Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Complete Classic
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Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider front

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1962, the world’s attention was on the growing tension between the US and USSR. There was a feel of inevitable war, even more intense because of the convulsions increasing in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. However, naïve optimism ruled the world. The result of all optimism? In 1962, in the Geneva Auto Show held between the 15th and 25th of March, Alfa Romeo unveiled the 2600, the successor of the 2000, which didn`t had an auspicious commercial career, largely result of its price, deemed excessive. The 2600 model was the flagship of Alfa Romeo until 1968, the year that ended its production. Historically it is a relevant model because it was the last to use the engine configuration preferred by Alfa Romeo since the 20s, an inline six-cylinder with twin overhead camshafts. This break from tradition grew from the need to face the scarce economic resources and the need of cheaper models to cope with a market stressed by the difficulties of the post-World War II, mainly in Italy, where the demand for smaller models, more practical and economical, lead to a new type of car, and forever changed the panorama of the automobile industry.Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider notebook Internally known as the 106 series, the Alfa Romeo 2600 came in three configurations: four-door sedan (2600 Berlina), two-door coupé (2600 Sprint) and 2-door cabrio (2600 Spider). These models equal the Alfa Romeo 2000 range, which was the replaced model. There were however some special series such as the 2600 Sprint Zagato or SZ (due to being designed and built by Carrozzeria Zagato, and from which just over 100 units were ever produced), and a limited edition sedan called Lusso, built by OSI Turin, with only 52 units made. A convertible designed by Bertone was unveiled in 1963, based on the lines of the Sprint, but was never produced. All these models had three Solex carburetors, and only the 2600 Berlina had two carbs, and was less appealing in terms of performance, in addition to the less happy design of all the 2600 range. Therefore, the most sought after models are the Sprint and Spider, with a production run of 6999 and 2255, respectively. The Sprint model still enjoyed some sporting success, thanks also to its use by the Italian police, having served on the “Squadra Volante”, being used as a vehicle for high performance pursuit. Some pilots notice it, and start using it for racing, with some success. The 2600 Spider had classic lines, very similar to its predecessor, discreet, but at the same time refined and powerful enough to travel long distances with little effort. Well equipped and comfortable, it was a great cruiser. The 2600 received critics for not being a new car, but as an evolution, a facelift of the 2000, which is debatable. It was a long distance runner, capable of devouring kilometers at high pace in great comfort and style. It`s remembered by opulent style but full of good taste, both outside and inside. The performance was good in its day, but it was the look and sound of the engine that lead to step on the accelerator with ease. The engine sound is divine. Technically the Spider is a roadster 2+2, although the two rear seats can hardly be used by adults. Carrozzeria Touring of Milan was the responsible for the design and hand buiding.They had already collaborated with Alfa Romeo and BMW, and were well-known for their Superleggera construction technique, which allowed not only a lighter construction, but also more flexible manufacturing techniques and design of the car panels. However, despite the skill of Touring in aluminum, the Spider 2600 panels are from steel. This aspect is very important because steel can rust, and Italian steel from that time was not always of the best quality.

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider front

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The style of the 2600 Spider was very similar to its predecessor, and deriving, in a way, from the small Giulietta Spider. Despite its inherent charm and beauty, the 2600 was a larger car, which withdrew some grace and balance. However, it was and still is a beautiful car, with distinct class, one which does not leave anyone indifferent, besides possessing aesthetic details that enhance its appeal. Although not the most beautiful Alfa Romeo, still is a lovely thing to behold. The six-cylinder in line engine with dual overhead camshafts had 2 valves per cylinder and 2.6 liter capacity. It came with three Solex 44 PHH carburetors  (had triple Weber carburetors as optional), and developed 145 horsepower and allowed the Sprint a top speed of 200 km/h. All this, in comfort and style. Still, it had hemispherical combustion chambers. Delicious. Although these engines were robust, some of them suffered excessive wear of the joints of the cylinder head. The original Solex carburetors also brought some problems, mainly in the triple configuration that existed in the Spider. However, when properly rebuilt and synchronized, no problem should appear. Currently, many cars run on Weber triple carburetors.

English: Alfa Romeo 2600 engine. Svenska: Alfa...

