My much loved year 2000 156 recently failed the MOT for structural corrosion
. Basically there was a hole in the floor, with many more in the making. Got it MOT'd with welding but evident that far more will be needed in future and/or that the scrapyard beckons. Googling around reveals that this is far from unique, and not just on "wet floor" cars (which mine wasn't..). I gather Alfa have even funded at least one replacement floorpan because of failure in under eight years.
From what I've read it appears that most of the 156 is galvanised but that the floor pan, the bulkhead and the roof aren't. Is this really so? Are the floors and bulkhead really just old-style mid steel.. as in they really are using the old Tipo's floor pan in the fullest sense, but with less effective rust protection than that car had?
What this essentially means is that without 1970s-style TLC to the structure, many 156s (and 147s/GTs with same basic structure) will be written off long before they reach the end of their mechanical life. I note wryly that my cheap and cheerful 1991 Citroen ZX (cost about half what I paid for the 156 nine years later) is still running around without welding, as are countless hundreds of thousands of 1990s cars from just about every manufacturer other than Fiat/Alfa. OK the cars (Alfas) generally keep their good looks to the end (unless you have the windscreen swapped...), but TBH some visible rust at least alerts you to the fact that your car is on its way out.. possibly before it is too late.
I sometimes think Alfa has a death wish. I love the cars, and happily spend to avoid disintegrating suspensions, snapping cambelts, failing water pumps etc etc. But...structural corrosion, in a 21st century car with no accident damage (and a previously unbroken sheet of sealant concealing the horrors beneath)? I'm sorry, but that is utterly unacceptable. And utterly idiotic if the three most important panels in the car are the only ones that aren't properly protected.... why, FFS???? Built in obsolescence? From the company that gave us the Alfasud
? Smart move......
I wrote to Alfa asking if the same approach to galvanising only some of the car also applied to the new generation cars. I got no response.... even more gobsmacking if it turned out that a similar approach was applied to only partly protecting the heavily built 159/Brera since 2005. Unimaginable.. but then again, this is Alfa we're talking about. I suppose it's just the ultimate symptom of that "nasty little rash" that Clarkson says is the cost of Alfa ownership....