© Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Introduced in 1958, the 102 Series 2000 succeeded the celebrated 1900 in Alfa Romeo’s model line. The 2000 was available in three body styles, including the short-wheelbase Spider, and it was powered by the manufacturer’s highly developed 2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. The Spider coachwork, built by Touring of Milan, was characterized by lavish details such as twin hood scoops, a split front bumper and four chrome-lined (non-functional) vents behind each front wheel. With 3,443 examples built through 1962, the 2000 Spider was one of the rarer post-war models to emerge from Milan, bolstering its status as a collectible today. According to a wealth of original paperwork, including the importer’s invoice and a 1960 purchase order and retail contract, as well as a certificate of origin issued by Alfa Romeo in June 2019, chassis number 00541 was built in May 1959 with coachwork finished in Giallo Paglierino (Straw Yellow) paint. Delivered a month later to Max Hoffman’s famed import company in New York, the 2000 Spider was sold in May 1960 through dealer Johnny Lail to Karl Schwerdtfeger, a young architect residing in Pasadena, CA. Schwerdtfeger went on to keep the Alfa Romeo for the rest of his life, and when the car was sold by his estate to the consignor in November 2010, it concluded an impressive period of 50 years of single-family ownership. The current owner, a marque enthusiast based in Henderson, NV, treated the Spider to a comprehensive restoration that addressed every mechanical and cosmetic component. The original engine was rebuilt with new piston rings, valves and guides. The suspension was refurbished with new Koni shocks, and the brakes were rebuilt. The windshield was replaced, the brightwork was rechromed, and the gauges and original Blaupunkt Köln radio were reconditioned. The coachwork was repainted in a soft yellow closely matching the original factory color, while the interior was reupholstered in Roser-type black leather with gray Wilton wool carpeting. The soft-top frame was restored and fitted with a new canvas top, and new Borrani wire wheels were mounted (including a matching spare). Following completion of the restoration in 2020, the Alfa Romeo was presented at the 2021 Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, winning a class award. Accompanied by a toolkit, jack, owner’s manual and a California black plate, this well-documented 2000 Spider still displays the benefits of 50 years of single ownership, and a lifetime in the forgiving climate of the Southwestern United States. It would make a fantastic acquisition for any marque enthusiast or collector of fine automobiles, offering an exquisite slice of la dolce vita.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider
Years Produced:1958–62
Number Produced:3,443
SCM Valuation:$97,000
Tune Up Cost:$500
Chassis Number Location:Stamped at top of firewall
Engine Number Location:Stamped at top front of engine block
Club Info:Alfa Romeo Owners Club
Alternatives:1958–61 Jaguar XK150, 1954–63 Mercedes-Benz 190SL, 1959–61 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I BN7
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 162, sold for $179,200, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Phoenix, AZ, auction on January 27, 2022.

With production of about 1,000 cars per year, Alfa’s 2000 Spider was not a roaring success. Curious, as it was a lovely car in every respect.

The body is beautifully made, with tight and perfect panel gaps. Many cabriolets with unitary construction suffer from scuttle shake, but that is not the case here. Unusually for Italian metal of the era, these cars do not rust badly and can maintain their integrity over the many decades since they were new. Minimal wind noise is a tribute to the inherent solidity of the design. Touring took plenty of care with aesthetic details, even down to the fake air vents just behind the front wheels. The whole is elegant without being flashy.

The 4-cylinder engine, an evolution of Alfa’s design from the previous 1900, did not set the world on fire, but delivers its power smoothly with plenty of torque. The standard 5-speed gearbox is a true delight to use, with perfect ratios. A great boulevard cruiser, the 2000 Spider easily keeps up with modern-day traffic, with even a sustained 80 mph offering no stress to the car at all. The suspension is a perfect compromise, unperturbed by potholes, but just sharp enough for the car to handle well on mountain roads. The huge, finned drum brakes look like they came from a race car and, more important, pull the car to a rapid halt.

Stiff competition

Period market competition was rude. Although the Spider was designed to complement the smaller Guilietta, sales were inevitably lost in-house. Worse, the Jaguar XK 150 offered more bang for your buck. In an effort to correct this, Alfa replaced the engine with a 2.6-liter 6-cylinder in 1962 and added disc brakes. Power was up, and silky smooth, but the extra weight resulted in much heavier steering and was detrimental to handling. It was all too little, too late. Because, of course, the Jaguar E-type had by then burst into a shocked world.

For many years, values of the Touring Spider languished behind the smaller Guiliettas and Guilias. This seemed inherently wrong, but the market didn’t listen. As little as 10 years ago, decent 2000 Spiders could be had for less than $40k. But times have changed. The great build quality and looks have come into their own as collectors have become more interested in comfort and durability. The 2000, contrary to many comparable cars, will easily seat taller people, and has enough trunk space for a long-distance event. The doors are relatively large and the seating position not too low. Although the younger generation is happy to suffer some discomfort, many older collectors are increasingly looking for as much comfort as they can buy.

European parsimony

Values of these cars can vary wildly, and it is highly uncommon for great examples to achieve over $150k outside of the auction arena. Curiously, despite their rarity, there is always a good choice of Spiders for sale. Picking up a decent example for under $100k is not difficult. A little patience and an outlay of less than $40k would transform one into show condition.

Prices in Europe rarely get to the level they obtain in the U.S. But that can also be said about the level of restoration. American restorations — often better than factory — tend to be “over the top” in comparison with what is acceptable on the Continent.

Virtually all the cars were originally made with vinyl seat covers that in no way resembled leather. The expensive Borrani wire wheels were an extremely rare option. But these rare specifications have very much become the norm. They give extra visual appeal but won’t help in most concours judging.

A strong sale

This car sold near the top of the expected price range, but it had much going for it, particularly its long-term ownership and recent restoration. Its leather seats are definitely more appealing to look at and probably enhance value, save for among the purists.

Those same pundits would likely agree that a set of Borrani alloy wheels in the style of the original steel items is more appropriate than the increasing fashion of fitting wires, but you cannot deny the style the wires bring. The lemon yellow may not be to everyone’s taste, but few cars were supplied originally in yellow, so there is a rarity factor. (Described as being close to the original “Straw Yellow,” perhaps the restoration shop should have just gone with the factory shade?)

So all things considered, this car was well sold. Or perhaps the market is on the move again, with buyers wanting la dolce vita in a world that is gradually becoming anything but that. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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