If you know where to look or you just happen to stumble across a website that has some Alfa’s for sale, it is amazing what you will find out there.
A case in point, there are probably that I can think of as of today, ten (10) Sprint Speciale’s for sale on the web. Considering how rare these cars are to begin with being that now that 50-60 years have passed, there are still a lot of these cars on the market.
The oldest car is a Gold ASI Sprint Speciale that was converted into a race car. (chassis 00215) You can stand on either side of the proverbial fence on this one and toss stones to the other side, about whether this conversion is a good thing or not.
Another case in point was a Sprint Speciale (380888) that came in a basket almost literally (on a trailer) no suspension and totally stripped down to the bare metal. The restorer had some photos that I put with the register and just last night I came across the restored car for sale at a dealer in Europe. The transformation was like a caterpillar into a butterfly, it was that beautiful.
The question comes up, how do you sort out the cars that are for sale. They are all in remarkable restoration condition, so what makes a good car great? Any suggestions on how to separate out the “men from the boys”?
The only real way would be to see the cars in person, which means you would travel from England to Italy and back through Germany to look at all of them. I don’t see price as a sorting factor unless you are limited on how much money you are going to spend. This factor alone will determine how much you are willing to accept as not being “perfect” or fixable to your terms. If there are incorrect parts installed or “holes” missing some item, how hard will it be to find the correct parts and bring the car up to a higher standard.
However, if price isn’t a factor, you really have to know your cars, know what was done to the car to bring it to this level you are seeing, and then start to pick the car apart doing a nut and bolt inspection.
Then if you are a US citizen then you have to figure in shipping back to the USA with container costs, and customs to navigate before you even get to turn the key and drive it home.
I might suggest you dig back through some of my archives on this website and read about the ASI standard in Italy that will help you sort out the cars. There are 3 levels and each one is very particular about what is the accepted standard. If you want perfection, you should go find a Veloce or SS in Gold standard. It means in short that the car is exactly the way it came out of the factory, and has a paper trail all the way to present.
Documentation is essential from ownership, restoration, to receipts for all the work and parts. If the restorer is a “check book mechanic” and has paid for everything out of pocket there should be a fat file of photos and receipts for everything. Then you can go down hill from there to where you stand back and question what is under that paint. We call it the 20-20 rule. From 20 feet away it looks perfect.
What I am seeing over the last 20 years is a resurgence of parts being produced to 100 point show car restorations. What we used to throw away we now resurrect from the grave yard and make them look like perfect China dolls. This has in effect driven the market of value far beyond many of our dreams. However when compared to other marques, some models of Alfa Romeo’s still pale in value.
So it comes down to what is it that you really want and what can you live with. The old line from “Kung Fu” was a TV show starring David Carradine in the 70s. As a pupil at a monastery learning the art of Kung Fu, the lead character was referred to by his master as grasshopper. The master would say to the pupil, “Choose carefully Grasshopper.”