Why Fiat's U.S. plans for Alfa Romeo will end up killing it

Alfa Romeo enthusiasts in the United States have been waiting for the resurrection of the brand for decades, egged on by numerous deadlines from Fiat that were later pulled. Alfa owner Bradley Price says enough is enough. — Ed.

The past few days, the Internets have been swimming with stories I have found deeply disturbing. First there are the confirmed rumors of an U.S. market Alfa Romeo SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Then last week, the Dodge Viper-based Alfa TZ3 Stradale was announced. "The Heart of a Viper and Soul of an Alfa" was the tagline in the press release.

Excuse me? What? Since when is it OK to drop a body onto another manufacturer's chassis and call it an Alfa? Sure it's not an ugly car, but neither is it an Alfa!

To see this steroid-addled monstrosity next to the original 4-cylinder Tubolare Zagatos is especially humiliating to Alfa Romeo, which has always prided itself on its proprietary engines as well as unique chassis dynamics. Even the least attractive, lowest end Alfa will drive and sound like magic. That is the core ethos of the brand. And if this Viper TZ3 is any indicator of the way the wind is blowing, I think we'll soon see the end of Alfa Romeo as a truly special car company with any pride, authenticity, or soul.

It doesn't have to be this way. Alfa has been making some stellar road cars for years now, with excellent looks, quality, and driving dynamics. But Sergio Marchionne and the Fiat management are about to sink Alfa into yet another Italo-American platform-sharing morass not seen since Chrysler's TC by Maserati. It irks me even further to hear so many long-suffering American Alfisti get so excited about Alfa's return to our shores! Sure that is great in theory, but forcing Alfa to compete in North America's volume-driven marketplace may ultimately undermine everything about the company that made it special to begin with.

Furthermore, there is much hand-wringing among certain Alfa fans about the idea of VW Group buying the brand away from Fiat and complaints that Alfa will "no longer be Italian." Get your head out of the sand, friends! Alfa's about to become nothing but a phony "made in Italy" fashion label on a cheap shirt, and sale to VW is actually the only way to save it from some very bad decision making at Fiat-Chrysler that could damage the brand irreparably.

Why Fiat's U.S. plans for Alfa Romeo will end up killing it

If VW Group were to purchase Alfa, chances are that Walter De Silva, who was the design director during the Italian marque's most recent heyday, and currently overseeing all VW Group Design, will be one of the guiding lights managing the company. Alfa needs to be in the hands of a true believer like De Silva. Not in the hands of a soulless businessman like Marchionne who treats a venerable brand as a commodity. It's disgusting, and it's time that American Alfisti stop drinking the Kool-Aid. Fiat needs to sell Alfa to VW Group before it's too late.

Have they failed to learn the lessons of the past?

Top photo: Getty


This story originally appeared on The Automobiliac on April 29, 2011, and was republished with permission.

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