After a sucession of Alfas (33, Sud Sprint and 75s), I swapped to Saab 9000 Turbos for a couple of years after my local specialist retired. I had no desire to visit either AR Main Dealers or local wrench monkey with a 11 year old model and expect them to know what to do with it.
The Saabs are great (and cousin to the 164 so not too much of a shock), great space comfort and 200+hp in all the ones I've had.
However a friend of mine bought a 156 last Sunday, and due to not being able to get insurance sorted there and then, I drove it the 60miles back to his house. What a revelation. The last Alfa I drove was my Father's 155 (8v TS), which I never really liked to drive as it wasn't my 3.0V6 75.
It held the road well, was quiet, sqeak and rattle free (apart from the leather creaking), still looks amazing (silver with high wing), and all the electrics worked, a far cry from the DIY as needed on my old beasts.
I still think the 156 is the first proper 'mainstream' car Alfa produced, as good as the 155 was, it never made an impact on fleet/company sales whereas the 156 did, and should be familar to non-specialist garages. I still have a chuckle about the time my Sud went to Kwik Fit for front disk and pads and the lad jacked it up and took the front wheels off....
The question is, can you run a 156 (probably a V6, I still miss the noise) without a local specialist to hand. Would you trust yours in the hands of a local garage, or is some specialist knowlege still required?
I get my Saab serviced and sorted at a local Saab specialist who are great at that marque, could their expertise be easily transferred to a nice 156?