This is the finest car I have ever owned. I puchased it new in 1986 from the leading Alfa dealer in Seattle (who also handles Ferraris and Maseratis). I have previously owned many cars (and currently own three others), including a great TR-6 that I sold in 1974 when I went to Europe with my new wife. Prior to buying this 1986 Alfa, I owned a 1978 Spider that also was a very good car. I traded it in on the `86 (and later learned that the dealer re-sold it the same day).
The 1986 Alfa is Alfa Red (what other color can an Italian sports car be?) with tan leather interior, power windows, air conditioning, and a nice factory sound system. Everything works fine, including the AC. The paint is like new and the interior and top are in good condition. (This is because the car is always garaged, rarely driven in bad weather, and I am careful to fold the rear window when lowering the top.)
The engine runs as well as the day I bought the car and I have not had a single mechanical problem with it. (My neighbor wishes his Lexus were as reliable.) It burns a little oil between changes, but leaks none. The transmission has also been trouble-free. I am sure this is partly due to the fact that I always double-clutch when down-shifting. (This eliminates excess wear on the synchros and sounds cool.) The drive train is solid and the brakes are excellent.
Like any performance car, Alfas need to be properly serviced and regularly driven. If you mainatin them by the book and keep them clean and garaged, they will last a very long time. Always use the best factory-trained mechanic you can find. The service will not be cheap, but will be worth it.
The fact that the engine in this car, a four-cylinder DOHC dating back to the `50's, is as strong and reliable as it is is amazing - and underscores the genuis of the original design. I would love to have an extra 50 HP, but the car is plenty fast as it is. It, of course, isn't by any means a drag racer, but it will cruise all day at 85 MPH without missing a beat. Handling is also good, with just the right combination of balance and oversteer.
This car is perfect and I will keep it forever. If Alfa re-enters the North American market, they should take the original rear-wheel drive 1980's Spider, update the ergonomics to 2005, add modern safety equipment and comfort features (airbags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, power everything, first-class sound system, AC, etc.), and stick Alfa's V-6 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission in it. They will not be able to manufacture all they will sell.
A genuine indication of the attractiveness of this car is that I often find notes left on the windshield asking if I am interested in selling it.