One of the more unique things about the US model Alfa Romeo of this time period is the mechanical fuel injection. The mystical SPICA (pronounced spee-ka) injection system. I won’t even attempt to go into detail about it, but I want to stress that when you’re talking about a tune-up, your talking about maintaining the Spica injection system. Don’t think you can own and still love one of these beloved jewels if you can’t get used to doing the step-by-step Spica tune-up procedure yourself on occasion. The carburetors and air fuel mixture that most people are accustomed to working on don’t exist on these cars. You’ll want to follow the Spica tune-up procedure whenever you feel the car isn’t running or idling right.
Now I’m obligated to give special recognition at this point to Wes Ingram who demystified the Spica injection system and documented the step-by-step process so that owners didn’t have to find an Alfa Romeo dealership to work on it. The Spica injection system was a crucial part of selling Alfa’s in the US as emission regulations developed over the years. In the age of hotrods and tweaking engines for more horsepower, the dealerships didn’t want owners playing with them (check out the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Bible by Pat Braden for more detail).
So with all that said, I’m working my way through the Spica tune-up procedure step-by-step until I feel comfortable enough to do it straight through myself. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m no car guy and this is a HUGE learning experience for me. Each time I set out to work on the Spica system, I usually start by read the whole procedure document first, then I read the section I’m attempting to learn two or three times, and then I try a walkthrough of just that section (sometimes without actually making a change). It’s critical to understand that most of the steps in the procedure rely on completing the previous steps, so don’t just start adjusting things randomly.
Important Spica tune-up documents and videos:
- Wes Ingram’s Site – Where you can buy the definitive manual
- AROO SPICA Tune-up Procedure – An Alfa Romeo Owner’s club version of the procedure (there are several around the Internet)
- Spica Maintenance Manual – I’m not sure who wrote this but it covers the ignition timing and other parts the previous documents don’t really fill in thoroughly enough for completeness
- SPICA injected Alfas – Part 1 – Video giving a general walkthrough of the injection system
- SPICA Injected Alfas – Part II – Credit for both videos goes to Gregg Lockwood
- Thermostatic Actuator Test Demonstration – Video by International Auto Parts