The Alfa 155 was the replacement of the Alfa 75 in the Alfa Romeo range after the acquisition of the brand by the FIAT group.
At that time, Ercole Spada was the Design Manager at the I.DE.A Institute, where he had completed the designing of a full family of cars branded FIAT and LANCIA that had to feature the same structure, i.e. same floor, same windshield, same door openings and same bulkhead (Lancia Dedra, Lancia Dedra stationwagon, Fiat Tipo, Fiat Tempra and Fiat Tempra stationwagon).
At the end of 1983 the Lancia Dedra model had already been approved, but for marketing reasons it was decided to speed up the Fiat Tipo2 project (later to become Fiat Tipo), which had to replace the Fiat Ritmo; these two models were presented in 1988 (Tipo) and in 1989 (Dedra).
This complex programme of uniformation was ordered by the managing director of Fiat: engineer Vittorio Ghidella, who found himself faced with the challenge of renewing the Alfa Romeo range after the acquisition from Fiat in 1986. After launching the Alfa 164, which was ready to go into production, it appeared to be logical to use the technical experience and the common parts that had been made for the new Fiat-Lancia models to quickly develop the replacement model for the Alfa 75.
Ercole Spada had already finished and approved the Tipo3 model at the I.DE.A Institute. The car was then marketed with the name Tempra in 1990, and engineer Ghidella suggested him to transform this vehicle into an Alfa Romeo car, with its historical emblem on the front. This car was not to have any other Alfa Romeo family-feeling, and so Spada managed to convince the managing director of the Fiat-Alfa group to produce a more Alfa Romeo-like model, still exploiting the available common parts that would be slightly modified to be more in line with the Alfa Romeo brand.
So, using the same structure and door openings of the Fiat model, with a variation in the moulding process Spada obtained the typical line featuring in the previous 164 and 75 models. Another typical element that was “borrowed” from the Alfa 75 was the slanting diverging line of the headlamps and obviously a nice re-interpretation of the well-known Alfa Romeo emblem.
Another typical element of shape was the height of the rear of the car. This was not a choice agreed by everybody, but, together with the slightly longer front, gave the car a very advantageous aerodynamic drag coefficient.
The approved model was submitted to Alfa Romeo for production. The look of the interior was decided at that stage, as well as the range of colours and the name, whose origin is unknown. While the Alfa 155 project was still in progress, in 1990 the Fiat Tempra model was presented and – eventually – in 1992 the Alfa Romeo 155 was launched. After this date Spada didn’t have any involvement in the later developments of the model until 1993, when he cooperated with Zagato to develop the TI.Z model, which featured enlarged wheelarches, a rear spoiler and a new front.
Another version that was prepared at that time was the two-door AR 155, which Ercole Spada made using the door openings and doors of the two-door Fiat Tempra that he had previously designed for Fiat Brazil. These two versions attracted Alfa Romeo’s interest, but it took so long to make a decision that the out-of-production time arrived earlier than the decision to produce them.
The Alfa Spider and Alfa GTV were also designed on the Tipo 3 platform. The later restyling operations and modifications never dramatically changed the model’s features, that remained strongly and unique.