Alfa Romeo Duettottanta Concept


Is this what the 4C should have been?

There’s a lot in a name. Especially for Alfisti.

It was pronounced ‘duet-o-tanta’. The 2uettottanta was Pininfarina’s headline act of the Geneva Motor Show back in March ’09.

The name, as well as being calculated to draw legions of fans to the Pinin’s stand, was, of course, an homage Alfa Romeo’s past – but wasn’t, in the end, a harbinger of the company’s future.

Ever since the discontinuation of the Spider – one of the mainstays of true Alfisti passion – there had been rumour, wishful thinking, and false dawns of the launch of a new version.

So when Pininfarina introduced the Duettottanta concept, we could have been forgiven for thinking this was going to be a real, live, breathing Alfa spider.

But it didn’t happen. And the concept will forever be cast into that group of woefully lusted after might-have-beens, along with that ‘new E-Type’ and the ‘new Miura’.

The ‘2uetto’ part of the concept’s moniker referred to the influence of Alfa’s classic Duetto model and ottanta – 80 in Italian – to the number of years Pininfarina had been designing cars. It was indeed a live, working concept (though it wasn’t based on an existing Alfa platform).

The driving position was low slung, just the Duetto spider itself – and there was pleasingly attentive detailing with scalped, sculpted flanks and that pinched rear end that evoked the Disco Volante (and of course, that E-type).

The most obviously interesting element of the design was, of course, those angled, aerodynamic cowlings over the headrests, and the iridescent strips as head and taillights. There was also a mixture of machined aluminium and other hit-tech bits and bobs in a package which was, in the end, spoon-feeding an eager public a little too simply.

The target market at the time was, of course, the class-leading rivals such as the Porsche Boxster and Audi TT Roadster – where the 4C concept (which went into production the following year) was aiming higher – the Cayman/Evora crew.

Whether or not the Duettottanta would have outsold the 4C is destined to remain speculation. What’s sure is that it was one of the most enticing teases in recent automotive history.