“You can't call yourself a petrol-head
until you have owned an Alfa!”

 

 

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Several models have been named Spider throughout the years. For more details on most of the different models, check MotorBase.

 

Alfa model

Year

24 HP 1910
Tipo G1 1921
Tipo RL/RLS 1923
Tipo RLSS Tourer 1925
6C-1500 1926
6C-1750 Super Sport/Gran Sport 1929
6C-1750 Turismo (17/75 HP) 1929
6C-1750 Sport/GT (17/85 HP) 1929
6C-1750 GTC 1931
8C-2300 1931
6C-1900  
6C-2300 Turismo/GT/Pescara 1934
8C-2300 A/B Short/B Long 1935
6C-2300B Pescara/Mille Miglia 1935
6C-2300B Turismo/GT 1936
8C-2900 B 1938
6C-2500 Turismo/Sport 1939
6C-2500 Super Sport 1939
6C 2500 SS 1939
1900 1950
1900 Sprint/Super Sprint 1954
Giulietta Sprint/Sprint Veloce/Giulia Sprint 1954
Giulietta Berlina/Berlina Ti 1955
Giulietta Spider/Spider Veloce 1955
2000 1958
2000 Spider 1958
Giulietta Sprint 1961
Giulia TI 1962
Giulia Sprint 1962
2600 1962
Giulia SS 1963
Giulia TZ 1 1963
Giulia TZ 2 1965
2600 Sprint Zagato 1965
(Duetto) Spider 1966
GTA 1300 & 1600 Junior 1966
1750 & 2000 Berlina 1967
33 Stradale 1967
Montreal 1967
GTam 1750 1967
33.3 Le Mans 1970
Alfasud/Berlina/Sprint 1972
Alfetta 1972
GT Junior / Bertone 1974
33 TT 12 1975
Giulietta 1977
Alfetta GTV 2.5 - 6 1979
Alfa 6 (sei) 1979
GTV6 1981
33 1983
33 Sportwagon 1985
75 1986
164 1988
SZ/RZ 1989
155 1992
145 1994
146 1995
GTV 1995
GTV Spider 1995
156 1998
166 1998
145 1.6 TS 1999
156 Sportwagon 2000
147 2000
156 GTA 2002
156 Sportwagon GTA 2002
147 GTA 2002
GT 2003
156 Crosswagon 2004
159 2005
Brera 2005
Brera Spider 2006
159 Sportwagon 2006
8C Competizione 2007
MiTo 2008
8C Spider 2009
Giulietta 2010
4C 2014
Giulia 2015
Kamal C-Crossover (?) 2016
Duetto Spider 2016

 

 



T H E   H I S T O R Y

"Every time I see an Alfa Romeo, I tip my hat", Henry Ford said. He passed away in 1947, a couple of years before the Milan-company went for mass-production. Even though Alfa Romeo has a strong profile today, it was in the days of Henry Ford that they were in a class of their own when it came to auto sport and sports cars.

In 1910 a group of Italian businessmen bought a large car plant in Portello outside Milan. The plant had been the Italian branch of the French car Darracq, which models didn't apply to the Italians at all.

Alfa 24 HP - 1910A.L.F.A. was short for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (Car Factory of Lombarda). The first A.L.F.A. was the 24 HP designed by self-self-taught engineer Giuseppe Merosi. This was a large, conventional touring car with a 4L, 4 cylinder cast iron engine, producing 42 HP (the 24 HP designation referred to the power rating for tax purposes). Merosi's Alfa designs were unadventurous but solid with a high level of quality and reliability.

A.L.F.A.'s sales grew in the years following 1910, but the outbreak of W.W. I put a stop to automobile production. In 1916 the company came under the direction of the Neopolitan industrialist Nicola Romeo.

Nicola RomeoRomeo's other companies were deeply involved in supplying the Italian and Allied war effort, and the A.L.F.A. plant began producing military hardware. Romeo earned a fortune during the war, and was able to purchase A.L.F.A. outright in 1918. After the war, production resumed under the the new name Alfa Romeo.

Merosi continued as head designer, producing a series of solid production models and several successful racing cars. However, he ultimately proved unable to produce the innovative passenger car designs that were needed for Alfa Romeo to remain competitive. In 1923, Merosi was replaced by Vittorio Jano, who was hired away from FIAT.

A young Alfa racing driver named Enzo Ferrari was responsible for bringing Jano to the company. Jano's first design for Alfa Romeo was the P2 Grand Prix car. The P2 had a lightweight chassis, and 2L straight-eight engine. The P2 won Alfa Romeo its first world championship in 1925. Under Jano, Alfa Romeo experienced a golden age. He developed a series of small- to medium-displacement 4, 6, and 8 cylinder inline engines based on the P2 motor that established the classic architecture of Alfa motors. Jano's designs not only achieved a high level of performance, but set exceedingly high standards of reliability.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1750Jano's first production car for Alfa Romeo was the 6C 1500, which appeared in 1927. The motor was essentially a detuned P2 unit with two fewer cylinders. Most 1500s were sold with conventional, utilitarian bodywork, but sporting versions were also produced and saw some success in racing. However, the 1500's larger-engined successor, the 6C 1750, which appeared in 1929, was the ultimate 6 cylinder Alfa of the period. 

