Well hello all, I'm new to the world of 156s... have spent many hours catching up with what goes on here, it's pretty busy!
Yesterday I bid on an auction for a 2003 156 - the auction closed below reserve, but the vendor made a fixed-price offer that met me halfway, so I couldn't refuse.
The price is very cheap because the car is highly questionable - it's from Singapore, is a Selespeed, and has 273,000km on the clock!
I guess what swings it for me is the price half that of other 2002 156s and the gorgeous-looking red leather interior, with the restyled centre console. Outside of the car looks tidy too and is in a functional silver.
It's a 16-hour trip to get it home; involving a night in a hotel, a five-hour drive to Picton, a three-hour ferry crossing, a night with friends, and an eight-hour drive home the next day.
I shall probably be replacing my 2001 FIAT Punto Sporting, which is a really tidy car I've owned for two years and much lower kms of course, but it is the CVT model and has an extremely firm ride, tends to get squeaks and rattles. It's worth about what I've paid for the 156.
I really like the Alfa 164 - I have three - while I will probably keep one, I may think again if the 156 proves to be such a great allrounder that it can replace the Punto AND the 164... with performance and luxury somewhere between the two. I'm not expecting the 2L twinspark to get close to the 164's V6 performance, but then the fuel economy should be a bit better. I hope.
I like the idea of ending up with just three cars - the 156, my 124 Spider, and my Uno Turbo. Though I shall probably park the 164 up somewhere just in case, since it's hardly worth selling - only worth about $1000! I have had a fantastic run from the 250,000km 164 since buying it over two years ago - passed four WOFs (MOT equivalent) with no problems at all, no work done to it apart from repainting some interior plastics. Nothing has worn out, everything electrical works apart from one seat heater, and it has never failed to start. The other two 164s are receiving a bit more attention - new clutch, some paintwork, a few engine tweaks to the low-mileage (70,000 mile) '92, and so on.
I'm a bit confused about the specification of this particular 156 that I've bought. It says '2003' but it also says TWIN SPARK on the engine rather than JTS. So perhaps it is a 2002. I'm hoping that it has the stability control and window curtain airbags. What about cruise control? Does the trip computer calculate fuel economy like the Punto does? These are all nice things to have that the 1991 164 does not.
I went down a very similar road to the 156 last year when I bought a 2003 166, also from Singapore, also silver, and also in Christchurch. Just under 100,000km. That turned out to be quite a lemon - all panels had been resprayed badly (aerosol-can quality) apparently due to a hailstorm, and the body had serious rigidity problems, despite no apparent signs of damage. Park on an angled driveway and the doors were hard to open... A lot of scuttle shake, very heavy fuel consumption, disappointing performance due to the peaky V6 and four-speed auto, and numerous electrical problems caused by water leaks, especially from the heater matrix. I ended up selling it at a loss, having spent a thousand or two, and the next owner spent many more thousands before writing it off.
At least I test-drove a similar 2002 156 last week - vendor wanted $10000 - and a drove a 1998 156 the week before that - vendor wanted $5000 - so I have some idea this time around of what the other options are like! I hope the body rigidity will be good on the '2003' with not too many squeaks and rattles, but I guess I shall probably have to replace suspension bushes and engine mounts (being from Singapore, where rubber turns brittle). I expect also to replace the clutch and cambelt/balance shaft belt.