Alfa Romeo Zooms Into Traverse City

That throaty roar can mean only one thing: Alfa’s coming.

One of the iconic and best-loved imports of the last century – the famed sports car brand Alfa Romeo – is on its way to Traverse City. Fox Grand Traverse on U.S. 31 South is one of only 82 Fiat dealerships in the country designated as Alfa dealerships. It will get two of the Launch Edition 4C sports cars sometime in late October.

They’ll retail for a cool $70,000 each, but that price tag hasn’t slowed down interest.

“We’ve got a waiting list,” said Dan Summers of Fox. Summers is the designated Alfa specialist at the dealership. As such, he had to go through a special Alfa Romeo training program.

“There are only 500 of them, so if you’re lucky enough to get a launch model you’ll get a collector’s edition,” he said.

Subsequent models of the 4C will be slightly less expensive, coming in around $50,000.

Alfa is one of the world’s oldest brands, founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq. Today it’s owned by Fiat, part of a 1986 deal that merged it with traditional rival Lancia.

Alfa stopped exporting cars to the United States in 1995, so the reintroduction of these legendary sports cars is a big deal. CarandDriver.com calls the 4C “a gorgeous, mid-engined Italian exotic carved down to affordable scale.” It goes on to say it is “quick and nimble … a fantastical distillation of what Alfa should stand for: uncompromised stylishness and performance. It garners adoring attention everywhere it goes.”

That’s to be expected of a car that’s been a star on race tracks and movies since the beginning. Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925, and competed in many different categories of motorsport, including Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sports car racing, touring car racing and rallies. Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team, before becoming independent in 1939.

Probably the car’s most famous appearance was in the 1967 film “The Graduate,” in which Dustin Hoffman drove a Spider. It’s also been featured in the James Bond films “Octopussy” and “Quantum of Solace.” In the 1985 Chevy Chase comedy “Fletch,” the title character commandeers a 1983 Alfa Romeo Spider that is in the process of being stolen by a teenager. It even made it into music, courtesy of British girl-pop band Banarama’s music video for “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting,” featuring an Alfa Romeo Spider.

The carbon fiber monocoque frame enables the car to come in at a sleek 2,650 pounds. With its 237 horsepower engine, the 4C boasts a weight to horsepower ratio of 10.4 to 1.

“It’s not what I would call a daily car,” said Summers. Nor, he says, is it a car you’d want to drive in the winter.

While the reintroduction is focused exclusively on the 2-door 4C, Summers said additional vehicles will be on their way. That includes a crossover SUV and a 4-door sedan. But local Alfa enthusiasts – “Alfisti” as they’re known – will need to be patient. Summers says the entire inventory won’t be available until the fourth quarter of 2016.

Until then, you need to get in line. That’s if you want a car where, according to CarandDriver.com, “the seats are narrow, there’s almost no luggage room, and it’s so low it’s tough to get out of – and none of that matters when you get behind the wheel.”

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