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Clarty
Clarty None
5/19/09 8:51 p.m.

OK: I know the Miata (Should I get one?) question has only one correct answer: YES!! But, when presented with the history, beauty and sheer coolness of the Alfa Romeo Spider, I find the answer more complicated.

Sure the Alfa has a live axle, and weighs more, breaks down and rusts. The Miata has IRS, is lighter, doesn't break, and still rusts. I like the Alfa, but the Miata is probably a better car.

But I just got back from Elkhart Lake's Road America after watching a weekend of vintage racing, and the history/pedigree/traditional charm thing does affect a fellow. . .I especially like the 83-1990 Graduate (less to screw up) models.

Any of you distinguished gentlemen see my dilemma?

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
5/19/09 9:00 p.m.

the alfa is heavier? My Fiat spider only weighs in around 2100 pounds after I removed the heavy federal bumpers.. the first gen Miata is the only MX5 to be close to that weight.

What does the alfa weigh?

mistanfo
mistanfo Dork
5/19/09 9:01 p.m.

Yes, I do. Thankfully, I seem to find enough inexpensive Miatae that I have yet to be fatally tempted by an Italian goddess. Lastest is a '90 with hardtop for $1000. Fuel injector cleaner, heet and some fresh fuel, an oil change and fresh plugs and she fired right up. Feel free to hate me now. My sister asked me recently why she loses money on cars, whereas I seem to either make money or at least break even.

RossD
RossD Reader
5/19/09 9:11 p.m.

Well from talking to a guy at work with an Alfa GTV6, I'd make sure that the Spider doesnt have TRX tires and rims. If it has them, prepare for some expensive 5x98mm bolt pattern wheels or adapters if it does. If you were near Elkhart Lake then the guy in Campbellsport, WI will likely be your friend if you buy one.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
5/19/09 9:13 p.m.

all spiders have the 4x98 bolt patterns.. not 5x98. It is an italian thing. Fiat, Alfa, and even the maserati Bi-turbo used them (hint there for bigger rims)

P71
P71 Dork
5/19/09 9:16 p.m.

Wobble nuts = 4x100 wheels. Done and done.

RCRX19
RCRX19 New Reader
5/19/09 9:20 p.m.

It depends on what you’re going to use the car for. As much as I love Italian cars. For a DD get the Miata .For a second car Alfa. For Autox Fiat X1/9 ( if you don’t think the X1/9 makes a good autox car I’ve got the event results to prove it).For road racing Miata.

RossD
RossD Reader
5/19/09 9:21 p.m.

It appears that the GTV6 had the 5x98mm. Disregard my remark.

Luke
Luke Dork
5/19/09 9:23 p.m.

IMO, the 'Graduate' was the last of the good Spiders. The series 4 is too plastic-y and bloated - more boulevard cruiser than sports car. With a later model, you'd also get Bosch fuel injection, rather than the troublesome SPICA system, although the earlier Kamm-tail and boat tails are undoubtably prettier (and more expensive.)

You're right, the Miata is probably the better car, but the Alfa is more unique, and cooler for it. Also, I like the Alfa twin-cam better than the Miata twin-cam...until you start adding boost to it, at least.

Tough call.

Clarty
Clarty New Reader
5/19/09 9:29 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: the alfa is heavier? My Fiat spider only weighs in around 2100 pounds after I removed the heavy federal bumpers.. the first gen Miata is the only MX5 to be close to that weight. What does the alfa weigh?

Looked 'er up on "the Google." Alfa Duetto (late '60s) spider weighed 2196 pounds, according to Wikipedia. Elsewhere on the internets I discovered the first-generation Miatas weighed 2100 pounds. I figure the Alfas just got heavier throughout the 70s and 80s, so I imagine a Miata would be signifigantly lighter than a late-80s Alfa.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
5/19/09 9:31 p.m.

the miata has gotten heavier too.. NBs are 2200 something.. and the new generation is over 2400

Clarty
Clarty New Reader
5/19/09 9:33 p.m.
RCRX19 wrote: It depends on what you’re going to use the car for. As much as I love Italian cars. For a DD get the Miata .For a second car Alfa. For Autox Fiat X1/9 ( if you don’t think the X1/9 makes a good autox car I’ve got the event results to prove it).For road racing Miata.

My 2003 Passat V6 (5-speed) is the DD. All's that's needed is a cheap "fun" car.

JohnW
JohnW New Reader
5/19/09 9:50 p.m.

I think the Alfa is more classic and certainly more exclusive. Despite those intangibles, the Miata is pretty much better in every way. The deal breaker for me? I rarely see Alfa Spiders for sale that have more than 100k miles. That worries me.

Luke
Luke Dork
5/19/09 9:52 p.m.

If you need more info, or persuading, the Alfa Bulletin Board is an excellent marque-specific forum.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
5/19/09 9:59 p.m.

why would the 100K mark bother you?

The unfortunately part of the equation. Alfas are italian. They do break, they have electrical problems (check your grounds) and the SPICA fuel injection is a pain to get right if it gets out of tune.

They are also rarely Daily Drivers. The DD Alfas all went to the junk yards years ago due to rust and accident damage. What you are seeing now are the ones that were looked after and kept up... hence low miles

RCRX19
RCRX19 New Reader
5/19/09 10:05 p.m.

Well unfortunately the Alfa is not cheep when it comes to parts.Miatas are .If your just dying for an Italian car and I hate to be a broken recorded Fiat X1/9 cheep to buy and cheep on parts. I get allot of people that look and say Wow cool look at that what is it and people that stop me and say cool car. I can go on and on. Honestly I think some of it has to do with the paint cooler (Ford SVT blue pearl) Still when you get a guy in a Z06 staring at your car as you drive down the road it’s an awesome feeling.

