Well, after a few weeks of looking I am now an Alfa owner and I couldn't be happier, well, until i see your replies probably.
I have bought a 156 Ti 1.9 JTD multijet in silver with black leather and 88,000 miles on the clock. It's in pretty good shape but here comes the bombshell....
It was a cat C write off. It had a knock to the rear offside quarter and hasn't been brilliantly repaired. The shut line round the back door is way too tight, the paint on the repair isn't great, the side skirts are practically falling off and the sill is full of filler. Also the rear offside door doesn't lock with the central locking and it has no service history.
I know, I know, it sounds like a nightmare but it drove great, felt really solid and I got a good vibe from it, or possibly just Alfa blindness.
Also it was £1,000 under my budget so I guess I can use that to get it right.
So any advice I can get from all you experienced Alfa owners will be greatly appreciated, including garage recommendations in or near north London.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Pics will follow soon.