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Discussion Starter #1
Just a heads up.

The June 2016 edition of Classic cars has a feature on the 164 and it is a pretty good article.
 

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It's funny isn't it, how time plays on your mind.

I remember CAR Magazine's first test of the 164 V6 in either Oct 87 or Oct 88 against the BMW 5er and Rover something-or-other. To me, the 164 is still a current car, but in reality, it's a classic. Yet a car launched before my time, like an Allegro is a classic.

Guess it is all about time-scales and contexts.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I miss my first one, it was a belter and introduced me to the world of Alfa with its 3.0 V6.

Many aspects of the 164 were better than the more recent Alfa's.
 

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Im from an era where ive not even seen a 164. What made it so great?
 

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Im from an era where ive not even seen a 164. What made it so great?
..well i guess in its day it could take on a 5 series and win in the head-to-head reviews which is no mean feat.

The pininfarina body looked sharp and unusual in 1987, the busso is pretty special obviously, but also it had the ability to be both a luxurious exec limo and a big hot-hatch all at the same time, which even today is kinda cool.. :)
 

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Just a fantastic car all-round. A practical saloon with superb performance and style. The 24v Cloverleaf was exceptional. I had one of the best in the country up until 2007 when it self-combusted. Totally gutted both the car and me! Had a good insurance payout of nearly £4,000 - which, at the time, was very good considering a nice 164 would be lucky to make £3,000. I had a written valuation from Rusper Alfa which helped!

So sad that they are nearly impossible to find now, just like 75s. How times change. I'm fortunate enough to own a really nice 75 TS and I intend to hang onto it. Prices are on the up. Strange times in the second-hand Alfa market!
 

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Where as I guess the newer 166 doesn't really match up to the 5 series really?

I am really starting to love mine though.
 

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Where as I guess the newer 166 doesn't really match up to the 5 series really?

I am really starting to love mine though.
In some aspects it does, in others it does not (to E39 anyway, E60 is newer and therefore to advanced).
I would say that overall comfort is similar between the two, Alfa might be a bit quieter, especially at higher speeds on motorway. It came to the market 2 years after the bimmer anyway.

But BMWs driving dynamics and road holding are better because of better weight destribution and RWD, even if Alfa had double wishbone at the front and 5 series only had mcpherson struts.

On the other hand, Alfa V6 sounds much more spine tingling than I6 in 5 series, the responsivnes and feel of steering wheel is also better in 166. But as overall package 5 series was better, it had longer list of optional equipment, interor had better build quality and when it comes to higher powered version, Alfa was no match. Not only it had FWD, there wes no engine that could come close to bimmers V8, not to mention M5. There was a 166 GTA prototype with Maserati V8 and Q4, but it never came to be...
 

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There was a 166 GTA prototype with Maserati V8 and Q4, but it never came to be...
Now that would have been quite something. But I guess if you are into that money then a Maserati QP would fit the bill.

Quite surprised how cheap those are going for now.
 

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Im from an era where ive not even seen a 164. What made it so great?
I'm going to risk excommunication now and say that the 164 (like many thoroughbreds) was a flawed car - although that's no reason for it not to be regarded as a "classic". In fact, some of the greatest "cult" cars of all time have been flawed (take the 911 for example).

Starting with the good points, the build quality was like nothing Alfa had ever managed before (and maybe since). I'm on my 4th Series 1 car now and ALL of them have been surprisingly reliable and durable. They've all been bought for small sums of money and with little service history, yet they very rarely "fail to proceed". Just good, sensible engineering decisions and good quality components. Also, they didn't rust (arguably better than any Mercedes of the same period and probably at least as good as any Beamer from back then (though probably not as good as a Volvo). Obviously, in terms of performance the V6 engine is one of the all-time greats and I think that's widely acknowledged. Extremely durable, surprisingly economical in non-Cloverleaf form, and with valve timing that allows for both effortless "lazy" driving but still pulls hard from 4000 to the redline. It really is one of those exceptionally rare "best of both worlds" engines. You only have to drive a V6 Capri or XR4 from the same era to feel just how good the Busso V6 was by the standards of its day. the induction noise might not be what Mercedes or BMW were aiming for, but this is a car that really doesn't need a radio! Whilst Mercedes, in particular, might have wanted their mid-range saloon driving experience to be as undemanding as possible and as little like "having to drive a car" as possible, Alfa made it a virtue - a positive selling point. Even today, I get out of my company Sharan and I really feel "special" in the Alfa because it feels like I'm driving, (REALLY driving) a car.

