Alfa-Romeo Alfasud-based 1988 Hunstman Spyder
Huntsman Spyder Alfa Romeo. An intriguing mid-engined Alfasud-based one-off.
Story by Gary Axon
Images by Bonhams
OBSCURATICURIOSITIES FROM THE AMAZING WORLD OF ITALIAN CARS
Decades ahead of specialist trackday cars such as the acclaimed Dallara Stradale becoming widely available, Australian-born but UK-based automotive electronics engineer Graham Smith came up with his own answer. In the mid-1980s, he was looking for something suitable for both road and circuit use but back then such vehicles were far less commonplace.
Unable to find anything that satisfied his exacting requirements, Smith boldly designed and built his own trackday car between 1986 and 1988.
Named the Huntsman Spyder, Smith powered his prototype barchetta with an Alfasud Sprint Veloce 1.5-litre boxer engine, driven via the baby Alfa’s five-speed manual transmission. Equipped with a rare Sprintex supercharger, the boxer engine delivered a maximum power output of 175hp, and with the Huntsman tipping the scales at a mere 632kg, the power-to-weight ratio was exceptional at almost 400hp per tonne. This put the Huntsman's performance into the supercar league for its time, with a 0-62mph acceleration time estimated to be under five seconds, an astonishing figure for the 1980s.
Smith designed his own smooth, open glassfibre coachwork, using contemporary Ford Escort Mk3 taillights. Underneath was a sophisticated aluminium-panelled chassis of a square-section tubular steel construction. Its front suspension was of Triumph origin, while the rear featured Royale Formula 3 uprights, double wishbones and Bilstein dampers. The fully adjustable suspension was mounted on rose joints. Smith's unique creation was registered in the UK in 1988 as a 'Huntsman Spyder Alfa Romeo' with the registration number Q315 FLF.
Smith planned to go into production either in kit form or as a fully-built turnkey car. But sadly his exciting project never got beyond the construction of one solitary prototype, as the funds to productionise it simply never materialised. In the summer of 1997 the Huntsman was purchased by long- established kit car maker, Tiger Racing, with a view to putting it into production. However, already busy producing its own in-house Lotus Seven-inspired kit, Tiger did little to promote the Huntsman, and by 1998 the project reappeared among the classified small ads in the contemporary specialist car press.
It then disappeared from view and was long-forgotten, before resurfacing in January 2016. The one-off Huntsman has since found a new home in a private collection in Italy, where it has been fully restored and registered (not an easy undertaking for a unique kit car in Italy). The exclusive Huntsman was sold by Bonhams in late 2022 at its Milan sale (suitably enough, as the historic home of Alfa Romeo). The hammer fell for what we think is a bargain €17,250, some way off its ambitious €40k-€60k estimate – making this one of the more affordable Alfasud-based specials.