March 24, 2008


Two Alfa Romeos in one day is quite rare in North America - aside from perhaps in Northern California. Naturally, I was quite pleased to see a blue on tan 86-90 Alfa Rome Spider Veloce (identical to my own) and then, later in the day, a slightly rough black 86-90 Spider Graduate. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snap a photo of the blue Veloce since it was going the opposite direction in traffic. But I did get a few shots of the black Graduate - sitting still makes it just a wee bit easier to capture on film.

The Graduate was introduced in 1985 - following up on the 1982 "Special Edition," a bare-bones price-leader designed to boost sales. By the 1980s, Alfa Spiders were considered more luxury tourers than outright sports cars, despite their sporty DNA. Fine leather seats and power windows had become expected luxury features - and the Alfas delivered. But Alfa reckoned that some buyers would prefer a more pure experience, so the Graduate was born. It dropped the top-end (in 1985) Veloce's leather seats, power windows, alloy wheels, premium cloth soft top and even its clock. The only factory option on the Graduate was air conditioning, though a radio, a separate digital clock and alloy wheels could all be fitted by dealers. The Graduate badge, of course, comes from the 1968 movie of the same name... the movie in which Dustin Hoffman wooed both Mrs. and Miss Robinson in his bright red Alfa Romeo Spider "Duetto."

The bottom line is that the graduate was highly successful and it helped Alfa Romeo Distributors of North America see their highest sales year ever in 1986. The model shown above was spotted on a sleepy residential street in Addison, Texas. I didn't get a close enough look at it to see its specific year, but the monopod gauge cluster and CHSML on the hard spoiler say that it's a post-September 1985 production (1986 model year) through 1990 model year variant. It has an ill-fitting aftermarket tan roof (a black vinyl roof was standard), very '80s gold wheels and the spoiler appears to have been painted to match the body - a hard black plastic was fitted from the factory. It also has been fitted with an aftermarket whip antenna; the dealer-install antennas were power or manual retractable masts typically fitted to the passenger side fender. Model year 1986 Graduates had the antenna built into the windshield, though those tend to fail and fender antennas are often added. Its tan interior is a little unusual - most Graduates had black interiors. I don't believe that tan interiors were offered in 1986, though I'm not certain. More than likely, this is a 1987-1990 model year Spider.

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