The Wonderful Alfa Romeo 2000/2600 Sprint Coupés
When we think about classic Alfa Romeos, a 2000 or a 2600 Sprint coupés aren't likely to be the first cars that come to mind.
Yet these gorgeous grand tourers have a pretty special place in automobile history, and I'm here to tell you why.
Our story begins at the 1959 Turin Motor Show, when a very young Giorgetto Giugiaro was introduced to Nuccio Bertone by a friend. The great coachbuilder then asked him to bring some drawings to his office a couple of days later, and Giugiaro's material impressed him enough to doubt he actually did it. So, as a kind of ultimate test, Nuccio Bertone gave the young Giugiaro the measurements of an Alfa Romeo coupé the firm was working on: could he produce a design proposal within the next three days?
Giugiaro delivered, and Alfa Romeo's management reacted very positively indeed, wasting no time approving the design for production. The 2000 Sprint, therefore, marked the beginning of Giorgetto Giugiaro's stellar career in automobile design, one that would include over 200 models and an estimated 50 million cars.
The 2000 Sprint
Giugiaro's proposal was strikingly modern for the time, as it broke the period convention of having the round headlight generating the bodyside section, so typical of 1950s car design. In Giugiaro's creation, the four round headlights were instead enclosed in a full-width grille, where the Alfa Romeo "shield" took a much more tridimensional, prominent role. Add to that the clean, simple side section and generous glass area with thin roof pillars, and we have a design that anticipated the design trends of the 1960s, making the previous 1900SS by Touring look decidedly old-fashioned.
Presented as the 2000 Sprint in 1960, Alfa Romeo's flagship coupé hid under its sharp lines a running gear that was pretty much a carryover from the 1900SS it replaced. The two liters inline-four twin-cam engine, fed by two Solex carburetors, produced 112HP at 5900 Rpm and was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The front-wheel suspension was independent with double wishbones, while the rear used a solid axle with coil springs. Brakes were drums on all four wheels.
The 2000 Sprint was quite well received, counting even the Italian Police among its customers, but, given its production run lasted less than two years, it is a deceptively rare car, as just over 700 units were ever made.
The 2600 Sprint
The ivory white car that currently delights visitors in Alfa Romeo's Museum isn't a 2000 Sprint but a 2600, the model that replaced it in 1962.
Apart from the badges, the only aesthetic difference is the non-functional hood scoop that visually hints at the larger, more powerful engine underneath.
It was a brand-new, all-aluminum twin-cam straight-six fed by three double-choke Solex 44 mm carburetors, rated at 145 HP at 5900 Rpm and capable of pushing the stylish coupè close to 200 Km/h. To reign in such exuberance, the 2600 Sprint was equipped with disc brakes: first on the front wheels only, then on all four after about 4000 cars were made.
Alfa Romeo buyers welcomed the performance boost from the new six-cylinder engine, leading to nearly 7000 sales despite the 2600 Sprint's hefty price tag of around 3.2 Million Lire, enough to buy two Giulietta Ti. However, it can be argued that the 2600 Sprint rapidly lost its "raison d'etre" once the more modern, cheaper, yet nearly as fast Giulia GT Veloce became available, so it was quietly retired in 1966 without a straight replacement.