The nation’s classifieds may be gripped by classic car fever, a condition that drives prices of even the worst old tat through the roof, but there are one or two models about which the claim ‘future classic’ doesn’t seem too far-fetched. The Alfa Romeo Spider of 1995-2006 is one.
There are only around 1000 examples of the 916-series Spider remaining, most of them 2.0 Twin Sparks of 1999 to 2005 vintage. (The 3.0 and 3.2 24-valve V6 cars are rare birds.) Prices range from £1000 to £5000 but around £3500 is enough for a decent car. There’s a coupé version, too, called the GTV. It’s less numerous but you’ve a better chance of finding a V6 example.
Both versions were styled by Pininfarina and both have aged exceptionally well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but most observers reckon the Spider has the edge over the GTV. Crucially, both have galvanised bodies with extensive use of plastic, especially at the front. Corrosion is rare and any that you do see is likely to be the result of poor accident repairs.
They were launched in 1995 and based on a modified Fiat Tipo chassis with MacPherson-strut front suspension. Fear not: a multi-link suspension set-up at the rear, super- quick steering and a stiffened body mean they’re huge fun to drive.
The Spider, the focus of this guide, is powered by a 150bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder Twin Spark engine, so called because it has two spark plugs per pot. Remember that when you’re budgeting for the 60,000-mile service. Power goes to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. There is no auto option.
In 2001, it was joined by a 220bhp 24-valve 3.0-litre V6, this time with a six-speed gearbox. This was subsequently replaced in 2004 by a 240bhp 3.2. The latter is one of the best engines Alfa has made: smooth, torquey and blessed with a spine-tingling exhaust note at full tilt.