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Hi. The Road Tax on pre 2001 cars costs less. I've owned both & one is as good as the other. It's more personal preference & budget than deciding which is superior. I would advise to buy the best one you can find. Good luck.
 

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Good advice from dadwillfixit. Quite simply get the best you can afford with as much history as possible. Looks-wise, pre-FL or FL is purely a personal choice.

Also 2.0TS or 3.0? Manual or Sportronic box? All have their own foibles. 3.0 is the better & arguably more reliable option if you can swallow the fuel costs, I couldn't unfortunately, though the 2.0TS is a sweet free-revving thing in fairness & not as slow as some suggest. The 166 is definitely a league higher in terms of quality compared to eg) 156 & 147 of the same era with better quality & longer-lasting components. And I can vouch for that having come from a 156.

I bought mine from True Alfa in Rochdale, they're expensive but they only sell excellent examples & anything which needs doing to them they do. I paid over the odds for mine but it was immaculate, superb history etc and I wanted peace-of-mind above everything else. I think he has a few for sale but all Sportronics? Check out Autotrader they're always on there.

For specific issues just Google it or search this forum, there's lots of excellent advice.
 

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PS - if you do go for a 166 I can pretty much guarantee you will fall for its charms & soul. They definitely have that indefinable x-factor which IMO more modern Alfas I've had just don't. Highly under-rated cars.

Check-out www.carandclassic.co.uk as well - some nice examples on there esp a rare Ti.

And Clarkson's old Top Gear review of the 166 3.2 V6 on YouTube pretty much sums-up how special these cars are:

 

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Really based on looks. I quite like the look of the pre-facelift cars with the drooping nose. It is quite a unique shape.

Go for a V6. Might as well, especially if you have not had a V6 Alfa before. They are not getting any newer, so there is no time to buy like the present.

Auto vs Manual. I would tend to say Auto, as it is a large cruising sort of car. Manual would be fine, and it would make for a more engaging driving experience. Might also be more fuel economical. But unless you have a V8 range Rover you are hardly buying this for fuel economics.

Some of the cars, perhaps the earlier ones have issues with sticky interior panels as the plastic/rubber coating begins to degrade. Also check that the radio has it's code and the screen is working in the centre console. ICS I believe it's called. Having 2 working keys is also a bonus. Spare parts (trims etc) can be harder to get than in comparison to a 156 or a 147.

Comes down to personal likes over the looks. Although I think that whichever one you get you will like more than the one you didn't get.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks to all, exactly the sort of balanced views I was after -
- I get that personal opinion governs on looks.
- Probably steer clear of V6 & Automatic ( in case they do go wrong ££££.... ).
- So I think 2.0L / Manual and the best condition/ History example I can find , will keep you posted - thanks again Jim.
 

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I don’t think the V6 is much more expensive to fix than the 2 litre - and not that much worse on fuel. Most specialists will have a big stack of V6 being stripped for ancillaries - but a working 2 litre in good condition is rare....

The mechanical bits are pretty much identical, so it largely comes down to which front end you like.

Usual caveats apply to buying a big, old, Italian car - the more you can do yourself, the better it will be. This is a complex car, and relying on garages to fix everything will end up pricey. If you are handy with spanners, its a pretty easy car to work on, and the parts aren’t expensive (and in many cases, shared with several other cars...)
 

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From what I've read with the 166 there is something to do with either the heater core which leaks onto some computer, or some other leak onto something into the cabin which is a time consuming job to remedy. Best to a little research into that to see what models it applies for.

View and test drive as many as you can before you make a purchase. You will get a better feel for auto vs manual, V6 vs 4 cyl etc, common issues.

I believe the Twin sparks in the 166 had the shorter cambelt service intervals shared with all other Alfa's with the Twin spark motors. Also oil usage problems, which if not kept topped up result in engine failure. I'm waving the V6's flag at the moment here. It's an engine which roots go back to the 1970's so most of the problems were ironed out. Cambelt replacements are not as frequent, but slightly more expensive when it does happen. Motor looks impressive too.

I'm unsure as to the reliability of the autos in the 166. But with the 156 Q system autos they are pretty reliable, made by a Japanese company Aisin and fitted to many Japanese cars.

I can only guess at your financial capacity, and no one likes throwing away perfectly good money. That being said even if a catastrophic event occurs the losses hopefully won't be too bad. Even if you enjoy it for only one day, it is one day lived well and chances are you will be able to enjoy it for at least a week.
 

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The engine choice will be driven by what you intend using the car for. If it is a regular commuting vehicle the twin spark might make better sense but remember it is a 150bhp engine lugging 1500kg of car around so it won’t shift as well as a v6. The v6 will delight in performance terms but will see lower fuel economy 29/30 with a 3.0 and if you can find a 3.2 32/33 mpg. Maintenance is not bad on a 166 assuming it has been looked after prior to your ownership. Always check for signs of water leaks at the back of the central console, remove the long thin trim piece in the passenger footwell. Water leaks here would indicate the heater matrix is poorly and the water can damage ecu’s and other electrical stuff that might be located there.

