If it seems like it has been years of talk about the anticipated return of Alfa Romeo to these shores, well, that’s because it has. As a car guy this is news any one of us would embrace, but for me, I used to own an Alfa Romeo. I owned a 1987 Spyder Graduate (you know, after that little movie starring Dustin Hoffman). Reports of Alfa’s return trickled in and out, but with so little actual news to report, this is a subject I have kept off the The Garage. That changes now.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a mid-engine, two seater sports car powered by a 1.8L direct injected aluminum turbocharged four cylinder rated at 237hp. I’ve not heard the engine myself, but from what I read the sound is bonkers. The only transmission available is a six-speed twin-clutch, so those hoping for a manual, you are out of luck. On paper these numbers don’t sound impressive, but this number will. Thanks to a carbon fiber tub, the North American spec 4C weighs less than 2,500lbs.
The North American media launch of the 4C is happening as I write this-and sadly, no, The Garage was not invited, but our friends at Autoblog were. What we found out today is that a 2015 4C will come with a starting price of $53,900USD, plus $1,295 in destination charges. If you want to be the first in line, Alfa Romeo has created the Launch Edition. Reserved for the first 500 cars, this car will set you back a cool $69,695. Autoblog tells us that Alfa expects the typical 4C to roll out the showroom with a price from the low t0 mid $60’s.
A major debate surrounding Alfa Romeo’s return to North America was who should be able to sell them? Fiat dealers? Maserati dealers? For what is starting out as a niche brand, a new network was out of the question. As it stands now, the majority of dealers that will sell Alfa Romeos will share the floor with their Fiat cousins, with a small number of Maserati dealers also joining the comeback. Fiat-Chrysler announced today that there are currently 82 Alfa Romeo dealers in the US, and four in Canada. The eventual goal is to have a combined 300 dealers. For the US, even though we will have 86 dealers, it’s only in 33 states. The greatest concentration of Alfa dealers are in California, Texas, and Florida. Not even New York City currently has an Alfa Romeo store. Curious to know where your closest Alfa Romeo dealer is? Click right here.
After all these years it is with great pleasure I can say Alfa Romeo is really, finally, coming back. When I owned my Alfa Spyder, it was in the remaining years of the last time Alfa Romeo sold new cars here. My local dealer was in New Haven, CT, in an old brick building that was dripping with charm, and well, a lot of other fluids as well from the well-used Alfas on the lot. In the showroom sat shiny new cars, but in reality the front-wheel drive 164 sport sedan, while styled as smartly as an Armani suit, never caught on, and my beloved Spyder, which at that point was an antique in a world where the Mazda Miata reigned.
There was a certain charm about that old dealership and those quirky old cars that still speaks to me today. That era is gone, however. The new Alfa Romeo dealers will be housed in pristine, sleek, contemporary facilities with not a drop of oil in sight. And with Alfa Romeo’s return imminent, I found myself asking how, apart from the car, do they reintroduce themselves? There are kids who are now college students who have never seen a new Alfa Romeo.
Then I remembered. I was eleven years old, had just moved to a new neighborhood. I got a newspaper route, and one of my customers had a car I’d never seen or heard of before. It was a stunning Alfa Romeo GTV-6. I always looked forward to coming over the deliver the newspaper, just to see and admire the car, and glance inside at a fleet of gauges and switches, and rich looking Recaro leather seats. With a growing family, the GTV gave way to a Milano 3.0 Verde, and finally the top-spec 164S. By this time, I was hooked, and already had my own red Alfa Spyder.
And that was the answer to my question. And to future 4C owners, I challenge you. Leave the car in the driveway. If you want to inspire a new generation of Alfisti, they have to see it. And they won’t if you slip out of your garage, drive to your office, and slip it back into your garage when you return home. After seeing that GTV-6 all the time, I couldn’t stand it. I had to have my own Alfa Romeo. And all these years later, I am dying to see what Alfa has in store for us. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C goes on sale this summer.