Back when I was searching for my first car, I briefly found an Alfa Romeo Spider that looked like it would be in passable condition. Before I could even call the number from the classified ad, my father chimed in with his usual wisdom. “Oh, you don’t want to start with those. They were crap! Just get a Miata and finish!”.
Now, after 25 years of utter dominance, the Miata has finally consumed the last icon of European two-seaters, the Alfa Romeo Spider. Mazda and Fiat signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop new, lightweight roadsters specific to each brand. Both would be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant. While the new MX-5 is just around the corner, the Alfa would start production in 2015.
Alfa Romeo cars, particularly vintage ones, have an enormous following in Japan, and the tie-up with a “premium” brand will reflect well on Mazda, which is saddled with financial troubles and a gloomy future, despite a new wave of promising product. Unfortunately for Miata owners, it will be hard to harp on Alfas for oil leaks, electrical issues and other maladies once Mazda starts building the Spider to the Miata’s superb level of reliability.
The big question here is the implications for Mazda and a potential Fiat alliance. Mazda has been adamant about forming partnerships in order to ensure its survival, and Sergio Marchionne told Automobile this month that a broader partnership with Mazda would be attractive. When you think about it, a Mazda/Alfa partnership isn’t too much of a stretch…