If a nameplate vanishes from the market and no one is around to notice ….
The Alfa Romeo 4C drew plenty of attention when it first reached U.S. shores back in 2014, and no surprise considering it marked the return of the Italian brand after a decades-long absence. But interest quickly waned and, last year, sales of the little 2-seater averaged a mere 12 a month. Even before Alfa confirmed plans to kill off the 4C, it was effectively as dead as that proverbial tree falling in the woods.
But Alfa is hoping the 4C will go out with a bang, not a thud. It will wrap up the brief run with the special-edition 4C Spider 33 Stradale Tributo. It’s meant to honor the 1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, one of the brand’s most renowned mid-engine sports cars. As the name suggests, just 33 of the largely hand-built, mid-engine models will be produced.
“Since its introduction in 2014, the 4C has been a halo vehicle for Alfa Romeo, exciting enthusiasts around the world and spearheading the relaunch of the brand in North America,” said Tim Kuniskis, global head of Alfa Romeo.
The Alfa Romeo brand was, in fact, the apple in the eye of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s former CEO, the late Sergio Marchionne, who saw it becoming one of the most critical parts of the company’s future. So far, however, its global relaunch has been anything but spectacular, especially in the U.S. market. And the struggles of the 4C underscore the challenges Alfa continues to face.
The product plans laid out by Marchionne during a June 2018 extravaganza in Italy have undergone a near-complete makeover. Among other things, there’ll be fewer passenger cars and not only more SUVs but also a range of electrified vehicles. The limited-run model announced Monday will be the last of an era.
“The 4C Spider 33 Stradale Tributo is an instant Alfa Romeo classic that passes the torch to the next generation of iconic Alfa Romeo vehicles,” noted Kuniskis, “including the upcoming Tonale PHEV crossover that will start production next year.”
The 33 Stradale Tributo, like the original 4C, will be based around a super-light carbon-fiber monocoque, featuring a distinctive red finish.
Designed by the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, the Tributo model will be directly influenced by the 1967 Stradale, which means a Rosso Villa d’Este tri-coat plant, gray-gold five-hole alloy wheels, a black-and-tobacco interior and commemorative badging and plaques. There’ll also be a custom book.
A variety of gear, normally reserved as options for the 4C line, will come standard on the tribute model, including composite sport seats, an Akrapovic dual-mode center-mounted exhaust, a race-tuned suspension, rear wing and Italian flag mirror caps. One of the few options: a piano-black front air intake and rear diffuser.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 33 Stradale Tributo will be powered by the sports car’s current 1.75-liter turbo-4 injection, with dual intercoolers and variable-valve timing. It will make 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Considering the special edition will weigh in at just 2,500 pounds, that’s enough to launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.1 seconds, with a top speed of 160 mph.
The farewell model will start at $79,995 before destination charges.