By on February 13, 2010

Alfa has rekindled its long lost love with a mature lady: Aunt America.

Last December, Cammy Corrigan reported on TTAC that there are “very important opportunities for Alfa Romeo in the United States.” At least in the eyes of Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of Fiat. Despite being the object of unconditional admiration of Alfa-crazed owners, commonly known as “Alfisti,” Fiat’s sporty brand has reportedly lost €200m-€400m per year for the last decade. So something needs to be done.

Andiamo a America,” appears to be la soluzione in Torino. Reuters reports that “Alfa Romeo is likely to return to North America by 2012 after a 15-year hiatus.”  Alfas were last sold in America in 1995.

“I’m a lot more confident now … that Alfa Romeo will reconstitute a product offering that is acceptable globally, and more in particular in the United States and Canada,” Sergio Marchionne said in Toronto. “There is a strong likelihood that the brand will be back here within the next 24 months.”

And because he was in Toronto, Marchionne mumbled that it may be possible that Canada “may play a roll” (phrasing by Reuters)  in manufacturing the Alfa Romeo. The nature of the roll remained unexplained. Apart from the impending roll in the hay, it could be anything from a roller bearing to a production line from which Alfas roll, bound for the former land of plenty.

As for Alfa’s chances to convert a lot of Americans into Alfisti: Well, cougars are big these days, and we are not talking Mercurys. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel: “God bless you please Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray, hey hey hey.”

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22 Comments on “Alfa’s America Amore...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    I may never own one, but having Alfas as part of the automotive landscape in the USA can do nothing but beautify it.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Repost of my comment on the 164 series Alfa back in January 11th.

    I’d rather be in an Alfa praying that I’ll get to church than be in church praying that I get an Alfa.
    Check out alfabb.com for all you ever want to know about Alfas.
    http://www.alfabb.com/
    Make sure you take a look at the Award Winning Giulietta Restoration at the bottom of the page. If you love cars you’ll definitely like this.

    Back in our younger years my cousin and I did 120 mph in the Windsor Tunnel underneath the Detroit river in his GTV6. He was the driver, I was the …. well, you know what I was doing on the passenger seat ;) and it didn’t smell good. For sure I thought we would be led away in handcuffs at the Canadian side. Got away with that one!! And were were we going? To Erie Street for a coffee and buy bread for his mom.

    At one time owned a 1988 Spider Quadrifoglio, even came with a removable hard top. I loved cruising around Boyne City, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Traverse City and MI-32 in the fall with the top down in northern Michigan … always taking the longest route to get anywhere up there.

    Can’t wait to see more Alfas on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Quadrifoglio

      Great post. Anyone owning or thinking of owning an Alfa should visit (and donate to) AlfaBB.com. Just to see the photo gallery, in fact.

      And every single Alfa owner should belong to AROC USA, the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club USA. Cheaper to join than the clubs of other brands, and full of wondeful people. Many of whom actually drive and (gasp!) work on their own cars!

      http://aroc-usa.com/

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    “Marchionne mumbled that it may be possible that Canada “may play a roll””

    What? I thought this was already fact, that they’re making a 169, and it will be built in Brampton with the 300/Charger.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I had a red (what else) Guilietta (sp?) Sprint years ago whilst in college. When it ran, it was wonderful. Of course, it had a MTBF that was measured in days, at most.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      That exactly is why Alfa/Fiat will fail. The new kids don’t remember Alfa and the name doesn’t mean anything to them so they won’t pay a premium to get one. And the ones who remember and value the name, remember the MTBF issue.

      Most people agree that Alfas look sporty, but also most people agree they wouldn’t buy one for all the issues. I like to see a Ferrari on the street, but I wouldn’t want to own (and pay for ) one.

      See how well Alfa is doing in Europe :-)

      Of course, here int he US, Alfa just needs to have better MTBF than Chrysler, so they will shine.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      I think the new kids (older than 25, with good jobs) will pay for an Alfa. They are not going to want to drive what their parents drove (Ford, Toyota, Honda, GM, etc) but an Italian “Macchina”. It’s a vicious circle and the Lexus, Toyotas and Hondas are on their way down.

      Plain and simple … Kids do not want to drive what their parents drove.

      Ralph Giles understands this. As he said at the Chicago Auto Show, “you can’t design for the culture of younger and future buyers if you are not one of them. To that end, his design studios are ”filled with 23-24 year old designers.”

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      The Brera was popular in the Need For Speed series. Throw a few Alfa’s in movies and people will recognize and buy them, it works for Aston Martin and the Camaro (though that didn’t need the recognition part).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Anything that Fiat does to bring buyers into Chrysler showrooms is a step in the right direction. Although Alfa sales may be small it is still new product that will draw buyers who otherwise would have no reason to visit a Chrysler showroom.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Alfas were seen in Chrysler showrooms before they left. People who sell American cars at American car dealerships have consistently demonstrated that import cars can’t be successfully sold alongside American cars. Need proof? Try these out for size…

    Buick Opel By Isuzu
    Opel Kadett
    Opel Manta
    Ford Capri
    Ford Capri (made in Australia)
    Cadillac Catera (another Opel)
    Merkur XR4ti
    Merkur Scorpio
    Ford Pantera
    Alfa-Romeo Spider
    Alfa-Romeo 164
    Chrysler Cricket (comin’ thru!)

