Twenty years ago I had just come back home to Amman after a 5 year stint in Saudi Arabia with a screaming BMW 635CSI w. racing gear box and all the toys, but only to find that customs and import taxes were almost ripple the cost of the car at the time. Needless to say, she went straight back to Saudi to collect the desert dust. I had to find alternative reliable, dignified, and "respectable" transportation which portrayed the subtle image of "conservatism" to align with the stuffy Scottish bank where I was now working. So true to character, I found myself none other than the typical convertible, 2 seat, Italian roadster, Alfa Romeo Spider.
In 5 years I realized that the stereotype that the spider will rust if you sneeze within 6 feet is not a myth. She doesn't take kindly to being neglected and will throw a tantrum if you don't take her out for a spin every other day. Marriage, two kids, and a sink-hole of a business ensued, and this spider sat motionless in my parking lot for no less than 10 years thereafter. Engine seized and door sills rusted as the car sat in my garage.
In 2009, my eldest had turned 11 and demanded his claim to the little rusty spider, and with a bit more cash in my pocket I set out to restore it. That started me on an interesting adventure in parts sourcing, in a country where there was no dealer or spare parts or mechanics with any experience in maintenance or support for what was one of the only two Series 2 Alfa Romeo spiders around. Many shortcuts and much patch-up work later, the old girl came back to life, replaced a couple of panels, rebuilt the engine, and went back on the street with the constant engine overheating and customary grind on 2nd and later 3rd gear.
A couple of months ago, after a long motionless wait in the garage again, it was time to rebuild the engine on the old girl again. This time we completely stripped the engine down and, after much arguing, I convinced my mechanic to try "disassemble and reassemble" the old gearbox without changing only the syncromesh and replenishing with 75W90... and she's now back on the road again, maybe not with the same punch from the old twin cams when it first left Milano, but with decent pull, with decent idle at the traffic light and without the gear grind when shifting to 2nd & 3rd.
Never give up on old Alfa's. Owning one is as idiotic marrying an exotic dancer, she won't cook, she won't clean, she won't do the dishes, and by golly she won't work if she doesn't feel like it... but you take her shit because you know you would be devastated if she walks away. The Alfa will rust, the spark plugs will misfire, the carbs will never be tuned right, but in the end, there will always be a sunny day on a clear road when all the moving parts will put aside their differences and decide to put a smile on a child's face and a song in an old man's heart.