1977 Alfa Romeo Spider: How About a Little S2 Love?
There was a time – some of us actually remember firsthand – when cars came in colors. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that many cars look just fine in black, white, silver. Heck, there are still a handful that you might see with some frequency in blue or red, but those are the exceptions, not the norm. It all changed sometime around the mid-1980s when carmakers were looking for ways to optimize production line performance – meaning fewer colors and fewer options based on the ordering habits of the majority of buyers. Sure, you can buy a car individualized through programs like Porsche Paint to Sample (PTS), but you’re going to pay a hefty premium for the privilege. So when I see a cool roadster like this Alfa Spider on CraigsList in Landenburg, PA for $10,500 – even with the big rubber-baby-buggy-bumpers – it catches my eye.
If you read our recent post on the cars that keep us coming back for more, you’ll know that Alfa Spiders are squarely in the cross-hairs of my car seeking and buying obsessions – even the least desirable of the S2s: U.S. cars from 1975-1977. My first car was a rusty but reliable ’77 Alfa Spider in Verde Inglese – a littermate of this one wearing Giallo Pagoda. I didn’t realize Pagodas were a shade of yellow, but maybe it’s just an Italian thing. In any case, contrary to my ’77, this one is (reportedly) gloriously rust free and has good synchros in the gearbox. I learned pretty early on how to double-clutch anytime second gear was involved, or I’d just skip it altogether. Looking at the apparent condition of this example, I’d agree with the seller that it looks like the 55K miles are likely original.
I’ve always been a little partial to the fender-mounted Hella 4004GT mirrors and Carello headlight covers, but both are still available – for a premium. This car comes with an added bauble: a Halda Twinmaster rally “computer” which based on a cursory internet search has a current retail value (if functional and complete) in the neighborhood of $1,000. Heck, you could always sell that to fund nearly half of a small bumper conversion!
What we can see of the interior in the photos looks to be in very good condition. There do not appear to be any dash cracks in front of or behind the defroster vents nor a plastic dash cap, and the black vinyl seats appear to be original and not torn (the giveaway being the embossed “stitching” in the headrests the replacement covers don’t have). The polished wood Personal steering wheel is a delight to grip, and the shift knob is the proper black plastic that feels better than it looks, and suits the car a lot more than the typical J.C. Whitney-style aftermarket knobs so often found in ’70s vintage Spiders and their contemporaries.
Some of the other details that make this car appeal are the key that still has its black rubber head, the shift boot that looks original and patinated but not torn or flopping around, the little tabs that hold the seatbelts are still intact (if unused), and I even like the slightly cheesy Realistic tape deck. I mean, you don’t really drive an Alfa for the audiophile experience, but sometimes a little background music on a backroad romp is nice to have. What’s nice about this is that nobody is going to slash your top to steal this stereo. Been there, done that. What does perplex me a little bit is placement of the antenna in front of the windshield as opposed to the rear quarter where they are normally located, but as these were generally dealer-installed accessories when the cars were new, like many cars of the same vintage there was often no rhyme or reason.
The carpet is aftermarket, but appears to fit well. This car may have come with rubber mats or carpet originally, and I prefer the rubber mats for the center tunnel and the rear seat/shelf, but if they’re not under that carpet they can be found. And that’s one of the myths that I think partly keeps Alfa prices down compared with some other contemporary sports cars – parts availability. Having owned a few Alfas, there are parts that you may have to look around for or even possibly buy used, but I’ve never had any difficulty. This car needs the little chrome tabs that hold the quarter windows closed, and they are available brand new for about $60 each. Engine parts are plentiful, body parts can be sourced, you can even still find some performance enhancements like more aggressive cams, headers, and even my favorite: twin pipe Ansa exhaust with orange inner tips.
And yes, there are still plenty of mechanics who can work on them, but it would behoove you to find one that speaks Spica Fuel Injection should you buy an S2. This engine has had the emissions air pump removed, so California buyers may want to proceed with caution, but otherwise it looks original and serviced. Detailing it would be a fun weekend project if you like that sort of think as I do.
The seller indicates that oil pressure is good, as is the convertible top. Thinking back, in 1984 we paid $4,500 for an already probably terminally rusty spider, which translates to about $11,200 in 2020. Comparatively, that makes this car a bot of a bargain. If you like the more classic Kamm-Tail S2’s aesthetic better than the S3’s big black spoiler or the attempted Miatization of the S4 (no offense to S4 folks – I don’t hate the look), then this is a compelling example at a reasonable price. And as Jeremy Clarkson has been probably over-quoted, “you can’t be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo.” I’m a true petrolhead. Are you?
Here is one for sale local to me. https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/ram/cto/d/saint-paul-classic-1979-alfa-romeo/7186067310.html
I have not owned an Alfa, but love the look of the early Spiders. Will probably have to own one someday.
That one looks like a very good deal if as advertised and the pictures are close to reality! Totally worth owning one – at least for a while. Buy well and you won’t lose money. Heck, given the way prices for everything are going, you’re pretty likely to make some!
Yeah, tempting, but I need a 9th car, and a 4th that will require winter storage like……(insert cliche here).