But hold on there one cotton-picking minute, as a fan of the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn might say. Alfa Romeo has made one, and arguably two, excellent execs in recent times.
Few would dispute the wonder of the 164, now moving nicely into 'sought-after' territory in 3.0 V6 guise. Its successor, the still under-appreciated 166, sits in the 164's shadow, and rightly so if you're talking about four-cylinder cars. But the 166 had better suspension than the 164, and you could get one with the glorious big six 3.0 in situ - like this example here.
Nowadays, with the NHS in tatters and doctors increasingly seen as gaunt-eyed, sleep-deprived sufferers of high-level stress and possibly pretty poor drivers, the value of the 'owned by a Doctor' attribution is less clear. Especially when you remember that an old-fashioned doctor's round (do they still even do them?) would typically have been made up of car-killingly short journeys.
Not sure why, but Vavona seems like the right wood trim for a Doctor-owned E39, or a gynaecologist-owned one anyway. Like all German Wood®, it looks like a cross between walnut, bird's eye maple and a caravan work surface, but even so most E39 owners seem to like it. They'd probably prefer German LeatherTM to the cloth you see here, but cloth does bring the bonus of extra grip to your back end, particularly when you're wearing corduroys.
Here's a video of one. Don't worry about the white smoke, ha ha.
It's a stylish machine, the Alfa. Not brilliantly well made mind. The interior plastics on the first one were nasty and well out of kilter with the high asking price Alfa GB asked for it on launch (around £28K). The depreciation was epic. All great news for the Shedman.
What can go wrong, though?
Electrics are not an Alfa strong point. The owner confesses to non-functioning nearside windows and refers to other known issues concerning the indicators and cruise control, but who needs any of that stuff in modern rude Britain?
This 166 has a manual gearbox, but neither it nor the auto has a reputation for giving trouble. Check that the clutch isn't biting until the top of the pedal, and remember that the 3.0 engine will routinely use up to a litre of oil per 1,000 miles.
And the E39? The petrols are more reliable than the diesels and cheaper to mend if something goes squiffy. As with the Alfa, suspension components fail, but that's normally just wear and tear, not something you'd think would be an issue on a 59,000-miler. Engine cooling is a bigger potential banana skin. Electrics can be troublesome here too: light control modules, window motors, boot releases, the heating system's 'hedgehog' resistor. So it's not just Alfa.
So, to return to the question at the beginning: which one would you buy? Both have full MoTs. The Alfa is a private sale, and £300 cheaper than the BMW. The dealer flogging the BMW is selling the numberplate separately, which is rather boring not least because it means we can't check the MoT history. However, we are told it has a full service history to go with its low mileage. Then again, the higher-mileage Alfa has a pretty spotless MOT history, with very little of any consequence having gone wrong in the last 10 years.
Oooh, it's so difficult. Over to you, in that case.
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It's a silver Super. 145K miles. Owned by me 12 years. Has full 12 months MOT. Niggles are near side windows not working although they clonk a little when the switch is pressed so the issue is inside the door..
Cooling fan ran on after drenching in rain storm. Not repeated since.
Other niggles are common to many 166's such as non cancelling indicators, non working cruise control.
Strengths are that aircon is ice cold having had new compressor a couple of years ago. Good tyres and wheels. Stainless rear exhaust.
New clutch last year and very light clutch action. Very strong engine.
Heater matrix done in 2009 together with heater fan.
Drive shaft boots plus front brake pipes (metal) plus rear flexis last year.
Front suspension top arms also last year.
Good brakes but new set of front discs and pads available too.
Cam belt will be due soon (last done Jan 2013 at 120K).
It looks great in the pictures but it does bear some scars from it's years of use. The bumpers are scratched and there is a small dent in the boot lid.
It's a hell of a lot of car for the money but needs an enthusiast to take it on now.
Call Doug on 07824 962135 for more details.