The Italian carmaker has been struggling for decades, and even though it's nowhere near as popular and prestigious as it used to be, it is still a household name in the automotive world. The main reason is legacy, as this company is responsible for so many legendary sports cars, the Alfa Romeo Spider is no doubt one of them.
Most of us saw it for the first time in “The Graduate” movie, but real enthusiasts know very well that this is much more than a fancy-looking sports car. Rear-wheel-drive, lightweight, excellent handling and superior driving experience are some of the things that come to mind. In other words – nothing but a pure driving pleasure.
The Spider was available in Australia between 1966 and 1976, as well as between 1998 and 2012. During that period, we’ve seen four generations on the Australian roads. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider was introduced in 2015.
The First Generation of Alfa Romeo Spider (1966-1969)
The development of this car started in the early '60s. The company needed a successor for the Giulia Spider, a model that can successfully compete with British roadsters like Lotus Elan, MGB, Jaguar E-Type, and others in this category. As expected, the development was trusted to the legendary Pininfarina, and after several concept studies, the production model finally arrived in 1965.
The Australian model debuted the following year, equipped with a 1.6-litre twin-cam inline-four engine, with a max output of 80kW. Although it wasn't particularly fast on the straight line, its performance in corners amazed the automotive world. The engine was coupled with a 4-speed MT, while all wheels were equipped with disc brakes.
1968 Update of the Alfa Romeo Spider
Big changes came two years after the launch. The Spider was updated, and we saw a new version called 1750 Veloce. The main upgrade was a new 1.8-litre engine, which featured a max output of 87kW and came along with a new 5-speed manual transmission. This version could reach a top speed of 190 km/h.
The Second Generation of Alfa Romeo Spider (1970-1976)
The second generation, commonly known as Series 2 Spider, debuted in 1970. Compared to the original model, changes were relatively subtle. Most of the mechanics remained the same, while the styling received evolutionary updates only. We saw a slightly revised grille and headlights, along with new door handles, wheels, and windshield.
The most significant change was the new rear-end design. We saw a Cammback layout, which made this roadster a little bit more practical. Also, we saw a new, nicer cabin design.
The initial version used the same 1.8-litre engine in combination with a 5-speed manual transmission.
Alfa Romeo Spider 2000 1972 Update
After two years of production, an upgrade came with the 1972 model year. A new, 2.0-litre engine was introduced, also with four cylinders but with more power. The max output was rated at 98 kW. The model was aptly renamed – 2000 Spider Veloce or the Alfa Romeo Spider 2000.
Alfa Romeo Spider 1974 Minor Update
In 1974, we saw another minor update that replaced steel bumpers with rubber-clad ones.
The Alfa Romeo Spider was discontinued from the Australian market in 1976 for the first time. In other parts of the world, the second generation remained active until 1983.
The Fifth Generation of Alfa Romeo Spider (1998-2005)
After 22 years of break, the Spider was once again offered in Australia. That was the fifth generation of the famous nameplate, based on the well-known GTV coupe. The two models shared both their mechanics and aesthetics.
Compared to the previous generations, this one was no longer a classic British roadster. Instead, it came with front-wheel drive, disappointing many enthusiasts. However, the car was packed with many advanced design solutions, such as independent rear suspension, ventilated discs, and similar things. The overall performance was pretty good for the time.
Outside Australia, this generation was launched in 1994, so the version for the Australian market was the updated 1998 model, which included a new, more modern interior design. The car was quite luxurious and equipped with advanced technologies. Australian buyers had a choice of three grades – the base, Luxury and Millennium.
All three models were equipped with the same 2.0-litre twin-spark four-cylinder engine. The max output was 114kW and rated at 186Nm max torque, with power sent to the front wheels via a 5-speed MT. That output was enough to move this car from zero to 100 km/h in about 8.5 seconds.
The second facelift came in 2003. This update included few styling changes, including a new, much more prominent grille. Also, the license plate was moved to the side. There were a few interior updates, too, but the major change was the new engine.
A 3.2-litre V6 was introduced, with a max output of 176kW and 289Nm of max torque. The Spider could hit 100 km/h in less than 6.5 seconds with this engine, while the top speed was over 250 km/h. Another big novelty was the addition of ASR traction control.
The Sixth Generation of Alfa Romeo Spider (2006-2012)
The next Spider we saw on the Australian market debuted in 2006. This time, the car was based on the Brera coupe, instantly snatching the Best Cabrio of the Year award in Geneva. Besides attractive styling, it has also brought a few exciting design novelties never been seen in a Spider before.
Just like its predecessor, this Spider featured a transversally-mounted engine and front-wheel drive, but for the first time, this nameplate was offered with all-wheel drive and automatic transmission. Both were optional features. Another “for the first time” was the diesel engine option, which wasn’t offered in Australia.
There were two engine options. Base variants used a 2.2-litre inline-four (136kW, 230Nm), with 3.2-litre V6 (191kW, 322Nm) as an option. Interestingly, the four-cylinder version featured FWD, while the V6 model was offered only with an AWD.
Initially, both engines were coupled with a 6-speed MT, but that changed in 2007, when the V6 came with AT. In 2010, a new 1.75-litre turbocharged inline-four engine was introduced (147kW, 320Nm).
The production of this model officially ended in 2010, but a certain number of units remained in inventory, so the car was available for a few more years in Australia.
Alfa Romeo Spider 4C (2015-2020)
The latest iteration of the Spider nameplate came after a few years of break. For the second time in Spider's history, we saw radical changes regarding base design characteristics. In this case, the Alfa Romeo Spider 4C serves as the basis, and this iteration seems way more upscale than ever.
The Spider 4C isn't a simple British roadster nor an affordable FWD convertible. It comes with a mid-engine layout, lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre chassis, dual-clutch transmission, and other features that are rather typical for supercars. That is why the cheapest version costs around $100,000.
The car is equipped with a small 1.8-litre turbo-four engine, which features a max output of 177kW and 350Nm of max torque. However, the vehicle is extremely light (940kg), so it's no wonder that even this relatively modest amount of power is enough for a 0-100 sprint in about 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 257 km/h.
The production officially ended in 2020, but you can still find this Alfa Romeo for sale in Australia. Besides the standard version, there's even a chance to find a special version called Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale Tributo, which comes with unique styling details, upgraded suspension, Akrapovic exhaust system, and brown interior.
Do you need replacement parts for your classic Alfa Romeo Spider? We can help you find what you need. The only thing you need to do is request the desired part on our website, and you'll start receiving offers and quotes from some of the most reliable wreckers and parts suppliers in the country.
By Nebojsa Grmusa