Some of you may remember I borrowed a 156 V6 about a year ago and it made a bit of an impression...
Well nearly twelve months on, I now own the car in question. She has been a willing companion on many great drives, including a 2,500 odyssey across Europe last year for charity.
For the last few months she has been out on loan to a friend who needed a set of wheels. During our time apart I decided to sell both my Spider and the 156 (or 'Big Red' as has come to be known) and buy one 'proper' performance car - a Z4M, Cayman or 370Z.
Yet now I have the V6 back again, I just cannot bear to part with it. Put simply, I have never owned a car that makes me feel so good when behind the wheel. I look forward to even a simple trip to the shops. Every journey is a pleasure. When I get near my destination I feel a tinge of disappointment that the drive is nearly over.
The car devours fuel, the interior rattles and creaks, the brakes are pitiful by modern standards and she does her best to embarrass in supermarket car parks by demonstrating a turning circle like a hovercraft and a propensity to stall when selecting reverse gear.
None of which manages to detract from the sheer joy of owning and driving this car.
The interior still somehow feels like a special place to be. The gear change is so satisfying; the clutch so light. The thin steering wheel feels great in your hands and the weighting of the steering feels just so 'right'. The way the car is so smooth and relaxing to drive at low speed, but completely transforms in character if you plant the throttle and hold onto the gears past 4k revs, surging forward with playful urge. Then there is obviously the soundtrack which remains one of the best V6 exhaust notes I have ever heard (especially with a little help from Supersprint).
So, I figure when I derive so much pleasure from my 156 'shed', why sell? I can keep using my Spider for business and sunny days and keep the Busso for whenever I need to put a smile on my face. Whilst the cars on my sports car shortlist might be better cars in every way, I just can't imagine anything equaling the intangible charm of the plucky 156.
As I intend to keep her, I have set aside some money to fit a new cambelt and accompanying bits, sort out that creaky suspension arm and generally sort out those little jobs that need doing. I realise this means probably spending almost as much as she is worth if I were to sell, but sometimes I guess being a petrol head means making poor financial decisions when it comes to cars.
I really hope that in the future Alfa can get back to making cars that genuinely excite and evoke an emotional response. Whilst we all know the days of V6 heroes are waning, it would be nice to think that somehow the new Giulia, Spider and 4c can go someway towards recapturing a little bit of that Alfa magic that is missing from the Mito and Giulietta.... Hope springs eternal!
Are there any other Busso owners out there still in love with their cars and continuing to spend big money keeping them going against all logical reason or is it just me?!