The current whip - an Alfa Romeo 159

After the Sierra, came an Alfa Romeo. In this case, a 159 Sportwagon.

 

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As 159s go, this is one of the last ones built before Alfa killed them off - it is a Lusso in some strange shade of white that I can't pronounce, with tan leather trim and a gutsy 2.0 JTDm diesel engine.

Mrs Jim had purchased her Alfa Romeo in 2010, when these were still new in the showroom, and I remember sitting in a 159 Ti saloon at the time and thinking what a nice place to be it was. Roll forwards a few years and in the spring of 2015, I came across this late-model 159 Sportwagon fresh from a company fleet and up for a very reasonable price at a local Alfa dealer.

The three chaps on BBC's "Top Gear", well, Amazon's "Grand Tour" to be accurate, always used to say every petrolhead needed to own at least one Alfa Romeo in their lives. So I took the plunge...

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A deal was done, a timing belt and waterpump was changed, and I was the happy and proud owner of what you see here. Just as individual as the Sierra on the rush hour commute and just as characterful.

The Sierra moved on - I had no space to keep them both - and I stepped away from the Ford community, leaving behind DOHC head gasket worries for worries about gearbox bearings made of chocolate, and random odd electrical gremlins... er... I'm sure this was progress.

Actually, to be fair, nothing has fallen off to date and it has never left me stranded by the side of the road. It's a heavy car but rides well. The build quality is surprisingly good - the doors shut with a reassuring "sounds like a Golf" solidity that a comparable-age Mondeo just doesn't seem to exude (I had the opportunity to compare another 159 Sportwagon and a Mondeo side-by-side at a car supermarket when I started looking for one - the Mondeo was distinctly... tinny... in comparison!) and I haven't heard it rattle yet. The electrics all work - and more amazingly continue to do so when it rains. Yes. I know. What's that all about? An Alfa Romeo that works?

The fact of the matter is modern Alfas are not the same beasts that they were in the '90s. 'What Car' rated them fifth in their 2017 reliability survey - I think one of the highest ranked European manufacturors.

Yes, I've had work done pro-actively such as fitting poly bushes into the lower front wishbones to help maintain geometry and reduce wear in the upper wishbones, and at some point I need to drop the front subframe and re-apply some rust-proofing to it, but I don't mind. This is part and parcel of being an enthusiast.

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Plans for future modifications? None. But I am suffering with my neck - every time I leave it parked up, I just have to look back at it over my shoulder as I walk away....

 

 

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