The Alfa Romeo Spider is a roadster produced by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 1966 to 1993 — with small run of 1994 models for the North American market. The Alfa Romeo Spider remained in production for almost three decades with only minor aesthetic and mechanical changes. The first three series were assembled by Pininfarina in Grugliasco and the fourth series in San Giorgio Canavese. The last Spider was produced in April 1993, the last rear wheel drive Alfa Romeo before the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione of 2007.
In May 2012, Fiat announced an agreement with Mazda to co-develop a new Spider for 2015 based on the Mazda MX-5 platform. The agreement was finalized in January 2013. The Alfa Romeo Spider nameplate originates from the English word “speeder”, a two-person open horse-carriage
Alfa Romeo Spider First Series (1966–1969)
The first presentation of the modern car, as a prototype, was at the Turin Motor Show in 1961. However, the continuing success of existing models and the economic challenges facing Italy at the time meant that the first pre-launch production Spiders began to emerge from the Pininfarina production line only at the end of 1965. Based on the Alfa Romeo Giulia 105 series chassis, the Spider was launched in the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966. Unnamed at launch, the name “Duetto” was chosen in a write-in competition in Italy. 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. 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 (81 kW). Sparsely fitted inside but including five speed manual transmission, disc brakes and independent front suspension, 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.
Alfa Romeo Spider Second Series (1970–1982/83)
In 1970 the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant – a 1962 cc, 132 hp (98 kW) unit – and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300.
1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top.
Alfa Romeo Spider Third Series (1982/83–1989/90)
The Alfa Romeo Spider Third Series was previewed in North America for the 1982 model year with the introduction of 2.0 liter Bosch electronic fuel injection to replace the SPICA mechanical injection. The Alfa Romeo Spider underwent a major styling revamp in 1983, which saw the introduction of black rubber front and rear bumpers. The front bumper incorporated the grille and a small soft rubber spoiler was added to the trunk lid. The change altered the exterior appearance of the car considerably and was not universally praised by enthusiasts. Various other minor mechanical and aesthetic modifications were also made, and the 1600 car (never available in North America) dropped the “Junior” name.
The Alfa Romeo Spider interior was revised with a new center console, lower dash panels and a single monopod gauge cluster (with electronic gauges). For the North American market a model dubbed the Graduate was added in tribute to the car’s famous appearance in the 1967 film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman. The Graduate was intended as a less expensive “entry-level” Alfa. While it had the same engine and transmission as the Quadrifoglio and Veloce, it lacked the alloy wheels and luxury features of the other two models. The Graduate model had manual windows, basic vinyl seats, a vinyl top, and steel wheels as standard. Air conditioning and a dealer-installed radio were the only options. It first appeared in 1985 in North America and continued until 1990.
Alfa Romeo Spider Fourth Series (1990/91–1993)
The final major change to the Alfa Romeo Spider came in 1990. The primary mechanical change was that the Spider was given Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection with an electric fan. Externally, the Spider lost its front under-bumper spoiler and the rear trunk-lid spoiler and picked up 164-style rear lights stretching across the width of the car as well as plastic bumpers the same color as the car. This also marked the first generation of this car with automatic transmission.
In North America, the styling changes did not appear until the 1991 model year; 1990 models featured the Motronic fuel injection but retained the black bumpers. Power steering, larger knee bolsters and a driver-side airbag also appeared as standard for North American market Spiders, which were available in two configurations: Spider and Spider Veloce. Primary differences were in standard equipment: the Veloce substituted leather seats for the base model’s vinyl; 15″ alloy wheels were one size up from the standard steel wheels with hubcaps; and air conditioning and a cloth top were standard. Production of the original Alfa Romeo Spider ended in 1993. An all-new Alfa Spider arrived one year later.
A limited edition Spider Commemorative Edition was produced for the North American market in 1993 and was badged as a 1994 model. Each of the 190 Spider CEs imported to the United States had a small plaque affixed to the dashboard that identified which of the 190 cars it was. In Europe Alfa Romeo Spider version was also sold with 1.6 L engine used in series 3, it was fitted with Weber 40DCOM4/5 carburettors.