MUCH as I liked the 145, as I became familiar with the various models of Alfa Romeo I realised that its bigger brother, the 156, was a truly beautiful car.
And when I spotted a 1999 T-registered four-door 156 in black on the forecourt of Red Motori at Spetisbury, near Blandford, in late 2003, I knew I had to have it.
The car was priced at around £8k, which was the most by far that I had ever spent (of my own money) on a car. But I was unable to resist so I part-exchanged the 145 and bought it.
Alongside the 156 on the garage forecourt that day was an Alfa 156 2.5-litre V6 in dark blue and I was impressed when I put it through its paces on a test drive. But after considerable dithering I went for the four-cylinder 2.0 with lower mileage; it just felt right.
I never regretted it – it was a wonderful car and I loved it. I kept it for nearly four years, until 2007, when I traded in at Red for a 147. The 156 was eight years old and had started to become slightly unreliable, as well as being a little tatty around the edges.
I was unsure about going down to a smaller car, and reverting to a hatchback, but the 147 went so well that I soon got over the pain of parting with the 156.