Ok. I haven't read ALL of this thread but I've read many similar ones over the years and, like the petrol vs diesel debates that come and go regularly, this is all a bit old-hat.
Well, at least it is to the Alfa owners who have been around a while and had a good few years reading/contributing to these forums.
The bottom line is always (predictably) "ANY car can dissapoint if it ain't been looked after".
But an Alfa Romeo isn't just "any" car and occassionaly you get reminded of this like I did a couple of weeks ago while on holiday in Padstow, Cornwall.
Heading back to the holiday home from a good days body-boarding we pulled into a BP petrol station. While filling up I was approached by an elderly gent who was on his way back to his car after paying for his fuel. He looked to be in his late seventies, possibly early eighties. He was slightly stooped and walked with a stick.
He just stopped in front of me and said "That's a really nice car you have there". I thanked him and then for the next 10 minutes we had the most extraordinary conversation.
Well, I say conversation, I mean I did most of the listening while this man (I can't remember his name now!) told me how he worked for Alfa Romeo's racing team. He was good friends with Juan Manuel Fangio and worked (and drove, occassionaly) the multi-race winning Alfa 158. He also mentioned the 159 and said he was part of Alfa's Formula 1 engineering and testing team.
He still visits olds friends in Italy regularly and I got the impression he had some superb tales to tell. What a pity we were stood on the forecourt of a petrol station and not sat in a pub somewhere!
Anyway, he eventually hobbled off to his car (a Mondeo!) with a wave and repeated "That really is a lovely car".
If I'd have been driving any other marque I'd have missed out.
Moments like that convince you you've got the right car. Just look after the bloody thing . . .