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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's a beautiful soft-top car, which is stylish but affordable, and potentially a future classic

Against It shakes, rattles and rolls. Plus, it's not very reliable, and there are rust problems

Verdict The Spider looks fantastic, but it's not great to drive and it's expensive to run

Go for… 2.0 Lusso

Avoid… 3.0 V6 Lusso

Alfa Romeo Spider Open
  • 1. Cambelt changes are needed every 36k miles or three years, more frequently than the 72,000 miles/six years Alfa says
  • 2. Check older Spiders carefully, as they may be rusty
  • 3. The hood must be in good shape because it will cost a fortune to replace
  • 4. The boot is small, and the rear seats are really only good for children or luggage
  • 5. The cabin looks cheap and most examples will probably rattle
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Alfa Romeo Spider Open full review with expert trade views

The Spider is a soft-top sports car that has great looks and sounds great. Older cars in good condition can now be bargain buys, but beware of costly insurance and repair bills. The owners' club can offer advice and recommend specialist garages, but Spiders are quite rare, so you’ll have to scout about to find one.

The quick steering and raspy engines are tempting, but Spiders ride harshly and worn parts can make them feel vague and unpleasant to drive. The body shimmies and shakes more than the GTV coupe on which it's based.

The cabin looks cheap, although Alfa improved it in 2003, and there will probably be rattles, while the seats go shabby unless you buy a model with a leather interior. It's only a two-seater but, even so, space isn’t that generous inside and the boot is small.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited numbers around, but has to be good value to sell especially 3.0/3.2

James Ruppert
Used car guru

As far as engines go, you can choose between a four-cylinder 150bhp 2.0 and a 3.0 V6 that delivers 218bhp. The smaller engine is more common and will serve you best.

The 3.0 sounds great and is very quick, but has more power than its chassis can handle. The 2.0 is more of a match for the car, and since it is the same engine you’ll find in the 156 and many other Alfas, getting spare parts should be no problem.

There are just two trims, Turismo and Lusso. All have twin front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-con and alloy wheels, and all have manual gearboxes. Lusso models are worth buying for their leather seats.

Plenty of owners imported Spiders from 1999-2002, when they were far cheaper abroad than UK dealer-supplied cars. Make sure any import is as well equipped as a UK model. If it isn’t, it will be hard to resell later at its full value.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high average claims; expect the car to be in the garage often

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Older Spiders are cheap to buy, but will need major work to keep them going. They will also probably be rusty. Buying the newest and the best you can find will pay in the long term, but even on these check the history and the car match up. The hood must be in good shape, too, because they cost a fortune to replace.

None will be cheap to insure, although the 2.0 models fall into group 17, saving on the 3.0’s group 20. Annual servicing is expensive, and it’s also wise to change the engine’s cambelt every three years or 36,000 miles. Spares are reasonably priced, and using one of the many non-franchised specialist garages will save on main-dealer prices.

Official fuel economy figures promise up to 30mpg for the 2.0 and 24mpg for the 3.0, but don't expect to hit these figures in everyday driving.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited numbers around, but has to be good value to sell especially 3.0/3.2

James Ruppert
Used car guru

A full service history is a must because neglect can cause oil to clog the 2.0 engine. Cambelt changes are needed every 36k miles or three years, although Alfa says it's only necessary every 72,000 miles/six years. If neglected, the belt can slip or snap. Rear suspension bushes wear and, if the resultant clonking is ignored, this can damage the linkage and arms, tripling repair costs.

Look out for faulty or damaged hoods: the electric opening system must be A1. Also check the alloy wheels, as they can become porous, so that tyres lose pressure. And, if you'r elooking at a 1990s' car, check it has a red-topped master key in addition to the blue-topped one. Without it, duplicates cannot be made, and replacing it is expensive.

Rust affects the rear deck where metal joins glass, and also under the rear arches. If it is visible, it is serious. Repairs are possible, but will be expensive.

Torn or frayed seats will cost more than you’d guess to fix.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high average claims; expect the car to be in the garage often

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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