TURIN — The first Alfa Romeo 156 GTA sells well before the car is launched next spring to a Japanese enthusiast who bid E48,691 (US$43,413) through an Internet auction site.

The 10-day online event drew more than 20,000 people, with 50 total bids mainly from Japan and Europe. Alfa says it will donate the final sale price to a charity fund.

The winning bid was made by Tadashi Sengoku, a Japanese doctor, 44, who lives in Tokyo. He already owns two other Alfa Romeos — an Alfa 164 Q4 and Alfa Spider — and is a fan of Italy.

In his letter to Fiat, he wrote in Italian: "It is a great honor for me to have the privilege of purchasing the first Alfa 156 GTA in the Internet auction." o