Alfa Romeo Spiders weren't especially difficult to find in American car graveyards as recently as 15 years ago; I saw perhaps one for every three MGBs or Fiat 124 Sport Spiders during my junkyard travels back then. Today, the MGBs and 124s keep showing up in Ewe Pullets just as they always have, while I might find one discarded Alfa Spider every few years. Here's the latest one: a '79 in a yard (on the aptly named Dismantle Court) just to the east of Sacramento, California.
If you haven’t noticed — and judging by the lack of comments, I’m guessing you haven’t — things have been picking up a bit over at the long-dormant TTAC Forum. I’ve been posting a near-daily “Find of the Day” in the Classic and Collector Car forum. I’m trying to highlight the interesting, cool, and weird stuff I find as I tread the crapwagon-infested waters of eBay, craigslist, classified sites, and other forums.
There is plenty to look at. Just this week: A rusty Bronco; an oddly-shortened Chevelle; a ’90s-vintage Alfa Romeo Spider; a Porsche 944S; and a Buick Reatta ragtop.
Prices for (non- 164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’74, this ’78, and now today’s ’81.
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.
While discussing the future of a Mazda/Fiat collaboration last week, one industry insider trusted by TTAC had this to say
“It’s a bit like a first dance during the sixth grade…the Roadster, I mean. They’re leaving room for Jesus, but still able to cop a feel if they’re lucky.”
Now we’ve got more info on the Alfa/Mazda collaboration, and the possibility of more co-operation between Fiat and Japan’s last auto maker.
News of the next Alfa Romeo Spider sharing its technology with the Mazda MX-5 led to some speculation that the Spider would be a more expensive version of the MX-5, perhaps with a bespoke powertrain and styling. Not quite.
Back when I was searching for my first car, I briefly found an Alfa Romeo Spider that looked like it would be in passable condition. Before I could even call the number from the classified ad, my father chimed in with his usual wisdom. “Oh, you don’t want to start with those. They were crap! Just get a Miata and finish!”.
I’ve never owned an Alfa, and every time I see one in the junkyard I feel a twinge of guilt for never having rescued some poor abandoned Spider project prior to the inevitable ride to the junkyard that all such Alfas take after a decade or two spent sitting under a tarp in the driveway. Here’s yet another rust-free Spider that’s going to get eaten by The Crusher because nobody was willing to save it.
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