The term derives from horse-drawn carriages, as do other automotive terms. A spider phaeton was a lighter version of a phaeton, having narrower, spindly wheels and two-seat accommodation. This term was subsequently applied to cars.
The first car to be officially called a "spyder" was the Ferrari Spyder — the name implied an extremely rudimentary top mechanism. Other later spyders include the Fiat 850, numerous Ferraris, Maseratis, the Lamborghini, and the Alfa Romeo Spider.