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Alfa Romeo 155

Published: 30th May 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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We all like charisma in our classics, and nobody does charisma like the Italians. All too often, the ‘C’ word is a euphemism for deeply flawed, and while the 155 is far from perfect, it’s a great modern classic that’s suitable for everyday use. Offered as a four-door saloon only, the 155 came with a choice of lusty engines – including a fabulously sonorous V6 unit – while the turbocharged Q4 edition offers near-supercar pace, but with all the usability of a family saloon. Now seen as mere cheap transport by many, the 155 is in that dangerous banger territor y, but there are some superb cars out there too. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to track down a minter before they’re all gone.

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What to look for

Any 155 engine lasts 150,000+ miles if maintained, which means checking oil levels and renewing the cam belt every 35,000 miles or five years. The tensioner should be replaced at the same time, while water pumps last 120,000 miles or so. Early 8-valve engines are strongest of all, but all powerplants are durable. Check the state of the radiator as they get battered by road debris; replacements cost £100 or so. Fitting cheap aftermarket sensors tends to be a false economy; a dodgy mass air-flow sensor means a lumpy idle, while lambda sensors fail too.

The rest of the running gear is equally tough; where problems do crop up, they’re generally cheap and easy to fix. The front wishbone bushes wear, and eventually so do those in the rear trailing arms; replacements are cheap, but fitting them can be awkward. The wishbones themselves can prove weak, but new ones are under £50 apiece. The brakes tend to be problem-free, but the rear callipers can stick.

Corrosion shouldn’t be an issue, but check the sills and floorpans, while the rear wheelarches may be rusty; other than that any corrosion will be down to poor crash repairs. Interiors are reasonably durable (most are cloth, few are leather), although sunroof relays fail (new ones are £30) and electric window motors pack in; used par ts are available cheaply. Also, the windscreen wiper motor and linkage is prone to wear. Original Alfa blades and good rain repellent can reduce wiper use and wear dramatically though.

Values

You’ll be doing well to find a 155 worth more than £1500 as there are few low-mileage high-spec cars around. Most available 155s are priced below £1000; V6s are few and far between and there’s little difference in values between 1.8 and 2.0 editions – it’s condition what really counts.

Driving one

It’s the driving experience that appeals most to 155 owners, even though this car dispensed with the rear-wheel drive layout of its predecessor the 75, to adopt front-wheel drive – although it was well done. Things aren’t helped by the classic Italian ape-like driving position, but if you can get comfy you’ll revel in the lusty, free-revving four-cylinder engines while the V6 units are torquey and sound fabulous at high revs. Narrow-track cars were often criticised for their lacklustre handling, but the wide-body cars addressed the issue as they’re much better to drive (and car did well in racing). Don’t be too quick to buy a V6; the entirely decent 2.0 TS is the best all-rounder in terms of handling, performance and running costs.

Evolution

Jul 1992

The 155 debuts in 1.8 TS, 2.0 TS and 2.5 V6 guises.

Oct 1992

The 155 Cloverleaf 4 is introduced, with a 190bhp turbocharged 2-litre engine and 4WD.

Jul 1993

There are now side impact bars and improved crash performance.

Feb 1994

Anti-lock brakes are now standard.

Jun 1994

The Silverstone Edition arrives, with adjustable front and rear spoilers, low-profile tyres, upgraded suspension and extra equipment; 300 are built, each based on the 1.8 TS.

Jun 1995

The 2.0 TS gets a 16-valve engine. At the same time, all cars get lowered suspension, 15-inch alloys, flared wheelarches with a wider track, flush door handles plus modified spoilers. There's also more direct steering and the 2.0 engine gets an overhaul.

Jun 1996

The 2.0 TS Super arrives, with a 150bhp 1970cc engine.

Jan 1998

The 156 supersedes the 155.



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