This 1966 Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint coupe was formerly owned by Pat Braden, author of Alfa Romeo Owner's Bible. It has covered approximately 36,000 miles. A complete car, it needs a straightforward, but total, restoration. It "ran when parked," but that was years ago. The gauges are functioning (or at least they light up and the appropriate needles move when you turn the key), the fuel pump works, the car cranks well from the key-she really "wants to go." And she probably would, if the spark plug wires hadn't completely deteriorated from age. The car is 95% complete, with all the difficult-to-get parts in place. Most of the rusty problem areas are readily apparent, as the car has been in this paint and in the California sun for some 17 years now. It is surprisingly straight. Due to floor and spare tire well rust, I recommend complete pan replacement and trunk floor replacement, not patching. The tire jack went through the passenger floor at one time due to improper jacking. There is bubbling under the paint. Alfa 2600s have a classic 2.6-liter, DOHC, alloy straight six-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission. The engine alone is valued at $2,000 to $2,500. Other features include triple Solex PHH carbs and disc brakes all around. The Giugiaro design, executed by Bertone, is timeless and echoed in cars like the Iso Rivolta and Gordon-Keeble. This is the very car that at one time inspired the statement "If you simply must have a classic six-cylinder Alfa, this is probably the model to buy. Although the 2600 is the most bulletproof Alfa of all time, according to an Alfa engineer who knows such things, they never had the charm of smaller Alfas and were not successful in the US." Please be aware that the photo makes the paint look better than it really is. {analysis} This car sold for $1,900 on eBay Motors, February 7, 2002. There was no buyer's premium, and the initial minimum bid was $1,500. It was in regular use when I purchased it for $1,500 from an Alfa enthusiast in Ohio in 1985. The Sprint suffered a broken windshield as it was being transported to California. A fellow Alfista called to tell me that the transport company had been searching high and low in attempts to locate a new windshield for the car. I called the company and, without identifying myself, asked if they needed a windshield for a 2600. "Yeah," came the hopeful response, "do you know where we can find one?" I assured them I could, and found a used windshield locally, but it too was broken in transit. I then located what was probably the last new 2600 windshield in the world, at AFRA in Italy. Fortunately, the transportation company picked up all costs. Clearly, for even a semi-exotic, the windshield is often the most problematic part to replace. As soon as I got the car, I had the windshield installed and gave it a new red paint job. For several years I tinkered with the car, starting it regularly to keep things lubricated. I also bought a $750 "parts car" against the day I'd be able to afford a complete restoration. The parts car was complete, but it wasn't running and had a badly dented rear fender. It also had a wild, multi-colored paint job with "lace" patterns laid over green, red and yellow geometric shapes. Because I found this car in the San Francisco area, I presumed it had belonged at one time to a wealthy hippie. In 1998, when I finally realized that I'd never get around to restoring the red car, I traded the pair of 2600s (even up) to a friend for a nice Alfetta Sport Sedan with an automatic transmission. The new owner followed up on the hunch that the parts car belonged to a wealthy hippie, and found that it had been registered to a "J. Lennon at Capitol Records." The parts car with the hippie paint job was ex-John Lennon. The value of the two 2600s suddenly reversed. After about a year of ownership, my friend ran out of garage space, so I agreed to store the cars for him until he found a buyer. With the two 2600s sitting in my driveway, I repeatedly confronted the temptation to own them once more. I finally decided that they represented a phase of my Alfa experience that I should not revisit. My friend's advertisement for the pair focused on the "ex-John Lennon 2600" and attracted an Alfa enthusiast in Wisconsin, who bought them. Since the deal did not involve me, I never asked the purchase price. The Wisconsin owner was intent on restoring the Lennon car, so there was now a real danger of my red 2600 becoming the "parts" car. Fortunately, instead of being parted out, it was put up for sale on eBay to raise funds for the restoration of the Lennon car. A noble motive, but $1,900 isn't going to get him very far. When you consider some of the cars that have been wrecked, burned or even buried, and then brought back to respectability, the challenge of the car pictured here is relatively mild. On the other hand, the objects of most automotive archaeology are inherently valuable and justify the money required for a proper restoration. The cost of renewing this car will far exceed its market value for the foreseeable future: only enthusiasts need apply. There's no doubt regarding the attractions of this model. The 2600's elegant Bertone body adds to the lure of Alfa's alloy, twin-cam, inline six. The Giulietta arms-akimbo posture does not apply to this ultimately comfortable tourer: the seating position is high and well-cushioned. Though the transmission on this car has the same gear ratios as the Giulia box, the 2600's 4.7:1 final axle ratio (compared to the 4.5 of the Giulia) makes first gear a real stump-puller. You can easily get underway in second with the added torque and mechanical advantage of the 2600, and third through fifth gears are optimum for anything up to about 110 mph. A well turned-out 2600 Sprint is an all-day 90-mph cruiser that is easily the equal, in comfort and safety at high speeds, to nearly any GT car built in the same period. The $1,900 paid here is slightly less than the value of this 2600's component parts. Moreover, it represents a very modest appreciation over the $1,500 I spent for it some 17 years ago. From one perspective, the new owner is getting one of the real bargains in collectible cars. The fantasy of an inexpensive restoration looms large here, especially for those whose enthusiasm exceeds their means. The reality, however, is that anything less than a professional restoration will doom this car either to certain destruction or to still another restoration by some future, better-funded owner. In its current state, this car is a still-unfulfilled promise. There's a larger issue, however, and that's the survival of an important Alfa model that deserves conservation. My ownership of the car only saved it from destruction. As time passes, should the value of this car increase, the investment of a professional restoration would become more reasonable. But the break-even point between the cost of a restoration and the car's market value is still probably at least a decade away. If you must have a 2600 Sprint, an admirable ambition from my perspective, set aside $15,000 and go buy the best one in the world. You won't be sorry.Pat Braden{/analysis}

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