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Spider article

Found this article recently and thought it was amusing - you guys might too. I love his sharp wit and choice of phrases.


Web of delight


Giles Smith
Saturday August 11, 2007
The Guardian


Alfa Spider 2.2 JTS
Price From £25,995
Top speed 138mph
Acceleration 0-62.5 in 8.8 seconds
Consumption 30.1mpg (combined)
Emissions 221g/km
Eco rating 3/10
At the wheel George Clooney
Top gadget Bose stereo
In a word Fancy


Cars are a subjective matter, of course, and one person's thunderously irresistible passion wagon is another person's dog-chewed Hush Puppy. Yet even allowing for the infinite and unpredictable variety of human response, one can't help asking - is there really anyone who can look on the Alfa Spider without experiencing some twinge of interest, however slight, bordering on covetousness?

Put another way, if there were anyone who could look through this car as if it weren't there, would that person pass a series of simple tests designed to register the presence of breath, pulse and/or heartbeat?
Even allowing for the elaborate, modern Alfa front end (the triple headlamps and shield-shaped grille), it is a thing of simple lines and curves, with a taut engine, uncomplicatedly dedicated to the ancient pleasure of blasting along with your hair flopping about. It has a soft top because hard tops are for wimps and coupés. But it has a soft top that removes itself electronically, carefully stowing itself in a water-tight cubbyhole behind your ears because... well, because this is 2007.

Even the label "Spider" seems pretty cool for a car, although, in fact, the explanation for it is prosaic, the early models having been known in Britain as "speeders" which, by a process of Chinese whispering, eventually became "spider".

Even so, what's not to like? Well, maybe you might find the model's grand and storied 41-year past intimidating. Flashing about in a new one, you court the ever-present risk that some spoilsport is going to come up and tell you your car isn't a patch on the 1600 "Duetto" model of 1966. All in all, the new Spider would probably yield another 10 miles per gallon if it wasn't dragging all that history around.

Or is it, in its blood-red Italian livery, a little too macho for your taste? It's true that it would be appropriate if the car left in its wake not petrol fumes, but the whiff of aftershave and male hair products. If the Spider ever wore a shirt, it would be white and fastened by one button alone, just north of the navel. It's also true that, after the loan car left me, I was power-hosing the remains of the testosterone off my drive for a good four days.

Yet how it lifts the spirits with the top down - and even with it up. You're under canvas so, by rights, motorway driving should be like camping at 70mph. You ought to be able to feel the wind and the weather and, above all, the noise, beating in on you, to the point where you start wishing you were at home in bed. By some miracle of reinforcement and cunningly angled design, you don't. You could stay out all night.

I've saved the best news until last. You can un-prime the airbags affecting the front passenger seat. That means you can strap a reverse-facing baby-seat in there. Why, it's effectively a family car, then. How handy is that going to be when it comes to justifying the purchase to friends? "I know it must look like a piece of the most abject, midlife-crisis-driven self-indulgence. But it was the most practical solution, I swear."
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