Thanks to everyone who offered ideas and advice on my question, "Manual or Q-system auto??"
annddd the answer is.... manual
And thanks to everyone who helped with my decision on what manual 156 to buy....
annddd the answer is.... a 2002 GTA
The Alfa specialist checked it over today and said if he had the $ he'd buy it himself... Only problem was a few dints in the drivers door from bumping it on another vehicle, and leaky rocker gaskets, which he said aren't bad enough to be urgent.
Called the owner and did the deal this afternoon... So once the cash is paid I will be the proud owner of a Grigio Metallica GTA. It was $10-20k under what others are being advertised for atm. lot better deal than that TS.
I was bowled over by the Service invoices I got copies of. The dealer service people charged massive prices for parts and did the owner no favours... ie they didn't replace the water pump either time the cambelt was replaced, and then of course it disintegrated, the car overheated and had to be brought in for just the pump, for which they charged a packet.
Got a Q2 and perhaps Koni's on the shopping list. And have some recommended locals as well as a young mechanic friend of my sons who can help out with non specialist repairs, and a friendly official service agent I've already got to know, so hopefully I won't get taken to the cleaners with it.
I am sure I will be back with more questions, and will try to get some pics when I've driven it back from Sydney and ferried it across Bass Strait to Tassie! Maybe some shots of the trip as well