So now that the Alfa Romeo plan is more fully hatched and the strategy is clear -- horsepower and hair-raising versions come first, and mainstream models follow -- here's a nagging question: Do we have Ferdinand Piech to thank for all of this?
Are the fingerprints of the former Volkswagen supervisory board chairman all over the Alfa bet?
Vielleicht, as the Germans say. Maybe.
This fall will mark the fifth anniversary of that famous Italian-German drama, "What's Mine Is Mine ... And What's Yours Is Also Mine."
It played out at the Paris auto show in 2010 when Piech told anyone who would listen that VW could run Alfa better. In fact, in its more capable hands VW could almost quadruple Alfa's sales, Piech bragged.
All of which prompted Sergio Marchionne to respond sternly: "As long as I am CEO of Fiat, Mr. Piech will never have Alfa."
And here we sit today with a vicious, 510-hp Giulia Quadrifoglio and promises of at least seven more Alfas on the way. It's a long way from the cute subcompact MiTo 1.4-liter Alfa or the capable Giulietta compact.
We're not in Turin anymore, Toto.
Alfa's ambitious plan has the full will of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles behind the effort. But was it Piech's prodding that pushed Alfa to all this? Was it Marchionne's need to prove Piech wrong that prompted all the velocity, tenacity and resolve?
How could it not be?
Marchionne has thrown his entire professional existence behind the effort, saying last month: "It is one of the most important [projects] of my career."
But despite his numerous accomplishments, Alfa is the one blemish.
Since Marchionne's appointment to the helm at Fiat in 2004, Alfa global sales have tanked -- down more than half from 175,000 units in 2003. There is an enormous capital outlay -- $5.6 billion in Alfa -- and questions of viability. Marchionne once told Forbes that he was unsure whether Alfa had ever made money.
There's no question Alfa has work to do. Marchionne asks only for time.
And here's the irony in the concept of Alfa needing patience. Remember, it was Piech in March 2011 who said "Volkswagen has time" to wait and acquire Alfa.
Today Piech is gone, ironically in a fit of pique over his dogged pursuit of Alfa, among other things.
And Marchionne is rolling out a plan -- one with ambition and determination.
If it works, the thank-you card should read: "Danke, Dr. Piech."
But don't bet on it.