Once upon a time Alfa, whose fortunes fluctuate like the tides and whose modern cars are either heart-stoppingly desirable or achingly frustrating, had a perfectly respectable and reasonably stylish family hatchback that achieved untold glory for the firm by being voted the European Car of the Year in 2001.
It was the 147, and it carried on some of the promise of the breadvan-like 145, the first small Alfa to display any flair since the dear old Alfasud. It was available as a three-door car or a five-door one or, if you preferred, you could simply have this extraordinary 250hp 3.2-litre V6-engined GTA version - think 0 to 60mph in just 6.3 seconds. Think it, though, but don't try it - the GTA was front-wheel drive only, so to do it successfully was nigh-on impossible, as was trying to keep it pointing in the right direction. In standard form, it simply had too much power for its chassis.
A pity, because inside the GTA was enticing. It was all stitched leather, drilled pedals and sports seats, and if it was a little unruly it at least had the passion and the brio of a true Alfa.
There was, however, a solution to some of its ills, and it came in the form of the tuning firm Autodelta, who could not only give your Alfa more oomph but also cure some of its traction issues. For example, you could specify from them a limited-slip differential for the GTA that, among other tweaks, could turn your torque-steering monster into a snake-hipped groover.
Alas this car doesn't mention chassis tweaks among its upgrades, despite the seller's comprehensive and honest appraisal of the thing. It's had an engine remap and a fancy carbon intake set-up from Autodelta that, if anything, should add a bit more hp, which is not really what's wanted. It has a sports exhaust and a high mileage and no brakes and third gear is on the way out, too, so it's definitely not a car for the faint-hearted, this one.
However, it is about half the price of a regular 147 GTA in good condition, so if you know someone who's got the dosh and the time and inclination for applying a bit of TLC you've still got time to snap it up as a last-minute stocking filler
SPECIFICATION - ALFA ROMEO 147 GTA
Engine: 3,179cc, V6
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 250@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 221@4,800rpm
First registered: 2005
Recorded mileage: 154,000miles
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £3,500
See the original advert here