1999 Alfa Romeo 156
Sigh. Alfa Romeo in the late 90s. It's something we'll never know, because the company stopped selling cars here in 1995. Today, they offer just one car in the US, a snazzy sport coupe for over $100k. That's a shame, because they have a long tradition in something far more practical yet still very fun: compact sport sedans.
The last Alfa most Americans remember was the 164. Based on a Euro platform it shared with Lancia and Saab, it was a slight betrayal with front-wheel drive, but the styling and engine power were still quality. Alfa basically continued and expanded their front-wheel platforms after that, resulting in the 156, among other models.
The 156 debuted in 1997. European auto styling in the 90s completely eschewed the 80s hardcore techno-industrial angles in favor of soft corners, organic shapes and minimal details. The 156 is a great example, with small lamps, no anti-dent molding and rear door handles built into the c-pillar keeping the side profile clean. It's good looking, especially considering today's over-designed cars.
Under the hood of this example is a "Twin Spark" 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a stick shift. Alfa's are renowned for their exhaust notes and excellent handling. I certainly would have preferred this puppy over a mechanically similar Honda or Toyota back in the day.
The seller says the car has 145,000 kilometers, which is about 90k miles. They say it has one previous owner, some service history, a new timing belt and in good condition throughout.
This one is in Canada and is not exempt under the US 25-years-and-older import rule unless it is federalized, and who knows how much that entails or costs. Still, it's not impossible and is good to see this one on this side of the Atlantic nonetheless, especially in such a sweet color combo as silver over red leather.
Available here on ebay with no bids and a Buy It Now of $10,500.