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.

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The Sundancer 370 Outboard is the product of a partnerhsip between BMW and Sea Ray.

Photo courtesy of Sea Ray

BMW Group hasn't just teamed up with Sea Ray to develop new design language for the boat company, they've also played a part in creating a new model, the Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard. Designworks, a BMW Group company, took the lead in working with Sea Ray.

The result of the partnership is the new Sundancer 370 Outboard with debuted this week in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the Sundancer series. It was created to relaunch the Sundancer family and provide a compelling path forward for the historic brand name. HGTV personalities Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young helped launch the boat with a preview video.

"Sea Ray has a rich history as a leading boat manufacturer for more than 60 years," said Johannes Lampela, Director of Industrial Design at Designworks. "The Sea Ray look is very recognizable, and our goal working together was to further strengthen that design DNA by bringing forward the most iconic features through a modern design execution. What emerged is a modern yet classic aesthetic that is being used to inspire the next generation of Sea Ray boats."

Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard Premiere www.youtube.com

According to Sea Ray, the design of the new boat combines the characteristics of a cruiser, bowrider, and coupe.

"Our goal was to define the foundation for bold and pure design expression," said Charlie Foss, Sea Ray Design Director. "Working together with Designworks, we were able to produce a fresh set of design principles that pay homage to our brand's past while indicating the future, resulting in a look that is undeniably Sea Ray. An output of the collaboration was the definition of four key design characteristics to inform Sea Ray models moving forward: sleek, confident, athletic, and distinctive."

The two companies imbued traditional automotive design elements into the the craft where it appropriately intersected with modern boat design. There is al long, lean s-sheer line that flows from bow to stern, much like a belt line on a car. The strong character jaw line (thankfully) does not incorporate oversized air or water intakes. The characteristic Sea Ray hull-side emblem and center line has been created to draw the eye in and create a feeling of speed.

"Automotive-inspired design is part of the Sea Ray history, dating back to collaboration with Harley Earl Associates in the early 1960s. It was important that we partnered with a group that has a comprehensive understanding of future mobility and the ability to develop concepts with a view to future contexts," said Foss.

Storage on the boat has been optimized to 66 cubic feet, a little more than the 2021 BMW X3 with the rear seats folded. There is custom transom Stow and Go Fender Storage and a port-side walkthrough. Buyers can upgrade their Sundancer to include an electrically actuated opening glass hardtop with black panoramic sunroof and extended sunshade.

There is a U-shaped cockpit in the craft that plays home to a wet bar, flameless Keyon grill, and optional refrigerator and teak tables. There is seating for up to five adults. The bow can be transformed from a table to a sun lounge with the available filler cushion.

The three-position convertible transom seat transitions from a hard-back surface when underway to an aft-facing seat or sunpad when at rest.

"We sought to create an interior cabin space in the Sundancer 370 Outboard that's a bright, warm and modern home away from home," said Paul Olvera, Sea Ray industrial designer. "We wanted people aboard to feel welcome to sit and relax with a sense of sophistication as they're surrounded by rich textures inspired by nature that aren't loud or overbearing. Calmness and confidence were key; nothing is cold or too bright and loud, and neither is anything too dark or moody. The tones are especially catered to their respective areas so that everything is 'just right.'"

Below deck, there is a cabin that welcomes light via Hull-side windows and skylight. The head is equipped with a shower with modern spa-like finishes and a forward V-berth lounge features an L-shaped couch and smart TV. The galley has space for an added-on microwave, refrigerator, solid surface countertops, trash receptacle, and cabinetry with lower storage.

The couch can be converted into the master bed with fill-in cushions to form a queen-sized sleeping area.

Power comes from the boat's triple Mercury Verado 300 outboard engines with Joystick Piloting for Outboards. Active Trim (automatic engine trim system) is standard while Dynamic Running Surface is available.

The helm features a dual digital dashboard. Buyers can add NSO evo3s 16-inch Simrad touchscreen displays that work with Mercury VesselView Mobile. Other highlights include CZone digital switching with the Simrad Command interface providing full lighting control, RGB-W accent lighting, and thru-hull underwater lighting. The options list also includes a Seakeeper 3 gyroscope and a Fusion audio system with Apollo RA770 touchscreen display, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

The Sundancer 370 Outboard is available for order in North America, with international availability timing to follow.

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