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Spider Hunting - Alfa Romeos and the fools who want one



  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I recommend not to buy a fixer upper because many of the 80s & 90s era Spiders are simply not worth restoring. You could just go buy a decent one for far far less than even attempting to restore one. If I sold you a ratty, non-running 1985 Alfa Spider for $1, you could still do much better by just buying a clean, running one.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    You got spammed, look at the link :P

    I think the no fixer upper rule applies to any car. Always cheaper and easier to buy someone elses restoration. Only fix up the beater if it is a sentimental labor of love.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Well, what if you found an old Gull Wing for $500? :P

    Actually if it were, say, a 60s era Spider Veloce and a real mess, but genuine, it might be worth saving.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    Ha, you know what I mean. For probably 95% of old cars, the cost of a halfway decent restoration far exceeds the finished value.

    When you find that $500 gullwing, send me a message ;)
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Actually I still do find old cars occasionally that, even though they might bring $30K-$40K when restored, are in fact not worth more than $500. You leave an old car out in the weather with the windows open or top down, and the level of destruction is pretty impressive. But there are always those few chrome bits or precious cylinder heads that survive.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    Or covering a car with a tarp in a damp climate. I heard about a local W112 300SE coupe that was parked outside after restoration, and ruined.

    What would it take to get that $500 car to a restored $30K car? 50K?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    edited June 2012
    Depends on what it is and how good a job you want to do I guess.

    For instance, if you want show quality paint, that's $10K easy. And on a 50s car, you could easily spend $8,000 on chrome work alone.

    But if you wanted a 10-footer '57 Chevy done over, and you bought kits for the interior, and didn't start with a rust bucket, and you cleaned and painted, rather than rebuilt, much of the drivetrain, and if you didn't do a body-off frame restoration, you could do that pretty economically.

    If your resto project has "good bones", you are so much better off from the get-go. And if your resto project has a really huge aftermarket, all the better for you.

    ALFAS? It depends on the model. Finding NOS parts for a 50s early 60s Alfa is going to be pricey, but the Alfa aftermarket is pretty darn good for many items. Engine-building---that's going to cost you. And rust repair of course.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    Of course, doing it yourself will be cheaper, but the time value should be calculated, unless you enjoy the work. I can't see myself restoring the fintail myself, for example, or really any car. I don't have a garage nor a lot of tools, don't have a ton of really free time or expertise.

    If I was crazy enough to restore my car, I see maybe 7K for paint and body, a few grand each for interior and suspension, a couple grand for chrome, at least 5K for engine freshening, a grand for tires, maybe a few grand more for incidentals - way more than it's worth when done. And this is a relatively sound car to start with. Parts are easy for this car, it's the price of them and the labor that hurts.

    Would it even be feasible for a driver quality 57 Chevy, unless you got the car for free?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I think the crucial factors are:

    1. The amount of body work required---body work is basically skilled hand-labor. Not cheap, and it can pile up the hours!

    2. How complete the car is. Unless you do all the legwork, paying a restoration shop to track down hard to find parts eats up an enormous amount of time.

    3. What the car is. A 1930 Oldsmobile is going to cost you a lot more than a 1930 Ford Model A. A '57 Cadillac a lot more than a '57 Chevy.

    I have read articles about cars that took 4,000 man hours to restore!

    Soooooo, if you were paying someone $100 per hour....eek!
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    I always find 'Wheeler Dealers' instructive - you've got 2 experts, one scouring the country for prime targets, and they typically come out, what, 10% ahead, IGNORING labor costs?!? I just wish they'd show "hours spent" and "miles traveled" for BOTH of them.

    The only $500 'regular' car worth restoring is one that should be priced at $5,000, it would seem...
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    In other words, few cars are worthy. Restoration costs will only rise with time, meaning fewer will be restored.

    The Wheeler Dealers note is a good one. They don't make much profitt, and labor/parts hunting time is not included. I suspect if Edd billed his labor at even 10 quid/hour, they'd always come out upside down.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    You're going to need more motivation that having it make sense financially, that's for sure.

    With cars of limited numbers, like an early Alfa Spider Veloce, you could justify it as historical preservation; also you could vintage race the thing, and get "payback" that way. That's a lot more fun that sitting in a lawn chair with 25 other Chevelles.

    Or you might have an emotional attachment---the car you dated your wife with; or maybe you loved the movie "The Graduate" and it changed your life and you want to make a statement about that by restoring one of those Alfa boat tails.

    So people will still do restorations but they're already thinking a lot more soberly than they did in the boom-boom 90s.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    In the future, with the way the socio-economic spectrum is devolving, there will be less with the desire and ability to handle those restoration costs too.

    Made me think...I bet I could make my fintail one of the best for no more than 30K...good investment, eh? :shades:
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