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Well, that wasn't bad then! Over the weekend, my 3 month old VW pukes all its coolant on to the drive. Yesterday afternoon, I wave it goodbye on the back of a recovery truck.

"Boss, I've got a problem! The company car's just died and I need to go to Millbrook for this really important and expensive test on Wednesday"!

"Sorry lad, Can't get a you a replacement in time, can you sort something out"?

Thinks...

So yesterday evening, I hop into my 27 year old Italian car, rudely awoken from its slumbers and drive it 325 miles to Bedford. Witness this test today, sit in the canteen listening to a load of car bores going on about how rubbish Italian cars are (and how good German cars are)...

...and then drive it 325 miles back, without it missing a beat!

I guess that's what you'd call a "usable classic" then?!

...must get round to joining a recovery organisation some time though, but then... there hardly seems any point!

:banana::banana::banana::banana::banana:
 

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That's the way to do it!

Sure the Busso enjoyed the chance to stretch its legs...... :)
 
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Had to give it 6k on several gear changes because....

...well... "BECAUSE"!

No need to explain to anyone on here why!
 

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Jumping out of a modern VAG pos into the Alfa makes you realise just what a washing machine-on-wheels modern day repmobiles are. Everything is so soft and soggy and so easy to use... yuk! Now tell the truth, you ripped the radiator hose off the VW on purpose!!!
 
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Jumping out of a modern VAG pos into the Alfa makes you realise just what a washing machine-on-wheels modern day repmobiles are. Everything is so soft and soggy and so easy to use... yuk! Now tell the truth, you ripped the radiator hose off the VW on purpose!!!
In fairness, it's a nice ride. It's a Sharan - one of the first "Euro 6" ones built after they were caught cheating. It would have done something in the mid-to-high 40s to the gallon on that run (the Alfa was doing mid 30s). At idle, it is quieter and more refined than the Alfa (despite having two less cylinders and running on diesel)! It is totally undemanding to drive. all the controls are very light and don't feel of anything much. It has a stereo and built-in hands-free that probably has more computing power than the Alfa's engine management and ABS systems put together! If I want to move half a dozen people quickly, quietly and without them knowing it has happened, the Sharan is a truly awesome tool for the job!

The only thing it CAN'T do...

...is put a smile on my face the size of the one I had when I got out of the Alfa at each end of that trip!

At one point, the traffic ground to a halt on the A1. I took a detour down a variety of little country lanes to bypass it - as did pretty much everyone else with a satnav.

...the main difference though, is that I enjoyed it! In the Sharan, it would have been "another chore to add to the journey time". In the Alfa, I was starting to think "Yeah, come to think of it, what's so great about the A1 anyway"?!

They're just too different design philosophies. One seeks to maximise your "enjoyment" of the trip, the other seeks to minimise the "burden" of the trip.
 

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In fairness, it's a nice ride. It's a Sharan - one of the first "Euro 6" ones built after they were caught cheating. It would have done something in the mid-to-high 40s to the gallon on that run (the Alfa was doing mid 30s). At idle, it is quieter and more refined than the Alfa (despite having two less cylinders and running on diesel)! It is totally undemanding to drive. all the controls are very light and don't feel of anything much. It has a stereo and built-in hands-free that probably has more computing power than the Alfa's engine management and ABS systems put together! If I want to move half a dozen people quickly, quietly and without them knowing it has happened, the Sharan is a truly awesome tool for the job!

The only thing it CAN'T do...

...is put a smile on my face the size of the one I had when I got out of the Alfa at each end of that trip!

At one point, the traffic ground to a halt on the A1. I took a detour down a variety of little country lanes to bypass it - as did pretty much everyone else with a satnav.

...the main difference though, is that I enjoyed it! In the Sharan, it would have been "another chore to add to the journey time". In the Alfa, I was starting to think "Yeah, come to think of it, what's so great about the A1 anyway"?!

They're just too different design philosophies. One seeks to maximise your "enjoyment" of the trip, the other seeks to minimise the "burden" of the trip.
Reading your story I wonder if a 30 years old german vehicle could manage this journey of yours without problems....
 

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Reading your story I wonder if a 30 years old german vehicle could manage this journey of yours without problems....
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not sure there are many to be honest! This is my 4th 164 and that's too many for the reliability to have been a coincidence. They were, (in my opinion) extremely well-built cars. In fact, better tan later Alfas. mrs acovet had two 156s and they were good in their way, but held together with nastly little plastic clips that broke whnever you tried to do any work! It's as if the manufacturer is making a stement that these cars are supposed to be thrown away rather than fixed. The 164, on the other hand, has excellent quality fasteners (except those stupid female square-headed ones that they use almost everywhere to hold sill covers and the like)!

Mercedes saloons from about 5-10 years PRIOR to the 164 had an excellent repuation for longevity, but I think Mercedes had rather lost the plot around the time the 164 was built. Funny enough, I have a friend with a 3-series Beamer of the same age as my Alfa and it is a complete and utter SHED! (Mind you, it's had a hard life)!

