I would appreciate it if you could direct me to any reviews that talk about the new 500's "reliability issues" since I have been unable to find a single one anywhere. As for your dad's spider being "one of the last ever on this continent" you are dead wrong; as I speak there are literally dozens of them for sale here in B.C. and they are by far the most common Alfas. The rare (and cheap) ones are the sedans which are usually more reliable and faster than the spiders. There are literally thousands of Alfas still in the USA (mostly rust free California ones) and they are a ridiculous bargain for the most part. The whole Italian car prejudice is/was mostly a function of 1970's US car industry slander and a weak dealer network (which won't be the case since Fiat bailed out Chrysler mainly to provide them with a solid dealer network in the North American market). In my experience the biggest problem with Italian cars in North America is ignorant North American mechanics, most of whom don't even know which weight of oil to put in them. Older cars also can have electrical issues (just like older cars from anywhere else) and they can be a headache; I usually pass on a car with wiring issues. Find a sympathetic competent mechanic and you will be a happy man.
First result on google http://www.edmunds.c...er-reviews.html
First post is about reliability issues, looks like about 1 in 3 are experiencing reliability issues including:
" I just scheduled my 8th service visit. It pains me to say that I have started looking at the best way to get rid of this car with the least amount of loss. With 13,000 miles on it, it acts like a car with 100,000, and that simply doesn't work." Had the car for a year
"bought brand new car, only 3K miles, sometimes it would start, sometimes it wouldn't...not a good feature in a car! at first dealer suggested I was doing something wrong, but after having it towed 3 X, they finally realized I wasn't making this up."
"Car had to have engine replaced at 10K miles and had transmission problems at 16K miles."
All the reviews agree its a fun car to drive, which I bet it is, but too many issues to deal with on a consistent basis. Yeah finding a competent mechanic will keep a car running, but those bills are going to add up and with the situation the OP is in, that's not what he needs.
I'm not biased against Italian cars, they have the most soul out of any country's cars and will be fun to drive whether its a 500, Alfa, Maserati or one of the big boy Ferrari/Lamborghinis, but they will also be expensive to maintain, and have reliability issues.