My 33 is the second car I purchased since learning to drive. I think a Sprint is a good choice for a first car so long as you're at least slightly interested in cars. It will teach you the basics of car maintenance since it's old, not that complex to work on, and if you don't keep mending and maintaining it, soon half of it won't work and it may become as bad as everyone says Alfas are..
It also has the amazing designed-in ability to teach you how to drive.
Lesson one: driving defensively because your tiny little tin box will be crushed if some muppet in even a modern supermini doesn't see you
Lesson two: threshold braking because you have no ABS and a 30-year-old brake system which will distribute braking force in a completely unpredictable manner
Lesson three: rev-matching when downshifting because you won't have functional syncromesh on the lower gears
Lesson four: racedriver mindset because you have a direct handling, uncomfortable, eager but slow old sportscar that will gradually make an Italian out of you
Lesson five: car control because once you have the above, you still won't have traction control, stability control, a limited slip differential or any inclination to start driving like an old person..
It is a 1979 model, with 99000km...
Does it have a 5-digit odometer? ;p
The current owner and the current condition of the car are more important than how many kms it has travelled after 30 years.
Originally Posted by cheeseontoast
The only thing is, I'm quite tall at around 190cm, and was wondering if there are any taller Sprint owners out there? Might there be a way to lower/move the seat back, easily, legally, and cheaply?
As mentioned, take out the spacers under the seat rails. This is easy and can be done with just an allen key. Then recline the seat backrest so you aren't sitting so upright. The biggest problem you may have is fitting your knees under the steering wheel and still having room to steer and change gear. I'm 18xcm and I fit OK in a 33, although I did swap my steering wheel to a smaller one to give more room for my knees.
Originally Posted by cheeseontoast
Also, what about reliability? I know Alfas don't have the greatest track record, would I be better off finding something Japanese for my first car and getting an Alfa later on?
The Alfa Sprint and the other boxer Alfas aren't bad for mechanical reliability, but they are old cars now. Most of the problems will probably be electrical (due to bad connections) or just minor niggles with durability / age-related stuff. If you get the engine timing belts and tensioners changed on time and keep the motor topped up with oil, it will at least run and isn't known for destructive tendencies. If you get a professional to tune the carburettors, it will even run reasonably well. And if the electrical and cooling systems are OK, the car can be used successfully to transport you from place to place. It's not a complex device - the radio will be the most sophisticated electronics in the whole car.
Your life is likely to be full of Japanese cars. Getting the Alfa first will put them in perspective - you'll appreciate their comfort and the quality of their design and construction but realise the ways in which they're dull. Then you can decide if life's too short and if you want to try a different Alfa.
Disclaimer: If the car you're considering buying has been looked after (likely if it's still be alive and with a low mileage at age 30), it may not be as much of a hassle as I've suggested.