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Alfa Romeo “Duetto”: What’s in a name?”

Italians routinely call the 1966-94 Alfa Romeo Spider “Duetto”… Despite this word not appearing anywhere on the car or in the related promotional material. Why?

Alfa Romeo historian Matteo Licata explains…

Geneva Motor Show, 1966.

The newest Alfa Romeo sports car presented at the Swiss show, set to replace the previous Giulia Spider, is simply called “Spider 1600”, as nobody at Alfa Romeo had yet decided on a name for it.

The idea of letting the public name the new spider surfaced in those March ‘66 days: over the course of two months, everyone could put pen to paper and send a letter to Alfa Romeo suggesting a name for the new spider, a winner would be extracted among those that suggested the chosen name… And the lucky one would get a brand new spider.

Alfa itself was overwhelmed by the success of the initiative: around 140.000 letters arrived at its Portello HQ, suggesting more than 8000 different names.

Many of those suggestions made reference to Battista “Pinin” Farina, as the world-famous designer had died in April that same year, making the new Alfa Romeo the last car he ever worked on.

The not-so easy task to choose one word among thousands fell to a small panel of judges presided by the poet Leonardo Sinisgalli, which ultimately chose “Duetto”.

The winner turned out to be a gentleman from Brescia, named Guidobaldo Trionfi: the Spider he received from the hands of Alfa’s then-president Giuseppe Luraghi remained his pride and joy for many years.

What Alfa didn’t know though, is that Pavesi, an Italian snack company, had already registered “Duetto” and wasn’t too happy about Alfa Romeo using it too.

If you’ve ever wondered why Italians call the Alfa Spider “Duetto” but the name doesn’t appear anywhere on the car, now you know…

I’ve made a YouTube video about this story, and you can watch it here:

The Alfa Romeo Spider "Duetto"

Watch video

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