English: Alfa Romeo 2600 engine. Svenska: Alfa Romeo 2600 motor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the good power, this engine had one problem for this car: weight. The predecessor of the 2600 had four cylinder engines, less powerful but lighter. This excessive weight on the front of the car was not driving friendly. Furthermore, the original tires (radial 165/400) were only slightly wider than its predecessor, although it was less heavy and powerful. These and other problems, did not help in the success of any of the 2600 models. The 2600 Spider had 5-speed manual transmission and rear wheel traction. Initially all models had Girling disc brakes in front and drums in the back, but the last production models had all four-wheel discs.

Alfa-Romeo 2600 Spider

Alfa-Romeo 2600 Spider (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 11,000 units of all 2600 models were build. Not a big number, and from this, only 2255 Spiders. It`s rare, so it is difficult to find parts for this car. New parts in stock are almost impossible to get, so some parts may only be made to order, at great cost. Never the less its qualities, the 2600 had an inauspicious commercial career. Besides the prices being considered too high (but not as much as the 2000), the design did not help, especially the Berlina, (not the prettiest car…), greatly reducing it`s appeal. The Sprint and Spider eventually sold the most, which says a lot for the failure of the Berlina, since most Alfas berlinas outsold all the other models. However, problems were also related to the age of the platform used. The 2600 was too similar to its predecessor, the 2000 (released in 1958), which in turn was only a minor cosmetic retouch of the 1900, wich saw the light in 1950 … Therefore, the 2600 was already old in its release day. As the 2600 was the top of the range Alfa Romeo, expectations were high. On paper, the 2600 faults where pointed by critics and buyers. And then, the road confirmed it. To further worsen the situation, when the new Alfa Romeo Giulia emerged, the shortcomings of the 2600 became even more clear. Today, this little appreciated but rare model has increasing demand among connoisseurs of Alfas. Although obscured by earlier and later models of higher bright, it is still a pure Alfa Romeo, and owning and living with one of these magnificent cars is a unique experience. Furthermore, the 2600 Spider possessed a rare charm, being able to snatch hearts today more ardent than in its launch days.

English: Subject:Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider Tourin...

English: Subject:Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider Touring Date:April 27th, 2008 Event:Concorso d’Eleganza”Villa d’Este” 2008 Place/Country: Cernobbio (CO), Italy I release all rights in the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CCH Score
1 – Makes me feel… 15/20

Quite good in fact. When I look at it, I feel lighter, younger and adventurer, all good feelings. I reminds me of a long and winding road, with perfect tarmac, nice curves, nice landscape. And this car to drive in it. It’s a beautiful car, with a peculiar appeal. Although not the best looking of the lot, certainly it makes me want one. Not desperately, but I’m quite sure I would be quite happy with one of these in my garage. Some cars have a strange and mysterious secret that they only whisper, but never show. This one has caught my imagination.

2 – Is it exclusive? 16/20

Yes, very. Only 2255 were ever made, so that makes it rare. You won’t find many in the road, so that’s make it very exclusive. People will look at it, not only for it natural beauty, but because they have never seen one before.

3 – Is it beautiful? 15/20

Yes, very, although, not the best looking car, or even the best looking Alfa Romeo. Those simple lines, the headlamps, the bonnet. Almost everything in this car is simple and rewarding to the eyes. Italians, they really know and understand that strange and magical art called car design. The 2600, not being the best looker, still appeals to our hearts.

4 – Living with it is… 13/20

It’s a classic. It`s an Alfa Romeo. What are you expecting? It has it’s problems, like any other car, but take good care of it, and surely no big problems will bother you. Remember, since its rare, parts wont be easily available, and they will be expensive, or even impossible to find. Also, rust is major concern with these old Italian cars. So, good for a Sunday ride, but not recommended has a daily car.

5 – My Wife’s opinion: 12/20

She liked it, mainly because the way it looks. But she also said the car look a bit too much aristocratic and a bit pedantic. She would go on a ride with it, but not in the city, only in the countryside. In the end, an agreeable car, but didn’t make a lasting impression on her. She will probably forget about it in a couple of hours. CCH Score Classification Alfa 2600 Spider CCH Score Alfa 2600 Spider

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