Interestingly, Alfa Romeos are fairly common in Japan. I’ve seen some lovely examples cruising around the streets of Kobe and Osaka – mostly newer Giuliettas, a couple 4Cs and some older Spiders – but this 916 series Spider was an especially nice catch.
It’s a Phase 2 (1998 – 2003) car in beautiful shape, and I feel lucky to have been able to get my phone out fast enough to snap it. You Europeans might scoff at my excitement, but bear in mind that we never got this car in the States. Alfa quit exporting to the US in ‘95, soon after its launch. Moreover, it’ll be a few more years before any can be legally imported.
Not that it hasn’t been tried! In fact, a father and son were arrested back in 2003 for importing about two dozen 916s (which violated federal Clean Air Act and safety standards) and selling them in California. They were also charged with conspiracy and wire fraud.
Some of the drama unfolded here on Alfa Bulletin Board (keep an eye out for posts by autodeltausa) before the alleged scofflaws fled to Italy. In 2015 they disappeared from the EPA’s fugitive list with no additional information.
Anyway, there’s quite a bit more to the story – the fate of the cars, the people who got screwed and so on – but we’ll have to save that for another day. For now, let’s mourn America’s loss of the Alfa Antiheroes and their alluring arachnids.
Author’s note: The younger Giordano’s name is spelled “Allesandro” in the EPA article and “Alessandro” on his EPA wanted poster. For the mugshot image, I went with the wanted poster spelling because why not.
Every week (or more!) on Gaijindom, we feature an automobile sighting. Usually the automobile is Japanese; sometimes it’s not. But it’s always an automobile in Japan.