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!