Summer 1966, when Steve McQueen tried the Duetto – Classiche


In the summer of 1966 the actor Steve McQueen he put his hands and feet on one Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider. And he spoke of it thus: “It is a very forgiving car. Very pretty, too“. In practice, a car that is easy to drive and very beautiful: an excellent review by one who knew a lot about cars, published for another on an institution such as Sports Illustrated. The one he drove was one of the first Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider ‘Duetto’ to land in the United States, after making his debut at the Geneva Motor Show a few months earlier.

Alfa Romeo, Panthers and Gazelles

A year later, another actor arrived at the helm of Duetto: Dustin Hoffman. He used it at full speed on the notes of Simon & Garfunkel in the unforgettable ‘The graduate’. The relationship with the world of entertainment became very close since then: the Duetto was used as a stage car in hundreds of works on the small and big screen. Even the heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali he wanted one: taking up his motto “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, he personalized it with the ‘Ali Bee’ plaque.

The model name is part of mythology. To choose it, a prize competition was organized in collaboration with all European dealers. It won the name “Duetto”, but for reasons of rights it was imposed to launch the car as Alfa Romeo Spider 1600. In fact, Duetto also recognized chocolate biscuits. Despite everything, Duetto remained in the collective imagination as an unofficial name. The Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 was born on the Giulia floor, with a wheelbase reduced to 2,250 mm; the mechanics were that of the contemporary Giulia Sprint GT Veloce (evolution of the Sprint GT). At launch, Duetto was equipped with the classic 1,570 cm³ twin-cylinder 4-cylinder in light alloy, capable of unloading 108 horses on the wheels with a dry weight of less than 1,000 kilos. The declared maximum speed was 185 km / h.

The Spider of 1966, before the series and the last masterpiece by Battista Pinin Farina, is also called “Cuttlefish bone” for its ellipsoidal shape: rounded front and tail, convex sides and very low belt line. The second of 1969 is defined instead as “Tail Truncated”, Due to the aerodynamic cut of the rear part. The third of 1983 was theaerodynamics, born from the studies in the wind tunnel. In 1989 the latest generation arrived, the so-called “IV Series“- a car that represented in different details a return to the origins. Over the four generations, over 124 thousand units were produced in 28 years: the longest life ever for an Alfa Romeo model.

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