In 1959, Innocenti – famous for the Lambretta scooter – entered into a licensing agreement with BMC for the manufacture of the English company’s products.
Plans were drawn up for the assembly of a re-bodied MkII Austin-Healey Sprite by Officine Stampaggi Industriale (OSI) – a venture established by Ghia with Innocenti involvement – that would be sold and marketed by Innocenti as an upmarket alternative to the Sprite.
The roadster body was designed by American Tom Tjaarda and the 950 Spider debuted at the November 1960 Turin Motor Show. Production did not begin until 1961 after the original “frogeye” design had been replaced by the square-bodied Mk II.
The diminutive Innocenti Spider 950 combined English practicality with Italian style and resulted in a much more luxurious car with an integrated windscreen header, roll-up windows and wraparound chrome bumpers.
A lockable glovebox, courtesy lights and better trim and switchgear transformed the essential character of the vehicle into a more accomplished, refined sports car.
The Lucas electrical components were replaced by Marelli substitutes and the convertible top was much more secure and protective than the original.
A total of 4,790 950 Spiders were manufactured up until February 1963, when the Innocenti ‘S’ was introduced with an 1100cc engine, disc brakes and revised rear suspension.
Just over 2,000 Innocenti ‘S’ Spiders were produced between February 1963 and February 1965.
The vehicle should have been an unqualified success but sales suffered due to the expense of the final product in comparison to the original, and the reduced performance resulting from the added weight of all the accoutrements.
In 1966, the Innocenti ‘C’ coupe debuted with an enclosed bodyshell that sold in even fewer numbers than the roadster.
Although production ended in 1968, the last Innocenti cars were not sold until 1970 with only slightly more than 7,000 eventually sold altogether.