Celebrities

With faithful DNA, an Italian spider and a refugee who fled the Nazis conquered Hollywood

The Alfa Romeo 1660 Spider was launched in the U.S. in 1966.

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Steve McQueen didn't just lust over Fords and Porsches. He was fan of cars both fast and furious. "It is a very forgiving car. Very pretty, too," McQueen said when describing the Alfa Romeo 1600 in the summer of 1966. He'd been invited by Sports Illustrated to try the Italian car, one of the first Alfa Romeo 1600 Spiders that made their way stateside.

That wasn't the only encounter that the Duetto had with Hollywood elite. Its popularity was all predicted, and carefully planned, by Max Edwin Hoffman. Hoffman fled Austria for the United States as Nazism rose as World War II picked up steam. Hoffman was a former race car driver who became a vehicle importer for European cars. But, he was more than that.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider shipment Alfa Romeo readies Giulietta Spiders for shipment to the U.S. in n1955, 11 years before the Duetto would arrive stateside.Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Companies trusted Hoffman to give advice on the U.S. market. His advice shaped not just the market but also the creation of the cars he would eventually import, including the Duetto. According to the automaker,

"He began asking Alfa Romeo for her in 1954, immediately after the launch of the Giulietta Sprint. He felt it would become the perfect car for the Pacific Coast, convinced that everyone in Hollywood would want one. So confident was he of its success that he said he was willing to buy several hundred, even before he had seen the final designs."

Hoffmann convinced Francesco Quaroni, the head of Alfa Romeo, and Rudolf Hruska, the company's engineer, to develop the project. Two Italian automobile design houses competed against each other to create their vision of the car - Bertone and Pinin Farina. Bertone had an extreme vision that featured Franco Scaglione's "2000 Sportiva" concept with a pointed front, streamlined headlights and rear fins. Pinin Farina's proposal was designed by Franco Martinengo.

1995 Alfa Romeo Duetto prototype A 1955 prototype of the car that would become the Duetto .Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo chose the Pinin Farina design because of its overall elegance and the classic balance of its shapes in keeping with the company's DNA - "The beautiful young lady", as Pinin Farina described it. The design began with a panoramic windshield, descending side windows, equipped door panels, folding roof, external handles, and a fresh interior design.

The spider's version of the car was equipped with the Duetto's 1,290 cc four-cylinder engine. it delivered 65 horsepower and could achieve up to 96 mph.

To make a splash with the U.S. market, Alfa Romeo's team organized a transatlantic luxury cruise liner for the car's launch and they invited some of the most famous celebrities in the worlds of business, sports, and fashion. All told, 1,300 VIPs were on-board including actor Vittorio Gassman, actress Rossella Falk and the soprano Anna Moffo. The Italian cruiseliner sailed from Genoa to New York, with a stopover in Cannes for the annual film festival. During the entire cruise, three examples of the new Spider were displayed on the ship's bridge: one green, one white and one red.

Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Aboard the Raffaello ship o the Duetto's launch cruise.Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo described the car as flexible, young, and quick.

The same could be said for Muhammad Ali, who rattled off the phrase "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see. Now you see me, now you don't. George thinks he will, but I know he won't," as he talked to reporters ahead of The Rumble in the Jungle where he fought George Forman in 1974. He memorialized the words by customizing the license plate on his Duetto to read "Ali Bee".

Seven years earlier Dustin Hoffman filmed "The Graduate" where he drove a Duetto full speed to the music of Simon & Garfunkel. The 1960 Fellini film "La Dolce Vida" starred Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and a Duetto. It was Alain Delon's car in "The Eclipse".

Flexible, young, quick and beautiful, the Duetto was adored by the cinema. Fellini gave her a role in "La Dolce Vita", Antonioni chose her as Alain Delon's car in "L'Éclipse".

Alfa Romeo Duetto 1990 The Alfa Romeo spider's run lasted several decades. Shown here is a 1990 model.Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo would end up producing four generations of the Duetto. More than 124,000 models were produced over 28 years making it the longest living car in Alfa Romeo's history.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Lamborghini Sián Roadster is already sold out.

Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini
Lamborghini is taking the top off the Sián Roadster. The 2021 Lamborghini Sián Roadster is a drop-top version of the hybrid super sports car that captivated audiences last year. The cabriolet's run is limited to just 19 models - all of which are already sold out.

The model is outfitted with the same V12 engine and delivers equal hybrid performance. The engine is paired with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology delivering more rapid availability of torque off the line and fuel savings. The 48-volt e-motor, delivering 34 horsepower, sits in the gearbox. The mild-hybrid technology is more powerful than a battery of the same weight and three times lighter than a battery while producing the same power.

Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini


The new Lambo has a top speed of 250 km/h. It can get from zero to 62 mpg in 2.9 seconds. To get back to zero, the car uses its regenerative braking system.

"The Sián Roadster encapsulates the spirit of Lamborghini," says Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "It is the expression of breathtaking design and extraordinary performance, but most importantly embodies important future technologies. The Sián's innovative hybrid powertrain heralds the direction for Lamborghini super sports cars, and the open-top Sián Roadster affirms a desire for the ultimate lifestyle Lamborghini as we move towards a tomorrow demanding new solutions."

Lamborghini showed off the car with a Blu Uranus paint job. The company says that the color encapsulates, "the blue of the sky and the green of the fields, evoking the freedom and driving elation delivered by the open top Sián." The car rides on Oro Electrum wheels. Their color was chosen to signify the Sián's electrified powertrain. Its interior features Blu Glauco detailing and aluminum elements in Oro Electrum.

Three-dimensional printer technology allow customers to have their initials designed into the car's air vents.

The car features design that envokes the iconic periscopio line inspired by the first Countach. It runs diagonally from the cockpit to the rear. It has a low front and integrated carbon fiber splitter with Y-shaped headlights sitting above.

It has been optimized for aerodynamic efficiency with airflow "directed through the front splitters and through the front bonnet, through the side air intakes and outlets and over the rear spoiler, with no loss of aerodynamic efficiency from the roadster's roofless design". The car has active cooling vanes on its rear that use unique materials-science technology patented by Lamborghini.

At the rear is a strong design featuring six hexagonal taillights inspired by the Countach. The car's rear wing extends out only during the driving to enhance the performance.

Trending News

 
 

A new short film by Koenigsegg features the Regera super car.

Photo courtesy of Koenigsegg

It's not coming to a theater near you, but you can watch it on YouTube. Koenigsegg has released its first featurette, starring none other than the Regera super car.

The Regera is a hybrid that combines the power of a twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8 engine with three electric motors. It achieves 1500 horsepower. The car doesn't have a traditional gearbox, instead relying on hydraulic coupling. Because of this, at speeds under 30 mph, the Regera leans on its electric motors for power. Above 30 mph, the car car utilizes its V8, taking off in a mad dash when the accelerator is push to the ground.

It can get from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. From a standstill to 249 mph takes less than 20 seconds. Those numbers make the car the fastest accelerating car in the world. Maximum speed is electronically restricted to 255 mph.

"Time to Reign: A Koenigsegg Mini Blockbuster" was scripted and produced almost entirely in-house. It's a heist story filmed in 4K with a covert operation, evil accomplices, and a delightfully stereotypical absentminded guard.

Its cast is made up of members of the Koenigsegg team. The film features company founder Christian von Koenigsegg and his Regera in a starring role alongside designer Marcelle Roeli, marketing and event coordinator Christina Nordin, and customer and loyalty coordinator Kirsi Kärkkäinen. Other Koenigsegg personnel serve in supporting roles, including Gustav Nisson, a company assistant whose dance moves play a prominent role in the story line.

Mrs. Koenigsegg herself, Halldora von Koenigsegg, who serves as the company's COO, makes an appearance at the end.

The quick film, which runs nearly 12 minutes including the credits, is available to watch below.

Time to Reign: A Koenigsegg Mini Blockbuster www.youtube.com

Trending News