I'm sure those of you who have been here for some time will be sick of questions like this but.........
I'm in the market for another Alfa. I had a beautiful '86 GTV6 10 years ago and, after the grief it gave me, I should have been put off for life! However, after 4 years of financial horror we are, unlike the majority of the population, feeling somewhat better off.
So, after driving to work in a 1980 Triumph Dolomite 1850HL for the last year (and the year before that a Triumph 2000) I am now in the position to get an interest free loan through my employers.
The car I want? A 156; saloon or sportwagon. I've got £4-£5k to spend. We still wont have a spare £500+ lying around for unexpected costs (the Dolomite has cost me £200 to maintain in the last year), though we will factor in servicing (£400 a year).
Budget -are we mad?
Selespeed - Avoid?
Best buy - Veloce?
Best place to buy - Dealer?
What to look for - Help!
For your budget I've even seen GTA 156's at that price, something about alfa, 3.2 and mpg springs to mind :-) So yeah, you should be able to get a really good whatever you fancy!
Personally,I have nothing against the Selespeed except it's repair costs if it goes wrong - I'd stick with the manual, it's a pretty decent box (6 speed specifically) althought the throws are a bit long IMHO.
I like the Veloce's - my wife has one, the fake carbon is crap but I like the black and orange guages.
Dealers are hit and miss I think, if you get from an Alfa Specialist then they aren't necessaryily all the specialist but will charge a specialist price - dealers who aren't will largely overprice them thinking they are a bit special, they are but regrettably residual value aint :-(
If you can do a decent check on the mechanicals (classic car buff so you must be able to) then perhaps a dealer who has taken one in trade or doesn't really know what he has got.
For my money, get a v6 - mechanically bomb proof (as long as the belts, tensioners done every 36K) and if the water pump is the one with the metal impellar (GTV were all metal I beleive).
The MAF's (mass air flow meters) go on all different engine types - but not with monotonous regularity.
The 156's upper track control arm bushes do go with monotonous regularity but, they are 30 quid to buy and take an hour to fit each side.
The undertrays on v6 156's catch on speed bumps and get wrecked,but you can source an ally one to replace (got mine from Denmark for 80 quid) which handles the abuse nicely.
The rev counter bulb warning light causes hassle, the volage regulator burns out leaving a brake light on which can knacker your batt over time - takes about 20 mins to solder a new one in, or you can swap the counter.
They don't seem to rust much,except for where the undertray mounts to the legs at the back of the bumper where it meets the wing.
Back calipers can seize partially on and drag, not too long to swap out.
Heater fan resistor packs can fail, 10 min job tops to replace.
Radiators corrode quite badly, a couple of hours to swap and the rads can be had for about 90 quid.
Other than that - not much more to worry about!
There's some other stuff undoubtedly that can go wrong but TBH I have no experience of it - no doubt someone will be along to add some stuff.
There's buyers guides on alfa156.net IIRC.