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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The missus and I have been thinking our next car could well be a Miata, which I realize is a big surprise here in the car lounge as the Miata could well unseat the e36 M3 as the car lounge king this year!
We're looking at earlier Miatas w/ the 1.6L as they're incredibly affordable, and decent to nice one's are going for $4-6k in our area.
But then again, so do Series 3 Alfa Spiders (the mid to late 80's ones).
I know they're not as reliable, I know they're actually old cars with newer body cladding/trim, I know they'll require more maintenance, I know they'll leak oil, and I know they're probably not as fast. It's a second car, and we commute less than 5 miles in both directions, so ultimately, those factors aren't as big a deal as they are to some folks.
That disclaimer out of the way, if you've driven both, tell me about the differences in the experience of driving these cars.
Supposedly, the Bosch cars are more reliable, start much easier, and don't take away too much from the car. Is it true? The chassis is stated as being flexible, how bad?
But if the Miata is hands down the winner, even without the class or pedigree (i guess), tell me why!
Sorry for the ramble, but the nice weather is making me twitch for another car, especially with a green light to consider convertibles! And of course, obligatory pics

dc


vs.




Modified by Dan337 at 9:47 AM 3-18-2004
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Dan337)

'86 Spider Veloce was my first car which I had for two years and I miss every single day!!
I also briefly worked at a Mazda dealership and drove Miatas (the newer ones), and they were a lot of fun as well. But......forgettable compared the Spider. The Spider will be quirky and tedious (for example you need to shut the trunk with both hands on either side to avoid bending the lid), the trunk and gas cap cables will break, window regulators will fail, and the locks become a joke after some use. (I could break into mine with a paper clip). But...it's got heart, it's got soul, it's got character, and it's a lot of fun. A 90 would be a good bet because it's still that styling, but with an airbag.
actually.....wow...where did you find that second image? The car must be an '86..it's the only year champagne was made, which was the color of mine. Mine was identical to that car!

and driving wise....I guess the Miata feels tighter...but the Alfa is great for twisty little roads....the engine has SOME pep but not much at all (120 hp), the sound it makes is somewhat satisfying....all in all, I think you'd have more fun with this car. and also....mine was bulletproof, reliability-wise. Only thing that went that would leave you stranded was the water pump. They have timing CHAINS, so you don't have to worry about them too much...

edit: found it on Ebay.........holy crap it's IDENTICAL to my first car (minus the cheesy door ding protectors)!!!



Modified by LittleBlackGTI at 1:00 PM 3-18-2004


Modified by LittleBlackGTI at 1:31 PM 3-18-2004
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Dan337)

Not sure about the market specifics in your area, but for $4-$6k you'd be looking at a nice 1.8l '94-'96 Miata, fwiw.
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Y2kSI)

Quote, originally posted by Y2kSI »
Not sure about the market specifics in your area, but for $4-$6k you'd be looking at a nice 1.8l '94-'96 Miata, fwiw.

Same as above - I wouldn't pay more than $4k for anything older than a '94.
I've never driven the Spider, but I owned a Miata for a few years. My only comment is that the Spider's stick doesn't look nearly as fun to shift as the Miata's is.
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (fueledbymetal)

I don't have any hands-on experience with the Alfa, but they are gorgeous cars. My wife's uncle used to drive one, and he constantly bemoans having to sell it.
It sounds like you can arrange alternate transpo to work if need be, so why not try an Alfa?
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Y2kSI)

Quote, originally posted by Y2kSI »
Not sure about the market specifics in your area, but for $4-$6k you'd be looking at a nice 1.8l '94-'96 Miata, fwiw.
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas. http://****************.com/smile/emthdown.gif I had a 94 and switched to a 93 because RWD was more fun.
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (spdfrek)

Quote, originally posted by spdfrek »
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas. http://****************.com/smile/emthdown.gif I had a 94 and switched to a 93 because RWD was more fun.

um
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (spdfrek)

Quote, originally posted by spdfrek »
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas. http://****************.com/smile/emthdown.gif I had a 94 and switched to a 93 because RWD was more fun.

 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (spdfrek)

Quote, originally posted by spdfrek »
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas. http://****************.com/smile/emthdown.gif I had a 94 and switched to a 93 because RWD was more fun.

Am I missing something. The Miata has always been RWD from 90 to present.
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (NBracer8)

Quote, originally posted by NBracer8 »

Am I missing something. The Miata has always been RWD from 90 to present.

