Top Gear’s guide to buying an old Alfa Romeo

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Can't stretch to the new Giulia? Here’s our guide to an AR that won't leave you destitute

It’s curious, isn’t it, our obsession with Alfa Romeo? Maybe you just don’t see it, maybe you need to be a certain age, maybe you’re thinking you ought to indulge, even if you don’t get the whole Alfa thing, to see if you do get it if you own one. Maybe owning an Alfa is its own reward. Thing is, you won’t know until you have a go.

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1) Brera
Sacrilegious though it might sound, this being an Italian coupe and all, the Brera you want is the one that came in for some fettling by the British rally specialists. They’re not very common, but the standard Brera was a stiff and stilted thing that neither rode nor handled particularly happily. So Alfa turned to Prodrive, and the end result is a 265bhp coupe that can hold its head high alongside a BMW 330i coupe. Striking looks, too.

Which one? 3.2 V6

Easy to run? Watch out for worn suspension

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2) GTV
It might be pretty, but it will have issues. The one you want is a 2.0 Twin Spark. It won’t have done many miles, and although FWD, is neat around corners and looks amazing. Warning: don’t be tempted by the later 2.0 JTS. It may have direct injection, but it wasn’t a patch on the Twin Spark. And watch for rust in the floors.

Which one? 2.0 Twin Spark

Easy to run? Bodies last well; floors don’t

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3) 75

It may look a bit curious, but then the 75 was from a different era. An era before Fiat got involved and stopped Alfa doing fun things, such as creating a rear-wheel-drive sedan with a transaxle gearbox mated to a 3.0-litre V6. Like the Sud, it was great to drive, but less like the Sud, it was also very well put together - Alfa was trying hard to match the quality that BMW and Audi were by now becoming well known for.

Which one? 3.0 V6

Easy to run? Yes

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 4) Alfasud
The Sud was legendary. Flat-four 1.2-litre engine mounted ahead of the front wheels, simple styling and the sort of joyful, playful handling that only a small Italian car can really deliver. It was the way it drove that made the Sud shine, and still makes it a delight today. You’ll need to watch for rust, worn suspension links and gearbox synchromesh issues, but the engines are robust and the later cars were made of tougher stuff.

Which one: 1.5Ti Green Cloverleaf 1983

Easy to run? Not for everyday use

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5) 156 GTA
As a 250bhp FWD sports sedan, the 156 GTA didn’t float everyone’s boat, particularly as it was surprisingly softly suspended. But it was very engaging to drive and the 3.2-litre V6 sang a seductive song. It’s also one of the prettiest sedans ever. The combination of engine, looks and the fabled GTA badge means prices have bottomed out now, so go for a good one - long-term, the sedans are likely to be more collectable than the Sportwagons.

Which one? Sedan

Easy to run? Yes, although the floors rust

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6) Spider
The Alfa everyone wants. Hence it’s the most collectable Alfa of the past 40 years. Actually the most desirable are now older than that - the 1966 1600 Duetto boat-tail made famous in The Graduate commands over £20k in the UK. But if you want a Spider you can rely on, you need a Series 4, which has more modern amenities and will cost you little more than half an early car. Long-term, it won’t rise so much in value, but you shouldn’t lose cash, either.

Which one? Series 4

Easy to run? Watch for electrical glitches

STORY Ollie Marriage

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.