Pick of the Day: 1966 Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider Duetto
The perfect car to discover why Alfa Romeos are so loved by their fans
Over the years I have owned a great number of cars and, of all of those cars, the one that might be the most beautiful was an Alfa Romeo 105 series “Duetto Spider.”
The 105 series Spider was the first major redesign of the Alfa Romeo Spider since the 750 Giulietta Spider was released in 1955. All the cars up until the release of the new car were just revisions of the Giulietta. After a successful 11-year run, it was time for a change, and Alfa Romeo went to Pininfarina to create a more modern roadster. One fascinating note is that the new roadster was the last car built under the supervision of Pininfarina founder Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina and, while sometimes panned by journalists when introduced, it has come to be thought of as an absolute masterpiece.
The new car was introduced at the Geneva Motorshow in March of 1966, with Alfa having a contest to come up with a name through a write-in competition, the prize being an example of the new car. After 100,000 ballots were submitted, the winner was Guidobaldo Trionfi from Brescia, Italy, who proposed the name “Duetto”. Sadly, due to a trademark issue with Volvo, who owned the name Duet, Duetto was not officially adopted and the car was instead named Alfa Romeo Spider 1600, though Trionfi did receive his prize.
The new Alfa was powered by a 122-horsepower 1570cc all-aluminum twin-cam inline four-cylinder engine backed by a five-speed gearbox. The car also featured four-wheel disk brakes and a convertible top that is one of the easiest in the world to raise and lower.
Behind the wheel, the Duetto Spider quickly demonstrates why enthusiasts love Alfa Romeos. The engine loves to rev, the handling begs the car to be driven hard and the brakes are more that sufficient to stop the car when needed. The sound of the engine is music, with these cars defining everything that is good about Italian sports cars.
The Pick of the Day is one of these cars, a first-year 1966 Alfa Romeo 1600 ‘Duetto’ Spider. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. (Click the link to view the listing)
This listing is a perfect example to follow if you are looking to post your car on ClassicCars.com as it includes detailed information of every part of the car and an extensive photo library.
According to the seller, this Duetto is a rust-free example top to bottom and features nice brightwork, with the correct Alfa Romeo Red being in good condition. I did notice in the pictures some chipped paint on the bottom of the doors, which something that you can either live with or have corrected. Flaws I noticed were overspray from a repaint on the springs and some rougher edges on the sills—not an issue of being poorly repaired but rather not perfect.
The interior is absolutely correct for this car, with vinyl seats in the correct pattern, the correct rubber floor coverings in the driver and passenger footwells, a correct carpeted transmission tunnel and correct rear vinyl area that even has the correct drape to its installation. In addition, this Duetto still has its correct plastic steering wheel, something that often is swapped for a Nardi wood wheel or a Momo leather-wrapped one.
The engine compartment also looks to be perfectly correct including the air cleaner assembly, something that is often swapped out on Duettos.
The seller adds that this Duetto drives and handles well, and fires right up. The seller adds that the brakes are a bit soft and “requires the pressure of an F1 car to really work as they should.” This might be an overstatement, but it would be something worth seeing if they are in fact working correctly. He continues to describe the handling as on rails and cornering as excellent, as he was able to scrub off speed with little braking on our long curves. The seller closes by stating that the car is in perfect working order.
The Duetto I had was at best a #4-plus condition car, and I still loved it. This one, which is better in every way than mine, looks and sounds to be a car in #3-plus condition that could skillfully be brought up to #2 condition. Personally, I would leave it alone and just enjoy it.
That being said, the asking price of this car is $59,000, which is a lot more than mine cost 19 years ago. Based on my knowledge of the today’s market and knowing how much money it takes to make a weaker car as nice as this one, this may be a fair price for this Alfa Romeo.
If you have ever wondered what an Alfa Romeo is like to drive and own, this Duetto would be the perfect way to discover why these are so well loved by their fans.