Alfa Romeo ponders revival of The Graduate's car

FRANKFURT (Reuters Life!) - If Alfa Romeo’s boss were to have one wish, it would be to bring the Duetto, Dustin Hoffman’s car in the 1967 film classic “The Graduate,” back on the road.

“That would be my dream,” Antonio Baravalle, chief executive of the Italian sportscar maker, told Reuters at Frankfurt’s international autoshow. “Small, compact, very low, only for two people -- exactly like the Duetto was back then.”

Launched in 1966, the convertible gained notoriety a year later when it appeared in the film about Benjamin Braddock, a confused young man played by U.S. actor Hoffman.

The Duetto later went through a number of upgrades until it went out of production in 1994.

With Alfa Romeo’s 100th anniversary coming up in 2010, Baravalle said he liked the idea of having a new version of the Duetto with which to celebrate.

Alfa Romeo is also targeting doubling sales and returning to profitability that year as part of an ambitious restructuring program that Fiat has set for all its car brands, including Maserati and Lancia.

Alfa Romeo has been losing money for years because of a reputation for faulty mechanics and poor customer service -- something which Baravalle is trying to reverse with a major overhaul of the premium brand.

Encouraged by the success that BMW has had in reviving the Mini, Fiat is trying its luck with another old model: the Cinquecento, which means 500 in Italian.

In July, it came out with a revised version of the tiny car that came to symbolize Italy’s economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s when families living on a modest income were able to afford a car for the first time.