Niki Lauda Edition: 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider

By 1978, the Alfa Romeo Spider had lost some of its boat-tail magic. The styling was reflective of changes made due to safety and emissions concerns, and the grace of the original design was lost in the wake of park bench-like bumpers and gutless engines. Still, it was one of the most popular cars Alfa ever made, and a fitting tribute vehicle when motorsports legend Niki Lauda agreed to drive for the company’s official racing team. While production was limited, make no mistake: this was simply a case of some cosmetic dress-up and little else, hence why values aren’t much higher than a standard-issue Spider. Find this limited edition model here on eBay with bidding to $2,950 and no reserve.

The car in question is one of 350 produced and has been in long-term Texas storage since 1995. The dry climate of Texas has helped preserve the Alfa’s sensitive sheetmetal, as an Italian car of this vintage left to the elements for decades would typically not emerge from its hiding spot for the better. The Alfa does display the flip-side of dry, desert-like environments prone to relentless sunshine as the cabin is a bit tatty, showing cracked and torn leather and a cracked dash in the photos. The carpets look to be in OK shape, and the Alfa comes equipped with the optional (and rare) hardtop. The dash plaque with Niki Lauda’s signature is still adhered.

The Niki Lauda edition’s only other real change came in the form of a rear spoiler on the trunk lid, which actually was a fairly attractive assembly. The paintwork on this car isn’t terrible, and the decal kit that went along with the Lauda package remains in good shape. Given the exterior cosmetics remain surprisingly decent, I’ll hazard a guess that the Alfa was kept indoors even prior to its long-term slumber in storage. If it had been left outside, it seems likely we’d see far more evidence in the form of faded paint and bumper trim. You will note, however, that the rear bumper trim is cracked and missing.

The Spider was running when it went into storage, but of course, it doesn’t fire at the moment. The engine does spin freely, so its resurrection should hopefully be an easy one. The seller provides photos of the underside of the Alfa, which shows little in the way of rust aside from where it’s beginning to blister through on the rockers. The spare tire well is coated in overspray, which could be from the factory or the reason why the exterior finish still looks so decent. While it’s far from the most collectible Alfa ever made, it could be the missing link in a collection belonging to an Alfa Romeo enthusiast given the sub-500 production numbers.

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Comments

  1. Mike

    Ugly front hood sticker treatment.

    Like 2
  2. Christopher Gush

    In as much as these were limited production Spiders, they continued to be susceptible to prodigious amount of rust given their substandard source of Eastern European steel, and rife with quality issues, a result of union (Red Brigade) problems in Italy. Choked with emissions, and the now not so graceful NHTSA bumper requirements, only added to their lack today’s real value. Having serviced these cars at the San Francisco Autocenter, they were rife with gremlins, and customer satisfaction was marginal at best. Moreover, Alfa Romeo corporate was hemorrhaging in red ink, thus warranty reimbursement for repairs was delayed if not outright rejected, exacerbating the issue with regards to customer to dealer relations. Fortunately today, the eventual owner of this Spider will have good resources to recommission it, sans the graphics. Fun cars is sorted and maintained properly.

    Like 1
  3. UK Paul

    $6.3k final price.
    An interesting one.

    Like 1
  4. hillman

    an absolutely rust free alfa at this price was a real bargain.

    Like 1
  5. Gibson

    I took a Lauda Airline fight from Miami to Vienna in the mid-nineties…traveling with a super-huge movie star. It was a non-smoking flight. We smoked the entire time and the plane was diverted to Germany so that Nikki Lauda could briefly meet with the un-named movie star while all other passengers waited onboard…we arrived in Vienna 45 minutes late. I want a pro-mod Carolla.

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