Has Roadster Salon become the Duetto King?
Roadster Salon has built a worldwide reputation as being the premier restoration and modernization facility for Fiat Spiders. But a lesser-known fondness and expertise for the Alfa Romeo Duetto has recently come to light. The lovely “boat tail” Pininfarina masterpiece know as the Duetto gained exposure and popularity when prominently featured in the 1967 Dustin Hoffman classic film, The Graduate.
The Duetto was officially imported to the US from 1967-1969 before adopting the less popular “cam-tail” design change in 1970. Collectors and Aficionados are very specific about which model year of the Duetto they prefer. Director Rob Baird has become quite knowledgeable in this regard. “Many of the original Duettos have been lost to deterioration and rust. Of those remaining, the 67-68 version with the carbureted 1600cc engine is much more desirable than the later version.”
According to NADA Classic Car Guide, the best examples of the earlier Duetto can bring well into the six-figure range–whereas the more plentiful 1969 version (with mechanical fuel injection) is worth about 50% less for a comparable car. “Be careful here, because the restoration costs for a 1967-68 version is about the same as a 1969 Duetto. Although the model years look very similar, the end value is quite different,” Baird said. Still for those on a tighter budget with a fondness for the Duetto style, the 1969 can be a much more affordable alternative.
According to Senior Technician Roberto D’Avola, restoring a Duetto is a long and painstaking process. “Alfa Romeo used two different braking system designs and had other minor parts differences during the production run. They are bellissimo, but you must have molto pazienzo (a lot of patience) to restore a Duetto properly”.
Due to intermittent parts supplies and spotty quality control, a full Duetto project can take twice as long to complete as a comparable late model Fiat Spider. It’s important to note that unlike our Fiat builds, nearly all our Duettos are restored to an original standard without modifications. To maintain peak value and preserve the classic driving experience, Duetto customers seem far more willing to accept the original car’s foibles and eccentricities than a Fiat owner.
D’Avola commented “The Duetto is a very different car to drive than an Alfa Veloce or Fiat Spider from the 1980’s. It feels very feminine, almost delicate.” Even with a fresh transmission, the car does not respond well to rough treatment. Reliability is always a concern with classics from this era. “We don’t mean to imply the Duetto was poorly built. They are actually quite solid and very pretty. But they are too valuable to toss around the way you would a later Alfa Spider, D’Avola said.
D’Avola and his right-hand man Rosario Fricano, frequently tag team our Duetto projects so they are both fresh and keep frustrations to an absolute minimum. Currently Roadster Salon has four Duetto projects in our build que, as well as some not so “pazienzo” customers anxiously awaiting their completion.
Roadster Salon has one rust-free red 1967 Duetto project now available for purchase.