AUBURN HILLS, MI (WWJ) The iconic Alfa Romeo brand is shaping up as an important part of Fiat-Chrysler’s goal of gaining more of the U.S. market.

“Alfa Romeo will have a broad product lineup,” said Alfa North America product planning manager Michael Berube. “There will be a broad range of products. Different types of vehicles, different types of body styles.”

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The first product will be the Alfa Romeo 4C, a $55 thousand two-seat sports car, aimed at a limited audience, with a goal of attracting attention to the brand.

“It is a mid-engine design,” said Berube. “It’s inspired by the brand’s legendary racing history.”

The goal is to grow from there and create a brand that competes with other European luxury brands, like Audi, Mercedes and BMW.

To do that, Alfa has lined up 82 dealers in the United States, including 5 in Michigan:

  • Suburban FIAT, dba Suburban Alfa Romeo, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Fox FIAT, dba Fox Alfa Romeo, Traverse City, Mich.
  • Golling FIAT, dba Golling Alfa Romeo, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
  • FIAT of Lakeside, dba Alfa Romeo of Lakeside, Macomb, Mich.
  • Zeigler FIAT of Grandville, dba Zeigler Alfa Romeo of Grandville, Grandville, Mich.
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All of the Alfa dealers in Michigan, and most in other parts of the country, will be in existing Fiat dealerships.

“The dealers will have a separate and unique branded space for the Alfa Romeos,” said Berube. “However, it will share–in many cases–the overall showroom building with Fiat.”

A limited group of journalists is getting an opportunity to drive the Alfa Romeo 4C during a San Francisco event this week.

While the Alfa Romeo brand hasn’t been sold in the U.S. in decades, the vehicle’s appearance in movies–including The Graduate–makes it an icon for baby boomers. That, says Berube, will create a ready market when the brand returns.

“I’m out here in San Francisco driving the 4C,” he said. “Wherever we stop, people come up and say, ‘Is that the Alfa Romeo.’ They know, they’ve heard something about it coming back. Everyone seems to have a story, about their father, their grandfather; some of them say ‘I had one when I was young.”

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