Alfa Romeo Duetto Register by Wille R.

Via Veloce by Wille R.    since November 1995 and still here.
First published 2 November 1997

Alfa Romeo Duetto 1966 -1969 FAQ.            

Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 The Duetto.      Una storia di emozione allo scoperto.

In short, this is the Duetto. The details are on the next pages     Next

For many car enthusiasts, the Spider is the foremost symbol of the Alfa Romeo. The model was immortalized in the feature film The Graduate (1967) starring Dustin Hoffman.

The Spider can be roughly divided into four series: Series 1 with round rear, series 2 with coda tronca rear, series 3 with black plastic catchers and black spoiler on the rear, and finally series 4 with flat rear and body coloured bumpers.

I'm the happy owner of a 1967 model Spider 1750 Veloce. When you drive a classic Alfa Romeo with the hood down, it ruffles your hair, but of course it's just nice. The car attracts attention, and sometimes people come over and ask what kind of car this is. Then I take the opportunity to explain to them what a Spider with a round tail is all about.

The following models are available: Spider 1600 (also called Duetto), Spider 1750 Veloce and Spider 1300 Junior. Please go to the following pages for details.

I have been an Alfista for more than 60 years and a member of Club Alfa Romeo Sweden with my Duetto since 1970. Over 400,000 kilometres have been spent together, the Duetto and I. We have visited the North Cape in the north and Puglia in the far south of Italy, as well as of course a lot of other countries in Europe. I have been driving a Duetto all the time, so I have also learned a few things about the car over the years.

The Duetto celebrated its 50th birthday in March last year and is one of the longest-lived models in car history. It demands respect from everyone who has a genuine interest in cars - and of course especially from those who have feelings for Alfa Romeo.

The following models are available: Spider 1600 (also called Duetto) Spider 1750 Veloce Spider 1300 JuniorI have been an alfist for more than 60 years and a member of Club Alfa Romeo Svezia with my Duetto since 1970. We have spent over 400,000 kilometers together, the Duetto and I. We have visited the North Cape in the north and Puglia in the far south of Italy, as well as of course a lot of other countries in Europe. I have been driving a Duetto all the time, so I have also learned a few things about the car over the years.

The Duetto celebrated its 50th birthday in March last year and is one of the longest-lived models in car history. It demands respect from everyone who has a genuine interest in cars - and of course especially from those who have feelings for Alfa Romeo.

Prohibition if the letter Y

Some Italians believe that the word Spider is derived from "speed". For an Italian, it will then be "Speeder" and later Spider. I have heard several argue for this over a Campari. Porsche had its 356 Spyder, the car that immortalised James Dean. Unfortunately, dear James lost his life in his fateful Porsche in Texas. Maybe he should have driven an Alfa Romeo instead?

When it comes to spelling, it's called Spider and not Spyder. In 1924, an official decree came from Milan, from what in good English would be called the International Federation of Coach Builders. At that time, it was the fascists who ruled Italy, and the letter "y" was not to be used as it came from the Greek alphabet. Therefore, it had to be Spider and not Spyder.

The word Spider actually comes from Ireland and the time around the turn of the last century. At that time, horses pulled small and light carts with two or four wheels to transport people in a comfortable way. The designer had a long-legged spider in mind when he designed the carriage. The name Spider found its way to America and then back to Europe, and the Italians were especially happy with the word.

The Geneva Motor Show

The Duetto was officially introduced for the first time in Geneva on March 10, 1966 as a replacement for the 101 series Giulia Spider. The car was given model number 105.03.66, and there was only one version and model.
In addition, there were virtually no accessories that could be ordered from the factory. One model and one version, that is, designed just to stand neatly in line. The spider was practically not changed in any way during its production period and retained the same basic components. It is good to know if you come across one.

In 1967, it was time to expand the range of Spider. Alfa Romeo already had the 1300 engine, and a larger 1,800 cc engine was now fully developed. Some Spiders were built with this engine variant to test the mechanicals.

It passed the test, and in January 1968, 1750 Spider Veloce debuted at the Brussels Motor Show. The name 1750 was to give associations to the beautiful Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 from the thirties, and the new Spider was set up together with a silver grey 6C 1750. Spider 1300 Junior, however, had to wait with the launch until June the same year.

Osso di Seppia
The Duetto had become a success, and it was produced throughout 1967 and continued with a few as late as 1970. The duetto was sold in parallel with the other engine alternatives and was marketed as an entry-level model as it was cheaper than the 1750 Spider Veloce.

