Story by Carl Heideman • Photography by Carl Heideman unless otherwise credited

When American auto manufacturers basically abandoned the convertible in 1975, the European manufacturers kept the topdown flame alive. Most of the British convertibles died off in about 1980, though, and by 1984 Fiat decided to stop selling cars in the U.S. 

American automakers eventually restarted convertible production. The Japanese then got into the game, and the Europeans came back soon after.

Through all these fluctuations in the market, Alfa Romeo kept the faith. They continued to send their venerable Spiders to the U.S., and we kept buying them—albeit in small numbers. As a result, those later Spiders have operated under the radar. 

Collectors clearly remember the earlier Giulietta and Duetto Spiders—and pay handsome prices for them—but the post-1975 cars tend to lag in desirability and value. 

If you’re shopping for a bargain, however, that can work to your advantage. There are some nice Spiders out there, and sometimes they’re dirt-cheap. While these later cars lack some of the styling cues found on the earlier iterations, they did benefit from updated technology and enhanced sophistication.

We recently picked up two later Alfa Romeo Spiders for very fair prices: One’s from 1978, and the other is 10 years newer. We plan to give the 1978 car a fairly thorough rolling restoration. The 1988, however, is a pristine, original-paint example that just needs some maintenance due to its age and mileage—only about 70,000 on the clock. 

One issue we noticed on both of these cars—as well as just about every other Alfa Spider—is a squishy suspension. Spiders used a lot of rubber bushings in their suspensions and drivetrains, perhaps more than other cars of the era. After two or three decades and thousands of miles of use, these rubber parts obviously need replacing. 

That may sound daunting, but after performing the work on our 1988 Alfa Romeo Graduate Spider, we discovered it’s a relatively simple DIY job.

Read the rest of the story

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/7/20 10:23 a.m.

I did the suspension on my Spider as well. What a difference it made.

 

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