Made famous by Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate, the Spider was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966, just when the era of the ‘muscle car’ was reaching its height. Based on the chassis of the Giulia 105, a lightweight car with a powerful engine, it was designed and built by Battista Pininfarina. It was to be the last car he worked on – he died only a month after the Spider’s introduction.
Like Pininfarina’s masterpiece, the iconic Cisitalia 202, the Spider was a monocoque (all-in-one body). It was fitted with Ma’s all-alloy twin cam four-cylinder engine and had five-speed manual transmission, disc brakes and independent front suspension.
Initially called the Duetto, it soon acquired the nickname Osso di Seppia, (Cuttlefish Bone) after its distinctive rounded rear tail. Its raunchy Italian styling encapsulated the liberated spirit of the approaching ‘summer of love’ and today it is considered a design classic of the swinging ’60s.
In 1967 the Duetto was replaced by the beefed-up 1750 Veloce version, manufactured with two twin carburetors for the European market and fuel injection for the US. The Veloce looked more or less identical to the Duetto but it was fitted with a more powerful engine and modified suspension, brakes and electrics. At the same time a less exclusive, pared-down Junior 1300 version was produced.
The Spider is an absolute joy to drive – pure unadulterated fun. It is the ideal roadster – nippy, easy to control (four-wheel disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering make for excellent handling) and comfortable enough for long journeys. And it had staying power – with only minor modifications, the Spider went through four iterations, remaining in production for the best part of 30 years, by which time some 124,000 had been built.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1966 (until 1969)
Duetto 1,570 cc, Veloce 1,779 cc, Junior 1,290 cc DOHC Straight Four
Duetto – top speed of 109 mph (175 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.3 secs Veloce – top speed of 116 mph (187 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Altogether there were four generations of the Alfa Spider the Ossa di Seppia or Roundtail (1966-69), the Coda Tronca or Kamm Tail (1970-81), the Aerodinamica or Duck Tail (1982-89) and finally the 1,962 cc type 4 (1990-1993).