So we bought an Alfa Romeo 156 V6...sort of

So we bought an Alfa Romeo 156 V6…sort of

2003 Alfa Romeo 156 V6 in the UAE

Ever since a certain now-unemployed TV host mentioned on air that you have to own an Alfa Romeo at some point to be a true petrolhead, idiots around the world have been quoting it like gospel. Never mind that the same idiots have never been brave enough to put their money where their mouths are, so we never took it seriously either. But over the last few years, we’ve actually met several Alfa owners in Dubai itself — none of whom took advice from TV comedies — and began to understand the madness behind Alfas. So when we finally found the opportunity to keep an Alfa, we took it. But there’s more to the story.

You see, has built up such a fan following that people practically give us stuff for free to try out. Considering we’re banned from driving Ferraris, we got some seat-time in one when a reader let us drive his Ferrari F430 in exchange for advice on his next car purchase. The man who sold us our Mitsubishi Galant commuter car a few years ago let us keep the car overnight to try out before buying, after he found out who we were. And then there’s this dude.

A long-time reader, the owner of this manual 2003 Alfa Romeo 156 V6 first got in touch with us several years ago, only via Facebook, and that too because he was common friends with some of the people we’ve met during our legendary meets. By the time we finally met, through those same common friends, he was already leaving the country.

2003 Alfa Romeo 156 V6 in the UAE 3

He was also going to leave his Alfa with his friend to sell. So we made him the proposition that we’ll keep his Alfa for a while, until it gets sold. We’ll pay for the running costs, the washing and the exhorbitant parking expenses until then.

It’s not like we couldn’t afford the car — it’s on sale for a negotiable Dhs 7,500 on Dubizzle right now, which is less than our Jaguar’s last repair bill. But we didn’t want to take on the committment for a fifth car on our fleet, so this will mentally force us to part with the Alfa sooner rather than later. If we started letting our emotions run wild, we’d have 10 cars on the “company” fleet already, with our obligatory matching numberplates.

2003 Alfa Romeo 156 V6 in the UAE 5

So while the car is registered under our name, it is actually being taken care of by a couple of our other readers (both of whom we met during our aforementioned meets and became friends with). One of them is the owner of the Alfa Romeo 155 V6 you may have read about earlier. He’s already done several minor roadside-repairs on the 156 himself. We’re running this car as a co-operative.

The 156 is not in the best shape to be honest. It has 250,000 km on it, with holes in the upholstery, a few broken interior panels, inoperative airbags, non-working keyless entry, one frozen rear power-window and a bit of peeling paint. But it drives perfectly fine, largely because it has a replaced engine and manual gearbox, a new clutch, new brake pads, new battery, new tyres and more. Almost all the basics work, the leather seats are in good shape, and it looks great for the most part, even under the bonnet. And it gets tons more respect on the road than any brand new Kia, especially since that stock offset-mounted front numberplate makes it look like a shabaab-mobile.

We’d even call it fun to drive, with an amazingly-pleasant exhaust note, a clutch light enough to use in traffic, and generally responsive controls. “Regular” cars that feel as alive as this aren’t built any more nowadays. But maintaining an old car like this is an enthusiast project and takes true dedication. You don’t have to own an Alfa to be a true petrolhead. You have to be a true petrolhead to own an (old) Alfa.

What do you think?



  1. Wannabe…. 😛

  2. Wish they made cars like this even now.

  3. Great photos, man! Makes the car look Kubrick-esque.

  4. Nice car. The interior can be easily fixed and second hand parts can be found and ordered on line. It does take dedication and passion as you said. I don’t have time but I’d love to get something like this, for 7.5k dhs this car is a great project.
    Mash, I suggest you get Rahul involved and write about his Alfa, too. Can’t think of a better example of a member that was brave enough to get a car like that out of pure passion. Get the members involved a bit more, at the end of the day is about their passion for cars…..

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