I had a 1982 Alfasud 1.5TiX in ivory - the top of the range at the time - for 4 years from 1984 to 1988. I loved that car, especially the boxer engine with twin Dellorto's, but it was made of Russian steel and started to rust in the sill areas and elsewhere even though it had all the annual treatments recommended by Alfa. I traded it in in 1988 for a red 1987 Alfa 33 1.7 Green Cloverleaf with 3k on the clock - cost £8,000. The 33 was more powerful but did not handle quite so well, being prone to great gobs of torque steer, especially in the wet. It had a very nice interior though and gave me little trouble until the clutch went at 60k miles and it also started to look a bit tatty round the edges, although nothing on the scale of the Sud. Both had fantastic sounding engines especially on the overrun.
I sold the 33 in 1995 and have since had a succession of Mondeos - - I needed the space and there were no equivalent Alfa's available at the time or indeed now. They have been:
1993 Mondeo 2.0 Ghia Estate 129bhp Cayman Blue Metallic - Pretty cutting edge back then and I think still looks OK today.
1996 Mondeo Facelift 2.5 V6 Ghia Estate 168bhp Radiant Red - Quite fast but somehow not quite as good as it promised to be. Chassis not up to the engine which sounded great - bit heavy on petrol though.
2001 Mondeo 2.5 Ghia X Hatchback (still 168 bhp) Panther Black with leather, heated seats and ESP - the new model Mondeo - unfortunately a lemon which constantly developed faults - probably because it was an early model. I got rid after 18 months and took a caning on depreciation but was glad to see the back of it.
Current car: 2002(52) Mondeo 2.0 Zetec Estate Jewel Green with 145bhp. Although this is a pretty humble spec in the range, it has as standard air con, alloys, 4 electric windows, CD player, leather rimmed steering wheel and gear knob. This car, in contrast to the previous one, has been almost completely fault-free. It is also surprising fast, 0-60 in well under 10 secs and about 130 mph all out (not tested by me!). I have shown a clean pair of heels to a few pushy BMW's when the mood has taken. However it is not the last word in refinement.
It is time for a change. I have looked at (and driven) the usual suspects from BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and Audi but they did not seem to have the X factor that my old Alfa's had. I can't take to the looks of the new Mondeo at all - to my eyes it's worse than the old one.
To sum up, I have been away from Alfa's for too long and the 159 is seducing me. I have test driven a 2.2 JTS Turismo (gearing a bit too low like my old 33), a 1.9JTDm Lusso (not quite powerful enough) and a (black) 2.4JTDm TI (this is the one I fell for but I think TI spec wheels and tyres are probably going to be a bit low profile and pricey to replace at my (retired) time of life.
I am now looking for a 159 2.4 JTDm Lusso Sportwagon 56/07 reg. which must have roof bars (to carry windsurfing equipment), preferably in Stromboli or Titanio Grey and be low mileage (less than 30k). Palmers of St Albans- now relocated to Hemel Hempstead - were very helpful with the test drives but did not have what I was looking for. I have been regularly trawling the internet for a few months now trying to find my ideal car but with no success so far (usually either too highly priced or no roof bars or wrong colour) but I will persevere as the bug is definitely back. If anyone knows of a car that fits the bill I would be very pleased to hear from them.
P.S. I forgot to mention that while I was driving all these Mondeos, I was still getting Italian fixes from the wife's cars, amongst others a Fiat 126, Fiat X1/9 Bertone and a Japanese one from her Honda CRX.