It would be fair to say the reveal of the ErreErre Fuoriserie last week didn’t meet with universal approval. Much approval at all, in fact. The idea was excellent: use the proven hardware of the fantastic Giulia Quadrifoglio and the design of the iconic original Giulia to create a twin-turbo V6 restomod masterpiece. The execution, however - from a subjective viewpoint, of course - left something to be desired. But probably it's tricky to graft a pseudo-classic design onto modern mechanicals and dimensions, compared with introducing some 21st-century tech to an actual classic.
Regardless, the Fuoriserie did at least ensure both classic Alfas and V6 Alfas were front of mind this week (not that either is ever very far from our collective thoughts). Despite the madness that’s still engulfing the used car market, it is possible to buy a classic V6 Alfa Romeo for a fraction of the price of a ErreErre and still less than half the cost of a Giulia Quadrifoglio. We're talking, of course, about the lovely 156 GTA.
Now really feels like its time. Back when the GTA was new 20 years ago, the sports saloon was at its peak - and the 156 wasn’t with the best of them. It couldn’t match either the crazy four-wheel drive alternatives or traditional German rear-drivers for engagement behind the wheel, the engine was tremendous but no more powerful, and the optional Selespeed really wasn’t very good at all. But as is so often the case with Alfas, the aftermarket really brought the best from both the 3.2-litre 147 and 156; combine that with seemingly timeless style and considerable rarity and they both look more appealing than ever.
This one in particular. It has all the upgrades now considered GTA essentials - the Q2 diff, KW coilovers, Eibach anti-roll bar and bigger brakes - with a few little goodies on top as well: an underbonnet strut brace, Monza Sports ECU remap and carbon fibre intake plenum among them. It has the manual gearbox, the paintwork is stunning, and the leather has worn remarkably well over 20 years. The engine bay is borderline pornographic.
Needless to say, this won’t deliver the thrills of a Giulia Quadrifoglio - but that isn’t really the point. Launched 25 years ago, the 156 is now the entry point to classic four-door Alfa motoring, and the GTA is the most tempting of them. As an occasional-use, special car, it’s much easier to focus on the great bits - the styling, the engine, the sound, the interior - than dwell on what it can’t do in a corner. Look at these pictures and honestly say you wouldn’t enjoy having this parked outside. Difficult, isn’t it?
The current custodian has invested plenty in their Alfa recently, including a cambelt change and full service in March. It’s been Waxoyled and dry stored, so is completely rust-free. The 156 is even being sold with a fresh set of GTA-appropriate mats, which must be slim pickings these days. Oh yes, and it’s £15k. £15,750 to be precise, or more than a bit tempting for a classic Alfa still with just 45k on the dial. A comparable M3 of the period will cost more than twice as much. With the future of Alfa engines and Alfa saloons not exactly certain, a trip down memory lane sounds like a great idea. Looks a very good one, too.
SPECIFICATION | ALFA ROMEO 156 GTA
Engine: 3,179cc, V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 250@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 221@4,800rpm
First registered: 2003
Recorded mileage: 39,000
Price new: £27,322 (2002)
Yours for: £15,750
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