Hey guys, from an Australian perspective the JTS wagon being discussed is rediculously cheap. I have a manual '03 Wagon in nice nick and I wouldn't sell it for less than $10-12K. I paid $20K for it a bit over 3 years ago. Even with a suspect motor it would still be worth at least $8k.
You can pretty readily pick up a JTS motor and have it installed for probably $2-3K out here in Aus which would be worth while and even accepting that values in the UK are considerably lower you should be able to pick up a decent motor I would have thought for somewhere between 500-1000 quid, have it installed for another 500 and you are on a winner.
Now, as to why it died, before letting it go so cheap, it would have been smart to have taken it to a proper Alfa service centre. It doesn't sound like the motor has died but rather one of the four engine managment (crank) sensors has died. If these fail, the engine simply won't start. I know as I have had two of these previously die. It is a common fault with the JTS and readily repaired. Costs say around $200-400 per time.
The sportwagon is such a practical Alfa and good fun to drive.
The car is a 2.0 TS and not a JTS. It also only has one crank sensor (and one cam sensor).
Over here, they are a lot cheaper.
To give you any idea, I tend to buy Alfa's with cambelts gone or similar. I buy almost all from ebay and normally do this through the normal auction process. I buy about 20-30 Alfa's a year.
I only buy 2001 and newer models and insist that they have leather, are good condition with history and are normally manual (as these give less problems). I normally pay between £200-300 for a 2001 Y or '51, £300-400 for a 2002 '02 or '52 and £400-600 for a '03 or '53 etc.
For instance, the most expensive one I have brought yet is one I am doing at the moment. It is a Oct 2003 ('53) plate 156 saloon Veloce, 2.4 JTD with all the toys and perfect condition. It had a bottom end knock but still ran and drove. I paid £600.
In the past 6-8 months I have got about 5 2001/Y 156 saloons. All 1.8 TS and all with leather etc. The most I paid was £225 for one (which is the one I am breaking strangely as I used it for parts for the others)
I am interested in the 156 for sale, but experience tells me it is worth no more than £500 at the most in its current condition. I would bid £400-450 max mostly because its just around the corner so collection will be quick and easy and its got a full MOT etc.
It is always worse when you do not know what the problem is. A cambelt break is obvious and takes x amount of time to repair and costs a set amount. An unknown problem can take an unknown amount of time and an unknown amount of money to sort. Or you could get lucky. But bare in mind, the garage would have at least thought of the obvious before writing the engine off. I know garages are often not worth trusting (hence why I make a living doing honest mechanics etc), but their diagnoises was serious.