Launched in the mid-1990s, the Alfa Romeo Spider 916 was the latest in the Italian legend’s open-top family tree. Although offered side-by-side with the 2+2 Coupé GTV, the Spider was considered to be a worthy successor to the Duetto and cut a dash with its sharp styling and looks that still stand up nearly 30 years later.
The 916 and GTV used the same floorpan as the Alfa 155 but swapped to front-wheel-drive, offering two main engine alternatives: a 2-litre twin-spark (TS) four-cylinder and a 3-litre V6. Both had their own merits – the 2-litre still offering acceptable performance with a slightly more ‘relaxed’ approach, whilst the 3-litre was definitely no slouch with a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds.
A 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 2-litre turbo-charged V6 and a 3.2-litre V6 were also offered depending on the market location, but the majority were specified with the standard 2-litre TS engine and many used examples now found will follow that theme.
“Best not leave it out in the rain – it’ll have rusted away before you return.” Alfa’s reputation for building cars that were best suited to sunnier climes may have been exaggerated, but either way, they took steps to ensure the longevity of the Spider and GTV by galvanising the bodyshell and, although this inevitably added to the overall weight, it did address an important issue for potential buyers.
The 2+2 GTV immediately drew positive response from the motoring press, but both won a handful of awards and when Autocar tested the 2-litre Spider in 1995, they enthused about the engine as well as the handling.
Although the GTV is stiffer, the Spider still holds its own – despite the almost inevitable scuttle shake and although the 2-litre twin-spark isn’t going to set the tyres alight, its smoothness when well-maintained is worthy of mention, Autocar describing it as “One of the most melodic horses available from any four-pot manufacturer in the world.”
Switching up to the 3-litre V6 replaces that smoothness with attitude, yet the increased torque comes at a price, with noticeable torque-steer and fuel consumption. However, the name Alfa Romeo has never really been synonymous with out and out power. Instead, character, handling, charm and style remain firmly on the agenda with the 916 Spider and if you’re after an affordable open-top with pedigree to boot, then you could do a lot worse.