One able man who cast powaaah, steaks and punching humans already said that you are not a absolute petrolhead until you’ve endemic an Alfa Romeo. Seeing how Alfas are either advised terrible used car dealer Dubai, capricious applesauce by sane and rational humans or absolutely admired by adherent fans, I affected there has to be something about them. Maybe it absolutely is that fabulous “automotive soul” anybody talks about.
When I collection avant-garde Alfas, I tended to angular appear the “they’re crap” crowd. The Mito is just a Fiat Punto that’s been fabricated worse and added expensive, while the Giulietta can be a agreeable to drive, but you wish to douse it in gasoline and ablaze on blaze every time you charge to use it as transportation. It’s like anyone did the aboriginal 90% of development and again absitively to accept some chianti instead of finishing the rest. Which is apparently what happened.
As usual, the fanboys say the earlier cars are the “real” Alfas, afore the cast was bankrupt by anyone or something (usually Fiat or GM). And with the prices of 156, 166 and even the FWD abundance of GTV from ’90s laughably low, I’ve been eying an earlier Alfa, finer with the acclaimed Busso V6 engine, for some time now. But with my bound account not acceptance for two cars at once, I consistently concluded up traveling for something bigger, added adequate and (supposedly) added reliable – like an old Mercedes E-class, Chrysler LHS, adopted Lincoln or also-borrowed Chevy Van.
Only afresh did a absolute befalling to get an Alfa present itself. I managed to acquisition some poor physique who was accommodating to accord me absolute money for the Chrysler and a acquaintance of abundance bare to get rid of her old Alfa as she was accepting a newer one (a agent 159 Wagon). The car in catechism was a 164 Super, awful optioned and from the endure year of the model’s manufacture, cutting some “cosmetic flaws” (= it looks like some crazy Italian collection it about Rome for a month, drunk) and motivated by diesel.
A agent engine affectionate of charcoal the point of proving you are a petrolhead. Also, I abhorrence them. I never accepted why American auto enthusiasts, with their admission to bargain gas and able engines, animalism for agent cars so much. Agent stinks, rattles and booms, and it’s slow. It doesn’t rev, which affectionate of boodle the point of stick shift. Even worse, the 164 is powered by the abominable VM Motori 2.5 TD four-cylinder with one arch per cylinder, able-bodied accepted for ruining the believability account of Chrysler Europe if it was acclimated in Voyagers and Cherokees.
On the added hand, the car had its merits. Aboriginal of all, it was free. Second, the agent four-cylinders tend to be absolutely economical, which is a adequate change afterwards several years of cloudburst big-ticket European gas into a alternation of American cars while broke. And third, it’s still an Alfa from the “better times” (even admitting it was developed in cooperation with Fiat, Lancia and Saab), so it should be absorbing at least. And fourth, as I learnt anon afterwards getting offered the car, it’s got a board council wheel, which is crazily air-conditioned and in itself abundant acumen for me to wish it.
So if the time came for me to aces up my new vehicle, I was absolutely excited. Save for the assorted columnist loaners Toyota used car dealer with their adorned new common-rail engines and a friend’s old Mercedes W124 300D-24, I’ve never absolutely apprenticed a agent chiral car in a while. Also, my endure four circadian drivers (see above) were consistently automatics with absolutely able engines, but with absolutely aloof council and abeyance bureaucracy for comfort. Will the Alfa feel like a anyone put an old tractor engine in it? Will it accept the abhorrent turbo-lag the old turbodiesels were accepted for? And can a agent powered, Saab-and-Fiat-based Alfa appearance any signs of the acclaimed Alfa Romeo soul?
The endure catechism was answered appropriate afterwards I placed my basal into the bluish-green bolt seat. Remember all those ramblings about the ape-like active position of old Italian sportscars? The avant-garde Alfas don’t accept it. Even the 156 didn’t accept it. But already you sit in the 164, you instantly feel like you’re in an old Italian movie. You instantly overlook about “proper” basement position, with about vertical backrest and council caster abutting to your chest, and instead acquisition a airy position, aptitude aback hardly and with the council caster acutely too far in your lap and far added accumbent than you would acquisition adequate in a avant-garde car.
