The Alfa Romeo 155, introduced in 1992, remains a controversial model in the Marque's history. Trouble is... It kind of showed.
Work on the 155 started shortly after Fiat's takeover of Alfa Romeo, making it the first completely new Alfa to be developed in this new era.
Contrary to the successful 164, which only shared the floorpan with its Fiat/Lancia sisters and competed in a market sector where Alfa had never really had a strong presence, the 155 not only shared its entire body structure with the Fiat Tempra, but replaced the much loved Alfa 75.
Compared to the 75, the 155 was a massive improvement in passenger comfort and refinement, but that didn't stop loyal buyers from feeling shortchanged. Consequently, the 155 actually lost customers to Alfa Romeo despite the model's exploits on European racetracks.
Thirty years on, the 155 is slowly starting to be considered collectible, especially the rare Q4 models
Having withdrawn Lancia from rallying in 1991, the Fiat Group redirected the people and resources that dominated rallying towards touring car racing. The 155 GTA that handily won the '92 Italian touring car championship drew heavily from the know-how developed from rallying, but that was going to be just an appetizer. The 155 V6 Ti that, to the surprise of many, won the 1993 DTM championship had little in common with the showroom model but nevertheless remains one of Alfa Romeo's most outstanding racing achievements.
In 1994, Alfa Romeo launched the limited-run 155 1.8 "Silverstone": it was no faster, but came with a bolt-on spoilers package specifically developed for the British Touring Car Championship, which the 155 duly won that year.
The 155 "series two" models are often called "wide-body" because of their subtly enlarged wheel arches
Thirty years on, the 155 is slowly starting to be considered collectible, especially the rare Q4 models, built until 1996 using the engine and running gear from the legendary Delta Integrale. The first series of the 155 was produced between January 1992 and March '95. All its petrol engines were pure-bred Alfa ones, manufactured in the Arese factory near Milan and sent to the ex-Alfasud plant near Naples, where the 155 was made.
The 155 "series two" models are often called "wide-body" because of their subtly enlarged wheel arches, necessary to cover the cars' wider track. This, together with a quicker steering rack, was done to make the 155 more rewarding to drive.
The "series two" models saw the progressive introduction, between 1995 and 1996, of the new generation of Twin Spark 16v engines.
However, the older 8v units soldiered on, probably to get rid of stock, until the 155's demise in 1997.