I went and brought it, been driving it around today.
Have the name and address of the last keeper, will contact them, not hopeful of a response, as the garage also wrote to them and got nothing. I've googled his address, and found him listed in the London Gazette, unfortunately, so somehow I don't think he will be in the mood to respond, but you'll never know. Its rather sad when you see the long listings in this publication; all individual little tragedies.
Have the MOT history from VOSA:
First Use: 26/05/04
MOT: 26/07/07 (bit late!)
Advisories: rear pads wearing thin, nail in rear tyre
Advisories: Slight play in o/s of steering rack
MOT was carried out by the Nissan dealer that sold the car to the last owner. Selling garage contacted them, and managed to work out that besides a service, the car had received new discs (and pads). I would assume, as this was sold through a main franchised dealer, up until that point, it had a full AR service history, which would amount to 2-3 stamps in the book. Does AR retain computerised servicing records; I know for Mazda, I can walk into any dealership and get a print off of the servicing records for any Mazda serviced at any Mazda dealer.
And Present MOT: 08/03/10
Mileage seems genuine.
Since I last drove the car, the selling garage has done an oil and air filter service (the bumper had to come off for this??), and sorted the squeaking clutch out.
Been out and about in the car all day today. It drives very very nicely. I'm finding slipping into a 6th very slightly awkward. Probably more of a result of driving a MX5, where everything is just a bit more raw and direct (MX5 having probably one of the finest shifts about, bar none). Having no manual meant some head scratching when it came to resetting the tripmeter. Luckily I found an English-language PDF of the owners manual on a Slovakian website. Everything electrical works perfectly; I thought I had come across an Alfa foible when one of the LCDs on the passenger temp dial wasn't illuminating properly, but that mysteriously fixed itself when I restarted the car. Aircon blows nicely cold.
Tyres; on closer examination, fronts of Pirelli P-Zeros (215-45 17s), with very very little wear. Rears are Stunner Scudos, a budget Michelin brand, and look brand new. Wheels; front nearside has a little bit of scuffing, nothing major, nor really, unexpected. Slight bubbling on one of the wheels; have Alfa wheels gotten any better. the Veloce-spec wheels on my 33 were absolutely appalling for porosity. The centres have all lifted slightly. Other than that, the 3-hole wheels are in very good nick.
Jobs to do: full 72k service, certainly for peace of mind. I suspect even if the SH was available, like 90%+ of 40k diesel Alfas, the timing belt wouldn't have been done. The big service should see all the fluids being changed (though I'm not sure if the gearbox oil is changed, or only topped up? whats the normal interval on changing this?
Bodywork; scuffing in the plastic front bumper. I thought maybe a SMART repair will suffice, but there are a number of stone chips, so may well be the whole bumper repainted at some point, and the stone chips on the rear arches blown in. Neither are essential jobs.
Trivial jobs; replace the missing battery earthing point cover, maybe clean up the leads there, replace the rear boot Alfa badge (present one has cracked), and get hold of a set of manuals. One of the headlights has fogged from condensation, so i suppose a summer job to dry it out, and reset the seals. New clutch pedal rubber; existing one has worn through. Driver's bolster; the leather needs redying. I am currently redying a set of MX5 seats from red to black, so maybe I'll use "Alfa black" when ordering the spray kit.