So-called "milestone" cars are often noteworthy for being either the first of a type, or the last, marking the dawn of a new era, or perhaps signifying one's end. It's quite unusual to find a car that manages to do both simultaneously, but in the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint, we have just such a machine.
Introduced in 1962, the 2600 was Alfa Romeo's flagship, with a lineup that included a staid Berlina version, a decadent Spider with styling by Touring, and most successfully, a handsome "Sprint" coupe from the Bertone design firm, where it was penned by a young designer named Giorgetto Giugiaro. The 2600 Sprint's coachwork was an evolution of his design for the car's predecessor, the 2000 Sprint (itself the first road car Giugiaro designed). Taking the classic Italian long-hood-short-deck silhouette and giving it an angular, modern twist, Giugiaro's design for the 2600 Sprint would come to define the look of the '60s GT car. Its influence can be seen in a wide variety of automobiles that followed, from the BMW 2000CS to the first-generation Nissan Silvia.
Though groundbreaking in design, the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint also stands as the last in a proud line of inline six-powered GT cars from the storied Italian firm. Though Alfa's eight-cylinder models are rightly remembered as some of history's greatest automobiles, its straight-sixes were responsible for the company's long-term prosperity (and no small percentage of its motorsport success, too). The 2600 Sprint could trace its lineage back to the 6C sports racers of the 1920s and 30s, but as Alfa's competition future lay with compact four-cylinders and flat-12s, the inline six evolved into the powerplant of choice for its long-legged Autostrada cruisers like the 2600. Its 2.6-liter, twin-cam, all-alloy straight six was good for 145 horsepower...more than enough to make it one of the fastest grand tourers of the early '60s.
Beautiful, fast, revolutionary and conclusive, the 2600 Sprint stands as one of Alfa Romeo's crowning achievements, one that has been somewhat forgotten in the wake of the commercial and competitive success of the Giulia line that followed. Fifty years after the final 2600 rolled off the assembly line in Milan, it's time for a new generation of fans to discover the importance of this true milestone in Alfa history.
Pictured is TSM's 1:43-scale resin model of the 1962 Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint. To order this model, click here.