alfisti are more technically inclined and we know what to expect with our cars. so when a part does break we go "there, i knew that was going to happen" and we change the part. we also talk more openly about the problems with our cars. some other drivers - like BMW owners - tend to sweep whatever issues they have under the carpet.
imho, i think alfas are no less reliable than bmws. thing is alfa doesnt prescribe a scheduled parts replacement (or if there is, no one follows it). we use the parts til they break and then we change it. some of these parts become an annoyance when they break - ie MAF, etc.
BMW, on the other hand, has a parts replacement schedule for almost everything. so u will see a BMW service run into the thousands cos they replace everything. since that's the case, they have less "unscheduled" failures. if we replaced our known wear and tear parts at scheduled intervals before the parts break, wouldn't that make our alfas rock solid reliable?
i recently had coffee with a bimmer owner friend who told me that with the amount of money he spent on keeping his 5-series on the road each year (RM20,000, about 4000 euros), he could have bought an alfa. so he did just that. he sold his 5 and bought a classic alfa. he's so thoroughly hooked now he's looking for another classic alfa and maybe a modern alfa, too.
alfas aren't unreliable. its just perception. and we're not helping change it by admitting that they're unreliable.