It was an era when the expression “a cougar” simply meant “a large American wild cat with a plain tawny to greyish coat”!
Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in the 1967 film “The Graduate”, celebrated his graduation in several age immaterial ways, but it was his parent’s stunning gift, an iconic 1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, that provided an enduring image.
The Alfa Romeo Spider (105/115 series) was produced by Alfa Romeo from 1966 to 1994.
Based on its immediate predecessor, the Giulia, the Spider included Alfa Romeo’s twin cam inline-four 1.6 l engine, independent front and solid axle rear suspension, and unibody construction.
This was Battista Pininfarina’s last project and his company was responsible for the Spider’s design – under the control of Franco Martinengo – body pressing and final assembly. Assembly took place initially at Grugliasco and later at San Giorgio Canavese.
The design of the Spider saw early incarnations in late 1950’s concept cars, in the Alfa Romeo Spider Super Sport which debuted at the 1959 Geneva Motor Show and in the Giulietta Sprint Speciale displayed at the 1961 Turin Motor Show. Although ready in 1961 economic pressures prevented the car from being green-lit until 1965.
The 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966 saw the Spider’s debut. The name “Duetto” – although not its trade marked name for legal reasons – was chosen from names suggested in a public vote for which the winner received a car.
At launch the cost in Italy was 2,195,000 lire and in the US was $3,950. In the UK the car was priced to compete with Jaguar’s E-Type.
In June 1968, the Spider 1300 Junior, was introduced as a price sensitive alternative.
Throughout the production runs of both vehicles, 6,324 1600 Spiders were made and 2,680 of the 1300 Junior.
1970 saw the first significant change to its exterior styling with the 1750 Spider Veloce having a “cut-off tail” – called the “Kamm tail” – replacing the famous “Dove Tail” of the earlier Spider. 1971, saw the introduction of a larger 2 l engined version and the car being re-named the 2000 Spider Veloce.
By the mid 1970’s the Spider grew into a “two plus two” and for stringent US safety standards rather bulbous and ugly black bumpers were added.
Production of the original Spider ended in 1993. 190 Spider Commemorative Edition were produced for the US market in May 1993 and badged as a 1994 model.
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