The 1750 was highly successful on the track, with wins in the 1929 and 1930 Mille Miglia and the 1930 Targa Florio, and numerous other events besides. With spare but graceful two-seater bodies by Zagato and Touring, the 1750s were also beautiful; they epitomized the union of function and form in the vintage European sports car.
 

 

Outstanding as the 1750 was, it was technically surpassed by Jano's next variation on the P2 theme, the 8C 2300 of 1931-34. This car's 2300cc eight-cylinder, dual overhead cam motor was created by adding two cylinders to the 1750.

The 2300 was an expensive exotic of which only a few hundred examples were made. It was beautiful like the 1750 and perhaps even more successful in racing, but it was introduced at a time when few could afford such luxuries and a government supported company could not justify producing them.

In response to new economic realities, Jano reverted to a 2300cc 6-cylinder engine to produce a car that was smaller and cheaper than the 8 cylinder Alfas, although still neither small nor cheap in absolute terms.

Jano produced two other major designs for Alfa Romeo. The P3 Gran Prix car, also known as the Tipo B. The P3 updated the classic Alfa architecture and was quite successful from its introduction in 1933 until it became uncompetitive after 1935. The final product, the 8C 2900, appeared first as a sports racer in 1936, and later as a production car.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B convertible The production version was the 2900 B, described at the time as "the fastest car in the world."  It was also one of the rarest and most expensive, making today's Ferraris look a bit cheap and commonplace by comparison. A prime example of a 8C 2900B Lungo convertible was sold at Christie's in 1999 for more than 4 million US dollars!

Enzo Ferrari had risen from driver to manager of the Alfa Romeo works racing team by the end of the 1920s. In 1929, he left the company and started went into business selling Alfa Romeo cars and preparing them for racing. Ferrari's new enterprise, Scuderia Ferrari, also assumed responsibility for managing the factory racing team and developing racing cars in close collaboration with the factory.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Lungo Despite the technical and racing success during Jano's tenure, Romeo's industrial empire had financial difficulties and suffered serious damage in the crisis of 1929. Romeo had been removed as director in 1928, and the company was taken over by the government shortly after the crash. In 1934, it was absorbed with other industrial companies by an agency of the Fascist government, the Instituto di Riconstruzzione Industriale (IRI), which was to control it for over 50 years. 

Alfa also became the government-subsidized standard-bearer for Italian racing efforts during the 1930s, but produced very few cars for sale. Racing was emphasized over passenger car production after Mussolini discovered its potential for building national pride and international prestige. For a time Alfa was virtually unbeatable in sports car racing, winning Le Mans every year from 1931 to 1934, the Targa Florio in 1931-1935, and the Mille Miglia in 1931-1934, 1936, and 1937. In the early 1930s, Jano's P3 achieved an impressive string of successes on the GP circuit, as well.

By the middle of the decade, however, Alfa could not compete with the formidable teams from Mercedes and Auto Union, financed by Germany's even more ambitious government. Tazio Nuvolari's stunning victory over in the 1935 German Grand Prix was Alfa's last major success for a decade. Jano, unable to satisfy Mussolini's desire for victory, was forced out in 1938 and went to work for Lancia. Ferrari's relationship with the company ended in the same year. 

The second world war again brought a virtual halt to car production at Alfa. While the Portello plant made shells and other war materials, partially-assembled production vehicles were put in storage and a few racing and experimental cars were hidden in caves north of Milan. In the end, the war was a disaster for Italy, and for Alfa. The factory was severely damaged by Allied bombing in 1944, and occupying German troops commandeered part of what remained. Nevertheless, Trevisan's design team worked through the destruction to develop a different kind of Alfa Romeo for the changed Europe that lay ahead.

Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 GP Car production was initially slow to restart at Portello. While the future of the auto industry in a devastated Italy was still unsure, Alfa Romeo produced a variety of products, including stoves and aluminum window frames, to keep its workforce and facilities productively engaged. Like those of other manufacturers, Alfa's first post-war cars were cosmetically updated models from the late 1930s. The first cars produced after the war were 6C 2500s that appeared in 1946. Interestingly, the years immediately after the war marked Alfa Romeo's last but very successful forays into Grand Prix racing.

Alfa won world championships in 1950 and 1951 with the tipo 158 "Alfetta," a recycled prewar racing car, and its modernized successor, the 159.

