Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spyder - Spider - Speeder - Speedster












Many people here have heard the term " Spyder " or " Spider " when it applies to cars.
The term in fact has NOTHING to do with insects, but everything with OUR NOBLE HORSE RACE and horse-drawn carriages as shown in the video below of an original  " SPIDER " - carriage:

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As with other automotive terms like  BROUGHAM PHAETON WAGON  and  CABRIOLET describing different styles of horse-drawn carriages, a " Spider " was a lighter version of a Phaeton, having narrower, spindly wheels and two-seat accommodation.

The name implied an extremely rudimentary top mechanism originating from a small two-seat horse-cart with a folding sunshade made of four bows; with its black cloth top and exposed sides for air circulation it resembled an eight-legged spider. This term was subsequently applied to automobiles.

The term " Spyder " was first used in cars like this ALFA ROMEO TIPO 8C  Why?
Because a Spider carriage was a lightweight open carriage with tall wheels. Pretty cool huh?
The first automotive chassis builders were horse-drawn carriage builders. They simply used the same terminology for horseless carriages.
Even the term " car " comes from the term " Motor Carriage " which was shortened to " Motor Car " and eventually just to " Car ".

Alternatively, a native Italian who has had no English influence in the pronunciation would pronounce  " Spyder " or " Spider " as Speeder. Thus a car labeled by an Italian car manufacturer as
" Spyder " or " Spider " is intended to be simply a " Speeder " or a sports car.
( Aston Martin used to have a car labeled " SPYDER " but now have a model labeled " VOLANTE ", an Italian word that translates into English as " Speeder " or " Speedster " )

Contrary to popular belief, the first car to be officially called a " Spyder " was not the  PORSCHE 550 SPYDER.  Aston Martin produced a  SPYDER  in the same year.
Spyder is found on a wide assortment of car names since the advent of the automobile - for example, the  ALFA ROMEO 8C 2900B SPYDER  that won the  MILLE MIGLIA IN 1938  ( before Porsche existed ) by Biondetti of the Scuderia Ferrari team - but arguably did not receive particular notoriety or significance until the popularity of  JAMES DEAN'S 1955 PORSCHE 550 SPYDER  " Lil Bastard ", which he was driving at high speed on a Californian highway in an awful, fatal crash that killed him.

Other later Spyders include Mitsubishi, numerous Ferraris and later Porsches. However, the most significant and known model to wear this name was our Fiat 124 Spider / Pininfarina Spider.