Bringing a classic rot box back to life



Here's the story of how Classic Fixers in Redditch breathed new life into Alfa Romeo's hot hatch. 

Mention Alfa Romeo's Alfasud and the first thing anyone says is 'rust.' These great little cars wowed 70s buyers with their superlative handling and fizzy flat four Boxer engines. And, in a way, their propensity to rust was also impressive - owners tell tales of brand new cars rolling out of showrooms with rust scabs and holes.

The Alfasud's problems stem from the factory that built it in Naples. This brand new facility, and Alfa's new car, were brought together by the Italian government to bring employment to the south. Consequently the new employees were more used to picking tomatoes than building cars. The rest, or rather the rust, is history.

Fortunately, by the time factory was building the last Alfasuds they'd got quite good at it and so these cars tend to suffer less from tinworm. This has made our latest project a whole lot easier.

This Alfasud is a 1982 Series 3 Ti Green Cloverleaf - or Quadrifoglio if you prefer (we do). The car has only covered 40,000 miles from new and was very solid. But, along with most red cars of the era, the paint had faded and become patchy. There were also a couple of areas of localised panel damage that needed to be sorted out. Values of these cars have, along with other hot hatches, skyrocketed in recent years, helped in the Alfasud's case by sheer scarcity. There are less than 100 Alfasuds left in to the UK and only half of those are roadworthy. 


The project was to return the car to its near showroom condition - not quite concours, because the car was to be useable, but close enough. 


Strip down

We began by removing all the trim, including the bumpers, handles, spoilers, lights and window glass. We also removed the interior. This gave us a clear picture of the car's condition and the job ahead. Although the body was very solid, with only minor rot areas around the rear screen and base of one wheelarch, the car did show signs of previous accident damage. One side of the car was several shades of red and the door and rear panel were noticeably bowed. These would need correction during the respray.


With the car stripped down we began flatting the paint back and addressing the defects caused by the accident damage.


Respray



To respray the car we removed all the panels and painted the body and panels separately. This obviously enables us to pay closer attention to the individual parts of the car and, like Heineken, reach the parts not often reached. 


Mop & Polish


This is the stage where the quality of the paint job proves itself. We spent approximately two days mopping and polishing the car, attending to every panel very carefully to get the paint finish exactly as we wanted it.


Refit

Like most cars of the 1980s, the Alfasud had a lot of black plastic trim. These items tend to discolour over time. Various companies offer so-called remedies for this, from respraying to renovation. We chose to do the job in-house, removing dirt, grime and layers of polish and paint to clean each one back to its original finish. They were then renovated using a new product that recovers the original black finish. Whereas painting can lose the original dimpled finish of such panels, this process retained this element of the finish.
We also spent over a day getting the pinstripes and black lower panel right on each side of the car. To do this we used photos of identical Alfasuds to ensure the height and pinstripe size were absolutely right. This is a really fiddly job, as you can probably imagine. The black-painted rain gutters were also resprayed and refitted.


Result



We still have a few small jobs left to do on the car, but we displayed it at our monthly Classics & Coffee meet. The feedback was extremely positive, with several visitors asking us to quote for resprays on their own cars. 


The cost of this project was £2,000 including VAT. Every project differs but hopefully these photos and description give you an idea of what can be achieved for that investment. 


Project Summary
Car: Alfa Romeo Alfasud
Requirement: Respray to correct poor paint & previous accident damage
Action: Full respray, attend to very localised rust, refurbish all plastic trim and refit
Cost: £2,000 including VAT

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Classic Fixers specialises in classic cars. Unlike some garages they cover bodywork as well as mechanical work. To find out more call 01527 893733, visit www.fixclassiccars.co.uk. or email info@greatescapecars.co.uk. 

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