In 1950 a completely new passenger car, the Alfa Romeo 1900, was introduced. This was the first modern Alfa Romeo. It was smaller than past Alfas (although not small by post-war European standards), and retained many elements of the classic Alfa architecture while incorporating modern innovations in design and production technique. In 1954, a new model that departed even farther from the company's elite past was introduced, the Giulietta. With encouragement from the IRI, this was to be a smaller and more affordable Alfa for middle class buyers. It featured a 1300cc version of the now-familiar all aluminum, dual overhead cam, inline 4 engine. To stimulate interest in the car, the first Giulietta, a Bertone built sprint coupe, was given away in a public lottery. Models with sedan and spider bodywork followed.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1954-2004The introduction of the Giulietta brings us to the beginning of the modern era in Alfa Romeo's history. To cover the increasing demand from around 6.000 cars in 1955 till almost 60.000 in 1960, two new factories were built. The first was a large complex opened in Arese, north of Milan, in 1960. This plant replaced the company's antiquated works at the Portello with a modern design and production facility. The Giulia Sprint GT was the first Alfa Romeo to be built entirely in the Arese plant.

The second new factory was the result of an ambitious, government-inspired venture to produce a smaller, cheaper Alfa Romeo for the home market. Rudolf Hruska, who had worked with Ferdinand Porsche on the Volkswagen, and later with Alfa Romeo on the Giulietta, as well as with Ford and Fiat, was given responsibility for the design of the new car and the new factory that was to produce it. Alfa Romoe Giulietta Sprint Hruska's small team developed an innovative, boxer-engined, space-efficient front-wheel drive car that went into production beginning in 1972 at Pomigliano d'Arco, near Napoli. The car was named the Alfasud, or Alfa-south, after the factory.

After several strikes amongst industrial workers throughout Italy in the 70's, together with general problems at the new Alfasud plant, the company were not able to expand like they had in the 60's. There were also problems with rust and general build quality in the 70's and 80's. In 1986 Fiat bought the whole thing and has been the owner since. 

Competition and involvement in motorsport has always been a part of the Alfa Romeo tradition so it was no surprise when in the early 1970's Alfa, together with it's racing division Auto Delta, once again started to stamp its authority on world motor racing. In 1972 the Tipo 33 sports car project resulted in Alfa taking second place in the World Manufactures Championship.

33 TT 12 - World Champion Sports Car In 1975 Alfa Romeo's 33 TT 12 completely dominated world sports car racing, winning the World Sports Car Championship. Of Alfa's seven wins that year, four were 1-2 sweeps. Alfa also won the 1975 World Manufactures Championship. The win proved intensely satisfying, for exactly fifty years before Alfa Romeo had won the the very first such title. The 1975 victories were not the end of the 33 story, for two years later the 33 SC 12 again won the 1977 World Sports Car.

The Alfetta sedan was joined by a Giugiaro-styled coupe, the Alfetta GT. Both have the "Alfetta package" of torsion bar front suspension, de Dion axle at the rear, front engine with the clutch, gearbox and differential in a rear transaxle unit, with disk brakes all round. Engine size was increased to 2 litres in 1983.

In 1979 Alfa introduced a modified Alfetta saloon chassis and bodyshell fitted with an all new alloy 2.5 litre V6, this car, the Alfa 6 was the first six cylinder Alfa for more than a decade. The Alfa 6 was not particularly well received but its fuel injected stable mate the GTV 6, released in 1981 was to go on to become one of the great sports cars and an Alfa classic.

The Alfasud was replaced by another front-wheel drive model the Alfa 33, also made in the Pomigliano d'Arco plant outside Naples. The 33 could not, however, keep the whole production capacity occupied so Alfa embarked on a joint venture with the Japanese manufacturer Nissan. Alfa produced the mechanicals, which were then fitted to a body designed and developed in Japan. The car that was produced was known as the Arna in Italy and the Nissan Cherry Europe in other countries. The result was only a limited success.

Alfa then released the Alfa 90, a somewhat blandly styled sedan fitted with hi-tech internal features such as a digital display dashboard, green neon interior lighting and a removable miniature plastic briefcase incorporated into the under dash design. While a sound concept and powered by the fabulous 2.5 litre V6, the futuristic features of the 90 did not make it one of Alfa's most successful models.

Alfa continued production of the 33, with engine capacity increasing to 1.7 litres. A new mid-size sedan was introduced, the Alfa 75, which was fitted with engines ranging from a twin-spark four cylinder to a 3.0 litre version of the V6.

Alfa Romeo GTV V6 In the late 90's Alfa has establish itself as a real competitor for the BMW market with the 156 and 166 models. The Spider and GTV are also exceptional vehicles. Today they are, together with Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia, a part of the Fiat company. (Many of the technical solutions you'll find in a Ferrari, are also often used in an Alfa Romeo).

The new 147 was voted car of the year 2000, and it seems Alfa's future is certain prove to be as successful, and as fascinating as its past... 

Source: The basis of this article was found online, but I don't know who wrote it. If anyone out there recognizes it, give me a hint. I would like to give credit where credit's due :-)

The hardcore Alfista might want to check out Pat Braden's Alfa Romeo history...