I did it, I finally bought an Alfa Romeo! After an entire childhood of dreaming and having had a taste of a Twin-sparked 1.6 147 many moons ago, I finally took the plunge, bought my very own Alfa and joined the fabled ranks of being a “true petrolhead”. She was a beautiful Bianco Pastello white 159 2.2 JTS Selespeed. And boy did she suck.
To be honest, “Snowflake” had her plus points. She was a real looker, clean uncluttered lines, curves in all the right places, that grille and one of the most evocative badges ever stamped no an automobile. Fitted with a pair of Novitecs, she also carried a soulful tune everywhere she went. She knew how to have fun too and diving into corners with each downshift is accompanied by a cacophony of pops, bangs and induction noises as the rev needle excitedly reaches for the redline. With only 182 horses under her bonnet, there are plenty of chances to play with all of them when the mood arrives.
Unfortunately, though, that’s pretty much it. Outside of being gorgeous and knowing to be a playful kitty, she has a ton of flaws, enough to pretty much negate everything I mentioned in the paragraph above. Of course, these could be flaws unique to my 159 so don’t quote me if you are lucky and happen to have a “reliable” one or if you have just spent way too much money at the workshop and are too ashamed to admit it.
While I did understand that the car wasn’t at all perfect when I bought it, I didn’t quite expect it to start draining out my wallet that quickly.
Build quality was also suspect with hard plastics and cheap-feeling switchgear used throughout the cabin. Remember, these 159s were competing with the BMW E90s. My headlining was also dropping off, a buzzing noise was constantly emanating from within the dashboard and on one occasion, the interior cabin light cover fell off while I was driving.
In the first month and a half of ownership, the check engine light came on thrice, which meant 3 visits to the workshop, with the advice being to change to a different brand/grade of fuel or to just drive it harder. Of course, both remedies didn’t seem to help. I also had to visit the workshop within the first week of ownership to get the Selespeed “calibrated”.
In addition to the hassle (and time-wasting process) of sorting out the check engine light, I also replaced the battery, the power-steering pipe, an oil pressure sensor and I also had to replace my gearbox mount with a used piece because apparently, they are out of production. All this in addition to the interior headlining and entire body and wheels respray I was planning for her.
With the car already in the shop for the third time (in 1.5 months), I asked for the mechanics to give her a good looking over to ascertain what other work was needed to a car which supposedly I was told, “needed nothing much else done”.
So, the areas which I needed to get worked on? Engine mounts, driveshafts, tires and possibly a phase sensor (no idea either) and timing chain replacement weren’t that far off.
While these on their own might not spell doom and gloom for everyone, the fact that all these came up less than 2 months into ownership life in addition to the fact that seemingly mundane parts like gearbox mounts can be out of production left a massively bitter taste in my mouth.
With the way our local car ownership taxes are structured, unless one is a massively d̶e̶l̶u̶s̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶ committed Alfa fan who really really wants to keep his/her car, spending additional money just bringing her back up to spec simply didn’t add up for me. While I can understand someone justifying the finances to fix her up if he/she had owned the car for a much longer time having built a relationship with her, our short period together simply made it an emotionally distant fling.
Is she a looker? You bet.
Is she a fun engaging drive? Definitely.
Is she special? Yes.
Special enough to overcome all her flaws? Not for me.
No wonder they call Alfa Romeos mistresses. One I felt little remorse letting go and trading in. Goodbye Alfa, good riddance. You should have remained in my dreams.