Rick Niello will sell Fiats at his Maserati location and hopes to add Alfa Romeos.

Sacramento's Niello aims to bring a bit of Italy to Fulton Avenue

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 - 10:30 am

Sacramento auto dealer Rick Niello aims to build his own Italian island on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento.

The Sacramento-based Niello Co. has acquired a Fiat franchise that will open for business this week on the site of the company's Maserati dealership at 2030 Fulton Ave.

Rick Niello, president of the company that operates a dozen mostly high-end auto dealerships - most of those in the Sacramento area - said Tuesday that he ultimately wants to open an Alfa Romeo franchise at the same site - creating a one-stop, all-Italian-makes store on Fulton.

Niello said talks with Alfa Romeo are ongoing, and he hopes to add it to the mix within the first six months of 2014.

"We're very excited," Niello said. "We're looking at a very Italian boutique there. It's going to be fun."

The Fulton Avenue Association is likewise looking forward to the expanded dealership.

"Obviously, we're very pleased to add another high-end franchise to the district. Having international brands spices things up for us, and the possibility of Alfa Romeo is very exciting," said Melinda Eppler, executive director of the association.

Niello said he added Fiat to the Niello stable in a transaction that involved Chrysler Group LLC and California Superstores in Roseville, which operates the Sacramento Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store along the Capital City Freeway where the Fiat dealership was formerly housed.

Financial terms of the deal, which Niello said evolved over the past four months, were not disclosed.

Niello said remodeling and upgrading the interior and exterior of the company's Maserati store will begin soon to accommodate multiple Italian brands.

Niello said the deal came at him from out of the blue.

"Chrysler came to me about three or four months ago," he said. "Keeping in mind that Fiat owns Maserati, they said, 'Would you be interested in handling Fiat?,' and it went from there."

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler is a consolidated subsidiary of Turin, Italy-based Fiat S.p.A.

Niello said his company is finalizing arrangements with the state Department of Motor Vehicles and others, and he anticipates Fiat operations opening on Thursday or Friday.

Referring to the possible addition of Alfa Romeo next year, Niello said "we are not officially ready to announce anything yet with Alfa Romeo, but we are very confident."

Alfa Romeo has been around for 103 years and also is under the Fiat umbrella. Alfa has a rich history in international auto racing and is aiming to make a push in the U.S. market with the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C, a lightweight, two-seat coupe with a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower.

Niello said there are nearly a dozen stores in the United States with three Italian makes under one roof.

There is another Fiat dealership in the area - AutoNation Fiat Roseville in the Roseville Automall.

Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

Read more articles by Mark Glover

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