Junkyard Find: 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1978 alfa romeo spider

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.

Join the conversation
2 of 17 comments
  • 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.

  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?