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Could just get a 156 with the 2.5. Authentic engine displacement, same as when the engine originally came out. Plenty around, cheap. Less chance of head gasket failure, blowing diffs and the like. All while retaining most of the sound and revving characteristics of the 3.2 versions. Keeps the good looks, and functionality of 4 doors over the GT. Slightly shorter ratio gearbox over a 156 GTA I believe too?
Maybe that used to be true as Alfa obviously sold way more 2.5 cars than GTA but at least in the UK it isn't anymore. I've paid casual attention to 156 for sale the last few months and websites showing how many MoT'ed (road worthy test certificates issued to cars) cars of any given type are still driving around. Basically right now there aren't any 2.5 156 for sale on eBay or Autotrader whereas there are a handful of GTA on both sites.

Even the newest 156 is going to be about 15 years old and Alfa sold the most likely a good few years before they stopped production. My own one reached it's 18th birthday this year. When I bought my first 156 there were plenty around for £1k or even less but nowadays most of the dogs have all died off from lack of care and maintenance.

GTA are more susceptible to head gaskets? Blown diffs?

There is a massive gulf in power between the 2.5 and the 3.2, 50 to 60 bhp and a not inconsiderate amount of torque either. Not knocking the 2.5 but it's a significant step down if the OP wants a GTA.
 

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Could just get a 156 with the 2.5. Authentic engine displacement, same as when the engine originally came out. Plenty around, cheap. Less chance of head gasket failure, blowing diffs and the like. All while retaining most of the sound and revving characteristics of the 3.2 versions. Keeps the good looks, and functionality of 4 doors over the GT. Slightly shorter ratio gearbox over a 156 GTA I believe too?
Only problem with that idea is getting out-accelerated by remapped 2.0 diesels. At least the GTA is a genuinely quick car, even almost 20 years after it debuted.
 

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GTA are more susceptible to head gaskets? Blown diffs?
Sounds like slim picking of 2.5's in the UK then, which I was not aware of. I can only go over the pickings available where I live where there is an abundance of 2.5's over GTA's so I assumed the same in the UK. I was under the assumption the CF3 V6's were fitted in the GTA's. The CF3's can have head gasket issues due to the heat from the cats but please correct me if I am wrong. And I also thought that a lot of GTA's get the Q2 diffs or similar fitted, so that's why I thought diff problems, but most will have been replaced by now anyway I would think.
 
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