For major birthdays and anniversaries, we have developed a tradition of going on holiday somewhere in NZ, renting an interesting car, and staying in a luxury lodge. This week’s our 20th wedding anniversary, and we’re visiting Christchurch, the wineries of the Waitaki valley, and Oamaru. In a gorgeously blue 2001 Alfa Spider V6.
Review so far:
Getting the obvious out of the way first, we’ve done 150 miles so far and it hasn’t broken down yet! Here’s hoping that lasts, but it comes with roadside assistance if not.
It’s in remarkably good condition for a 20 year old car, never mind a 20 year old Alfa, though it’s only got 60k miles on the clock. Paint and wheels are perfect, no rust that I can see, everything seems to work, and there’s very little sign of wear on the interior.
The Busso is everything they say it is. Smooth, a linear power delivery that keeps on giving all the way to 7k and feels like it wants to keep going, and sounds great anywhere north of about 3k, though not as loud and sharp as I’d like it - you can hardly hear it over the wind with the top down. There’d be a sports exhaust in its future if I owned it. The guy who we picked it up from also has a 155 with the 2.5 in it, which he says sounds way better. I guess being just about the last Busso- engined car it’s suffered from noise regulations.
Gearshift is very nice though takes a bit of getting used to. The lateral planes are closer together than the amount of free play in the shift, so it feels like you don’t move the shifter sideways at all, you just apply pressure in the relevant direction and let the spring loading do the work. So for example 4-5 is just apply rightwards pressure to the lever and push straight forward. Once you figure that out and stop stirring it around trying to find a slot, it’s light and fast. Pedals are incredibly badly positioned for heel & toe though (and close together and offset, in traditional Alfa style). Steering wheel position is also traditional Alfa - designed for gorillas. It does have adjustable reach, but even at full stretch it’s too far away for me if I’m seated in the right place for the pedals.
Handling (at 7/10 or less) is good - precise and easy to place. More power- on throttle steer than any other FWD car I’ve ever driven though - it goes incredibly wide if you give it some boot out of a corner. Lots of scuttle shake with the top off - it threw my phone out it’s holder over a mildly bumpy road - but the top up improves that a lot.
Top is electric, with a couple of body panels that lift themselves up for it to hide under. Which again, works so far, though it does come with a rubber mallet in the trunk and instructions on where to hit the mechanism if it seizes! Impressively little wind buffeting with it down. Insanely good A/C, which I guess isn’t surprising given Italian summers
Trunk is silly - very deep but mostly full of spare tire. Two squashy bags were a stretch for it. There’s a nice lockable bin behind the seats though.
You can tell it’s an Alfa because there’s a loose trim clip in the ashtray