The '98 wasn't.
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (spdfrek)

Quote, originally posted by spdfrek »
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas. http://****************.com/smile/emthdown.gif I had a 94 and switched to a 93 because RWD was more fun.

hahahahaha
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (NBracer8)

BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas
The Miata has always been rear drive.
Now as for the question at hand...
From a dynamics standpoint, the Alfa cannot match the Mazda. The Mazda is tighter, more rigid, quicker, and more nimble. It weighs less and has much lighter controls (and more usable, more widely-spaced pedals).
From a style standpoint, the Mazda cannot match the Alfa. The Mazda's cabin is dull grey, it could be a 323. It has no tactile feel, and though it's a convertible it doesn't "feel" special in the way the Alfa does.
For reliability and ease of service, the Mazda wins. It's Japanese. Plus, though the Alfa is a relatively low-power car, the Fiat Spider does everything simpler. A valve adjustment on an Alfa twin cam is hard, an adjustment on a Fiat or a Mazda is simple - this echoes throughout all of the mechanicals.
But if you want a stylish car that's almost as quick (but no autocrosser), the Alfa's for you. But it's more expensive to buy and run.
A real cheap alternative to both is a Fiat 2000 Spider, which is almost as fast and rigid as the miata but as stylish as the Alfa and with all of it's presence. The Fiat is the most ergonimcally correct of the three, has the largest luggage capacity, and is relatively easy to service.
In terms of rust protection, the Fiat and the Alfa are about even, the Mazda waaaay better than both.
The MGB and TR-7 convertible also fit in here, but the MGB feels like a car of the fifties (which it basically is) and it's very low-tech compared to these others. The TR-7 suffers from poor quality and it's love-it-or-hate-it styling. Neither British car is as reliable as the Fiat or the Mazda but the MGB is the easiest car in this class to work on by yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Taimar2)

Quote, originally posted by Taimar2 »
A real cheap alternative to both is a Fiat 2000 Spider, which is almost as fast and rigid as the miata but as stylish as the Alfa and with all of it's presence. The Fiat is the most ergonimcally correct of the three, has the largest luggage capacity, and is relatively easy to service.
The MGB and TR-7 convertible also fit in here, but the MGB feels like a car of the fifties (which it basically is) and it's very low-tech compared to these others. The TR-7 suffers from poor quality and it's love-it-or-hate-it styling. Neither British car is as reliable as the Fiat or the Mazda but the MGB is the easiest car in this class to work on by yourself.

Well, my parents owned a Fiat 2000 when I was a kid and I wouldn't turn it down per se, but I like the lines of the Alfa better, and the fact that it's a touch newer, but maybe I'm being armchair fickle too -- at least I'm good enough to admit it!
I've owned an MG Midget previously and I miss it, but it was too far gone to keep at the age I owned it. As much as I'd like another, I'd prefer that to be a weekend only car, and I already have one of those.
And the TR7, well that falls into the 'hate the styling' category for me.
Is the spider really heavier than a Miata?
Thanks for the reply,
dc
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Taimar2)

Quote, originally posted by Taimar2 »
I...don't think so. See:
BUt then you lose the RWD on 94-96 Miatas.
S3 Spiders, BTW, are the Alfa Spiders made between 1982 and 1989, with the black body cladding and rear spoilers.

Doh, that's what I get for posting when I'm hungry. Time for lunch!
dc
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Dan337)

I'd have to look it up, but yes I believe the Spider is heavier than the Miata. I know it's heavier S4 form for sure, S3 I'm not sure but I think so.
Only the very early, pre-impact bumper spiders are really light.
As for the Fiat, you can get them up to 1985+1/2, which is almost as new as an S3 Alfa.
I'd also recommend that you drive an Alfa before seriously pursuing one. You'll probably enjoy the drive, but you'll probably hate the pedals. They're so narrow I have to drive Alfa spiders with my shoes off, which is very disconcerting. It's not at all like the sedans that the Alfa is based on either - those have much more logical arrangements.


Modified by Taimar2 at 12:08 PM 3-18-2004
 

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Re: DRIVING comparison of the series 3 Spider vs. Miata (Dan337)

big difference between Alfa Spider and Fiat Spider = timing belt that tends to slip versus timing chain that remains firmly in place
(chain being on the Alfa)
 
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