Maintaining the Solex PH44 carburetors, with their prone-to-malfunction secondaries, is enough to drive almost any technician to heavy drink

In 1950, Alfa Romeo turned away from the costly and complicated, hand-built, eight- and six-cylinder high performance sports and racing cars that had made their name before World War II. The new 1900 was intended for a very different market, to take the company into the second half of the 20th Century. It had a lusty four-cylinder engine boasting twin overhead camshafts like all Alfas before and since, but intended for mass production.

In 1958 the four-door 2000 Berlina arrived to supersede the 1900. The 2000 was also offered in coupe and spider form. The spider's Touring body was delectable, beautifully finished and equipped, a classic grand tourer for two fortunate occupants.

The 2000 Spider pictured here is immaculately presented, having formerly been the subject of a thorough restoration. The paintwork, interior and mechanics are all reported to be in perfect condition. The car is also sold with its rare additional factory hard top, which has also been restored, and it retains its original period radio.

In the former ownership for 13 years, it was recently purchased from Italy by the current owner.

{analysis} This 1960 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider sold for $31,189 at the Christie's Holland auction on Aug. 31, 2003.

The mid-1950s was a prosperous period at Alfa Romeo. The company was embarking on a major expansion at the behest of its holding company, Finmeccanica. The mass-produced, by Alfa standards anyway, 1900 had brought the company from postwar uncertainty to an enviable position as a European sport and luxury producer. The Giulietta model range that followed was a huge commercial success.

The 102-series 2000 model range was a somewhat simplified evolution of the 1900, including a Berlina (sedan) built by Alfa Romeo, a Sprint (coupe) with a Bertone body penned by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, and the Spider from Touring. A handful of special-bodied cars by Vignale and Frua were also built.

A total of 7,089 102-series cars were built and almost half were Spiders. This was a strange model mix for Alfa Romeo, as usually the sedan was built in the largest volume, followed by coupes and then a much smaller number of Spiders. Of the series production brought to the U.S., the Spider made up approximately 95 percent.

The coupe and Spider had 115 horsepower, and the Berlina, 105. They all had a much-improved five-speed transmission, column-mounted on the Berlina and on the floor in the coupe and Spider.

The 2000 is a comfortable cruiser that offers a lot in the way of creature comforts, like roll-up windows and a top with decent weather sealing. This is offset by underwhelming performance, as the 2000 is barely able to outrun the 1300-cc Giulietta. In fact, Editor Martin has compared the acceleration of the 2000 to "driving a Giulietta Normale with a telephone pole tied to its rear bumper." The vastly superior 2600 model, with a magnificent all-alloy 2.6-liter 6-cylinder engine, was to be launched in 1962.

Our 2000 Spider has spent a good portion of its life in Italy, which is not reassuring. Italy is notorious for rusty cars, and Alfas are not noted for their resistance to harsh weather. Nor are Italians noted for babying their cars. An Italian restoration is often average paint, okay interior, and great mechanicals.

More recently the car has lived in the Netherlands, which is mostly below sea level, not a terrific recommendation either. Although the car has undergone a thorough restoration and appears to be in perfect order, I would still bring a magnet when looking at this or any vintage Alfa.

The 2000 engines are quite stout and under-stressed, putting out moderate power at moderate revs. The design is based on sound architecture, as is the rest of the drivetrain. The basic transmission was used through the last Spiders produced in the '90s and the rear axle is bulletproof as well. The suspension has a lot of travel for its era and offers a smooth ride and competent handling. The aluminum-finned drum brakes are quite able to haul the rather heavy car down with aplomb. However, maintaining the Solex PH44 carburetors, with their prone-to-malfunction vacuum-operated secondaries, is enough to drive almost any technician to heavy drink. Be aware that most parts for these cars are difficult to find and quite expensive.

A great number of 2000s have been scrapped in order to facilitate the plentiful and more attractive 1900 restoration projects, so the supply of good ones is limited. This Alfa Romeo sold at a huge price, easily fifty percent above what we might have expected it to bring. If in fact the body is straight, rust-free and without Bondo, and the mechanicals check out, the new owner should simply refuse to open the Alfa section of the SCM Price Guide and just enjoy his car. However, it will be at least five years before he can expect to see market values in general catch up with his expenditure.-Craig Morningstar{/analysis}

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