Parts Car or Restore? 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider

The Alfa Romeo Spider (also known as a “Graduate”) has long been a staple of the affordable sports car scene. You can get into one of the two-seater convertibles in respectable driver condition for well under $15,000. In today’s market, that’s a bargain for a car like this, and the Spider shown here is either an excellent parts donor or a worthy foundation for a restoration build. Which path would you take? Find it here on Facebook Marketplace for $2,500 in Jamesville, NY.

Despite being in the northeast, the Spider is in remarkably sound condition. A few years ago, I spotted one of these at a scrap metal recycler lot that had clearly been loved at one point but evidently had been left outside after an owner passed away; it was amazing how rotten it and the Fiat 128 parked next to it had become. The seller’s car does not appear to suffer from those same issues, but I can’t say confidently whether that’s primer I’m looking at covering the rockers. There’s a broken taillight and the missing rear window in the uber-rare hardtop, which will be a small miracle to find.

About that hardtop: this is legitimately the coolest part of the car. The seller’s description calls it a “Parrish Plastics” hard top, a brand I have never heard of among the legions of manufacturers that outsource removable hardtop work to the aftermarket. This is a very nice “bonus” for whomever takes this project on as I can’t imagine too many copies of this hardtop still exist. Of course, that will make finding the rear window extra tedious, but a custom fiberglass replacement is likely a more sensible option.

The seller doesn’t say boo about the engine, but it at least looks complete. The listing notes that the paper trail suggests just one owner from new but that there’s no title to go with the car. The seller goes so far as to say this is a great car to “re-shell” if you have a mechanically healthy car that’s been plagued by rust. The market for Spiders isn’t likely to heat up any time soon, so I’d try to get the price down a tad more before I dragged this Spider out of the shipping container it’s presently stored in.


  1. alphasud Member

    Going back and forth trying to decide if it’s a fixer or a donor. If there is no rust I lean towards fixer. Little bit of Spider trivia. The 2 liter engine got variable valve timing in 86. Not too many cars of the 80’s could claim that.

    Like 1
    • Kevin

      Actually alfa got vvt in 82. It was actuated by oil pressure. In 86 it got the electrical solenoid operated one.

      Like 1
  2. Troy

    Parts car

  3. Martin Horrocks

    S3 is the least valuable of the Spiders and there’s always a market for 2 litre Alfa drive trains so breaking is probably more sensible. If the seller is talking of a reshell, buy a better car to fix up.

    It wouldn’t be hard to reproduce the rear window for that hardtop. A wire frame mould has to be made up, but people who do plastic windows for race cars could heat and shape the plastic around it. Patience required. I like the factory hardtop on these S3 cars, a lot more substantial than thís example.

  4. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I bought my S3 (89) with a little rust in the floor boards and that’s it, running and driving (drove it home) 2 years ago for $2300. The upstate NY location and the primer on the rockers is a dead give away for rust. This is $1000 parts car or some serious body work for restoration. They may be the least valuable Spiders, but this one is a long ways from being valued at even that ‘least’ level.

    Like 1
    • abba511 Member

      Eric…Hate to say it. That’s a reflection. No primer on the rockers. I shot the pics.

      • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

        Then I apologize for that comment. It would be good if you could comment on the rust situation however, given the locale and their propensity for tin worm love. I stand by my pricing comment however given the quality of the driver car I got for less money. But then again, what do I know these days. Prices are pretty crazy right now.

    • abba511 Member

      I do want to thank you for pointing out that picture. I totally missed it when I posted the pictures. All comments are welcome.

  5. abba511 Member

    Parish plastics hardtop have been around for quite a number of years. Mostly for British cars. There is a company in PA who sells replacement rear plastic and all the gasket for this top. Like anything, pricing on a car like this is always negotiable.

  6. Jimmyzee

    There were Parrish Plastics for every sports car in the 60s and 70s. In their day they were a cheap replacement.

    Like 2
  7. Victor Anderson

    If chassis is ok then it should be restored I think.

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