Monday, November 17, 2008

Alfa Romeo 164 On eBay

I just found this on eBay.

The 164 was the last car imported to the US by Alfa Romeo. Different from previous Alfas seen in this country, it was FWD and completely modern.

I've owned several Alfas in my life and loved driving each and every one of them. Yep, they need constant attention and parts can be a pain in the ass to come by (especially now), but they reward you with a driving experience that few other cars offer (and none at this price).

The V6 found in this car is an amazing engine. I had the 2.5 liter version of this in my 1987 Milano (75 to most of the world). It's free revving, makes all the classic Italian noises and propels the car very quickly.

Alfas have their faults, certainly. While the engine is fairly durable, it, like all Alfa engines, seem to be prone to headgasket failure. When it goes have it replaced with one of the reliable aftermarket ones you can find at Italian parts specialists on the internet. You should have no problems after that. If you buy any 6 cylinder Alfa you should have the timing belt and tensioner replaced right away (or have the seller show you proof, a receipt, that it was done recently). Like many European cars this engine has a rubber timing belt. If it fails the valves are introduced to the pistons with predictably disastrous results. The few hundred bucks you spend on this is money very well spent. Power steering racks and pumps tend to fail (They are a ZF made product and are fairly easy to find). Italian electrics can be quirky, but failures are usually of the annoying kind, not the "stranded by the side of the road" kind. Most electrical problems are due to faulty switches or relays.

Rust was always the killer of previous Alfa Romeos. Alfa seems to have gotten a handle on this problem by the 1990s and it is not as much of a problem on the 164 as it was on earlier models. This car is from New Jersey so it's safe to say it's seen some snow and salt. Check around the wheel wells and the bottoms of the doors for rust. I don't see anything serious in the photos the seller provided.

The only thing that would discourage me from buying this car is that it's an automatic. While durable, the automatic was nothing special and took some of the fun out of driving an Alfa. On the other hand, if you do a lot of urban driving an automatic is not a bad thing to have.

The seller (a Pontiac / GMC dealer) seems to be very honest in describing this car. There are plenty of photos on the listing page. This is not a perfect car, but not a complete rat either. As I write this the high bid is $535.00. The reserve has not been met yet, but I suspect it is not outrageously high.

Alfa 164s will never be worth much money. You won't be able get parts for it at your local K-Mart. Your neighborhood garage will not work on it (and chances are you wouldn't want them to anyway)... But, if you go into it knowing all that, an Alfa 164 will be a unique and rewarding drive.

Check it out here on eBay

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