At the 1962 Geneva Motor Show, Alfa Romeo released its successor to the flagship 2000 series, the 2600. Alfa engineers sought to address critic’s claims that the 2000 was underpowered by ditching the old iron-block 2-liter inline four and shoehorning in a new 2.6 liter, all-alloy inline six. Based on the same architecture as the Giulietta engine, the inline-six used an alloy block and twin-cam head, with removable liners and a seven-main-bearing crankshaft. Depending on the year and model, the engine made between 130 for the first sedans to 165 horsepower for the ultimate Sprint Zagato spec. Many of the chassis components carried over from the 2000, and later models gained disc brakes at all four corners. Even with the heaviest Berlina body performance was up to Alfa Romeo’s usual standards. While slightly more relaxed than the high-strung twin-cam four, the six-cylinder still offered the character and charm that defined Alfa in the 1960s. It was also a robust engine, proving itself in competition as well as on the road where famously, the Italian Carabinieri Squadra Pantera used a fleet of 2600 Sprint Coupes as effective tools for high-speed pursuits on the Autostrada.
Alfa Romeo offered the 2600 in several variations starting with the crisp and sophisticated Tipo 106.00 four-door Berlina. A more sporting option came with the Bertone-bodied 2600 Sprint Coupe. The handsome GT car was 100kg lighter than the Berlina, sporting triple Solex carbs to give brisk performance. Finally, the task of creating the open Spider version fell to Carrozzeria Touring of Milan. Like Bertone did with the coupe, Touring incorporated much of the existing design from the 2000 into the new 2600, but with a freshened face and revised trim. The Spider shared the Sprint’s high-performance triple-carburetor engine and five-speed gearbox. At a time when Alfa Romeo focused on mass production, the 2600 was made in relatively small numbers. Total production of all models (Berlina, Sprint, Touring, SZ, and Deluxe) just topped 11,000 cars, with the pretty Touring Spider accounting for only 2,257 units. In its day, the 2600 was comparable to a Jaguar E-Type, Maserati 3500, or Lancia Flaminia, offering exceptional performance, Italian coachbuilt style and high levels of luxury.
Our featured 2600 Spider is a highly desirable late-production model, with a beautifully finished restoration in exquisite colors. As a later example, it features the sought-after four-wheel disc brakes, alternator, and various trim improvements that Alfa made throughout production. This car also features a triple-Weber carburetor arrangement in place of the troublesome factory Solexes, thereby improving power, serviceability, and reliability. This car enjoyed long-term ownership in California, with the previous owner reporting that the restoration started with a sound and solid car needing no major structural repair. Approximately 8 years ago, while in California, the car received a high-quality cosmetic restoration and mechanical overhaul, all finished to very high standards. Finished in a gorgeous livery of Oro Chiaro with a burgundy roof, the body has superb alignment with crisp, straight panels. The paintwork is glossy and smooth; however, we have noted some bubbling in the finish upon close inspection. That said, these imperfections do little to detract from the stellar overall presentation. The Pebble Beach award-winning shop Christensen Plating Works in California completely restored the brightwork, and it remains in excellent condition. The factory chrome wheels wear proper metric Michelin tires, and pleasing details include the jewel-like Carrozzeria Touring badges and period correct Carello fog lamps. Following the restoration, it won Best Italian Sports Car at the 2012 Ocean Reef Concours d’Elegance.
Considerably more luxurious than the Giulietta, the 2600 Spider’s cabin is awash in leather and wool carpet. Beautiful red upholstery and medium gray rugs provide a lovely complement to the gold paintwork. A noted Alfa Romeo specialist shop in California handled the interior restoration, and it remains in excellent condition thanks to the meticulous care and maintenance performed by the current owner. The hides still appear taut and supple, with only the slightest creasing from gentle use. Likewise, the leather-covered door panels, dash, and rear seat all present in outstanding condition. Controls, gauges, and interior chrome fittings are similarly excellent.
Mechanically, the car is in fine order. It retains the correct Tipo 00601 Sprint-specification engine, updated with triple side-draught Weber carburetors, which provide a welcome performance boost. Alfa Romeo guru Al Cortes handled much of the mechanical overhaul while the car was in California, and the current East Coast-based owner continued to maintain the car in top order. The under bonnet presentation is excellent, with a highly-polished cam cover acting as the focal point. While this car has been enjoyed on the road, the engine bay remains very tidy, with only a light patina from use yet with signs of meticulous care. The sale includes a host of additional parts that would serve well as the basis for a rally spares kit, as well as a mostly-complete original tool kit in the factory blue box.
Thanks to the expert restoration work and recent care, this Alfa performs beautifully and would make an excellent choice for long-distance touring and events. The torquey six and five-speed ‘box provides the perfect pairing for brisk yet relaxed cruising. A generous boot and usable back seat further add to the practicality, and the cabin is delightfully comfortable with the roof up or down. In this lovely 2600, gorgeous colors, elegant Touring coachwork, and a rich and resonant Italian twin-cam inline six combine to create one of the best grand touring cars of the period.