Saturday, March 2, 2013

End Of The Glory Days: 1961-68 Alfa Romeo 2600 Coachbuilt Variants

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider, pic from Wikimedia Commons

With the shift toward only economy car production after World War II at an end and economy car production shifted toward the Giulietta range, fabled Italian marque Alfa Romeo, once known for its grand 6C and 8C luxury and racing cars but then making a handful of variants of one basic design, needed a new flagship. They started with a factory-designed/built sedan, Bertone coupe and Touring Superleggera spider, based on the decade-old 1900 sedan underpinnings, but quickly realized that those were unsuited to moving the heavy bodies and the passengers along autostradas and Alpine roads swiftly. This article focuses on the coachbuilt models: the Touring spider, Bertone Sprint and Zagato coupes, and the OSI Berlina deLuxe.

In 1961, Alfa Romeo restyled the cars, mainly with bonnet scoop changes and trim changes, but most significantly as far as cosmetics go, an extended nose. The biggest change was in the alloy-block, 2600cc twincam straight-six, which harkened back to the good old days of the 6C2500, and offered decent performance considering the weight and aged chassis of the cars, but negatively affected stability.

All coachbuilt 2600s featured triple sidedraft carburetors, 5-speed manual transmissions, VDO windshield washers, tachometers and other things typical of an exotic car in the 60s as standard equipment, but where the Touring Spider shared many elements and some parts with the Maserati and Lancia coupes whose bodies were being assembled in the same factory, the 2600 Sprint shared a great deal with the concurrent BMW 3200GT and Iso-Rivolta GT, but looked like an enlarged Giulia Sprint GT. The 2600SZ (Sprint Zagato) and OSI Berlina deLuxe looked like no other car on the global market in the 1960s.

Eventually high costs of coachbuilding, aging tooling and designs, and the rather frumpy factory-bodied sedan's low sales, led to the 2600's discontinuation. The bankruptcies of OSI and Touring Superleggera at roughly the same time couldn't have helped much either. Its belated replacement, the Alfa 6, was a controversial extended-wheelbase Alfetta sedan that was neither attractive nor popular.

Today, as collector cars, the 2600 Spider, Berlina deLuxe and 2600SZ are increasingly popular, with the spider bearing as much cachet and image as a contemporary Ferrari roadster at a fraction of the price, the 2600SZ being valuable but controversial as all Zagato creations are, and the Berlina deLuxe remaining undervalued and undersupported on the restoration-parts front. The 2600 Sprint is worth somewhat less, and most 2600 sedans have been stripped for parts and junked long ago.

2600 Sprint in silver with factory Borrani wire wheels, photo from Wikimedia Commons

The elegant and thoroughly modern OSI Berlina deLuxe. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Stunning black 2600SZ

And here is the nicely crafted, affordable 1/24 scale diecast model by Welly.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to say? Add a comment!
All comments are subject to moderation. All spam, hate comments, flame comments or trolling comments will be declined.