Since we've been so light on Ford products in this series, I thought I'd follow up the Givenchy Edition Lincoln Continental Mark V with another Dearborn machine... but then I saw an Alfa 164 on the highway today and felt this... yearning.

Granted, the 164 that I saw was on a flatbed trailer and appeared to have engine-fire damage, but you need to think of the history behind this car: the last Alfa Romeo sold in America!

Just like Peugeot and Fiat, the Alfa Romeo marque went through a long, slow decline in the American marketplace; a fair number of Graduates kept the Spider alive through the '80s, and the Milano provided an alternative for fans of European rear-drive sporty sedans who didn't like the reliability and vast dealer-support network of the BMW E30. By the 1990s, everyone knew that new Alfas would be extinct in North America right soon... but then the 164 came along.

The 164 was a sophisticated luxury machine with front-wheel-drive, slick-looking Italian lines, and a screamin' V6 that belted out somewhere around 200 horsepower. On paper, it would stomp the BMW 5-Series like a cock-a-roach... but it didn't do so well in American showrooms.

Did car buyers imagine all the Alfa dealers packing up and sneaking out of town in the dead of night (as, in fact, happened)? Did they watch their Peugeot-buying friends struggle to find parts for their '91 405s after Peugeot skipped town? Then there's the American Alfa Mafia, which tends to pretend the 164 doesn't really exist; even the fringe Alfa Mafia capos who grudgingly admit to liking the Milano will change the subject in a hurry when the topic of the 164 comes up.

I don't care. This car is gorgeous, it's fast, and I'm looking for a deal on one.

Alfa Romeo 164

Alfa Romeo 164