Dream garage

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

Oh, to be a glamorous cinema hero, tanned and handsome, traversing the Alps in an open sports car… What matter if Edward Fox is playing a paid murderer, this scene in the 1973 film Day of the Jackal is a seductive one, and all the more so as his mount is Alfa Romeo’s impossibly cute Giulietta Spider. Even if you don’t have an urgent assassination on your schedule, the dainty Alfa is transport that will delight. Though not as widely recognised as its descendant the Duetto (also boosted by a movie appearance), the tiny two-seater is to some the better-balanced design, and certainly rarer today.

While Bertone landed the contract for the saloon and coupé versions of Alfa’s new post-war compact range, Pininfarina had some compensation in shaping the topless version. Revealed in 1955 and intended initially as a USA-only offering, its compact charm quickly saw it become a sales success across Europe, too. Powered by the same 1290cc four-cylinder twin-cam and sharing the saloon’s running gear (double wishbones up front, simple but well-located solid axle astern), the Spider displayed a free-revving eagerness that offset its modest horsepower – just 70bhp to begin with, rising with spec changes. But it’s not what you’ve got, it’s the way that you use it, and with more than 14,000 built the public clearly thought they’d got it right. 

This one was born in 1959 and spent her early life in Germany, but in the 1990s came to Britain where she was treated to a bare-metal restoration and painted red. She was originally the same sky blue as the Jackal’s car – after he performs an implausibly immaculate roadside respray… Then engine and gearbox were rebuilt by well-known Alfa specialist Bob Dove before the car joined a British collection. Now it needs a new home. Early Spiders in this condition are hard to find, says Fraser Williams of vendor Graeme Hunt Ltd, who reckons that for open-air driving pleasure in this period they are hard to rival this side of a Lancia Aurelia B24 Convertible – and those are now reaching a quarter of a million.

“Giulietta Spiders are wonderfully elegant,” says Fraser, “and we feel that they are extraordinarily undervalued at the moment.” 

With so much in the way of parts and expertise available one of these little gems should not be costly to run, either, but take note: “These are likely to become far more expensive in the foreseeable future,” says Fraser. “One to watch, we think.” Well, if you miss your chance you can always watch the one in the film.


YEAR –  1959

ENGINE – 4-cyl, 1290cc, 70bhp

TRANSMISSION – four-speed

SUSPENSION – front: wishbones, rear: solid axle

TOP SPEED – 97mph

PRICE  £54,750