1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider

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Image for 1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider - Exteriors, Interiors and Details
Image for 1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider - Exteriors, Interiors and Details
Image for 1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider - Exteriors, Interiors and Details

About the Car

1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider

The Alfa Romeo 2600 was Alfa Romeo’s six-cylinder flagship produced from 1961 to 1968, it was the successor to the Alfa Romeo 2000. It has become historically significant as the last Alfa Romeo to have been fitted with an inline six-cylinder engine having twin overhead camshafts which had been an Alfa Romeo tradition since the 1920’s, but gave way to four-cylinder engines as the factory oriented its production towards more economical mass-produced car models after the Second World War.

The Alfa Romeo 2600 initially became available as a sedan (2600 Berlina), coupe (2600 Sprint; a one-off convertible version shown by Carrozzeria Bertone in 1963 was also named 2600 Sprint but did not enter production) and two-seater convertible with body by Carrozzeria Touring (Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider). These were based on the corresponding models in the 2000 range, but fitted with a new all-alloy 2.6 liter engine with six cylinders in line and twin overhead camshafts, to replace the earlier four-cylinder engine with its cast-iron block. Two carburettors were fitted to the Berlina engines, while the Sprint and Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider engines had three twin-choke horizontal carburettors and developed 145 bhp. 6999 Sprint models where produced. 2255 Spider models were produced. The line-up was later joined by a light-weight coupe by Carrozzeria Zagato, called 2600 Sprint Zagato or SZ, and a limited-edition six-window sedan by OSI. Both the SZ and OSI had the three-carburettor engines.

The Alfa Romeo 2600 models found only limited success on the market, despite deserved acclaim for that excellent engine, and not only because of their elevated prices. The factory had correctly decided to concentrate their development resources on the mid-sized Alfa Romeo Giulia which was introduced a little later, while the flagship 2600 range was only a minor facelift of the 2000 range with a new engine. Since the 2000 itself had basically been a 1958 restyling of the 1900 from 1950, this left the Alfa Romeo 2600 with running gear a dozen years old at introduction. The new engine also added weight and length at the front; though this did much for stability, it did not help the handling. Because the 2600 was a flagship Alfa Romeo model, expectations were high, and both critics and customers quickly spotted the deficiencies, both on paper and on the road. For example, the 165-400 radial tires fitted to the 2600 were a mere 10 mm wider in section than the 155-15 tires fitted to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, though the 2600 had considerably more power and weight. When the new Giulia appeared with completely new running gear, the Alfa Romeo 2600 was shown up even more.

Another reason for slow sales was styling and concept. The Berlina’s styling was not happy and that was reflected in especially poor sales for that model; while most Alfa Romeo berlinas in the marque’s history outsold the more specialised sporting models in the same range, the 2600 Berlina did not outsell the 2600 Sprint and Spider. The Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider had styling which was seen to be derivative of that of its smaller stablemate, the Giulietta Spider: certainly handsome, but lacking the smaller car’s grace and balance. The larger car’s handling also suffered perhaps unfair comparison to that of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, and this is an important factor in a car with a sporting orientation. One sales point in its favour was that it was a four-seater convertible.

The Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint made more of an impression. It was a large grand touring coupe which could seat four adults in comfort over long journeys at high speeds. As such, it did not suffer unfair comparisons to other models in the Alfa Romeo range. In that mode of operation, oriented more towards fast touring than sporting driving, the agility and balance in handling of the smaller Alfas mattered less, while the stability and smoother ride of the larger car, and the wide power and torque band of the six-cylinder engine, came into their own. The 2600 Sprint also inherited the sharp, modern styling of the 2000 Sprint. That had been the result of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s first major project as head designer for Carrozeria Bertone, and is arguably one of the most influential designs in the history of automotive styling. Perhaps for these reasons, the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint outsold all the other models in the 2600 range.

Today, as classics, the Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider and Sprint are appreciated for the tasteful and opulent styling, both exterior and interior, for the performance and sound of the six-cylinder twin-cam engine, and – perhaps ironically – for their rarity compared to the more successful Alfa Romeo models of the same era. The 2600 Berlina is more of a curiosity, and very few survive. 2600 SZ’s are very rare, 2600 OSI’s extremely so.

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