Junkyard Find: 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

While Fiat 124 Sport Spiders are commonplace in junkyards, the Alfa Romeo Spider has remained sufficiently valuable that few examples make it to the kind of self-service, high-inventory-turnover wrecking yards I frequent for this series. We’ve seen this ’74 and that’s it prior to today (though I have passed by a few junked Alfa Spiders that were picked clean before I got there). The Alfa Spider was more expensive than the Fiat Spider when new— in 1978, the Alfa listed at $9,195 (about the same as a new ’78 BMW 320i), while the Fiat cost a mere $6,495 (just a bit more than a Volkswagen Scirocco)— and American Alfa Romeo fanatics have always been more maniacally obsessed than Fiat fanatics. Here’s an unrusted, not-yet-completely-stripped ’78 that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple months back.

Outdoor storage with no top in Northern California, with its sunny summers and rainy winters, tends to be rough on car interiors, and not much was worth saving out of this Alfa.

The 111-horse, 1,962cc Twin Cam engine is still there.

The giant 5-mph crash bumpers looked pretty ugly on small cars during the Malaise Era.

Spica mechanical fuel injection! This system worked amazingly well given all the moving parts.

When I find a rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo with any good stuff on it, I always call my friend Conrad Stevenson to see if he needs anything. Conrad runs an amazing Alfa restoration shop in Berkeley, uses a ’58 Fiat 600 Multipla as his parts runner, and races a profoundly terrible (yet fast) Spica-equipped Spider in the 24 Hours of LeMons.

Conrad burned rubber right over to this Oakland wrecking yard (in his ’64 Ford Ranchero, which he uses for hauling parts too big for the Multipla) and grabbed the rear end, the transmission, and a bunch of smaller goodies. The Alfa Mafia is strong in the Bay Area, and no doubt many of Conrad’s fellow capos swooped down on this car during the next few days and vultured it down to a bare shell.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Ostrich67 Ostrich67 on May 20, 2014

    I see RUST FREE SEAT PANS! Do you know how hard those are to find in states that have weather? Mine are rusted to hell. You could sell those quick on alfabb.com @Superdessucke: A full size spare was standard equipment and fits snugly into a well in the trunk floor next to the gas tank.

  • Skor Skor on May 20, 2014

    I'd rather see pictures of a still working Ranchero.

  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
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  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
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