A great man once said that you cannot be considered a true petrolhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Can this mythical status be achieved by owning a diesel-powered Alfa? To find out, I purchased the cheapest Alfa Romeo 159 I could find in the entire of the UK.
My 159 is powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged five-pot diesel motor. All of this five-banger greatness is good for 207bhp and 295lb-ft of torque which is pretty fast even by 2017 standards. It also boasts the full Ti grade luxuries, huge 330mm Brembo front brakes and massive 19-inch wheels.
All of this petrolhead greatness cost me just £2.5k. This price is scarily low for a car that usually retails at around £4-5k for a good example leading me to believe that at some point, it will catch fire.
The reason for the bargain basement price is that this Alfa 159 has covered 130,000 miles in the ten short years since it left the factory. While it's in reasonable condition for its age, it does have the look of a car that's seen some serious road action. Sensibly though, it came complete with a full maintenance record that’s as thick as a phonebook indicating it’s been looked after.
Here are a few things that I’ve found wrong with the car so far and more importantly, my grand plan to make it go like an Alfa should.
All of the stone chips
The 159 was the villain’s cars of choice in the 2008 Bond flick Quantum of Solace. So I can only speculate that my 159 could well have been one of the stunt cars used in the quarry chase scene from the film.
I have come to this rather far-fetched conclusion as nearly every single front panel has suffered a colossal amount of stone chip damage. I mean even the rear doors are pock-marked which is something I have never seen before.
A bit of a clunker
After checking out the bodywork, I came across the surface rust on the front subframe on the underneath of the car. Also, the alloy wheels are very battle-scarred and appear to have been repainted by a person wearing night vision goggles.
On top of all this, the single biggest issue is a very unnerving and continual loud clunking from the left front suspension. Only time will tell if this is an expensive mistake or not.
Named like a Rolling Stone
In what has to be a true one-off, I have chosen to honour the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards by naming my 159 after him.
Why call an Alfa ‘Keith’? Well, for starters like his namesake nothing has managed to kill the 159 so far, not the passages of time or even falling out of a tree.
The main reason though is simple, ‘Keith’ the Alfa looks pretty good from a distance, but up close he looks a bit s**t as after many years of a full-on rock and roll lifestyle picking up some scars along the way.
The path to becoming a true petrolhead
Despite all of the miles and pain inflicted upon Keith, mechanically and internally the car is in pretty good shape. Everything works and functions as it should, and to date, no warning lights have come on meaning my heart rate remains normal.
The one thing that has really got me in just eleven short days of ownership is that everything about it is beautifully designed and laid out. Take that dashboard for example, the trio of offset gauges that take up the centre console, or the wrong place as it's known. In a normal car, this would be an issue, in an Alfa, however, it’s just art.
All of this passion is helped by the fact that the motor, despite its age and the many miles covered, pulls like an absolute train with a mountain of torque at your disposal. It even makes a nice noise as the five-pot motor thrums in sync with some very cool sounding turbo noise.
Owning an Alfa is just like I’d hoped it would be, huge fun, with jaw-dropping visuals with bags of Italian flair.
Making the Alfa more Alfa like
Now for what to do with Keith to ensure he doesn’t end up in the big scrapyard in the sky. For one, he needs some essential future proofing work to prevent him breaking down, along with a remap to unlock more power.
For now, the paintwork will be left alone unless it goes rusty. The skanky wheels will be refurbished by a person without the use of night vision goggles, and a new soundtrack will arrive in the form of a sports exhaust.
After this I will be the proud owner of a slightly scatty looking Alfa that’s packing 250bhp within its arsenal that could well see some track action in the very near future.
Have I made the biggest mistake of my life by buying an Alfa Romeo and naming it Keith? Or have I just achieved the path to true petrolhead nirvana even though its diesel powered? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.