Fast, attractive and inimitably expressive, the flawed gems that are the Alfa Romeo 156 and 147 GTA look set to rise in value
What is it with Alfas? While usually flawed packages, on the right road they can be utterly brilliant. ‘Musical’ is the best way to describe their V6 engines, and the beautiful looks stand out in a market full of conservative German boxes. At least this was the case in 2002, when the 3.2-litre 156 GTA saloon first made an appearance.
Perhaps it’s the charismatic styling and attractive Italian interiors, but what Alfas offer is often greater than the sum of their parts, and that’s why they have such loyal and eager followers. It’s also why values of the 1990s GTV 3-litre V6 currently sit far above those of its comparable rivals, and it’s why the 156 and its hatcback sibling, the 147 GTA, very much have Next Big Thing potential. In an early evo magazine road test the road tester raved about the 156 GTA, claiming that it has ‘one of the liveliest throttle-adjustable chassis since the Peugeot 306 Rallye’. It also has one of the all-time great engines in the form of the 247bhp 3.2-litre Busso V6.
So, 156 or 147? Under the skin they’re all but identical, and the consensus when new was that the smaller hatch was the marginally better car to drive. The 156 offers four doors for those who need it, but is tiny by modern saloon standards. Looking at the values, for a time there was a good supply of slightly rough, high-mileage examples around if you wanted to spend £3500-4500. You can still pick up these cars, although genuinely cheap ones are quickly snapped up by specialist breakers. It’s the well-presented, enthusiast-owned cars that are best value, at £6000-7000, while those with the lowest mileages are still pushing £10,000-12,000.
Rarity is a factor, with just 390 147 GTAs and 376 156 GTAs making it to UK shores. Few cars offer the drama or emotion of a GTA and, flawed or not, a good one is certainly worth holding on to.
Find an Alfa GTA for sale in the classifieds
Alfa Romeo GT 3.2 V6
The same fantastic V6 as the GTAs (albeit with 10bhp less) in a slightly more subtle package. Nice examples are also great value, at around £4k, but difficult to find.
MG ZT V8
Like the 156, it’s an inappropriately engined saloon car with a lot of shortcomings. However, you can’t help but love this 256bhp rear-driver. It’s impressively spacious, too. Add a supercharger for more power. Aim for £5500.
BMW M3 (E46)
Only available as a coupe, but in some ways still a rival to the 156 GTA when new. Its 338bhp straight-six is almost as entertaining as the rear-drive chassis. From £5500.
Words: Matthew Hayward // Images: evo Magazine