Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

| 20 Jun 2024
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

It will probably never make it into the history books, but it was the downfall of the mighty Soviet Union that brought a 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider into my garage in July 1992.

Talk about the butterfly effect in reverse.

As the Soviet empire began to fall apart, the vast market that had absorbed virtually limitless quantities of exports from my native Finland disappeared.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

Exploring Finland’s country lanes; this Alfa Romeo Spider S3 has even ventured into the Arctic Circle

An economic crisis here followed: businesses were liquidated and countless Finns joined the ranks of the unemployed. And values of assets began to plummet.

When new, the Spider was an expensive car, carrying a price-tag of no fewer than 240,000 Finnish markkaa – an amount that would have easily bought two handsome Volvo sedans.

However, in 1992 the Alfa had found its way to Oulu, some 600km north of Helsinki, and was offered for sale at 135,000 markkaa.

It was such a rare bird that it had to be seen, but it was just too much money for a student at the time.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

Juha Myllymåki’s Alfa Romeo Spider S3 is in fantastic condition, despite an impromptu trip into a swamp

A few weeks passed and the Alfa reappeared in the local paper at a further reduced price. Yet again, I had to yield to my financial constraints.

Then finally the car was offered for just 85,000 markkaa, which was tantalisingly within my reach. I carefully polished up my 1968 Volkswagen 1300.

The dealer drove the Beetle around the block, it obeyed flawlessly and it was accepted as a trade-in. Hands were shaken.

There was one “but”, though: the dealer had pledged the car to his creditor and was in no position to sell it to anyone.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

‘It has never let me down and has blown just a single fuse – I still have it in the glovebox as a lucky charm’

Only an intervention by my father threatening legal action finally released the Alfa. The dealership inevitably folded soon after.

Times were so gloomy that I felt the need to be politically correct, which meant avoiding driving around town.

During one of my clandestine back-road sorties, I lost control on the gravel and crashed into a swamp.

Luckily, the Spider didn’t roll over and I managed to escape serious injury.

Having bailed out of the partially immersed craft, I ran back to a farmhouse I’d passed a few kilometres down the road and begged the owner to pull the Spider out of the bog with his tractor. He graciously agreed.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

The Alfa Romeo Spider S3’s driving position is a little cramped, if you’re tall

Thanks to the softness of the terrain, the Alfa Romeo emerged from its ordeal with only a bent licence plate.

Mercifully, there were very few witnesses to my misfortune, and Finnish frogs are known to keep their secrets.

Ever since, I have been wary of soft surfaces and over the past 30 years the Spider has given me a lot of joy.

It is not only simpatico but also reliable: it has never let me down and has blown just a single fuse during my ownership.

I still have that fuse in the glovebox as a lucky charm to chase away the evil spirits that are said to torment the electrics of ageing Italians.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

Juha’s Alfa Romeo Spider S3 has been part of his life since 1992

In other words, owning the Alfa Romeo has been a journey without headaches, and we have already celebrated our silver jubilee.

I guess I’ve been lucky; Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate had a lot more to worry about.

While cruising country lanes on summer days you can smell the flowers blossoming and hear the birds chirping.

You would need to be mortally depressed not to be cheered by the experience.

The Alfa is also relatively practical: I have on occasion driven it a few hundred kilometres north, across the Arctic Circle.

There is just enough room for two occupants and all of their fishing gear.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Alfa Romeo Spider S3

Juha hopes to keep his classic Alfa Romeo in the family

The driver’s seat is a tight squeeze for a taller person, and it makes sense to take a break every now and then. If you are in a hurry, you haven’t planned properly.

I am hopeful that one day I will be able to pass the Spider on to my daughter, Maria. She has just turned 14 and will be able to obtain a licence in a few years.

The price of petrol has been skyrocketing, and there is talk of alternative forms of propulsion. So, in the future, the Spider could run on biogas made out of cow dung, or be pulled by horses.

Nevertheless, the charm of the little red Alfa Romeo will remain intact.

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  • Owned by Juha Myllymåki
  • First classic 1968 VW 1300
  • Dream classic Alfa Romeo Spider

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