In the US: 1996 Alfa Romeo 155

North America missed out on Alfa Romeo in the 1990s. They stopped selling cars here in 1995. The last memory most US consumers have of Alfa Romeo is the big, expensive and front-wheel drove 164. While quite a looker, the platform threw a lot of people off. How could it possibly compete against rear-wheel BMW and Mercedes? It couldn't, and not surprisingly not many were sold.

A car that made a lot more sense was the smaller 155, which replaced the 75/Milano in 1992, but of course it was never offered here. Sure, it was front-wheel, but it was smaller, lighter and cheaper. I'd take this any day over a comparable Camry, Accord, Saab or Volvo from the same era.

It also looked amazing thanks to styling genius Ercole Spada (he of the BMW E32 and E34 masterstrokes). Spada's vision of a sedan is essentially a four-door version of the classic wedge shape of the 70s and 80s: squinty, narrow, tapered front-end, grooved sides, and a high chunky rear. It's a temple of form over function philosophy: the small front helps air over the car and the high rear forces it down again, not to mention providing ample trunk space. It all just makes sense. Refrigerator white only shows off the hard, crisp and clean lines and angles.

The seller of this example says they bought it in the US from a dealer, and assume it came in over a special rule that allows servicemen to import one car from overseas (new to me). Otherwise, it's illegal to import any vehicle 25 years and newer. They do say it has a valid Maine title however.

Cosmetically, the seller says it was repainted after an accident, and the steering wheel and shif tknob were stolen as well. Inside, they say there is some wear and stains on the seats.

Mechanically, they say they recently spent $1,500 nursing it out of a slumber, which includes a new fuel pump, rebuilt calipers, new master cylinder and one new brake line. They also say the fuel gauge is malfunctioning and the a/c needs a recharge.

The seller says they now need to get rid of it after tensions with their spouse (too much information). This car has clearly been through quite an ordeal and is far from perfect. But it's extremely rare and seems overall well kept, if a little unlucky. This is a fun collector car that will be a hit at the local Italian car show - but only for the right price, given the unsavory history and current incomplete interior.

Available here on ebay in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina with bidding at $2,137, reserve not met, and a buy-it-now of $5,200.

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