The Alfa romeo Spider (called Duetto) is a car that will have seen the likes of quite a few car lovers, which makes sense since it was produced for nearly 30 years. It had the time to seduce or divide with the rhythm of its restylings, its short or long behinds (“coda longa “ or “coda tronca”). With the Duetto more known when in the longa forme as Cuttlebone the spectrum goes from the 60s from Felini to Simon & Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson and Dustin Hoffman to the 80s (even to the beginning of the 90s), Sabrino, Finzi Contini, Ryan Paris and Italian pop songs from those times. Leon is no exception and now his soul is tattooed by the Duetto bought by his parents!
“This Alfa has been in the family since 1980 as an engagement present from my father to my mother. At the time it almost seems like a miserly gift when you know they were sold at 3,000 French Francs (today it is more around 50,000 euros). My father had a Spider “Coda tronca” , the models 2nd series and the Spider Veloce 1750 version . At my sisters arrival they had to trade a convertible for a Golf MK1.
In 1983 the Coda Tronca was more in style than the Coda Longa, which was then completely has-been. It was decided the Coda Tronca would finance the family Golf and we would keep the old “Longa”. My father sadly was separated from his darling Spider while my mother was very happy about keeping the car of whose line she loved the best. She was right about that, sometimes about cars one should listen to a woman’s intuition ».
Here is how a simple old fashioned car entered into the family and never left, leaving a strong impression on a little boy named Leon, as if with a red hot brand on his butt cheek.
“Two to three times a year we would get out this car that was stocked under a wooden awning on the side of the house. Then pulled by a horse drawn car (other one of my fathers passions) the car was taken to the nearest city parking lot at 5 kilometers from there. When I was twelve I became obsessed with the Alfa. Yes still today we call it “Alfa” in the family. I would bug my dad until we could make it run and it became a sort of a ritual. We would take the jumper cables, get in the E34 and then manoeuver into the parking entry almost too narrow for a R4 and there we put the German and the Italian cars nose to nose. Generally and just like a mini miracle it would take only 5 minutes until it would start up with its raspy sound, even though we only started it 2 to 3 times a year ».
From a family ritual to car love, the step was a small one for Leon to take. Who was quaking with impatience to drive HIS OWN Alfa one day. However becoming the owner of such a car is not to be taken lightly. Of course first step is to get your licence but also invest to make it last, without unexpected costs that sometimes make one navigate through grey waters between Cornelian dilemmas and garages with small morals.
“Finally I was 18 years old (the minimum licence age in France) and I go get my licence directly! During a lunch in the country on a Saturday my parents announce that for my 18 year old birthday they agree to put the Alfa back on the road after several years. It did however needed an update being only the minimum maintenance had been done (just oil changes, replaced spark plugs and filters). So off I went to a garage in Colombes whose name I will not pronounce, to give it a second youth. Only it needed more than a little check-up… We did the minimum for security, we shall about the rest later on… I remember the day when I went to get it, in the Spring, I arrived on the Paris metro and left in the Alfa after all of those years. I drove around Paris, got some friends at school with it and the whole while I drove Breathlessly! Or like in the movie the Graduate “ Benjamin what are you doing all those nights out?” “Mom I just keep driving, I drive all night long.” But the first reminders came fast of a car that requires more than a lot of maintenance : leaking radiator, accelerator problems and a badly adjusted clutch… Many differents inconveniences that forced me to go back to that untrustworthy garage in Colombes. Whatever it took to be under the “Bialberos” intoxicating influence ».
When mentioning this Alfa, Leon couldn’t stop talking, delivering memories one after another:
“It’s the summer, the first summer when I had turned 18. I asked my parents if I could borrow the Alfa for the summer. I got an immediate Yes! I was so grateful for this “yes” but how irresponsible it was when I truly consider that it was a 36 year old car, that I only had 6 months of my licence, that it wasn’t fully checked and that my girlfriend of the time was 16. Here we are, off on the road from Paris to Biarritz at 6 in the morning! In the marvellous freshness of the morning time! There were peaks at 180 kilometers an hour, slightly brutal braking, and traffic jams on the Bordeaux Bypass in 32 degree celsius weather! I had put suncream all over my arms but my tee-shirt was hiked up on my shoulders and two enormous welts appeared after 10 hours of driving in full sun.”
“As time went on I often used the Alfa to go on weekends or on vacation, summer like winter, giving it a full well deserved restauration. There were magical, and some scary moments, regularly leaving the road but never really harming the car. Alfa is the only car that I will keep no matter what and that I have a very particular affection for. In fact I am in love with this profil, the last sketch made by Pininfarina himself as well as its brilliant motor, its easy use, how light it is to drive. This car gave me the Alfa virus and since then I have had 2 Bertones 1750 coupes and a Giulietta Spider… But for the Alfa I reserve the tenderness of a first love and the pure affection of a child for their mother.”
You see to put your foot in an Alfa is not to be taken lightly, especially knowing that the Alfa Romeo Spider is no longer as good as a deal as it once was in the 80s when, like the Citroen DSs they used to vegetate in the used car section. However one can admit that the investment can be well worth it especially when it makes your kids addicted to this car!