    So, good luck with that Chrysler. We hope things are different for you this time, although I’m not betting on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Just from personal observation, I have to disagree with Capri (I&II) which sold at about the same rate as Cougars where I was. I wish there was something like that now – about the closest is the Hyundai Tiburon.

      And, I remember seeing lots of Crickets, mostly as a second car, or for economical commuting.

      But I would add to your list the GM Envoy Epic, AKA Epidemic (a proto-Chevette, with 70s British electrics).

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    I think the main problem that Fiat and Alfa experienced in North America when they were here was their inability to provide adequate support for a relatively small number of new cars over such a vast geographical area. If either brand were to return, I think both customers and company would be better served if the cars were introduced in a limited area such as New England, Florida, or California. Instead of advertising, invest that budget in good customer support and word of mouth would provide plenty of promotional value. Alfas are so damn good looking that they can sell themselves. If I could buy the modern successor to the Giulia I bought in 1964, I would be in the front of the line.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    A friend was looking at an old Cavalino Rampante, the V12, is impressive, except the timing belt needs to be replaced yearly, and thats not small chump change either.
    Wonder why they dont use a better belt or even bike chain to make her more lasting?
    Should they had spend another 20-100 more on the timing chain, they could enhanced the used car value much more.
    Something like these frequent maint is unheard of in Mercs or porsches. Mind u they have there own gremlins in the recent editions.

    FIAT , Alfa etal is coming back for a good time but not long time if they didnt change their Modus Operandi. Is like a car with toe in or out wheels, how do u expect her to drive straight on the highway?

    Same a some restaurant , all they need is to change some small issues and biz will go thru the roof. But the owner kind of go about in their set way.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    I think the success of BMW in NA demonstrates that a beloved car only needs half-decent reliability; nothing that would threaten Japan or Korean manufacturers and you should be OK.

    Every time I have to replace an expensive part in my BMW I swear I will go elsewhere the next time but the next hasn’t come yet I am not sure it ever will.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      I’m cut from this cloth as well. I HATE paying for BMW repairs, but am reminded of why I put up with it when I’m taking a corner at 20-30 mph over the speed limit. Just awesome handling.

      Having said that, I’m as vain as the next enthusiast. 159 Sportwagon. Stick. I’m there.

  • avatar
    jmo

    The key would be offering: “The best luxury car warranty in the industry.” 10 year 100,000 miles with free loaner cars. If they feel the warranty claims will be too high, then they aren’t ready for the US market. If they feel they can handle 10 year warranties they it means they are ready to hit the ground running in the US.

  • avatar
    Quadrifoglio

    I think Rod Panhard, Charleywhiskey and ra_pro are on the right path.

    Perceptions of Alfa were, like all cars, influenced by the dealer experience. At least by the time I was in the market, Audi and BMW were not sold next to American cars in the same dealership where (I presume) margins were better, distributor/maker pushback was lesser, and customer service demands were lower on the American cars.

    So I wasn’t the redhead at the reunion when I needed service. And I had confidence the mechanic could read the service manual. More important, there was “free” service for the first few years on the German cars, so I was insulated from the niggling problems that pi$5 me off, especially now on the Audi.

    I worry about a Chrysler sales channel, but getting a few dealers comfortable selling and servicing the cars at a reasonable sales volume can only help. A select market rollout, with a “3 year test drive” service plan, would fight reliability and resale concerns (and alas, if Fiat can’t afford it, they shouldn’t come).

    As for the cars, well, even the current FWD crop sell themselves. And a few of us would buy them shipside if that was the only way.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Spent alot of seat time in a late 80s Spider…sure, it wasn’t the fastest convertible out there, but the look of that car when it was waxed and the top was down always made me look back and grin like an idiot. I, for one, sincerely hope that they find a way to grace our highways again. Given the jellybean, appliance-grade cars on the road right now, a little vehicular sexiness would be most welcome…:)

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I bet MG will be watching Alfa’s US re-entry with interest. MG have just started work on a new sportscar so the US may soon get a range of new Alfa’s and MG’s to play with…

  • avatar
    Morea

    Clearly no Alfisti here at TTAC! We faithful have been promised that sales of Alfas in the US will start “soon” since 2005 or so. The 8C Competizione was a nice start. Now, how about Alfas for the rest of us!

    BTW Alfa’s 100th anniversary (1910-2010) will be celebrated in the US by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club in Maryland in June.


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