History of the 1971 - 1971 Alfa Romeo Spider
The Pininfarina-designed 105 (later 115) series Alfa Romeo Spider was in production from 1966 until 1993, and is now considered an iconic classic. It is a front- engine, rear wheel drive car seating two people with either a rear parcel shelf or a tiny back seat, depending on the year.
The earliest model, commonly known as the Duetto, was highly advanced when released in 1966. Based on a monocoque body, the car features servo-assisted all-round disc brakes, a live rear axle and an all-aluminium twin OHC engine controlled by a five speed gearbox. Its styling, with a sloping ‘boat-tail’ rear end and scalloped sides was considered bold, but has more than lived up to the test of time. The car was is practical too: there is a large boot and a very simple and effective convertible top.
In 1969 the Spider was redesigned, gaining a cut-off ‘Kamm’ tail, a revised nose, more steeply – raked windscreen and new interior. This Series 2 Spider received only minor changes until 1983, when Pininfarina provided another redesign. The Series 3 is noted for its conspicuous rubber boot spoiler, revised cabin and modernised nose. Finally, in 1989 the Series 4 Spider was released, doing away with the unpopular rear spoiler and generally updating the car.
Throughout its life, the 105/115 Alfa Romeo Spider was produced with 1300, 1600, 1750, and 2 litre engines. A tiny number were fitted with a turbo, the rest being naturally-aspirated with either twin carburettors or fuel injection (Spica for early US cars and Bosch later). A limited slip differential was fitted to 2 litre cars from 1971 onwards.
The car is delightful to drive, superbly balanced and nimble with light, effective steering. The engines all rev freely and pull well, with the 1750 commonly being considered the smoothest. Most mechanical parts are interchangeable throughout the four series, and there is also engine and drive-train commonality with most other Alfas of the era. Parts supply is plentiful, with a huge range of high-quality remanufactured parts and upgrades being available. Engines are easy to work on and robust, with chain-driven cams and wet piston liners.
The biggest issue with any Alfa Romeo Spider is usually rust. Drain channels ran through the sills, and if blocked can cause significant internal corrosion. Valences, wheel arches, door bottoms and the spare wheel well also attract mud and water and are prone to rot. On Series 2 and earlier Spiders the scuttle drain tubes tend to split, causing the floor pans to rust, and the area where the hood is secured to the back of the car is also prone to corrosion. Poor restorations can cause more problems- if not properly braced the car can sag when sills are replaced, so door gaps should be checked . Build quality can also be an issue. Interiors can be fragile and electrics can be temperamental.
Early Duetto Spiders are considered the most attractive by purists, but the 1750 round-tail Spider balances the original body design with the larger engine. As a result, both Duettos and 1750 round-tail Spiders command a premium in terms of value over other Alfa Spiders. Series 3 (rubber boot spoiler) cars are currently the least collectable of the series and values reflect this.
Similar cars in the 105 Series Alfa range were the GTV, GT Junior, Junior Zagato and the Berlina. Alternative convertibles would include the Fiat 124 Spider, Lotus Elan roadster, the MGB and Triumph Stag.