Thank you to you all for your help and advice.
I spoke to an Alfa Specialist in the N.E. today and it does seem as if the problems with the car are more serious than I thought, the Big-End Bearings have def. gone and he advises me not to replace them unless I do a crank regrind which basically means to do the work properly the engine will have to come out.
He is on his 9th 156 engine rebuild this year as he states although the cars are not particularly rare as we all know there aint many good 156 s/h engines around, if I was lucky enough to find one the cheapest he's known to pay is £750, labour for the transplant will bring the total to around £1k and this is for an engine of unknown background. He quoted me around £1500
to rebuild my unit but at that price it's not viable for me to spend that much.
It seems my return to Alfa ownership is off to a very bleak start as I'm sure to loose out as I've decided to sell the car already (after 5 days). But I'm a bit of a fighter and I've already decided I want another 156 when this one goes, the wife is giving me all of this
and I'm giving her a bit of this
He did explain why he thought these problems have occured stating that the 156 engines oil level must be checked every 2 weeks, they are a good engine but their weakness is in the fact that some new owners neglect this and the motor can't take running on a low oil level like other cars can, they do consume slightly above average oil and those who are neglectful pay the ultimate price.
I'll keep you all informed of my buying and selling activities as it happens but here's hopefully second time lucky.