Alfa Romeo became one of the casualties of the Manchester fire that knocked out phone lines across the north-west and west of England.
The damage meant that many dealers were unable to access the DVLA's automated first registration and licensing system during the last three days of March. It was a particular blow for Alfa Romeo, as the fire co-incided with the UK launch of the all-new GT coupe range. Although the 156-based sports tourer is expected to account for just 1,500 units this year, the two-door, five-seater is seen as a halo-effect car for the Italian marque as it strives to fill up to a dozen – mainly southern – open points, and put sales back on target to a 1% market share (it ended 2003 with 0.48% of the market with 10,317 registrations, 12% down on 2002, which was already down 30% on 2001). The launch co-incides with a major GT marketing campaign.
“It was very disappointing not to be able to include GT registrations in its launch month – more than 100 units should have been included,” says an Alfa Romeo spokeswoman.