Cheers for all the advice everyone, i'm off to test drive it tomorrow. it looks so much nicer than other cars in that class within my price range. Blueji what sort of issues occured with the one that you bought?
If i do go ahead and buy it and trust me my heart is saying just do it, how difficult is it to change the accumulator or generally fix the gearbox back up? I'm an aircraft mechanic with elec trade and i have a few mates that are car mechanics with access to a pit etc. cheers
If the gear change feels lumpy or the car 'kangaroos' it could just be the Selespeed unit needs calibrating, this is where you will need alfadiag to set the clutch rod length, also a good quality battery (bosch for me) with at least 650cc amps is a must as the pump for the Selespeed unit draws a fair old amount out of the battery, so check that out too.
Listen for any bearing noise from the thrust bearing in the clutch, when the car is running it is always engaged when stationary, even when in neutral. If this bearing collapses while been driven, I'm led to believe it will be stuck in gear you're in a that time.
If you find it doesn't hit reverse now and again, dont think it's knackerd, this is normal as it has a fixed gear in reverse, just select 1st then R and it will go in.
If you hear any knocks or rattles from the suspension, it's normally bottom wishbone but on the 156 there is a top wishbone too, only replace with OEM parts don't be tempted with cheap'o China parts. The other rattle will be the front ARB, it will be the bushes a pain to replace as the subframe has to come down a bit to remove, so a lot of 156's are not done....I screwed large coach bolts into mine to take up the slack, works a treat!