Rewind to 1998: Alfa Romeo 156

Welcome to this week's Rewind! post where we travel back in time in the fashion of the Delorean from Back to the Future. Firstly let's point out some of the talking points from 1998. It was a time to celebrate for the singer Cher as she had the bestselling song with the hit 'Believe'. In other music news, it was also time to celebrate for Fleetwood Mac who were awarded the 'Outstanding Contribution' prize at the Brit awards.

In national economy news (wow, I feel like a news reader), we said hello to the £2 coin as part of the Stirling currency. The innovative design however was initially criticised as the middle part kept falling out. The big hit at the cinema in '98 was Armageddon which took over $550m at ticket offices worldwide.

Finally, in the world of sport, France claimed their only FIFA World Cup to date with a stunning 3-0 victory over Brazil in Paris, and Phil Taylor won the 6th of his 16 World Darts Championship titles.

France may have won the football world cup, but it was Italy that was victorious in the automotive industry. The Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo certainly left a mark on the new car market when it released its 156 model.

In the 1998 European Car of the Year awards, the 156 romped home miles ahead of its nearest competitors, the VW Golf and the Audi A6, as 40 of the 56 jurors gave it top marks. Many members of the judging panel claimed it was 'love at first sight' when they first set eyes on the car. It's fair to say the Alfa won a lot of fans due to its fine Italian design and attractive appearance. Historically the problems with Alfa Romeo cars have revolved around reliability, however, with the 156 they seemed to resolve some of the issues they had been criticised for in the past. Its impeccable handling coupled with the refined suspension led to the model scoring well with performance.

The aero-dynamic 156 was available with various sized engines, all with very different specifications. It was judged to be appropriate for families and for sports car fans, meaning its customer base was broad. You still see loads of these on the road today backing up its improved reliability statement, and there is no doubting its ability to hold its own in a beauty contest.

Alfa 156