This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to the glory days of Alfa Romeo, where everyone wanted to be Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” traversing the PCH with the top down in their Italian fire-engine red Alfa Spider…
The Italian firm of Pininfarina was responsible for the design of the body; in fact, the Duetto was the last project with which founder Battista “Pinin” Farina was personally associated. Franco Martinengo was the Design Director at Pininfarina at that time. Pininfarina were also responsible for the manufacture of the vehicle’s monocoque construction (designed with the relatively new principles of crumple zonesincorporated into the front and rear). The engine was a 1570 cc variant of the Alfa Romeo twin cam four cylinder engine, had dual Weber two-barrel side-draft carburetors, and produced 109 hp. Sparsely fitted inside but including five speed manual transmission, disc brakes and independent frontsuspension, the price on launch in Italy was 2,195,000 lire. In the United States the car sold for $3,950 (compared to $3,991 for a Lotus Elan and $2,607 for an MGB.) In the United Kingdom the car’s price was close to a Jaguar E-Type.
The original “Duetto” was in production from 1966–1967; replaced in late 1967 by the 1750 Spider Veloce, powered by a 118 hp 1779 cc engine. In Europe this was fitted with two twincarburettors, whereas models for the North American market (from MY 1969) had SPICA (Società Pompe Iniezione Cassani & Affini) mechanical fuel injection. Modifications were also made to the suspension, brakes, electrics and wheels and tires though the car looked effectively the same. Visible differences were limited to the rear-view mirror repositioned to the door, and different badging on the tail. During the production run, the front repeater lights were moved ahead of the wheelarches. The car’s official title was 1750 Spider Veloce, the name “Duetto” being dropped from this point on.
A new Spider 1300 Junior, with a 1290 cc engine producing 89 hp, was introduced in 1968. This lacked various features of the 1750, including the plastic headlamp fairings, the brake servo, hubcaps and opening quarterlight. Junior version had black-coloured lower front bumper.
Due to its round (or long) tail, the Series 1 Spider is sometimes known by the nickname of “Osso di Seppia” – Italian for “cuttlefish bone”. This particular car was the model featured in the 1967 movie The Graduate, driven by Ben, the character played by Dustin Hoffman.