Help...I think I might be mad..!! - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Help...I think I might be mad..!!

Well...here I am then. I've been toying with the notion of buying an alfa on and off for years now. Predictably, as for many people, it's a price thing. Come on...let's face it, the value of all modern alfas drops quicker than Galileos balls from the leaning tower of Pisa.

Yes, I am officially poor - all but destitute, in fact. I have always run cheap (and not really very cheerful) cars right to the very gates of the breakers yard. All of these, without exception, had done unfeasibly high mileages. It amuses me when I hear people bemoaning how 'old' their cars are at 50k, when I had just turned over 130k or whatever on mine. So, ok..don't laugh now - here's the list of cars I've owned, oldest first to present day:

1/ Princess 1700 auto (my dads old car...OK!) - fell to bits, can't
recall mileage. Surprisingly comfy but about 17 mpg!

2/ Saab 99 - hugely reliable engine (in the cold), used no
but didn't like heat - bodywork fell away at about 250k.

3/ Renault 11 - great car to drive, 1721cc engine was willing and
reliable, but snapping clutch cables a big problem - failed
MoT due to rusty bulkhead at 143k; sold it on and it was still
being driven locally 2 years later.

4/ Fiat Croma - good twincam engine from a much maligned make
Sadly, it did suffer from traditional electrical gremlins but nippy
as hell for such a big car. Central locking locked me out with
engine running - had to break side window to get in!!!
Fortunately, my abuse and neglect killed it at about 148k.

5/ Honda Concerto - a what?! You know...the anonymous jap Rover
200 equivalent. The 1600cc 16 valve twincam was superb;
revvy and reliable until a failed MAF sensor at 164k
rendered it scrappable. Suspension too soft to thrash hard
round B roads, I tried my best though!

6/ Audi 100 estate (ok...avant then) - big, underpowered (2 litre)
barge. Usual Teutonic build quality, it really is Bismarck-solid,
with about the same 0-60 time! A great car in many ways, it
has cost very little to maintain, but, being an old mechanical
bosch injection system, it's really bad on fuel. Until the bailifs
come, this is what I'm driving now. It would be easier to get rid
of it if it showed any signs of 'giving up'. However, with 172k on
the clock the bloody thing just keeps going! I just feed it oil (a
fair bit though!), sparks 'n' stuff and it's happy. I must say, for
a 14 year old car, it's a great cruiser. Quiet and very stable at
speed for mile after mile - relaxing. That said, it can also be
hustled round B roads at a tad (ahem) more than legal.

So, what is this? Oh yeah..alfas! I've got my eye on a rather neat (and cheap!) 166 TS. Haven't even test driven yet, but thought I'd do my 'homework' with you guys. Having sat in it, I can honestly say that I haven't seen such panache and flair in a car for years. Sure, my Audi's solid, logical and uncluttered, but it's dull compared to the 166! Even my ex-bosses beemer (4 litre 5 series - fully loaded) seemed sterile when up against the alfa.

I think it boils down to spirit, soul. A journey in a steam train is far more enjoyable and stirring than the same journey in a bullet train (however unlikely!). Sure, the bullet train is a marvel of engineering and technology. Quick and efficient, but lacking soul. The steam train, though, needs to be coaxed into life and tweaked to keep going. It's alive and it shows.

If you're still with me, do you think that many alfa owners are also happy DIY mechanics? Happy to live with or mend the occasional (?!) gremlins for which the marque is infamous. As long as the mechanicals are sound, I can cope with the odd electrical problems temporarily.

Anyway, I'd better leave it at that for now...thanks for your patience. Doubtless I'll be back with my first query soon!
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Re: Help...I think I might be mad..!!

what an excellent and intresting first post!

welcome mate

btw if you want a cheap alfa look for a 155 2.5 v6 bargains mate
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Re: Help...I think I might be mad..!!

Great story !!!! thanks for it ..

buy the damn 166 its a great car, and the electronic Gremlins Mwaah.. all fixable, engines go on forever if enough oil in the sump and fuel in the tank.

go for it



p.s. I once had a Croma turbo i.e. fastest car in my line of galopies..
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Re: Help...I think I might be mad..!!

Welcome to AO

You should fit in perfectly here
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Re: Help...I think I might be mad..!!

hello and welcome... ..brilliant first post....
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Re: Help...I think I might be mad..!!

The 166 is seriously undervalued, I don`t think everyone likes its looks. The 2.0 is a good car but the v6 is a gem.
As for the range, you can`t go far wrong with a 155 V6 (dirt cheap for skinny or widebody) but they are getting a bit older now. If you get a poor one you may have to spend a little on it to get the suspension up to scratch and the red ones aren`t likely to be red anymore - more pinkish. On balance the final cost for a cracking car is still worth it though.
The 156 V6 is also quite cheap nowadays. A bit more refined and comfortable but still snortingly good fun. Less tiring for long drives than the 155 but a bit less character maybe than the 155 and has to have 16" wheels and skirts or looks a bit underdressed.
The 166 V6 is much like the 156 except more of a sleeper. Most reps in their 1.9 deisel meeting you on the motorway would not expect you to burn off down the road at such a rate of knots if they hassled you and you can do it such style and elegance
For all the V6 engines they look beautiful, sound beautiful and will give you no trouble except the odd MAF change from time to time. Cam belt changes are a must and can be costly but an independant will give you change from £500.
None of these cars will rot much, the 155 may give some trouble around the back side panel where it meets the wheel arch and this can be a pain to fix so check this out when buying. The 156 will probably have some decay around the bottom of the front chassis legs if its getting older, but nothing major. Don`t know about the 166 I`m afraid.
As for milage, My 155 2.0 has done 135K and still shows 4 bar oil pressure and goes like stink, my 156 V6 has racked up 186K and is endless fun, every day. I haven`t owned a 166 but I do know someone with a 164 with over 240K miles on it and still on the original clutch.
What a lot of waffle but the point is that you can enjoy an alfa every time you drive it - and you really will Also, you can run them for years and years, so satisfying your craving for running your cars until they die. Put the two together and you have so much fun ahead of you. I`m even jealous that you have such driving pleasure ahead of you to discover
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