The Super Spider V6 Retrofit!
Still Alfa, Still Italian, But Only in America

Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6

The Evolution of My Spider

I purchased my then new 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce in February 1982. I had always wanted a red Italian sports car and this car fit the bill. From that time to the present this Spider has steadily evolved from its first engine modifications to its flared rear-end, accommodating Dunlop P245s to, what master Alfa Romeo Technician Nick Muto has dubbed, the “V6 Super Spider.”

This 1981 Spider is a “purist’s nightmare.” Its evolution includes aftermarket rear spoiler, front air-dam, Carello lens covers w/ recessed headlamps, 1974 grill, modified front bumper, welded Porsche Turbo flares, Epsilon 3 piece wheels w/ Dunlop P245 tires.

Daily Driver

Though it has always been kept in great condition, it was and still is my daily driver. My evolving project has provided me with years of reliability and enjoyment. It has been a work vehicle, as well as a recreational vehicle. When it could no longer pass emissions testing, I had a dilemma… that is until I found Nick at Alfa Tech.

Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6
My 1981 Spider with Alfa Romeo Milano 2.5 V6 engine.
Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6 Nick the Master Tech

For years I searched for someone who could and would do an aesthetically pleasing V6 conversion to my Spider. In October 2001, I came upon an unusual fuzzy black & white picture of a 1974 Spider in our chapter’s magazine – what made it unusual was that there were 6 curved air intake horns going into what appeared to be a V6 engine – the caption read: “Nick Muto’s beautiful V6 conversion” – nothing more – no elaboration. That’s what I’ve been looking for – someone with the ability and the enthusiasm to make my dream a reality!

After a bit of searching, I found Nick Muto’s shop in La Habra, California. I telephoned him and talked about his car. I asked him if I could test it. He said, “sure… just come down and check it out.” I went down to his shop the next day. The ’74 Spider was parked in front of his office. Looking at it, it was impossible to detect that there was a V6 under the hood. He took me for a ride, then, he let me drive – WOW! – this car was responsive. First gear chirped the tires, second gear chirped the tires and I wasn’t even trying to… This larger V6 had noticeably more torque than I was used to. I was sold! I asked Nick if he would consider doing another conversion -- mine. He thought about it for a second and said he would, but there was a catch. His shop is very busy. He would only be able to work on my project during his off hours. He said that it would probably take several months – I agreed. We agreed on a price and I told him that I would bring my car in as soon as he could begin.

Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6

A Perfect Candidate for a V6 retrofit!

A few weeks later I had my Spider placed on a flatbed tow-truck and delivered to Nick’s shop. When the car arrived, Nick was surprised to see a Spider flared so wide in the rear. He said that this car was definitely in need of a V6. Over the next few months, I periodically stopped by the shop to see the progress. First he pulled out my old modified 4-cylinder engine and transmission. He gutted the entire engine compartment and over the next few weeks, he performed a significant amount of cutting and welding to accommodate the Milano 2.5 liter engine and the Maserati ZF transmission comfortably. He didn’t just hack it up. This is where Nick’s creativity and workmanship truly shine. After making all of the metal modifications, he gave the engine compartment a textured black matte finish, which sets the engine in an aesthetically dramatic backdrop.

Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6
Nick’s innovative method of accommodating the V6 using the lower profile 164 intake, which allows it to fit cleanly under the hood.
Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6 Nick’s Craftsmanship

On the interior of the car, under the console, cutting and welding is also necessary to add space for the larger transmission bell housing and to allow the gearshift to properly locate. The gearshift of the ZF is in a more typical position much closer to the tip of the parking brake grip. Once closed up, everything fits nicely. Nick rearranged the console so that the gearshift and boot are in the area where the ashtray originally was located and he fashioned a black textured panel to accommodate the switches where the ashtray used to be.

Alfa Romeo V6 Spider - SuperSpiderV6

Time to Drive!

After several months of anxiously waiting, I went to test-drive my new reborn Spider. I started it up – the engine sounded so substantial and smooth. I then took it out for a spin. It was lively and very sensitive. There were no flat spots -- the acceleration was very smooth. This was everything that I had hoped for and more. Nick also brought the car to the Bureau of Automotive Repair for inspection and documentation. Not only did it pass, the supervisor was so impressed with Nick’s work that they chatted about Alfas for quite a while. Nick’s innovative method of accommodating the V6 using the lower profile 164 intake, which allows it to fit cleanly under the hood.

Getting the Word Out

I began publicizing Nick’s V6 conversions on my Alfa Exotics website several months ago and the response has been phenomenal. Nick has been talking to people all over the world.

Click here to read part 2 -- 3 SuperSpiders on display at the Monterey Concorso Italiano