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Ready To Fly: 1987 Alfa Romeo Graduate


We’ve seen a lot of sports cars from all over the world on Barn Finds, and it seems that often they need a ton of work to get back on the road. But there are quite a few of us who are not quite so handy with tools, or who don’t have deep enough pockets to bring an old sports car back from the dead. Some of us want a nice old car we can drive, and just be able to do modest maintenance maintenance and upgrades to keep the car on the road and running well to have some fun with.


This 1987 Alfa Romeo Graduate is very pretty in red. It is for sale here on craigslist in Tucson, Arizona and checks off many of the boxes you need for a solid open-air daily driver, including a 5-speed transmission, and has only 44,500 miles on the clock as well.


It’s not perfect, but for only $4,900, it’s a driver you can afford. On the good side, this Alfa features relatively new tires with approximately 80% tread remaining, two new fuel pumps, four new injectors, new spark plugs and ignition wires, a new ignition cylinder, new intake hose, fresh oil change, K&N air filter, and it’s lower oil pan was just re-sealed.


Also, the ad states that the car has newer seat upholstery in excellent condition and a newer convertible top that is in excellent condition as well.


On the down side, the car has a salvage title and the current owner does not know why. The carpets are sun faded, and occasionally the fuel pumps continue to run after shutting off the engine, which the seller says is more than likely the main f/p relay – a common issue with these cars.


The car is stored in an airplane hanger and can be viewed at Ryan Airfield, which will also likely provide a fun location for your test drive.

Is this good looking Alfa a sports car you would want to own?


  1. Avatar photo Tirefriar

    3rd year of the Graduate edition and second year of the mono pod dash, a pretty lackluster follow up to the classic Alfa dual pod dash and stand alone secondary gauges. The odometers in the mono pods are notoriously susceptible to failure so the 44k miles may not be actual.

    These second gen Series 3 Spiders are the least expensive out of all the Spiders. Despite its iconic nameplate, the Graduate was a stripped down entry model for value conscious customers. Seats were vinyl leatherette in the old style, while the Veloce had leather with much sportier design.

    Although much work as done, the fact that this the least desired S-3 Spider coupled with a salvage title makes this Spider not so much a bargain at its asking price. For this kind of scratch one can find a Veloce model in similar condition but with a clean title.

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    • Avatar photo van

      Thanks for the education
      Like sports cars, love the sound of an Italian
      Don’t like to spend more than necessary

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  2. Avatar photo Kevin Harper

    I have one of these and while much of what tire fair is true let me go into a little more depth. The seats in a grad were leatherette and the veloces are leather, but they are the same seat, only the quad got the deep dish sporty seats. The tops were padded canvas on the veloce and vinyl on the grads. Now these cars are 30 years old so they may have been changed, on mine I have a canvas top and leather seats.
    Door panels on a grad were all black, on the veloce they matched seat color, and this one has been changed.
    Wheels are steel on the grad and 5 spoke alloys on the veloce.
    A big one windows were manual on the grad and electric on the veloce. You really want manual as the power windows are horrible on these and dreadfully slow.
    AC was standard on veloce and optional on a grad. This car does not have AC which I would want in Tucson but if you live in new England it is not that big of a deal.
    It does have power mirrors which were an option. The backs of the mirrors are black and on the veloce they are painted body color. These pop off and can easily be painted.
    Oh one minor detail is the decal on the side, behind the front wheel, says either spider veloce or graduate
    This car looks in good shape and the dash is either covered or amazing as I can’t see a Crack in it. The salvage title worries me but I would have to look over the car. A minor accident could have totalled it at one point .
    At this point in these cars lives I don’t see a lot of difference between a veloce and a grad in price, simply because the original differences were mostly cosmetic. Using mine as an example you could not tell it is a veloce or a grad, with the exception of the manual windows and the grad badge on the rear. Everything else has been changed and I frequently see veloces with vinyl tops and seats and without AC.

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    • Avatar photo Tirefriar

      Kevin, if I may add a few things… Starting in 1986 the only I’m certain that carried A/C as standard was the Quadrifoglio. Sources are split on whether it was an option on the Veloce or standard. Definitely an option on the Grad.

      Graduate retained carryover seat design from the earlier models, while the Veloce received sport seating with leg and side bolsters.

      For 1986 both Graduate and Veloce had power mirrors, but Veloce mirrors were considered deluxe, perhaps due to body colored caps.

      The Quadrofoglio also came standard with the hard top. In fact, I would probably say that the 1990 Quad was the best Series 3 Spider, had it not been for the mono pod dash…

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  3. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Perhaps some of our younger readers don’t know why it was called ” The Graduate”, but in 1967, Dustin Hoffman drove a 1966 Alfa Spider in the highly controversial film,”The Graduate”, and probably did more to promote the Alfa Spider than any other advertising means, and Alfa knew it. Never cared for Italian sports cars, but one can’t deny the sound ( and power) of a chain-driven twin cam Alfa motor at speed.

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  4. Avatar photo Lionel

    Howard A, that’s true, and I learned that they must have been thirsty as that one failed to get him to his destination and made him run…
    Dustin runs in most of his movies……

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  5. Avatar photo Mark

    I’ve owned the same year in Veloce trim,plus a GTV-6 and an Alfetta (basically the GTV with a 4 banger). Enjoyed them all. Rust is the #1 killer of all Italian cars of that era, and it’s basically impossible to buy a “cheap” crunchy one and turn it into a nice one for the difference in price. Funny story: the wettest I was ever in an automobile. A roommate loaned me his 1974 GTV coupe on a rainy day, claiming his Alfa would be much more comfortable than the Fiat convertible I had at the time. Not so. As I drove along, the wipers making their leisurely trip across the windshield, little waterfalls began flowing out of the air vents onto my jeans. By the time I got to where I was going, I looked like I had jumped in a pool.

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