The Alfa Romeo 155 that most Brits lusted after in the early nineties was the Silverstone. It was the homologation model tied directly to the Italian brand's BTCC racing effort, the one with the rear wing in the boot so it could fit an adjustable (and advantage providing) spoiler to the racer. But a lesser known, arguably no less interesting variant called the Quadrifoglio 4 was also produced, with links to an arguably even more beguiling competition machine: the Lancia Integrale Delta Evo 2.
In truth, the Evo 2 was never directly turned into a rally car by Alfa's sister brand, its nomenclature referring to the addition of a catalytic converter compared to the homologation model. But the rest of the car was as rally special as you could get - so when the 155 Q4 arrived with the same Garrett T3-boosted 2.0-litre engine, five-speed manual and two-axle driveline, it instantly delivered Lancia magic into the 155's stiffer four-door bodyshell. It was essentially a Delta Evo with a cat and saloon skin.
Production numbers were tiny, with just nine cars coming to the UK, all of which being left-hand drive. This rarity, not to mention the Silverstone's own cool backstory, helps explain why Q4 is probably not the first 155 one would think of when listing the greats. But that's not to say it lacks driver appeal - quite the opposite. 190hp and 219lb ft of torque in a four-wheel-drive car was certainly significant back in 1994, as was a 60mph time of 6.7 seconds and 140mph top speed.
With the same trio of differentials as the Lancia - a conventional diff on the front axle, an epicyclic with Ferguson viscous coupling and then a Torsen self-locking at the back - all-weather traction is obviously a strong point. Handling in general has always been considered to be very good, with a slightly rear-biased power delivery providing the car with a natural neutral balance that can be exploited with the throttle, tarmac rally style. Rumour has it that Alfa produced a tiny handful of widebody cars on special requests to really make the most of the setup.
The car is sufficiently heroic for it to justify a place in garaged stasis somewhere. But today's Spotted, a 98,000-mile-old, uprated Q4, suggests otherwise, because the seller - its custodian for the last decade - has taken it on numerous track days and even to the Nurburgring. They suggest that the enhanced, 250hp-producing car has been reliable, helped no doubt by the stripping down and rebuilding of that all-wheel drive hardware a few years back.
To some, modifying car like this is sacrilege; although we think it looks bloody fantastic on the adjustable coilovers, with those Compomotive rims and sporting a few other tasteful mods - all of which are catered around making it quicker or more capable. For someone wanting a piece of automotive history that they can actually use and even apply their own mark on, this has to be one of the most exciting - and coolest - out there in the sub-£20k bracket.
SPECIFICATION - ALFA ROMEO 155 QUADRIFOGLIO 4
Engine: 1,995cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 190@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 219@2,500rpm
First registered: 1994
Recorded mileage: 98,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £19,995