Hey, since you guys seemed to like my similar article about my Saab, due to the declining health of my Alfa I figured I should write a similar article.

“Hey, shouldn’t you be working on your Saab, rather than writing stuff on the internet?” You are right to ask that.

Moving on…

The Good

It runs, drives, and is an Alfa. What more do you want?

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But seriously, the engine feels fine and the transmission is smooth and doesn’t seem to suffer from any of the syncro issues common to the spider.

The tires are new and in good shape (round), everything in the instrument cluster works, as do all the important parts of it.

The body is in pretty good shape, though I suspect there is more filler present than I’d like to think about.

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The top keeps water out and all the glass is original.

The Bad

It leaks oil. A lot. This was originally thought to be the top seal on the gearbox being bad, flinging oil out the top and then having it run down the sides. Also could be the transmission was overfilled. This may be true, but I worry about the volume of oil that is coming out. So much so that I am beginning to suspect my rear main seal. Haven’t had a chance to investigate further.

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The AC is kaput. Enough said.

The heater blower doesn’t work. Apparently the heating system (completely independent from the AC) is built in a stack in the center of the car, with the blower being the last thing in the stack. That means any water, condensation, or leaking coolant that gets in that stack gets trapped in a small cup with the blower bearings. Lovely.

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There is a ground problem… somewhere. I know. An Alfa with a ground problem. Unheard of, right? Anyway, it causes my wipers to run dangerously slow and the voltage reading on my dash to be a little depressing. The problem(s) have gradually been getting better as I’ve fixed grounds, but still a persistent issue.

Coolant is/was disappearing. Probably not the head gasket, but you never know. I recently replaced the water pump in hopes of solving that and my overheating problem. No, get out of the comments section! I said it probably wasn’t the head gasket. I have reasons for believing this other than denial.

The driveline is shot. Driveshaft supports, bearings, transmission mount, u-joints, guibo… all bad. I have all the parts, it is just a matter of putting them in.

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It has non-factory Hayashi Perrier wheels. Not a deal breaker, but a bit odd.

It needs a new top, eventually.

The passenger door is keyed different from the drivers. Meh. Who locks a convertible?

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The truck lock and gas cap lock don’t work. Meh.

The paint was a cheap job done by the PO to get it ready to sell. Presents well from 10 feet, but is expected to age poorly.

The seats and carpet are both in need of replacement, eventually.

The ugly

I may have serious engine troubles ahead. This may be my natural skepticism/ waiting for the other shoe too. After changing the water pump, the engine was exceptionally hard to start and didn’t want to stay running unless I gave it gas. After warming up, it was fine. This could be explained (ish) by there not being much fuel in the tank (It was very, very low) or by my having damaged the MAF during the pump change. Or head-gasket. Or some other problem. Unfortunately the car is in storage while my garage gets rebuilt, so this is all a big unknown.

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Rust. Oh my god rust. Though the car looks pretty much perfect from 10 feet, when you get close in you realize there has been an incident on the driver’s side. The chassis rail is bent, the floorplan as a 2ft break it in, and the rocker is rotting. This is the elephant in the room, as fixing it will quickly exceed all rational money for the car.

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So what?

Well… to fix all of these things takes time and money. How much?

  • Driveline repairs - $1000 to $1500
  • Top Repair - $500 to $1000
  • Rust Repair - $3000 to $4000
  • AC Repair - $1000
  • Heater Repair - $500
  • Misc - $500
  • Total: $6500 to $8500

Estimated vehicle worth before repairs: $4,000

Estimated vehicle worth after repairs: $6,500

Well shit

I love this car. It took me on the best adventure of my life and earned its place in my garage. I’d convinced myself that I was ready to do what needed to be done with this Alfa regardless of the value of the vehicle, calling it a “forever car”. Still actually looking at the numbers gives me pause.

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Right now, if the engine is OK, I’ll probably proceed with repairs. Rust first, then driveline, then top. The rest can wait. But that doesn’t mean it is rational.