Stories > Why are so many Italian convertible cars called spider?
Why are so many Italian convertible cars called spider?

Why are so many Italian convertible cars called spider?

Published 2020-01-06 by Peter Ternström

Now, that is a very good question. What has an eight-legged arachnoid to do with Italian supercars with a retractable roof?

Nearly all convertible European supercars are called “spiders”. Ferrari 488 Spider. Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. Even McLaren 720S Spider. The word spider has been used for convertible cars both in Italy and outside of Italy for a considerable time. And you and I have just accepted it. Isn't this extremely weird?

There is an explanation for this. But, it might not be what you think.

The story is about an Italian motor journalist attending the New York (city) auto show in 1953. During the show, he spotted a new type of Porsche car. It was a street-legal car without a roof. It was the 550 speeder, made famous by James Dean.

Using a rusty phone line across the Atlantic, he reported back to the headquarters in Milan. His Italian counterparts understood that the car had no roof, and the car was called what?

How do you say "speeder" in Italian? Most importantly, how do you spell it? In the magazine, they wrote “spider”, which is just how an Italian person would spell the Porsche model name.

There you have it: a miscommunication in the 1950s created the weirdest naming convention ever - and that is my favourite explanation of why many convertible supercars have the suffix spider (or spyder) in their model name. Beautiful story, but probably not entirely true.

There is one more explanation. More plausible, but not nearly as fun. There was a type of horse-drawn carriage in the 1 800's that was also called a "spider". This because it had a small body and large wooden wheels with thin spokes - resembling the arachnid eight-legged insect. Many claim the word spider for the modern open-top car has its beginnings here.

I do not know about you, but I like the story about the Italian journalist and the Porsche 550 speeder much more.

Peter Ternström

Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
Subscribe to our newsletter

The latest news and stories. All the best roads, hotels and restaurants. Invitations to exciting events. Be the first to know by subscribing to our newsletter.

Mondo Gran Turismo

The latest news and stories from the world of Gran Turismo

Everything you need to know about the Riviera in under five minutes
Everything you need to know about the Riviera in under five minutes
The best pics from Nurburgring in August
The best pics from Nurburgring in August
Everything we knew about the Ferrari SUV was wrong
Everything we knew about the Ferrari SUV was wrong
VIDEO: Thank you for a great 2021 season
VIDEO: Thank you for a great 2021 season
VIDEO: Say hello to the Jetson ONE
VIDEO: Say hello to the Jetson ONE
VIDEO: Gran Turismo Italia on Passo Tonale
VIDEO: Gran Turismo Italia on Passo Tonale
Here is the route for Gran Turismo Polonia 2022
Here is the route for Gran Turismo Polonia 2022
The worst road trip ever made (that we know of)
The worst road trip ever made (that we know of)
The best pics from Gran Turismo Adriatica in July
The best pics from Gran Turismo Adriatica in July
VIDEO: Interview with Mitja Borkert - who designed the Huracan STO
VIDEO: Interview with Mitja Borkert - who designed the Huracan STO
Test Drive: The crazy Lamborghini Huracan STO
Test Drive: The crazy Lamborghini Huracan STO
VIDEO: We drive the new Huracan STO sideways at Vallelunga
VIDEO: We drive the new Huracan STO sideways at Vallelunga
40 pictures that always make us smile
40 pictures that always make us smile
The entire 2021 season is now fully booked
The entire 2021 season is now fully booked
Congratulations - The Famous Vespa turns 75 years this year
Congratulations - The Famous Vespa turns 75 years this year
Say HELLO to the new Ferrari 296 GTB
Say HELLO to the new Ferrari 296 GTB
A postcard from the Riviera
A postcard from the Riviera
Gran Turismo Polonia confirmed for 1-7 of July
Gran Turismo Polonia confirmed for 1-7 of July
Ten myths from the world of luxury and travel that are simply not true
Ten myths from the world of luxury and travel that are simply not true
Did you know? There is a race track on a rooftop in Turin
Did you know? There is a race track on a rooftop in Turin
More stories

Testimonials

MR JWW
MR JWW
Media Personality
"Gran Turismo Events are the highlight of my year. I really look ahead to when the weather improves, the road trips begin and the Nurburgring beckons! Gran Turismo runs an event like no one else - I love it"
Maciej Spychal
Maciej Spychal
Porsche GT3 master
"The Gran Turismo experience is much bigger than the sum of its parts. You can visit all the places on your own but going there with GranTurismo gets you an experience you can’t put a price on."
Fredrik Huldt
Fredrik Huldt
Motor journalist
"Not joining Gran Turismo Events at least once a year should be punishable by law."
Fredrik Borgegård
Fredrik Borgegård
Gym chain owner
"Gran Turismo Events is the best thing that has happened to me. It is relaxed, a lot of driving and many fantastic participants."
The Drivers Collection

Events Calendar

Beautiful road trips and famous racing tracks since 2002. Supercars only.

Gran Turismo St Moritz
23-27 January 2022
St Moritz, Switzerland
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Mona Lisa
28-29 April 2022
Paris, France
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Adriatica
7-15 May 2022
Opatija - Zadar - Mostar - Dubrovnik - Montenegro
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Nurburgring
30 May - 2 June
Nurburgring, Germany
Gran Turismo Riviera
6-10 June 2022
Forte dei Marmi - Portofino - Monaco - St Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Sardinia
15-20 June 2022
Sardinia, Italy
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Polonia
6-13 July 2022
Poland
Gran Turismo Verso Maranello
22-30 July 2022
Scandinavia - Warsaw - Wroclaw - Prague - Cortina - Maranello
Gran Turismo Europa
3-11 September 2022
Zurich - Andermatt - Como - Monaco - St Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Italia
18-25 September 2022
Bologna - Florence - Chianti - Portofino - Garda - Como
Gran Turismo Toscana
5-9 October 2022
Florence - Chianti - Grosseto - Lucca - Florence
Contact us

While our head offices are in Geneva, Switzerland, the team is spread throughout Europe: Sweden, Poland, Italy and Croatia. Please select the appropriate team member to contact below.

For general enquiries, you can always use info@granturismo.org. For event registrations, please use registry@granturismo.org.

Peter Ternstrom Peter Ternström
President
+46 (0)70 530 06 89
Björn Lagercrantz Björn Lagercrantz
CFO
+46 (0)70 844 64 00
Justyna Weclawiak Justyna Weclawiak
Head of event organisation
+48 509 706 651
Michal Weclawiak Michal Weclawiak
Event coordinator - General
‭+48 602 134 467‬
Chiara Mannucci Chiara Mannucci
Event coordinator - Italy
+39 346 763 22 74
Zdravko Anticic Zdravko Anticic
Event coordinator - Balkans
+385 (0)91 917 32 77
Pietro Bonuccelli Pietro Bonuccelli
Supercar fleet manager
‭+39 349 888 33 89‬
Marcin Jellinek Marcin Jellinek
PR and Media
+48 519 189 081
Joakim Niss Joakim Niss
Head of merchandise
‭+46 (0)70 468 60 75‬
James Holm James Holm
Photography
+46 (0)70 713 71 42