Members of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club and sports car enthusiasts gathered inside the showroom of Northtowne Alfa Romeo and Fiat and watched Jolene Justus start her new car.
With her husband, John, sitting in the passenger seat, Jolene turned the key. When the engine revved up, the smiles and the gleaming eyes lit up the showroom on a dreary-looking Saturday morning on Dec. 20.
What made the purchase of a new car so exciting?
After a 20-year absence, Alfa Romeo is returning to the United States in 2015.
John and Jolene are the fortunate owners of a red, limited-edition Alfa Romeo 4C. Only 500 were made, and they received No. 146.
“What words can you use to explain it?” Jolene said. “This was amazing. It is actually ours. Thursday when we came in, it wasn’t quite ours. We hadn’t paid for it. Now it is ours.”
Two days before, John and Jolene arrived at 8 a.m. at Northtowne Alfa Romeo and Fiat at 1 NE Vivion Road in Kansas City. The first snow of the winter was not going to stop them from seeing their car unloaded off a semi truck and into the service area.
Well over a year ago, when they heard Alfa Romeo was returning to the United States and Northtowne was going to get two, they signed up for one. They initially thought it was going to arrive in July.
“It is more exciting than you can imagine,” said Mac Mulkins, Alfa Romeo, Fiat Brand Specialist at Northtowne. “I am a car guy. To see the lights lit up and to hear it gave me chills.
“We are ecstatic to have a line and clients like John and Jolene who are enthusiasts and have a passion for the brand. It is really a unique car and nothing in the market place like it.”
Mulkins said there are 84 Alfa Romeo dealers in the U.S and four in Canada. Each dealership will get two of the limited-edition Alfa Romeo. Jolene received No. 146 and the other one at Northtowne is No. 152.
There will be 1,200 of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupes sold in the United States next year.
Count on Angie Pfeffinger finding a way to get one. Angie and her husband, Brett, were at the unveiling of Jolene’s Alfa Romeo.
Brett joked that his wife closely followed the process of when the limited edition Alfa Romeo was going to arrive at Northtowne.
“Once she found out it existed, she kept calling here to find out when it was going to arrive,” Brett said. “She doesn’t have to talk me into it. She has already done it. I don’t think there isn’t any talking her out of it.”
Like everybody inside Northtowne on Dec. 20, the Pfeffingers could not take their eyes off the car.
“For the U.S.A. this is an exciting day,” Angie said. “It has been 20 years. They definitely went up and beyond our expectations.
“We will be ordering one. The ordering system is up in January. We will be ordering one as soon as we are able.”
The listed price is between $55,000 and $60,000.
Mulkins said over the next four years, Alfa Romeo will develop a total of eight vehicles, ranging from a sports sedan to a full-size luxury sedan to a medium size SUV.
“The market we are going after is Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” Mulkins said. “We are going after the German big three.”
For Mulkins and John Howe, studio manager at Northtowne, Dec. 20 was the first of what they plan on being many occasions like this one over the next few years.
“Hopefully, we will have a long career with Alfa Romeo and it will be in the United States for a long time,” Howe said.
Judging by the reaction of the people at Northtowne, there is excitement for the brand.
“I love it,” said Ron Rutter, who owns three Alfa Romeo cars. “Alfa is the world’s most passionately engineered automobile.”
Richard Mancinelli, president of the Kansas City chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, was impressed by what he saw.
“To see and hear one like this and someone like John and Jolene who are really passionate about it, and to experience the first one here in 20 years is really amazing,” Mancinelli said. “It is beautiful to watch and hear.”
For Justus, she will be the envy of many this Christmas. It will be hard for her husband to top this present in future years.
Justus planned to have the car out of the showroom and at home by Christmas Eve.
“We want it home for Christmas so I can show all my family,” she said. “It is going to be a really nice Christmas.”
Indeed. The people who saw it on Dec. 20 simply couldn’t take their eyes off the shiny, red sports car.
“I think it is gorgeous,” Brett Pfeffinger said. “It is a beautiful car.”
If you have a story you would like to see On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.