Twin Spark: 1998 Alfa Romeo 156 5-speed

You could consider this an afterlife car.

The 156 was never offered in North America. Alfa Romeo pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995. These were made from 1997-2007. It's predecessor, the 155, was also never sold in the U.S. However, the predecessor to the 155, the 75/Milano, was sold here. So this car is missing some lineage for U.S. enthusiasts.

Let's start with the Milano then. It was Alfa's midsize four-door sedan, with striking angular styling, peppy four and six-cylinders and rear-wheel drive. Production ended in 1992.

Jump forward to 1997. The 156 is around the same size as the 75/Milano, but it wears much simpler, smoother bodywork (with hidden rear door handles) and has, unfortunately, front-wheel drive like the larger 164.

The engines available in the 156 ranged from four to six cylinders. This is a 16-valve 2.0-litre 4-cyldiner "Twin Spark" engine featuring Alfa Romeo's dual ignition for higher output. The spark plug is positioned in the center of the cylinder while a smaller plug is off to the side on axis. Due to the way the coils are paired, both plugs fire at the same time on exhaust and compression stroke. The dual plugs provide more better performance while complying with emissions standards.

Since this car was never available here and the current U.S. importation rules allow only cars 25 years and older, the most pressing issue is how it got here. The seller states it was imported from Italy somehow in 2009 and brought to California, where it is currently registered until Dec. '12 with a clear title.

The say the odometer reads about 240 kilometers which converts to about 150,000 miles. Cosmetically, they say it has some dings, dents and other minor imperfections.

Mechanically, they say it has new brakes and a fresh oil change but make no mention of the engine condition.

For the right price, this is a very rare and cool little sedan. How to get it fixed when things break is a whole other issue.

Find it here on ebay in Sacremento, California with bidding at $2,650, reserve not met and 11 hours left.


  1. We don't know how someone imported, titled, registered, smogged and insured it. Impressive - particularly in California.

    Can a new buyer successfully transfer ownership - particularly to another state - without going through a lot of pain? My guess is with a US-recognized VIN, it's probably do-able, but it's a risk. It might take some massaging through the buyer's local DMV and auto insurer.

    The real question: Is it worth the hassle? The 156 wasn't exactly Alfa's most desirable or exciting sedan, and this one is pretty well used.

    While anything we're "not supposed to have" is alluring, I'd hold out for something more worthwhile. For example, I'd sell various family members for a late model 159 sedan or sportwagon with the 3.2L V6 and AWD.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Seriously, tell me you wouldn't try to bend some rules to have this car:

  2. 12 bidders, 36 bids, sold for $4400.