Well 16 years IS A Long TIme. Any car I have owned that long used at least a quart of oil every 500 miles. In fact, my new GMC pickup does too. This is mostly minor engine leaks that can be fixed. If you are not a "fixer" you should lease your cars.
I've owned 4 old Alfas and love them. IT's a SPORTS CAR - your supposed to be an enthusiast and blind to its faults. Even new they used about a quart every thousand miles. Most of the reliability issues were straightened out in 1984 when BOSCH Fuel injection and Electronics were used throughout. My 1986 Spider looks beautiful, starts like a Toyota sounds like a Ferrari and makes me very happy!
I had a '73 Alfa Spyder and I've called it the prettiest piece of S**t I've ever had. When it was running, it was a truly remarkable car. The problem was it didn't run very often. It rusted in places where I din't think it was possible, the brakes had a nasty habit of not working for no apparent reason, the electrical system was a mess, and going from 1st to 2nd gear had to take place at EXACTLY the right RPM's or you had to skip it and go to 3rd. My mechanic, "Mario" would experience progressively weak English comprehension as the mechanical problems grew worse. Also, you could bottom the car out by running over a quarter.
Having said all this, I was in college and couldn't wait to get out of class to drive it. High speed handling was incredible and it definitely made all the right sounds. I've never understood why Alpha would willingly and with full knowledge lack the pride they needed to make a good and reliable car. There was no reason for it other than simply not giving a dam. I've grown up now and drive a Boxster S. It does everything the Alpha should have done.
Too bad guys, I have a 1974 2 litre, which is still doing good. No nightmares, but I do only drive it 30-40 mile round trips in north western AZ. 120 degrees plus on hot days, 100 plus all the time in summer, spring and fall.
I think it needs a good aftermarket radiator and some hood louvres; that would solve all cooling issues.
My Alfa does not overheat. I just don't like the temps it gets up to (200 plus on a hot day), but it still drives just fine.
I love stomping on the gas pedal. Lots of fun. First gear launches are cool. Two wheels spinning in mine. Not sure about yours. Drive like you want to break and fix it. This car loves hard driving.
Good luck, Doug. firstname.lastname@example.org