It’s absorbing how the basement position changes your attitude appear driving. While it reminds me of old Italian sports cars, it’s absolutely not adventurous in your classical “sit beeline and focus on the apexes” way. Instead, it makes you wish to drive in an Italian way. Fast and with blithesome carelessness instead of precision. You can just brainstorm yourself bombing about the Rome with a smoke in the bend of your mouth, announcement through bound streets and about missing scooters and tiny Fiats. Or, sometimes, not missing them, as apparent by the beat-up accompaniment of the car (in fact, it was scoff-free if it came to Czech Republic, but it just looks like it was apprenticed in Rome).
The council position is not the alone allotment of the autogenous that feels conflicting to anyone acclimated to new cars. There’s, of course, attenuate physique pillars and the actuality that the 164, although it was the bigger Alfa of its time and absolutely a ample car by any (European) means, feels hardly awkward with its windscreen appropriate in foreground of you aural arm’s reach. But there are weirder bits. Its abounding chart with a air-conditioned blueprint – ample speedo and tach in the high part, voltage, oil pressure, baptize temperature and ammunition in the lower row – and crazy centermost animate with rows of buttons that resemble an ’80s cassette recorder. Or the ability window controls, with buttons for foreground windows on the doors and for the rear windows on the centermost console.
Being an Alfa, one would apprehend it to break. And, stereotypically, it does. The air-conditioned buttons on the centermost animate plan alone sometimes, and the block button generally activates the hazard lights. Or the hazard lights actuate themselves. Or the block unlocks while driving. And the HVAC ascendancy affectation doesn’t work. Nor do the ability locks.
But a able Alfa should aswell be brittle mechanically and decumbent to rust, at atomic if you accept the accepted opinions, which makes it affectionate of aberrant the a lot of common activity from the accomplished car is that of robustness and solidity. It may be that my archetype is in bigger appearance mechanically, but it doesn’t feel any beneath abundant than the same-era Mercedes E-class. And, clashing the Mercedes, it doesn’t appearance any signs of blight – apparently the aftereffect of Alfa’s adversity with Alfasud (which was usually already decayed on the exhibit floor) and its drive to anticipate any agnate problems in the future.
At the aforementioned time, there’s still a bit of Alfa Romeo’s sportiness differing the 164 from its ancestors – the Thema, Croma and Saab 9000 (or at atomic humans who accept apprenticed all of them say so). For anyone who’s acclimated to ample American cars and old Benzes, or cast new cars with their aloof electric council racks, the Alfa’s captain is fantastically absolute and abounding of feel. The about-face activity is not about as great, but that’s compensated by pedals altogether laid out for heel-and-toe downshifting.
Of course, the ample agent affectionate of boodle the fun. It’s abundant smoother than one would apprehend from an oil-burner that’s about two decades old compared to, say, the 1.9 TDI/66kW from VW. It has about aught turbo lag and it pulls linearly from 1200 rpm. If apprenticed leisurely, it’s absolutely a affable engine, but try any affectionate of active active and you’re in for a disappointment. It’s still an old diesel, so it’s noisy, unrefined and it seems to abhorrence revving aloft 3500 rpm. Also, the VM Motori four, with its four brittle butt heads, is decumbent to overheating and consecutive arch failures.
Even with this in mind, I couldn’t abide demography the Alfa to our endure trackday/cheap car chase event, but at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I was appealing afraid of alarming the arch gasket and never begin the adventuresomeness to absolutely advance the engine. Even so, the Alfa showed some appealing absorbing handling. With the ample and abundant agent in the front, one would apprehend it to understeer like crazy. In reality, the 164 is appealing able-bodied balanced. On old winter tires, it was appealing simple to acclimatize it from understeer to oversteer by appropriation the burke and even bandy it into appealing amazing four-wheel slides.
Though it may be Saab-related and diesel-powered, the 164 is still able to accord you a aftertaste of the Alfa Romeo soul. It’s absorbing to drive and, afterwards a alternation of ample American cars, it fabricated me accept how US enthusiasts can accede agent chiral cars as something absolutely cool. It aswell seems to be, adverse to the accessible opinion, absolutely reliable (except for electrical stuff) and it’s absolutely one of the cheapest cars I’ve anytime had to run. Even if I had to buy it at bazaar amount (probably $500 or so), it would be clay bargain transportation. On the added hand, the Italian abeyance and active position, calm with air-conditioned Pininfarina design, will consistently accomplish me anticipate about how air-conditioned this car would be with a able engine – the illustrious V6 “Busso”. Since 164s with V6s are about extinct, I’m starting to anticipate that there’s a Busso-powered 166 in my abreast future. You accept to accept a able Alfa, at atomic once, to be a able petrolhead.