Although the Alfa Romeo name has been absent from the U.S. market from 1995 until 2007, it started importing the incredible 8C coupe in 2008, making U.S. enthusiasts very happy. The company sold many cars here during the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s and had quite a visible presence. Almost all of the cars they sold in the U.S., whether a 1970 Spider or a late 1980s Milano, are at least somewhat collectible. Models in particular from the '60s and '70s are considered very collectible. Like any old car, a poorly kept Alfa can suffer from a variety of ailments.
One of the first and foremost problems with an old Alfa is going to be the presence of rust. Although the later GTV6s, Milanos and 164s did not suffer rot as badly as earlier cars, rust has attacked many an Alfa Romeo. Look for signs of rust first by looking at the paint around the rockers behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels and around the front and rear windows. Bubbling paint is the sure sign of a rusty car.
Also open the trunk and look in the spare wheel well. If water is allowed to stand here, it will cause rust. Lift up the carpet that covers the floorboards and inspect the floors for holes or rust.
By and large, Alfa Romeo builds very strong engines that if properly cared for will run great for a very long time. However the fuel systems can be problematic. Many cars up until around 1980 came with SPICA mechanical fuel injection. Though this works fine if in proper tune, the pumps tend to deteriorate over time and need to be rebuilt to the tune of around $1,000.
Again, the clutch and gearbox on Alfas are well engineered and will last a long time with the proper care. However, if they are shifted clumsily and not allowed to warm up properly before being used aggressively, the synchros can start to wear, particularly in second gear. If the gearbox graunches or grinds going into second, the synchros are wearing, although the car is still quite drivable.
The driveshaft and rear ends on many Alfas use rubber doughnuts that can wear over time. The symptom is loud rubbing as the car is driven. Replacing the "guibos," as they are often called, is a difficult and time consuming fix, but can result in an Alfa that drives far better.
The interiors on Alfas generally hold up okay, but cloth interiors in particular can suffer from wear. Cars made in the late '70s and early '80s don't seem to hold up as well as earlier cars, the latter of which were built to a higher standard.
One of the biggest areas on an Alfa that cause problems and headaches involves the wiring. If the car has not been properly cared for or has suffered from excess moisture, they can suffer from hard-to-track-down wiring gremlins, causing everything from charging problems to components that simply will not work. If an Alfa has had the wiring modified with things like stereos, there can also be problems with the wiring.
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