The Tragic Failure Of The Last Alfa Romeo Spider
Although Spiders are a minority among the Alfa Romeos produced after WW2, they certainly are the most iconic, be it for their unique style or the glamour of unforgettable silver screen appearances.
The Milanese brand consistently offered a Spider in its lineup from 1955 until the 15th of October 2010, when the last Alfa Romeo Spider rolled off the Pininfarina plant in San Giorgio Canavese near Turin.
While it's true that, since then, Alfa has sold Spider variants of the gorgeous 8C and the exotic 4C, those cars really were collectors' items rather than mainstream offerings.
The "939" generation Spider was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2006. The model was a close derivative of Giugiaro's Brera, so Pininfarina's input on the design was, of course, limited to the rear quarters and the canvas roof, which folded away electrically in just 25 seconds. I must say that, back then, I wasn't entirely convinced of the final result, and I appreciate it much more now.
Like the Brera, the Spider was initially available in two powertrain configurations: a front-wheel-drive 2.2 liters four cylinders and a 3.2 V6 with permanent "Q4" all-wheel drive. Both units were developed under the Fiat-GM Powertrain joint-venture and used existing GM aluminum blocks mated to specific Alfa-designed cylinder heads, featuring variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust. Both engines failed to impress potential buyers, though, and the addition of Fiat's inline-five turbodiesel during 2007 didn't improve matters.
Like the Brera it's so closely related with, the Spider was misunderstood in period and sold poorly as a result: just 12.488 examples were ever made, and it's a real pity, as there's a lot to like about this Spider. Relatively spacious and very comfortable, it's a stylish cruiser rather than a canyon carver, much like the contemporary Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 were, but that's not what people typically have in mind when they hear the words "Alfa Romeo Spider."
In 2008, the Spider range was reshuffled with new alloy wheels and color combinations made available, while the 2.4 turbodiesel gained 10 more horsepower. In 2009 the unloved 2.2 four-cylinder was replaced by Fiat's punchy 1.8 liters turbocharged engine, and a 2.0 liters turbodiesel four-cylinder joined to serve as the entry-level option. However, that wasn't nearly enough to save a model that had never established itself on the sports car market: and one that, following the Great Recession, shrunk to a fraction of what it used to be.
Sports car sales have never fully recovered since then, and such a niche model doesn't seem to be among Stellantis' priorities at the time of filming this video, leaving me wondering if the "939" generation is going to be the last Alfa Romeo Spider we'll ever see.