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Cheap Wheels Project? 1980 Alfa Romeo Spider

The Spider was one of Alpha Romeo’s most enduring nameplates, built in four generations from 1966 to 1994. It would be Alfa Romeo’s last rear-wheel-drive product until the mid-2000s. We don’t know much about this 1980 edition (2nd generation) other than it has new tires and needs a motor. But does that mean the engine compartment is empty or that the one that’s there is no good? Located outside of a barn in Jamestown, Tennessee, this Italian-built project is being offered here on craigslist for a very reasonable $1,500. This could be a cool project, a tip brought to us by Barn Finder Chuck Foster!

We assume this 1980 edition has or had a 1,490-cc inline-4 motor that was rated at 85 hp. But it could be the 1,962-cc Veloce at 110 hp. The seller goes into no detail when it comes to that. Later models like this one wore black rubber bumpers over black steel to keep the Feds happy in the safety department. Other than some bubbling in the paint around one of the rear quarter panels, the body and paint on this car look pretty good. As do the convertible top and interior (except the driver’s seat which has a couple of tears).

The lack of information (or photos) about this 50,000-mile car is made up for by the asking price. If you can get your hands on a replacement motor (or fix this one, if possible), $1,500 sounds like a “cheap wheels” purchase. But I can’t help but think we’re missing something here. And the seller won’t help with shipping and insists that he/she meet the buyer in person.


  1. RayT Member

    “Alfa,” Russ.


    From what I know of Alfas, the wheels may be cheap — or not — but getting this car back to fighting trim is going to require a sizable outlay of funds.

    It would be worth it, though, if just to listen to the exhaust note as you wind the daylights out of it. Even though I prefer the longtail Duetto version (and its slim chrome bumpers) this would be a nice runabout. But, again, not cheap. No Alfa I’ve ever seen was “cheap” in any way.

    Like 6
    • Russ Dixon Russ Dixon Staff

      Thanks. Fixed. What a dumb mistake. That’s like spelling Chevy as Chevrolay.

      Like 1
      • RayT Member

        Ever’body knows it’s “Shivolay,” Russ!

        Like 2
    • JE Vizzusi

      Myself, been searching for a 94 Spider forever. Most from the 80s are scrap. Parts incredibly hard to find. This could result in a decent donor car. Remember, the name Pinaferina adds thousands to any restoration.
      jv – smash palace

      Like 0
      • Francisco


        Like 2
      • Martin Horrocks

        All parts are available and not expensive. Try the internet.

        Like 3
  2. OldCarGuy

    Um, you may have fixed the title, but Alpha remains in the first sentence. The clearance between the fender arch and the top of the tire suggest a vacancy under the hood. Tires look good. I’d say it looks too clean to have been sitting out there too long. The ragtop looks weird: can it be that one of the bows is not in place, just in front of the back window? I’ve texted to ask about the engine.

    Like 1
  3. Beyfon

    Well, it’s a US market car with the large bumpers so didn’t they all come with the SPICA injected 2-liter engine? Early cars had a 1750, but I’m completely puzzled about the comment about a 1490 cc. As far as I am aware there was never a 1490 in a Spider regardless of market or year?

    European market cars were available with the 1300 and 1600 but I don’t think they ever came to the US. That said, I think you can install virtually any Alfa Twin Cam here. But stay with an engine from the cars with front mounted gearbox as it quickly gets very intensive to modify the engines from the later Alfetta based cars to fit a regular bellhousing, flywheel and clutch.

    Like 4
    • Martin Horrocks

      Correct on engine size. 1490 must ne a typo

      Like 0
  4. Ricardo A Nunez

    Where is it located?

    Like 0
  5. OldCarGuy

    I asked the seller “Do you have what’s left of the motor?”, and the answer was “Yes”. As Russ said, it is located in Jamestown, Tennessee. I think this is a buy, and I regret that I have a full plate.

    Like 1
  6. Steveo

    I think I’ll hold out for a Beta Romero. It would be a good match for my Lanshia.

    Like 1
  7. John

    I’m not a purist. Accordingly, it seems an ideal platform for a Miata transplant. You’d have the rarest of all cars, an Italian, Pininfarina masterpiece that might actually bring you back again from wherever it was that it took you. A true rarity.

    Like 3
  8. John

    Lots of mistakes in this article. It’s ALFA not Alpha. All Alfa Spider engines sold in the USA were 2000cc starting in 1972. 1969 through 1971 were 1750cc. Before 1971 they were 1600cc. The 1490cc was never in an Alfa. That was the original size of the engine in the Fiat 124 spider of the 1960’s.

    Like 1
    • Joe Elliott

      Note that the “2000” was actually 1962 cc (84 x 88.5 mm), so that much of the article is correct. But, IIRC, it would have been down to 105 hp in 1980 USA spec, not 100 hp.

      Like 0
      • John

        Joe, correct. I was just rounding the numbers and using Alfa’s nomenclature.

        Like 0
  9. Sherry MOTT

    I would like to purchase this car

    Like 0

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