It’s something we develop into a reflex. Many readers of this site will know those moments when you catch a glimpse of something in your vision’s periphery – a flash of chrome or a paintjob too matt. It happens within microseconds, and the brain becomes alert to the tantalising potential of what was just barely sensed.
That occurred here. I was in another world completely when this Peugeot 404 Cabriolet approached from a distance. By the time my brain had registered an interesting car in the vicinity, it was hidden behind a number of other vehicles. But I pulled out my camera just in case, and this gorgeous drop top pulled out in front of the Range Rover as the perfect reward.
This is my first 404 two-door. Despite Peugeot having relatively good penetration into the Australian market, these and the coupe were never officially imported. Nor were the 504 versions. Which makes this sighting an extremely gratifying experience. The sun falls on the body at the perfect angle, highlighting the pinch along the waist nicely. The car itself is not too precious, and the driver with straw hat conveys the right amount of nonchalance. My favourite shot for quite a while.
Another Pininfarina in red, not topless but still theoretically possible. Ferrari 308 GTS.
The last great Ferrari shape; amplified gloriously in the 288 GTO before being muted by the 328 versions. After that… meh.
I like these more than the Dinos. It has a much better greenhouse treatment over its predecessor. The 206/246 GTS had an ungainly b-pillar, whereas this body maintains the side window shape of the Berlinetta, albeit with louvres.
I’ve met the owner of this one. Despite a garage replete with modern performance conveyances, so enamoured is he of his GTS he is now looking for an original fibreglass-bodied Berlinetta.
Fiat 124 Spider by the recently departed Tom Tjaarda. It features a rear-end treatment also applied to the Corvair Rondine and Ferrari 365 cabriolet. I’ve never really warmed to this shape; I find the AC and BC 124 Coupes to be much more pleasing to the eye. Those late series bumpers don’t help at all.
Yes this is an MGB, and no it’s not a Pininfarina. But close enough.
Although BMC was then working with Pininfarina, at the time of the MGB’s development they had actually consulted with Frua for this little roadster. Despite that, the final in-house shape (led by Syd Enever and including the substantive contribution of Don Haytor) was closer to the PF Fiat 1200/1500 cabrio than it was to the Frua proposal, let alone the MGA.
And yet it has surpassed all of its influences and contemporaries to become the icon of its class.
Another icon, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider. A distinctive Pininfarina language developed since the mid 1950s, but actually inspired by Touring’s Alfa 1900 Disco Volante of 1952. That little pinch in the bodywork meeting the top of the central grille hints at the rear end of this one.
A Duetto, named in an Alfa Romeo-run competition but never officially used in marketing for copyright reasons apparently. An apt descriptor for its tapered rear mimicking the frontal volumes. As seen on the original 1600cc version as well as the latter 1750cc and 1300cc Junior. That rear badge suggests this example is one of the former.
I’ve run these pics before, but they’re worth including again here as they fit this post’s theme perfectly. It’s the previous generation Alfa Spider and it shows what a leap the Duetto was. Had Pininfarina not prepared the public with ten years of concept cars along the Duetto’s theme, I wonder how it might have been accepted.
Both series would come to be equally loved.
So that’s the end. Of the next generation Spider after they chopped the Duetto’s tail.
And of this post. Cheers.
Wonderful! What a treat on a cold, gray morning.
That 404 Cabriolet is a great catch. I came close to buying one during my 404 days, from a guy who had well over 100 Peugeots in storage lots in Asuza CA at the time, all moldering away in the intense sun. But even if I had tried, he might not have let it go. He claimed to sell stuff, but was a hoarder at heart, unless he really took a shine to you.
I couldn’t have dealt with it properly at the time, but…
I can only echo Paul’s “Wonderful”. 404, 308GTB, Alfa Spider – all time favourites.
Do I have to pick just one? That’s going to be tough!
Nice pics. 404, MGB and the old Alfa Spider are my favourites. I´m with you Don in case of the Ferrari desing. 288 GTO was brilliant but the following ones…
I actually prefer the Dino GTS roof treatment to the 308 GTS, the greenhouse lines flow better with a pillar perpendicular to the roof cut. In fact I think the Dino GTS looks BETTER than the enclosed Dino GT. Targa tops(and T-tops) look cheap to me when the quarter window continues on like it does on the 308 GTS, and the black plastic louvers look fussy and cluttered.
Exhibit A! 😉
I rest my case, your honour. hehehe
Nice selection of Pininfarinas. Here’s another one – Fiat 1600S Osca.
Nice. I prefer the first series with its ‘TV’ grille and asymmetrical hood scoop.
Great shots as always, Don – and what an assortment! It would be hard for me to pick. Having grown up watching “Magnum P.I.”, I’ll always like / covet the Ferrari 308, but the original, round-tail Alfa Spider just looks so timeless. Thanks for sharing these – great theme.
Love the Alfas – especially that Osso di sepia. Crimson and clover, over and over. The 404 is an awesome catch too.
’70s-designed Ferraris leave me a bit cold, same as you. Maseratis were better looking (until the dreaded Biturbo ’80s happened).
What a great collection of red soft tops Don! The 404 in particular must be one of a handful in the state, I might have seen more than one before (at car shows) but I’m not so sure.
Good point about the aerodynamic prototypes showing the way for the Duetto design. Alfa has a strong history of some pretty bold designs, see also the ‘Il Mostro’ RZ/SZ pair and even the mid-90s GTV/Spider (916) was pretty unconventional too.
Interesting how SO many attractive, enjoyable French & Italian cars can perform so well in Europe but transform themselves into irritating, unreliable POS “dogs on wheels” when imported to the USA.
I have enjoyed automotive lust in my heart for each and every car featured in this article.
IF only these feautred cars were as reliable as a new Mazda Miata!
Thank you, roving CC ambassador, for this collection.
And for clarifying the origins of the MGB – that’s pretty high level info there. I bet the higher-ups in the CC Church wanted that kept secret with enlightenment granted only by payment of a not insignificant sum…