However, I'd only put the handling as "average". It's not "bad" but the Beamers were nicer-balanced cars and of course the early 164s had their legendary torque-steer. That's just what you get for not having enough money to develop the whole car from scratch and having to share a platform with Saab! It's (IMO at least) a car that you have to grab by the scruff of the neck and show it who is boss. It won't flatter you like a more modern car with all the fancy electronic driver aids or like an all-wheel-drive that just "understeers at both ends". All the controls (brakes, clutch, steering) are heavy by modern standards. The shell lacks the stiffness of a BMW and the ride gets a bit "crashy" if you give it some serious pain on poor road surfaces. Basically, you have to "work for it" to cover ground quickly and neatly in a 164 - especially when it comes to putting the power down on a wet hill. The problem is worse on a right hand drive car because it's already quite heavy on its right hand front corner BEFORE the driver gets in!

I like the stying. I think it's one of the prettiest "three-box" designs ever made. It would have been very distinctive, had Pininfarina not then sold more or less the same shape to Peugeot for the 605 (and the 405 was a 7/8 scale version)! The same styling though, compromises the front suspension and, I think, adds greatly to the "crahsiness" over poor surfaces. I LOVE the dash with al lit's ergonomoically disastrous little square buttons and loads of gauges. It's "very '80s" though, as a mate recently commented.

Above all, you just get that strange intangible feeling that you're driving a thoroughbred. A car with a pedigree going back 100 years. Don' ask me why, because I don't really know, but it is just a strangely indefinable yet satisfying experience!
 

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Just bought the mag today - thanks! I never knew it was only the facelift ones that were galvanised?! Also, I'm a bit surprised at the advice about wrapping the ECUs in plastic in case of heater matrix leaks? I thought that was the 166 rather than the 164? (or maybe the facelift 164)? Pretty certain the heater matrix is over on the passenger side on mine (and relatively easy to change - not that I've ever had a problem with it on any of my Series 1 cars). Also very surprised at the rust points they mention (screen pillars, strut tops and inner wings)? All mine have gone round the rear jacking points first.

Some of those replacement parts costs are absolutely eyewatering!
 

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"Seven steps to choosing the best Alfa Romeo 164"

How about just 3 steps:
it looks right
it feels right
at 100 mph it does not frighten the hell out of you

Oh.......and have a good look at the rear jacking points and the rear subframe
They do become somewhat problematical after a quarter of a million miles

God save me from sold for profit car magazines
 

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Discussion Starter #15
On the other hand, Alfa V6 sounds much more spine tingling than I6 in 5 series, the responsivnes and feel of steering wheel is also better in 166.
Have you driven a manual gearbox I6 BMW 5 series?

I have had a couple, and IMO the engine sounds pretty much exactly the same as the 24V Busso V6 fitted to the 166.

The earlier 12v Fitted to the 164 sounded much better than either of them though.

The steering on the 6 cylinder BMW's was also better on the (6 cylinder at least) 5 series, due to the fact the wheels were not trying to put the power down and steer at the same time. They also turn into corners better, with less understeer if you are going too fast.

The only issue was the steering wheel was too big on the BMW.
 

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Never have I heard a BMW I6 that would sound even close to busso V6, so I cannot agree on that one. All I can say is that from experience, having both 3.0 24V CF2 and 3.2 (both with completely the same exhaust setup (3.2 was converted to CF2 setup)), that 3.0 does in fact have more growl and it sounds more raw/natural/pure, when 3.2 is for some reason more muted, might be due to different camshafts or different stroke lenght. But non of them sound similar to BMWs inline 6. 3.2 is closer to bmw sound of the two, but still way different.
Anyway, I6 sounds more metallic and sharper, when busso has more of a deeper and softer growl.

Regarding steering, seems we misunderstood each other - I was discribing steering wheel feel and responsivess, not behavior of the chassis or its reactions to the steering wheel input. BMW clearly is better when it comes to that. But Alfas steering wheel feel and responsivness from that era (147/156/GT/166) was one of the better and praised by manny. And double whishbones at the front have also helped to improve responsivness, even if the cars understeered heavily and had trouble with putting the power down, especially with V6 up front.
 

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No inline 6 will sound like a v6 due to the firing angles and the fact a v6 isn't balanced naturally.

Where as an inline 6 is perfectly balanced.

They sound mire like sewing machines. But perfectly engineered.

A v6 is always compromised. Mainly due to space. Its the only way to get 6 cylinders into a compact space.

A v8 is better balanced. A v6 just isnt.
 

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Straight 6s are compromised too though. They have long, spindly crankshafts that are susceptible to torsional vibrations. Even their camshafts need to be a bit chubbier. They also pretty much condemn themselves to being fitted longitudinally. The Alfa V6 crank is as stiff as the proverbial skinhead's boot!
 

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Very true. Everything has pros and cons.
 
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