When Alfa Romeo was to launch its Spider with the 1600 engine in 1966, they had not yet decided on a name for the car, but logic suggested that it should be called Alfa Romeo Spider 1600. This name also became official, despite the fact that the factory had announced a naming contest where the name "Duetto" was named the winner. Alfa Romeo never had an emblem or other mark on the car that showed this name and never used it on the beautiful car.

On the other hand, from 1966 to 1994, all Spiders were popularly called the Duetto in Italy. In this article, I call the Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 the Duetto, for short. These all had rear-wheel drive and were based on the 105/115 series. The Italians talk about ‘first series’, second series’ and so on.

The Italians also called the Duetto "Osso di Seppia". That nickname got it for the cuttle fish bone-like shape. If you have owned a budgerigar, you may know that it needs a small oval stone on which to grind its beak. It is an Osso di Seppia, the backbone of a Mediterranean squid.

Low radiator
Many had problems with the "long narrow" shape when it was launched. Today, ironically, these cars are among the most sought after from this time. The rather low, artistically-shaped body is styled with a concave along the sides. This large "fold" runs along the entire Spider all the way to the taillights. It was a gimmick by Pininfarina that would suggest that the airflow had helped shape the car.

Great emphasis was placed on keeping the body as clean as possible. The front is extremely low, and with a small bonnet, the feeling of a low car is enhanced. The bonnet was also one of the body parts that remained unchanged until production ceased in early 1994.
With such a low nose, the radiator solution from the other Giulias could not be used, but the filling hole was moved from the top to the back of the radiator. As a result, the radiator came to sit lower than the engine. Many people were unhappy with this solution, until some found out about the technique of venting the engine. Many top packs went the whistle before that time.

‘Smile hole’

The hatch for the petrol refill was the same throughout the years. It is further proof of the Italians' sense of proportion, where the small chrome-plated button emphasizes harmony. The fuel tank was made of metal and the same as on other Alfa models, except for the shorter filling pipe.
The grill and bumpers, which were made of stainless steel, were there mostly to emphasize the low front. Duetto had five grooves in the grill and a small ‘smile hole’ above. It was not really a hole, but rather a discreet ‘vent’ the middle of the front end.

The ‘smile hole’ took time to produce, since this detail was hand-made. Today, it is difficult to find a front with this detail, but they do exist. The ‘smile hole’ disappeared from the Spider in 1970 when the Kamm tail appeared.

Aerodynamic values
Pininfarina equipped Duetto with Plexiglas cowls - manufactured by Perpex S.P.A. - over the headlights. This gave the car a sleek look, and many enjoyed the resemblance to a Ferrari. Pininfarina designed cars for them too.

The soft top
The hood was not visible when it was lowered, which further emphasised the low, sleek profile. This, too, was a design element that gathered much praise.
The result was that the Duetto gained excellent aerodynamic properties. Pininfarina itself never reported exact figures, but Alfa Romeo often drew parallels to Bertone's BAT (Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica) from the early 1950s.

Now back to the dominant fold on the sides. Alfa Romeo claimed that the fold improved aerodynamics, but realized that it was probably mostly a question of aesthetics. There were various explanations such as that the fold helped the air flow to stabilise the car.

The feeling of lumpiness

It was later admitted that the fold was there to ‘take away the feeling of clumsiness’ and perhaps a little to help stabilise the body. The fold is in fact really stylish and blends nicely with the long, round rear end. 

The bodies were built by Pininfarina in the Grugliasco factory outside Turin. They performed all sheet metal and welding work and primed the bodies. They were then sent to Arese by Iveco trucks. The bodies were reinforced and welded further and finished. Alfa Romeo had its factory for the 105 series there, and the Spider was now fitted with a driveline and other components from the Giulia models. Finally, the Pininfarina badge was mounted on the side behind the doors, and then the car was ready!

No model designation
Many reacted to the absence of a model designation for Duetto. Alfa Romeo actually put an "F" in the Pininfarina mark behind the doors on each side and an Alfa Romeo mark in the front, but no "Duetto" or other emblem on the boot lid. There was not even an Alfa Romeo brand in the middle as on the other models. It is a very anonymous car when you consider who was behind it, almost like a prototype.

On the boot lid, "Alfa Romeo" is in chrome on the right, otherwise nothing else. Not even in the sales brochures was the Spider called the Duetto. When we see how some car manufacturers today paste fifteen letters on the end and as many digits, Alfa Romeo was very tasteful even then.
The door handles on the Duetto are of a high class. Compare for example with Alfa 156 and see the similarity. At the rear end, the chrome exhaust pipe protrudes a good bit. Originally it was right, but many have replaced it with one from a GTV instead. It did not soot down the number plate as much as the right one.

