DETROIT -- There about as many words in this short story as there will be 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spiders available to dealers to sell in the United States each year.
Only 400 or so of the hand-built, lightweight, midengine coupes with removable tops will be available each year across North America, with no plans to expand production of the car that takes a minimum of six weeks to build, according to Reid Bigland, head of Alfa Romeo in the U.S.
For consumers, that’s likely to translate into frustrating waits of 18 months or more for a car whose price is as yet unannounced from a brand that hasn’t been available in the United States since before the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995.
Yet those willing to wait -- the first Spiders are due in the U.S. this summer -- will be rewarded with a 237-hp, 1.7-liter turbocharged aluminum inline-four engine capable of propelling the 4C Spider from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds because of its light weight.
“Like fine art, this vehicle needs to be understood to be appreciated,” Bigland told reporters last week.
The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider being unveiled today at the Detroit auto show is the production version but varies little from the concept shown previously at auto shows in Geneva and Paris. It makes extensive use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic to lower its curb weight to a svelte 2,487 pounds.
Manufactured for global distribution in Alfa Romeo’s historic home in Modena, Italy, the 4C Spiders bound for the U.S. are actually 342 pounds heavier than their European counterparts to meet U.S. safety regulations and adjust for ride comfort, a spokesman said.
Despite the added weight, the two-seater’s fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city, 34 highway and 28 combined.