because they flex more than S3’s

      5
  9. t-BONE BOB

    looks nice

  10. Will Owen Member

    Assuming this is a 49-state car, even a 1975-80 model is still putting out 115 or so hp with good drivability. But this one should have an electronic Bosch EMS, probably L-Jetronic like my Milano, and a good mechanic who knows his stuff can keep those running more smoothly and reliably than the carburetor cars ever did (cue howls of rage from the Weber Fanatics). That said, the specter of Flood Cars looms kinda large here. Use your nose around the floor, in the trunk, and under the hood – a strong scent of either mildew or Febreze is your cue to go away.

    1
  11. H5mind

    Much like their Italian cousin the Fiat Spider, all these cars benefit from removing the seats, carpet, and underlayment and removing the moisture and rust you will almost certainly find there. I’ve also found that simply reattaching ground wires to clean metal cures a myriad of Intermittent electrical issues.

    2
  12. John Oliveri

    Salvage title, wiring issues, air fresheners, smells like a swimmer to me, guys a honest soul for all the disclosures, those cars were problematic w/o it’s possible under water experience, I’d say pass

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