I blame my dad for it all. Ever since I was old enough to walk, my Dad put a metric wrench in my hand. I grew up around European cars, specifically Fiats, Alfa Romeos, BMWs and Porsches. Since my dad always had an automotive project going on I grew an appreciation for the engineering behind Euro cars, my Dad always took them time to explain how things worked to me and how things could always be improved upon. My dad was never one to leave things alone, in fact most of his cars spent much more time apart that running. To my Dad, there was equal enjoyment in taking things apart as there was in driving his cars, in fact he probably enjoyed reverse engineering far more than driving his machines. For this reason my pops has had up to 11 cars in his possession at one time…….and all of them in some state of repair or “improvement” at the same time. As my Dad ages and loses interest in things such as cars, I am taking the liberty of getting some of his machines back on the road, to my style. The current car I am taking over is his 1991 Alfa Spider with 100K miles on the clock.
I personally never spent much time checking out the later Spiders, I’ve been a much bigger fan of the 60’s Alfas. But I’m currently obsessed with making a good daily driver out of this 1991 Spider Veloce. The car was purchased by my Dad about 7 years ago and he daily drove it to work until one day he had some unknown component fail. He then parked it and it has been sitting since….until a couple weeks ago when I brought it home with me for some much needed attention.
Where am I going with this car? I’m imagining a sleek, low Spider, with flat black wheels, aggressive offset, SS exhaust system, Momo steering wheel, perhaps a roll hoop, add lightness where possible……yeah a bit of a boy racer car……but first I had a lot of maintenance and diagnosing to do. I had little to no experience with the injected Motronic Spiders, though I have plenty of experience with the Motronic Porsche 964s and this experience came in handy along with some help from the Alfa BB I had the car running in just a few days. I did the following:
New Battery, a fuel tank refresh, new fuel pumps, new fuel lines, new fuel filters, a lot of terminal cleaning on the relays and fuses, replaced coil/rotor/cap, sourced a set of tail lights, cleaned headlight terminals, center support bearing and bushing and replaced intake rubber boot…..this got me running and on the road. After a much needed oil change, I enjoyed driving the car to and from work for a few days until a traffic jam one day had me sitting in traffic just watching the temperature soar above 200. I quickly exited the freeway and rushed to an open road to get some wind through the radiator, clearly my radiator fans were not coming on. Once I made it home, I figured out two things: 1 I was missing a radiator fan, 2 the one I did have was not coming on. I sourced the missing fan, and then after a good 4-5 hours of diagnosing, internet research and testing, I was able to get the fans to come on as they should.
I had the car running safely again and drove it another few days really enjoying the nimble handling and nice sounds of the worn exhaust system. It’s amazing how good the car feels around corners despite tons of body roll and having 100K miles on its dampers. Friday night with the top down in the freeway was really enjoyable until I exited the freeway and sitting red light I noticed smoke or steam coming from under the hood. I pulled over and an inspection revealed that the water pump seal had failed and the pump was pissing coolant. I managed to make it home after topping off the coolant at a gas station and parked the car until this past weekend when I had the chance to crack it open.
Removing the water pump on a S4 is a pain mostly because of added late car features such as A/C and power steering. On top of this, turns out that you have to remove the crank pulley in order to remove the water pump, but before the pulley comes out, the radiator must come out….what a pain! Anyways I worked though all the disassembly and placed an order for all the parts I need today. While I had everything apart, I decided that A/C has no place on my Spider so I removed the compressor, condenser, lines, dryer and any A/C components in sight. I still need to remove the lines that enter the cabin, that job seemed better for a day when I’m more energetic.
Once I have the cooling system fully refreshed, there shouldn’t be much stopping me from long road trips in this car. Since I’m anxious to make this my stylish daily driver I didn’t make haste and I ordered some wheels, 200 tread wear tires, Koni yellow shocks and I will be installing the IAP spring set I had in my previous Duetto. Pretty soon I’ll be chasing down Porsches at Angeles Crest in this Spider ! More on this in a few days. This car sat far too long, I simply won’t allow it to stop running for too long ever again!
Above is what happens inside a gas tank after sitting for 6+ years.
After a refresh, though I will be replacing sender with a new one (current one reads incorrectly).
Engine bay is dirty, slowly working my way through making this car reliable for daily use. I discovered that my VVT solenoid was never connected the entire time I’ve had the car, looking forward to repair the broken spade connectors and feeling the VVT work.
Radiator out, and A/C condenser removed, only the PS cooling line is left, I must have taken 40 lbs out of the nose of this car. Add lightness! Better cooling for the radiator too.
After a quick bath, the car shows some scuffs and bruises yet no accidents ever, I like it just the way it is. I’ll probably get it detailed after I finish the suspension and wheel upgrade.
Sneak peak at whats coming up for this car………