1962 Innocenti Spider 950 ... Less is More

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By dean seven
An Italian Pony Car


NNOCENTI 950 Spider History 

• dean seven

 Italian manufacturer Innocenti produced several vehicles in partnership with British Motor Corporation.  One of the most successful and desirable is the Innocenti Spider, a compact sports car with superb styling introduced at the 1960 Turin Auto Show.  Innocenti made a splash with an attractive little Spider built upon Austin Healy Sprite underpinnings.  A tiny, cute "pony car" typical of the best Italian design of the period and in contrast to the "stallions" of Ferrari and Maserati.

 The car was the first major design by Tom Tjaarda, an American designer, working for Carrozzeria Ghia.  Tjaarda went on to design several legendary exotics including the De Tomaso Pantera and Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Berlinetta, among other great sports cars.  The car was manufactured by OSI in Turin, a company which had been set up by Ghia in 1959.  Innocenti 950 series production began in early 1961. 

 The Innocenti Spider used all of the major mechanical assemblies from the Sprite including engine, driveline, suspension and brakes, but incorporated them into a much more modern bodyshell with roll up windows, an opening trunk compartment and wider track. The Spider was more than a styling exercise, as the entire bulkhead was moved forward to provide longer doors and a more stylish look. It is well regarded as a beautiful design, one of the most appealing compact sports cars of the 1960’s. 

 Following improvements introduced with the Sprite Mark II released in late 1961, Innocenti fitted an upgraded 948 cc engine (engine code 9CG), with larger twin 1 1⁄4 inch SU carburettors, increasing power to 46.5 bhp for the 1962 model. A close-ratio gearbox was fitted along with rack and pinion steering, dual wishbone front suspension and quarter elliptic leaf spring rear suspension.   The Spider 950 was only slightly heavier than comparable Sprites and performance was quite similar.  Zero to 60 mph in around 17 seconds and a top speed above 85 mph from contemporary road tests.   

 Innocenti upgraded the Spider again in 1963 with the 1098 cc engine and semi elliptic rear suspension of the Mark III Sprite.  In total only 4,790 of the 950 Spiders and 2,074 of the 1098 cc Spiders were built, making these sexy roadsters quite rare, even in Europe, and virtually unknown in the States.  By comparison, Austin Healy built 49,987 Bugeye Sprites, 31,665 of the Mark II model and well over 125,000 total units when the Mark III and Mark IV are counted.

The Innocenti Spider was an early sales success in Italy and Europe despite being rather more expensive than a contemporary Sprite.  As the decade progressed and more modern versions of the Sprite as well as newer competitors were introduced, sales tailed off by 1965 and production ended soon thereafter.  A short lived coupe model succeeded the Spiders but production ended in 1968. 

 The Innocenti Spider 950 is regarded a fantastic period sports car with sleek styling, enjoyable performance and handling, reasonable comfort for its size and straightforward mechanicals with excellent reliability and parts availability. 

 1962 Innocenti 950 Spider European Version 

2-door roadster body type 

Rear-wheel drive

Manual 4-speed gearbox

 948 cc / 57.9 ci

50 hp  ( SAE ), torque: 70.5 Nm / 52 lb-ft 

Length: 3427 mm / 134.9 in Wheelbase: 2032 mm / 80 inWidth 57.8 in 

Curb weight: 695 kg / 1532 lbs Weight distribution f/r % 53 / 47