Ollie Marriage 03 July 2012

Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti up Goodwood Hill

We know this is late, but we've only just regained the ability to type...

Yes, this is slightly late. Goodwood happened at the weekend, but it's taken me this long to regain the ability to type. You see, I got the chance to drive one of my all time heroes up the hill at the Festival of Speed - the Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti, better known as the car which Nicola Larini used to win the 1993 DTM championship, crushing the German marques in their own backyard.

It has a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 that revs to 11,000rpm and blows the exhaust out through four fat upward-facing pipes (helps clean up airflow off the back of the car). How good does a racing Alfa V6 sound? Utterly, raspingly, proudly, tinglingly majestic. Proper manual gearbox in this early car, too. And 4wd. Yes, you did read that right - at the time Alfa was marketing its newfangled Q4 system, so this 1100kg car sent around a third of its 420bhp to the front wheels.

What was it like? A complete sweety. It was designed for flying starts, so isn't that easy to get off the line (as you'll see in the vid), but that's to be expected with possibly the worlds zappiest throttle and a distinctly edgy clutch. But warmed properly, the guys from Alfa's Centro Historico collection told me "eet likes to bee used, so use it".

It's a nerve-wracking business for the non-expert, punting a vastly important and precious old racing car up the Goodwood Hill in front of many people. You want to put on a good show, but at the same time you absolutely do not want to park it in a hay bale. Hopefully I did it some sort of justice - it certainly felt fast. And special.

The 155 wasn't rock solid on the road - it moved around quite a bit on the crested, cambered surface, but still managed to feel very secure. It didn't help that the tyres were cold, but this served to highlight just how good the 4wd system is at finding traction and also how sublime the steering is. It was friendly, communicative, had sensational brakes and an amazingly short throw gearbox. It's the distilled essence of Alfa and a car I badly, badly want to drive again.

So, I apologise that I choose to dignify the occasion by driving in Converse boots and overalls at least four sizes too large, and that the sound on the video isn't as good as it should be (the internal microphone failed), but this still goes down in my book as perhaps the greatest ever touring car. What do you reckon?

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