JohnW
JohnW New Reader
5/19/09 10:11 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: why would the 100K mark bother you?

It bothers me that -- for a car so old -- very few seem durable enough to hit or exceed that number. I understand most are not primary transportation, but come on, they stopped selling Spiders in the U.S. in the early 90s.

mtn
mtn Dork
5/19/09 10:39 p.m.

Both?

erohslc
erohslc New Reader
5/19/09 10:54 p.m.

Depends on what you'd rather be doing: a. Driving b. Fixing

Carter

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
5/20/09 5:56 a.m.

The Miata is the best, hands down. And I say that having spent the first 20 odd years of my driving career piloting Italian stuff.

For myself, I'd take a Fiat over the Alfa for second place. Just as powerful in most cases, handles just fine, roomier, parts are far less expensive and aside from the Duetto I think the Fiat is better looking. Sometimes simpler is better.

I place the Alfa in third. Fancy badges and 'racing heritage' mean nothing compared to the feeling behind the wheel. The Alfa has always felt antiquated and truckish compared to the Fiat. The Fiat feels sloppy and creaky compared to the Miata.

Now, talk about anything with the Alfa V6 in it and we've got an entirely different discussion!

alfadriver
alfadriver Reader
5/20/09 6:50 a.m.

A quick correction, the Alfa Spider/GTV bolt pattern is 4x104, which is close enough to the common Ford bolt pattern that you can use them on the car. If you see pictures of my car at the challenge, it has cheap 'stang wheels.

Parts... Has anyone ever priced Miata repair stuff? It's actually as, or more, expensive than Alfa parts. How would I know? I've been driving Miatas since 97, and have a '99 with 160k miles on it- broke the alternator and have gone though a catalyst. With the timing belt change every 60k miles, it's not a cheap engine to keep up on. You can do the work yourself, but I'd much rather work on my Alfa toys.

Reliability- Alfas reflect their owners. If you keep track of issues quickly, nothing becomes a problem. I have a SPICA pump on my '73 (see my sig) and I had it "looked" at a few years ago after 10 years of abuse- barely any adjustment needed. Electrical? All the problems on my car are more to do with the previous owner tapping into something for the radio. But when I restore the car, I'll replace the wire, since it's getting pretty old and crusty- it IS almost 40 years old, for crying out loud.

The other "weakness" in the Alfa is the head gasket- of which I've never had a problem with, either, even with mainly track and autocross use in my GTV. You'll note that at the 2004 challenge, my Spider took FTD- boosted to 14psi, running stock (but cut) pistons, and an OEM head gasket. Oh, and revving to 8000 rpm, well beyond the 6000 rpm redline. It's all about how it's put together.

IMHO, the difference between the Fiat and the Alfa is a matter of taste. I know dwight is a Fiat fan, since the last time I saw him was at an Alfa Romeo Owners Club Autocross where we hosted the Fiat Convention Autocross....

But.

The Miata is a far superior car- better handling, better starting, better driving.

Remember, I own both a Miata and a GTV, but I've never, ever raced my Miata- it's my commuter car. The GTV is the one that puts the smile on our faces when we drive it.

(oh, and if you think Miatas are not prone to rust, check the Miata rocker rust thread.... they rust, too)

The real question- what is your goal? Daily driver or emotional attachemnt?

In terms of which one to get- I'd get a '74. IMHO, SPICA rocks- starts first time, every time, even after 6-8 months of sitting out the winter.

RCRX19
RCRX19 New Reader
5/20/09 7:46 a.m.

ddavidv you said The Miata is the best, hands down. for what all year round DD yes .autox no.

alfadriver you said

The Miata is a far superior car- better handling, better starting, better driving.

you must have missed my post I said for autox Fiat x/19 if you don’t think the X1/9 makes a good autox car I’ve got the event results to prove it). Take a look at the autox results look for the only X1/9 .thane you tell me which is the better car.

http://www.windycitymiataclub.com/autox/remember_when/2009/event_01-5_09_09/event_01-5_09_09-class.html

Yes 6 miatas bet me but 2 off those drivers are SCCA pro drivers the other 4 are just dam good drivers with vary well papered cars.

alfadriver
alfadriver Reader
5/20/09 8:20 a.m.

RC- i didn't miss anything.

And the X19 IS a good autocross car.

The Miata is better. You may be able to beat some, but it's a lot easier for a driver to learn to drive a Miata than an X19 quickly. Like you, I can beat a lot of Miata drivers in my GTV- been there, done that- heck, remember that my Spider took FTD in 2004 for the challenge (I drove and beat all the pro drivers). But I've also driven a few Miatas at autocrosses- they are A LOT easier to drive fast.

Besides, the choice he's trying to make is an Alfa Spider vs. a Miata.

Eric

WilD
WilD Reader
5/20/09 8:29 a.m.
JohnW wrote: I think the Alfa is more classic and certainly more exclusive. Despite those intangibles, the Miata is pretty much better in every way. The deal breaker for me? I rarely see Alfa Spiders for sale that have more than 100k miles. That worries me.

I don't know if it makes you feel any better, but I used a very neglected '87 Mialno with something like 180K miles as a daily driver for a whole summer during college. It never really broke down and ran like a champ (fun car to drive too). The only real problems I experienced were the car nearly catching fire one morning and the shifter linkage falling apart at an interserction. A Spider would have fewer potential failure points so probably be even more reliable.

Travis_K
Travis_K HalfDork
5/20/09 8:51 a.m.

I have a milano I have driven everyday for the last year and a half and it has been fine. I imagine a spider would be too, although I think they are ugly. Why not get a GTV6 or an Alfetta gt? I think they are alot better looking. lol Fiat X1/9s are cool too, but althoug they handle really well, they dont have enough power to compete with newer cars if everything else is equal.

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