Don’t be fooled: the badging on the boot of this Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon isn’t the result of an ill-advised late-night eBay shopping trip. Take a look under the bonnet, and you will indeed find a 3.0-litre V6 living there.
The Busso six-banger in question was lifted from a 166, which will have produced 223bhp when it left the factory. Thanks to a stainless steel exhaust and a remap, the output now may be a smidge closer to the 247bhp enjoyed by the full-fat, 3.2-litre 156 GTA.
It’s also - unlike the GTA - an automatic, and a ‘Q System’ automatic at that. That means a conventional auto (not the ‘Selespeed’ robotised manual also pushed by the company in this era), but with a bizarre manual-simulating mode featuring four-speeds in a proper H-pattern arrangement. Oh, Alfa…
According to the - refreshingly detailed - advert, it’s also been treated to a full rebuild and cambelt change. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also find Koni adjustable shock absorbers here, along with GTA brakes, GTA uprights and 17-inch teledial wheels pinched from a GTV.
Curiously, despite being one of the 2002 facelift models (which received an all-new interior but only a mildly tweaked exterior), it’s listed as a 2005 car. Some late-registration shenanigans, perhaps?
The list of work apparently done by its last keeper (including the engine swap) goes right up to May 2017, suggesting the current owner hasn’t owned it for long at all. Certainly something worth clarifying if you do decide to investigate this 156 further.
While we like what we see, the whole project leaves us a little befuddled. Clearly a lot of time and money has gone into it, presumably to the point of which a more powerful 156 GTA wouldn’t have been much more to buy, if not a little cheaper.
Then again, the result is an intriguing sleeper car, and the current price of £3695 is not just a lot less than it would have cost to source the car, get the parts and do all the work, but also a lot less than you’ll pay for even the tattiest of GTAs these day.