It's always difficult to draw comparisons on small nubers of examples, but I honestly feel that the 164 was as well put together as anything that came out of germany at the same time. It's a pity Alfa's hand was forced into front wheel drive, and I have to concede that the BMW has a stiffer, more rattle-free shell, but other than that, it's the 164 every time for me! The Alfa V6 knocks the BMW straight 6 of the period into a cocked hat any day.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
AND my Sharan STILL isn't fixed, so I'm having to take the Alfa to Manchester tomorrow! (sigh...):thumbs:
 

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so 27 year old italian 2 - 3 month old german nill!!!!!!
I have a 166 and a Sharan too - albeit a 2002 1.9TDI Alhambra.
You're right, they are just tools. Useful for moving people and luggage and bikes and a wet dog.
Although actually I find it quite OK to drive, obviously not the oomph of the 3.0 but it's relaxing and high up and the children can watch TV, so it's peaceful.. No matter how good the engine sounds, it can't drown out screaming kids!
Biggest cost is air con fixes - whole system made of cheese, and every pipe is a swine to replace.

I had a nearly new (8000km) Kumkwat as a hire car - already it had a "Start/stop system fault" showing up (the car claimed it had saved 2 whole kg of CO2 whenever it auto stopped) . I didn't like the keyless ignition and you can't use the handbrake to do a hill start or at traffic lights because it won't disengage unless your foot is on the brake! Instead you rely on the "hill start system" which stops you rolling back when you let off the brake, but only for about 10s, then it lets go and you roll back..

So perhaps there's a discussion - obviously cars of the 70s were terrible, distributors, points, carbs, manual chokes all wearing mechanically, susceptible to damp etc
and the cars of today are a nightmare of electronic complexity - so where's the sweet spot?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I have a 166 and a Sharan too - albeit a 2002 1.9TDI Alhambra.
You're right, they are just tools. Useful for moving people and luggage and bikes and a wet dog.
Although actually I find it quite OK to drive, obviously not the oomph of the 3.0 but it's relaxing and high up and the children can watch TV, so it's peaceful.. No matter how good the engine sounds, it can't drown out screaming kids!
Biggest cost is air con fixes - whole system made of cheese, and every pipe is a swine to replace.

I had a nearly new (8000km) Kumkwat as a hire car - already it had a "Start/stop system fault" showing up (the car claimed it had saved 2 whole kg of CO2 whenever it auto stopped) . I didn't like the keyless ignition and you can't use the handbrake to do a hill start or at traffic lights because it won't disengage unless your foot is on the brake! Instead you rely on the "hill start system" which stops you rolling back when you let off the brake, but only for about 10s, then it lets go and you roll back..

So perhaps there's a discussion - obviously cars of the 70s were terrible, distributors, points, carbs, manual chokes all wearing mechanically, susceptible to damp etc
and the cars of today are a nightmare of electronic complexity - so where's the sweet spot?
Yes, it's a fair point. Modern cars aren't really designed to be repaired! I think the "sweet spot" was the 5 years or so, leading up to 1993 when they started fitting cats. They (like my old 164) were just about complex enough to overcome the reliability problems associated with purely mechanical things like carburetors and electromechanical systems like distributor points and advance weights, yet simple enough for the average DIY mechanic to maintain. I think the extra complexity brought in by emissions, safety and security regulations (whilst undoubtedly necessary), changed all that. Added to that, there are now all the complex "convenience" features like hill-hold and electric handbrakes (although they too have a regulatory function) and soon we'll have active cruise control and lane departure warning systems...

...they're gonna end up like aircraft!

That said, I've never come across a modern car with an electric handbrake that didn't just release it when you drove away. On my last Sharan, it would (infuriatingly) make you put your seat belt on before you could just drive away and leave the handbrake to release itself. As you say, the only other way was to keep a foot on the brake and release it manually. Same with a few PSA cars that I've had. All, however, have had some sort of mode wwhere you can just drive off and forget about the handbrake!
 

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Yes, it's a fair point. Modern cars aren't really designed to be repaired! I think the "sweet spot" was the 5 years or so, leading up to 1993 when they started fitting cats. They (like my old 164) were just about complex enough to overcome the reliability problems associated with purely mechanical things like carburetors and electromechanical systems like distributor points and advance weights, yet simple enough for the average DIY mechanic to maintain. I think the extra complexity brought in by emissions, safety and security regulations (whilst undoubtedly necessary), changed all that. Added to that, there are now all the complex "convenience" features like hill-hold and electric handbrakes (although they too have a regulatory function) and soon we'll have active cruise control and lane departure warning systems...

...they're gonna end up like aircraft!

That said, I've never come across a modern car with an electric handbrake that didn't just release it when you drove away. On my last Sharan, it would (infuriatingly) make you put your seat belt on before you could just drive away and leave the handbrake to release itself. As you say, the only other way was to keep a foot on the brake and release it manually. Same with a few PSA cars that I've had. All, however, have had some sort of mode wwhere you can just drive off and forget about the handbrake!
Actually there was a huge "settings" menu - so probably somewhere in there I could have changed some of that stuff.. and I never tried just driving off - it just never occurred to me it might do that!
Oh it had lane departure - constant bleep bleep - i'm allowed to cut the corner on a windy open empty road!

And a "Driver alertness" page - showing 5 coffee cups. I could not decide whether it was telling me that my driving was terrible and I needed at least 5 cups of coffee to get awake enough or that it was excellent - the level of someone on 5 coffees..
 
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