Last Chance To Buy: Alfa Romeo Spider


When is it going?

When is it going?

The latest models of Pininfarina-designed Spiders, which go back 50 years, are now available in special edition. Once sold, that's it, for this distinctive car. They are available in red, blue or grey with top, Lusso specification and 2.0-litre or 3.2 V6 engines, costing £23,510 to £28,300.

What's good about it?

The Alfa Romeo badge still means a lot in an open-top sports car. Its long history - Dustin Hoffman drove an Alfa Romeo Spider in The Graduate - meant the most recent model had a lot to live up to. The 1996 Spider looked distinctive and still performs well. As a front-drive car, it handles neatly. That model had a fairly recent facelift - a corporate nose, 16in alloy wheels and a reworked cabin with a new centre console - and, at eight years old, it seems far too young to die.

What's bad about it?

The Alfa Romeo badge has never been a guarantee of a high-quality build and the Spider has had reliability problems. It is good to drive but the body has never been stiff compared with some of its rivals, so flexing on the open road has spoiled the driving experience. Although the soft-top stows away neatly, folding up the roof seems very old fashioned in an age of electric metal roofs. Its value tends to depreciate faster than most soft-tops. The boot is marginal, the ride can be firm and the trim can fall off.

How much?

You ought to be able to get a discount on the special editions of at least £1,000. Spiders can also be sourced through Virgin cars (0870 766 3311) with the £20,380 2.0-litre Twin Spark, the £21,800 2.0-litre Lusso and the £26,590 3.2-litre Lusso, at £17,295, £19,395 and £23,295 respectively. Meanwhile, a specialist supplier such as SmartAlfa.co.uk (0870 609 0147) can supply the same models for £16,812, £19,042 and £22,970.

Any snags?

The suspension wears on older models, the electrics can play up and the engine can cause problems. From 1996 to 1999, the car was recalled: rear-brake hoses were chafing suspension, seatbelts were not secure, windscreen wipers had failed and brake master cylinder supply pipe connectors were failing.

FACT FILE

Launched: 1996

Engine: 2,0; 3.0V6; 3.2V6

Performance: 2.0 top speed 133mph, 0-60mph in 8.4 secs

Economy: 2.0 34mpg

NCAP: Not tested but air bags and ABS

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