Stainless steel bumpers are located on each side of the sign. Many people were annoyed by the small reflectors that were placed on each side and thought that they seemed to be sitting there afterwards. Well, who knows?

The hood solution
The hood is one of Duetto's most successful elements, everyone agreed, and it can be opened with one hand from the driver 's seat. The spider looks just as attractive, whether it was with the hood up or down. The hood was black and made of a mohair-like material. It is fastened at the front edge to the windscreen by means of two strong clips in chrome-plated brass. Many car magazines highlighted its solid construction as a model.

Some criticized the rear corner view. There is only one back window, and since the black fabric impairs the view, there was some truth in the criticism. Possibly it was because the canopy is so easy to handle that the criticism subsided.
When the hood is folded down, it disappears behind the seats and can be completely hidden by a protective cover in vinyl, which also merges with the back seat in addition to making it look good.

The hood cover consists of a metal frame that is divided in the middle through a so-called bayonet mount before it can be put back in the trunk. In the folded-up condition, the hood is secured behind the seats on the B-pillars by means of velcro.

Desirable cooling ribs
If you take a closer look at a Giulietta from 1954, you will discover surprising similarities with the engine in the Duetto. The use of aluminum, double overhead camshafts, the spark plug in the middle of the hemispherical combustion chamber, removable cylinder liners and a five-bearing crankshaft are repeated.

Dr. Orazio Satta Puliga knew what he was doing. The 1600 capacity was shared with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was introduced at the same time as the Duetto, and the engine was for a long time the most potent of Alfa Romeo's 1600 engines.

The engine family was given the number 00536 and followed the tradition with the use of light metal and high power. Loose, wet cylinder liners in cast iron and top in aluminum with advanced intake and exhaust functions optimise the properties. The crankshaft has five bearings and counterweights to withstand the high speeds that any true Alfista enjoys.

The pistons are made of light alloy and had three chrome-plated rings for compression and oil scraping. The compression chamber is hemispherical and the pistons are domed to make better use of the centrally located spark plug. Alfa Romeo used Golden Lodge 2HL, 14 mm and with four electrodes. It was claimed that the spark ‘wandered around’ and helped clean the electrode.

To cool the oil, a large aluminum oil sump was pressed in with proper baffling. This cooled the oil on its way to the powerful oil pump. The sump was called ‘hammer sump’ because of its shape, as the front part sits across in front of the large front section. The cooling fins and its overall capacity commanded the respect of the competitors.

Dustin Hoffman
In 1967, Dustin Hoffman starred in the film The Graduate, which in Norway was called "The Manhood Test". In that movie, Dustin rescues his girlfriend Katharine Ross from a fate worse than death with the help of a red Duetto. Despite the fact that the poor car was abused and ran out of fuel in the final scene, it was a breakthrough for Duetto in the United States.

The film was a huge success, and director Mike Nichols was awarded an Oscar. In addition, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel made their definitive breakthrough with film music. The songs ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Scarborough Fair’ and above all ‘Mrs. Robinson’ is absolutely perfect Spider music.

Dustin Hoffman drives his red Duetto with gusto. A separate series of Duetto was made for the American market, but a European Duetto was used in the film. It appears on the bumpers and Plexiglas cowls above the headlights. The car still exists. It was later converted into a track car, but has now been restored to its original condition and roams around Texas.
OUP367. A curiosity is that it was Dustin Hoffman's uncle who got Spider in the film, not Alfa Romeo. His uncle sold the Alfa Romeo in New York, and Dustin had tried a Duetto. He liked the car, so one was simply bought for use in the film.

In fact, as many as three cars were available. If you look closely, you will discover that one of them was without a radio and antenna. Another had Becker radio, but no sunshade. A third car had an antenna, but no radio and a different rearview mirror. The registration number also changed, among other things, OUP367 and a California plate with number 5600 were used in various scenes in the film.

A great but unexpected success
Alfa Romeo in Italy seemed unprepared for the star status that their Spider had won through the film and did not get to take full advantage of the marketing potential it provided. Only many years later did Alfa Romeo name a version of Spider "Graduate" in the United States to boost sales.

I remember myself when I discovered the Duetto in the film. I had driven one in Italy in the summer of 1966, and when it appeared on the screen the following year, my happiness was total.
The Spider is still great fun. The lines and sleek, low body still seduce any true Alfista, even though it's been over 50 years since its launch.

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