After 7 years it is time to say goodbye to my Alfa Romeo 156. This car has been through the tumults of life with me and been impeccable the whole time, so it is a wrench I have long put off.
I set my sights on a red Alfa in 2011 and this 10 year old 2 owner car was the one that providentially appeared. It is in the most Alfa of Alfa colours, Alfa Rosso, with black leather interior. It is the sportiest Veloce trim level, which means sideskirts, carbon-look interior trim, and so on.
MOT: Will come with 1 full year's MOT
Drivetrain: Busso 2.5 V6 (24-25mpg), 6-speed manual
The body is very straight, and contrary to what many have joked, it has not fallen victim to rust as so many have. In fact, the underside is in great condition. Only recently there were the very beginning signs of a little bit of surface corrosion, which has now been cleaned off and the car underbody sprayed with a protective coating. The front bumper vertical mounts (a bolt-off part) have gone in the last year or so as is common; not replaced as they are not vitally needed. The paintwork is generally good and presentable, and it has just been machine polished, hand buffed and waxed. The front bumper is a rare Zender-made genuine GT item - not a GTA - similar looks, but made for the standard width GT model so it fits with the regular wings. This really makes the front that much more purposeful as the standard bumper was always too high and too timid for my liking. The bumper has also been repainted recently - in the right shade but the fresh paint on plastic does vary slightly from the original paint on the metal panels. Front tow-eye cover went missing during painting so another is on order. Moving down the sides and there are no dents to be found, and the original plain black mirrors I replaced years ago with the facelift colour coded ones. At the rear you'll notice there is a towbar, which has been used - mainly for my lightweight Austin 7, no caravans or anything. On the bootlid, the rear badge, lock mechanism and wiper mechanism were all replaced about 2 years ago with new genuine parts. The spoiler at the top was hydro-dipped in a carbon finish to match the interior, which I did very soon after buying it, giving it a subtle, unique touch.
The insides are mainly black, as originally specified. I've changed the front seats from the early embossed ones to the non-embossed facelift seats, in order to get the opening arm-rest which you really do miss if you drive an earlier car that doesn't have one built in. The steering wheel was also upgraded to the much nicer facelift type. The wiring had to be altered to make it work, but this was carefully done and you'd never know now, and there are no errors - but at the time, nobody had done it and they all said it couldn't be done! Obviously the buttons don't work as there is nothing for them to do. Being a late pre-facelift car, this car does not have the LCD centre display, which is a good thing because that means no inevitable LCD failure. Every dial works perfectly and always has done. The radio is a Sony CD/USB/etc type modern affair. The headliner - it's not ripped, but it has stains on it from being used to transport spares for that aforementioned race car. Sorry about that. I would have dyed it black eventually as the grey is out of place anyway. All the electrics work, all the dials work, electric windows and mirrors and alarm - even the AirCon works. There's nothing that "just needs a fuse replaced"! There's a piece of interior trim removed in one picture - will be refitted. There is a spacious boot in these cars as well as split folding rear seats, and there is a black removeable roll-up load cover.
The raison d'etre of this car is the Busso V6 crammed into the front. Guiseppe Busso, the designer of this famous engine, died three days after it ceased production in 2005 and there is a certain nostalgia and collectability growing around cars fitted with what was oft-called the "best sounding engine ever made". Thankfully I have another one in my 164 to listen to. I bought this car in 2011 with 82k on it and at the end of 2017 having just crossed 100k, I had the timing belt replaced, along with the water-pump and every single tensioner and pulley in sight. The engine runs sweetly and has had regular oil changes. Along with the TB and oil change I also fitted a brand new top wishbone on the driver side. The passenger side was done around 2 years ago. The six speed manual box has always operated well, and the clutch is in good shape. I think I had it done around 10k ago from memory. The exhaust is not standard - it is a louder, stainless steel one with a sports back-box with oblong tip. Truth be told I liked it better when it was standard and quiet, but such is hindsight. If you like to rev your cars (and the Busso does like to rev) it does help release a bit more of that V6 scream. You can expect 24mpg from the car with mixed driving and it never overheats, thanks to a new radiator at around 85k. It has been my pleasure to play a part in dispelling that old "Alfa's are unreliable" stereotype. Last year the front brakes were replaced (with Brembo parts as usual) and the backs were done about three years ago. There's an OMP adjustable front strut brace keeping the strut towers in check, and a good battery.
Last thing to address is the wheels. I bought it with it's original Teledials, which I foolishly sold when I fitted lightweight 17s. I'm keeping the Momo wheels for my 164, so it's back on these standard fitment 16"s, which have average tyres with around 5mm tread. I also have separately available a lovely, unfitted set of freshly refurbished 147 Supersport 17"s (the three-hole Tele style) which owe me some £375. I think they need a small spacer to fit. Oh, there's lock-nuts fitted too.
Is that it? Seven brilliant years summed up in a few paragraphs. I have had a few other Alfa's in the meantime, but the first one always has a soft spot. There's one key (refurbished internally), lots of paperwork, V5 in hand and I do apologise for the awful modern number plate as DVLA wouldn't re-issue the original when I removed the private reg. I cut down the front one a bit as a standard plate is far too big for an Alfa bumper.
The prices for V6 models seems to be jumping all over the place, so I originally set it squarely in the middle but have now reduced it further. It's not a pristine example, nor totally stock, but enthusiast owned and well cared for, with lots of potential and ready to press into regular use right away should you desire to.
Located in Dungannon, N.I.
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