Test drive a few to get the feel for the car and yes it is a great looking car and getting rarer all the time on the road.
 

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All the above is excellent advice. And def do not steer clear of the V6 "....in case it cost £££ to sort". I'd say (from experience) the V6 is more reliable than the 2,0TS, and as the above post says there isn't a HUGE difference in cost re maintenance anyway esp as the TS needs more regular cambelt / variator changes. Like mikesalfa says above, the classic Alfa V6 goes back to the mid-70's so it's had years of development and is a very reliable & unstressed (and fantastic) engine. It is far superior to the TS. Apart from fuel....!!!

Bear in mind the one big & renowned issue with the 2.0TS is oil starvation. If the oil get too low even for a short time it is often catastrophic, as I found out with my first used 156 2.0TS years ago. It MUST be checked v frequently. But at the age & mileages they're at now you just do not know who the heck has owned it before, and if the oil has been religiously checked / topped-up. And to make things worse this is exacerbated by the fact these TS engines do drink oil, not a problem in itself as it's part of it's nature. In these respects it is a flawed design.

I bought my TS mainly on the strength it's only had 2 owners & the service history was incredible & fastidious. It had obviously been looked after so I took a punt on the above being OK. So far so good after 14k miles. I was lucky. Basically any TS which has the dreaded deep-down knocking sound (as opposed to rattle) at idle / on the move steer clear of. Radiator can often corrode as well so check that.

In a nutshell, if you can stomach the 8mpg-ish penalty go for the 3.0 V6 manual unless a TS you find has obviously had a pampered / few owners life. Also I think the heater matrix issue was more of an issue on the Sportronic???

PS - after 14k miles I'm getting about 34mpg from my 166TS (trip computer). Compares with about 25mpg from my old GTV 3.0V6 (same engine as 166 3.0). So reckon on say £50 extra / month more on fuel over 12k miles / year for the V6. For the noise, extra pace, extra reliability, feel & character it's worth it IF you can afford it (I couldn't quite unfortunately). It is quite simply one of the best engines ever made.
 

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as the prices are relatively low for the 166, I would say...get the best example you can find...really nice 166es can be had for not a lot...but first you have to find one that isn't leggy.
Also, have in mind that all the different engines come in various specs (I.E 2.0 can have loads of options, leather dsp sound, sunroof and a 3.0V6 can be cloth, but will always have cruise control).

2.0 are all manuals. Pre-facelift can be had for peanuts...occasionally a nice one comes up. Facelifts a bit more.

2.5/3.0 V6 pre-facelift come in auto or manual. Personally I would always go for 3.0 over the 2.5 as it suits the car. (2.5 is great in a 156).
Clutches can be heavy when they get long in the tooth.

Facelift is 3.0 auto or 3.2 manual, for which there is a small premium.

Apart from all the usual mechanical/electrical things to check (and there is lots to go wrong...hence low values) some of the cars are starting to suffer underneath from rust...

A well sorted 166 is a beautiful car....and will do effortless long miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Once again thanks to all - to put things in context :-
I have been used to simple air Cooled flat-four Boxer engined ( 1200-1600cc ) VW Beetles, hence my caution with exotic Italian's.
This would be my hobby car, probably no more than 2000-2500 miles / Year ( oddly retirement seems to mean less time for yourself ? ).
At the Mo there seem to be a number of examples on the market ( mostly V6 ) but taking distances into account I think nearest first is a
good strategy to start viewings - will keep you posted, cheers - Jim.
 

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Once again thanks to all - to put things in context :-
I have been used to simple air Cooled flat-four Boxer engined ( 1200-1600cc ) VW Beetles, hence my caution with exotic Italian's.
This would be my hobby car, probably no more than 2000-2500 miles / Year ( oddly retirement seems to mean less time for yourself ? ).
At the Mo there seem to be a number of examples on the market ( mostly V6 ) but taking distances into account I think nearest first is a
good strategy to start viewings - will keep you posted, cheers - Jim.
Best of luck in your search Jim.
The Beetle has its own quirky charm but a 166 is just something else
 

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Hi,

A friend has given me first refusal on his low mileage 3.2 GT so my well sorted 3.0 Super is currently up for sale.

https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1125562
I’m in a 3.2 gt as a loan car whilst the 3.2 166 is sorted. Don’t get me wrong it’s an awful lot of fun it has been well modded with 2 strut braces, coilovers, q2, full wizard and cf2 downpipes but give me a sorted 3.0 any day. I’ve driven this for the last 4 weeks including over to watch the Nurburgring 24hr and back and whilst loads of fun it is just a 156 in drag and does not have the 166 ride quality. You may regret changing.
 
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