Alfa Romeo's reputation is built on performance. From the earliest days as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile (ALFA), the company dedicated itself to racing as a way to improve its road cars and earn a reputation among enthusiasts. A long string of superb cars followed-the 22/90 RLSS, 6C 1750 Gran Sport, Tipo B (P3), the 8C 2300 Monza, and the legendary 8C 2900. In the post-war period, Alfa's racing success led to the introduction of a new generation of road cars in 1952: the 1900 series, featuring a thoroughly modern, two-liter, DOHC powerplant. Although the drivetrain remained unchanged, an updated model called the 2000 appeared in 1958. The Berlinas (sedans) carried factory coachwork, but the Spider was designed and built by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan. The eye-catching 1959 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider offered here has benefited from a ground-up restoration costing in excess of $50,000. It is finished in Farina red with elegant gray hides, a black soft top, and matching tonneau cover. Everything in this car, including the engine, is highly detailed and well finished. The car also comes with a deluxe 13-piece tool set and has 60,000 original miles recorded on the odometer. The 2000 is highly regarded for its smooth, relaxed ride, and it is a confident high-speed cruiser sporting classic Italian styling. {analysis} This 1959 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider sold for $35,750 at the RM Auctions Monterey sale held August 20, 2005. The Alfa Romeo 2000 (referred to in Alfa circles as the "cast iron" 2000 to distinguish it from the later 1970s aluminum-engined 2000 Spider) has the look you'd expect from a late-'50s Italian touring car-but when it comes to performance, it's as leisurely as a Neapolitan siesta. Call it an Italian Mercedes 190SL-great style and not much punch. Or, in SCMese, "a harmless car." The 1900 models that saved Alfa Romeo after World War II were sober and conservative cars to suit the times, excluding some exuberant two-door examples from Italian coachbuilders such as Zagato. By the late '50s, Italy was ready for a bit more fun and the "new" 2000 models offered more style for the up-market Alfa. The in-house-designed and -built Berlina was a truly transatlantic baroque creation, with enough chrome trim, angular lines, and tail fins to rival Detroit. On the other hand, the elegant Touring-designed and -built Spider gave the air of a Maserati at a fraction of the price (and, unfortunately, a fraction of the performance). There was also a very attractive coupe designed and built by Bertone, of which there were only 700. The same design with minor revisions became the six-cylinder 2600 Sprint coupe when all the 2000s received the larger engines in 1962. Therein lies the major issue with the 2000. They look great, but can't deliver the way the smaller Giuliettas do. The substitution of the in-line DOHC six-cylinder in the 2000 bodies created the 2600 and gave the cars the grunt to go with the glamour. As a consequence the 2000s have been left in the shadows. As long as you're not in a hurry, a 2000 Spider will allow you to look great on the journey. They are smooth and refined, and frankly not as heavy to maneuver as the later 2600s. Since Editor Martin has referred to the 2600 as "the best truck Alfa ever built," perhaps the 2000 is "the best poseur Alfa ever built." They're terrific to drive, but you have to plan your actions well in advance. Buying a Romeo 2000 Spider today also means that you must be sure it is in perfect mechanical condition when you purchase it and that all the trim pieces are present: the first because many engine parts are not easy to come by and tend to be expensive, the second because trim is almost impossible to find and very little has been reproduced. However, a car with bodywork needs is definitely preferred over one with driveline needs. During the auction preview, I looked this 2000 Spider over very carefully as I have always had a soft spot in my heart (or is it my head?) for these cars. Through the fence it looked quite attractive, although it seems to sit a bit high in the front. On closer inspection, I saw that the car actually had not been "restored," but rather "refurbished." It had a good-quality paint job. The seats had been nicely recovered in dark gray leather, but the instruments were faded and the chrome trim around the windshield showed wear. The engine compartment was also uninspiring and there seemed to be little evidence of a "ground-up restoration costing in excess of $50,000." That is, unless a great deal of the budget was taken up with rust/repair. The auction estimate of $40k-$50k did seem optimistic, but the best examples of these cars are now trading in the mid- to high-30s when they can be found. This particular 2000 Spider is also an SCM-certified "auction frequent flier," as tracked in the SCM online auction database. It was reported not sold at $28,500 in the Kruse January 2003 Scottsdale auction with 60,089 miles showing and an apparently fresh partial restoration. With 21 miles added to the odometer, it sold a few days later at the Silver auction in Fountain Hills, AZ, for $24,600. In August 2003, our heroine traveled to Kruse Auburn and was a no-sale at the fairly large price of $40,000, having moved 76 further miles under her own power. Another 63 odometer miles and the Spider turned up in Boca Raton, FL, for the February 2004 RM auction. Here, she sold for a tremendous $45,475. The auction in Monterey marked the fifth time in two-and-a-half years for a car that's not been driven more than 780 miles. The most miles have come since February '04, when about 620 were added "on the road"-hopefully in an effort to get it together. Was it a good value? The price paid, while certainly on the high end (and $10,000 less than its previous sale), may be justifiable if-and it's a big if-the challenges that caused the previous owner(s) to keep passing it along have been addressed. The question remains as to why this poor car is so unloved, and goes from auction to auction as if each new buyer finds a case of limburger in the trunk. At this price it should not be further "restored." I hope the new owner finishes sorting it out and spends many happy miles cruising down sunny two-lane roads.{/analysis}

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