156 1.8 TS to1.9Mjet
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: United Kingdom
County: Greater London
That's exactly the feeling I got with my first Alfa, a 1.8 156 too.
There are loads of posts about what to check when you get a 156. As to a couple of your specific questions, change the cambelt and variator at 36000 miles or 3 year periods, the variator for peace of mind and you will avoid a diesel sound on start up. Also consider changing the water pump at some stage, though these are not a common problem on the TS engine. Your air con may just need a refill, but unfortunatley the earlier 156's did have a problem in that the pipe is routed around the right side of the engine bay as you look from the front, and where it turns at a right angle on the bulk head, it rubs on it's fixing and can perforate. You would need a replacement (used is fine), plus 2-3 hours work.
Let us know how it goes, and look forward to driving it every morning.