Sunday, May 22, 2016

Show Car Sunday returns with an Italian supermodel

Preamble preamble blah blah blah, just look at this car!
This is a ridiculously sexy 1969 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 in Verde Vivo (Live Green?). The official name is Spider 1600 but everyone in the classic car game calls it the Duetto.
This is a hard ride to oversell as it is a landmark design in automotive history. Its worldwide popularity skyrocketed when a first year (1966) model was used in the movie The Graduate. For the record the movie uses the actual engine sounds of a '66 Duetto (something that happens less than you might expect in film), as well as highlighting the electrical foibles inherent in a '60s European sports car (the gas gauge doesn't work in the movie even though the car is new).
This charming 3 piece grill was only used from '66-'69. In 1970 a single body-width grill replaced it.
Look at that poor Mini Cooper getting upstaged when she's used to be being the cutest girl in the room. This car was parked on a lovely block in Carroll Gardens. Its mere presence made it look like a movie set.
I love these early covered headlights that are reminiscent of a Jaguar XKE. When this car was new it cost just under $4,000; a huge sum in '69! The Jag was priced pretty close.
This little beauty is wearing a set of Campagnolo C35 wheels that were optional on Alfas from the '80s. They are made from magnesium and are super light as a result. The original wheels & hubcaps from the factory were decidedly more delicate.
The Duetto was largely based on a 1960 Alfa show car called the Superflow IV. In fact it is so beautiful that I'm posting the pic from Wikipedia as an example:
YOWZA! I mean, this is a legit supermodel of a car. However look at the rear end and how it compares to the Duetto.
Incidentally this rear overhang is referred to as Osso di Seppia in Italian and Boattail in the U.S. The 1970 redesign gave the rear a flatter, more conventional look.
Seeing this parked on the streets of Brooklyn made ME nervous! All the edges are delicate and exposed, as is the very low rear deck. One thoughtless parking job by an SUV could ruin it!
The top looks perfect like everything else.
With the exception of a couple of mild facelifts this design lasted from 1966-1994; a remarkable run! Even more remarkable is that is heralds from the pre-safety regulation era and managed to meet requirements as they added up all the way through the '70s and '80s. The Beetle, Corvair, MG, and many others fell by the wayside as they couldn't keep up with newer laws.
This is a purists sports car. Plenty of actual gauges, wood steering wheel, stick shift, and that's about it. Somebody added a radio, but the windows, locks, and top are manual. There is a cigarette lighter right where your hand would normally fall because this is Italy in the '60s right?
In 1969 that mirror was relocated to the door from the front fender. That, combined with the rounded rear and 3 piece grill means this can only be a '69.
Too bad at least one thoughtless bastard parked by touch. From the odd placement you can see how this is a rear bumper that was trying to fit into a spot. Having had a VW Beetle with the "Cal Look" (front bumper removed) parked on the streets of San Francisco I know all too well what it's like to come out and find your baby with a black eye.
Well there we have it; a sweet little Italian job from the era of hi style. These were rare when new but luckily they've always been coveted so the survival rate is decent. To own one today you'd better be a tinkerer with a garage, an Italian mechanic, or someone with enough cheddar and patience to allow for frequent trips to the shop while you're driving the Other Car. Regardless you'd be hard pressed to look classier rolling down the street, especially if you're a lady. Bellissimo! 

No comments:

Post a Comment