Can it really be more than three years since we last featured an Alfa 156 saloon? To save you the bother of looking it up, the answer to the question is 'yes'. That 156 was a Cat D 1.8 Twin Spark for just £595. This time it's a low-mileage cat nothing 2.5 V6 for just £995. The traditional answer to the next question "would I buy an 18-year old Alfa?" would, for many, be a strangled cry of NOOOO, but there are a few things about this particular 156 that might encourage you to be less hasty.
Opinions are split on the visual appeal of the 156's 2002-03 facelift. Many seem to prefer the facelifted car's interior. In this case there's no need to agonise about any of that because this is a 2001 Mk1 car.
Right, that's that cleared up, now let's get into the detail. For a start, the vendor is summoning up the great metal god of motoring delights known as 'Busso'. Giuseppe Busso's 60-degree V6 engine is a classic, not just because it's a wonderful motor, but also because its design dates right back to the early 1970s. There's nowt wrong with heritage if it works, though. Giuseppe's artistry produced an engine that still delivers on both power and aural excitement. Obviously the 3.2 GTA is 'the' 156 Busso to have, but if you can find a clean one of them for under £10k Shed suggests you snap it up forthwith because the usual asking price for one of those is £13k-£16k.
You can spend fifteen times as much cash on a GTA as you would on our 2.5, but would you get fifteen times the fun? As they say, don't waste money buying expensive binoculaurs: instead, simply stand closer to the object you wish to view.
The point is that the opportunity to sample Busso's engineering genius for under a grand, even in lesser 2.5-litre form, is one that nobody should spurn - especially when you bear in mind that the short-geared 2.5 will happily allow you to hit the limiter in top.
As an aside, PHer AlanV6 out of Slovenia built himself the 156 Alfa never built, using a 3.0 Busso lump from the GTV. And when we say 'built' we mean built. Check out the thread here and then spend the rest of the day bemoaning your own feeble mechanicking skills. Here we see Alan track daying his creation and here we see him autoslaloming it. Impressive we think you'll agree.
What else can we tempt you with here? Well, our 156 is a Veloce 'SP3', which basically means a sport pack spec with a stiffer setup to help keep the front end under slightly better control. Assuming the suspension isn't too tired, anyone who enjoys a lively steer will appreciate the 156's quick turn-in, a generic trait that was quite something on the 1998 driving launch, which Shed remembers attending in (he thinks) Spain. Less happily, he also remembers being depressed by the sticking speedo needle and unglued door seals of the UK test vehicle he subsequently borrowed. Them's the Alfa breaks, quite literally, or they certainly were at the end of the 20th century anyway.
The 156 you're looking is said to be rust-free. That's also quite something. A Mk1 156 without a rusty floorpan or corroded subframe is about as common as a punctual Southern Railway train. And if Shed had a pound for every MOT tester/mechanic who has supposedly uttered the immortal words "eeh, that's the nicest (insert car name here) I've ever seen", he'd have at least £14. Still, the rest of the ad has an honest smell about it, and we've no reason to disbelieve it, so let's go with it.
Now let's look at the mileage. There can't be many gen-one non-GTA 156s around with fewer than 72,000 miles on the clock. Looking at the MOT history, we can again easily believe it, based on the car's slow mileage accumulation of around 2,000 miles per annum in recent times, and never more than 5-6,000 miles a year before that.
We're told that it's a three-owner car, or a 43-owner car if you factor in its claimed first role as an Alfa UK press fleet vehicle. Press cars are like police cars in that everybody believes they're quicker than standard, or special in some other mysterious kind of way. Although some manufacturers have been famously caught in the act of supplying the press with hot ringers, Shed thinks that by and large the 'special' press car is an urban myth. He is much more taken with the idea of a car getting a good pasting from quite early on in its life, as long as it's accompanied by a good regime of maintenance - and this is a scenario that generally applies with press cars.
OK, pass over the clipboard for a quick final whizz round. Teledial wheels? Check. Essential leather interior? Check. Massive Alfa/specialist history? Check. Belts done last year, or this year if you haven't yet acknowledged the arrival of 2019? Check. A couple of decent brand new tyres thrown into the package? Check.
If this 156 doesn't sell quickly, Shed will be a monkey's uncle. Or a hippo's husband at the very least. Here's the ad.
(As it happens the Alfa has already sold - boo! It was for sale on Wednesday afternoon but gone 24 hours later, leaving us no time to change tack. Still, great Shed regardless! - MB)