RexSeven UltraDork
July 25, 2013 8:23 p.m.

Sorry if the Italian in the title is mangled. Blame Google Translate. Anyways, I'm still looking at orphaned European cars for winter transportation instead of doing the boring/smart thing (buying an SUV). I'm still going to look at the Peugeot 505 Turbo I mentioned elsewhere. However, I also found two Alfa Romeo 164 LS 24Vs nearby. One in MA, one in NH, both autotragic. There's also a manual 164LS one on eBay in VA. I'm aware that these cars need their timing belts replaced every 30,000 miles to stave off very expensive valve repairs, and that the job itself is neither cheap nor easy.

However, the rest of the 164 looks to be pretty robust (partially galvanized body=better corrosion resistance) and it seems as long as the timing belt is changed the V-6s can tolerate high mileage. The Alfa in MA is a North Carolina car so rot should not be a problem. Parts availability is much better than the Peugeot. Besides the timing belt, what are the other weak spots or chronic problems the 164 has?

SlickDizzy UberDork
July 25, 2013 9:42 p.m.

Anything engine or drivetrain related is VERY difficult to work on. They are heavy, and get bad gas mileage. The interior isn't for everybody and the fancy-for-the-time HVAC system isn't known for its robustness. As part of the timing belt job, some water pumps and belt tensioners were not very well designed from the factory, and there are various revisions. Cam wear was a problem on earlier models. Gearboxes had cheap plastic walled bearings that will squeal like mad when they go out. And, of course, typical Alfa electrical problems.

Parts availability may be worse for the Peugeot but it'd certainly be a MUCH easier car to work on (I have some experience with both).

fanfoy HalfDork
July 25, 2013 9:42 p.m.

A few years back, I DD'd a Milano in Canuckistan's winter. It was NOT a good winter car, and I'm pretty sure a 164 would suck as well. The Italians obviously do not like cold weather (or they aren't used to it), because my perfectly functioning heater had problem keeping the windshield from frosting over, let alone the occupants.

It was also hilarious to read the shop manual and read the oil recommendations, because they stopped at minus 20 deg. C. What if it's colder? I guess the Italians thought you shouldn't be driving if it's that cold.

And having driven a 164 in the rain, that car was pretty traction challenged. Even with snow tires, I'd be expecting to get stuck often.

With that said, I love 164's. You should do it and tell us the story.

Travis_K UltraDork
July 25, 2013 11:07 p.m.

A 164 is closer to a SAAB 9000 than a Milano as far as things that would effect winter driving. Doing the timing belt job on a 164LS is over $1k just in parts from what I understand, and has to be done at least every 5 years and 30k miles, and its not uncommon for the belt to skip a tooth on one of the inner cams (with not near enough belt wrap on the pulley) more often than that. I don't think they are awful, and lots of people still drive them regularly, but if I was to get a 164 I think I would look for an older 12v one because of the much cheaper timing belt maintenance($25 timing belt, $75 water pump, $180 tensioner vs over 3 times that much for the 24v).

alfadriver PowerDork
July 26, 2013 3:25 a.m.

We had a 164ls for almost a decade. Ok car, I suppose. We had a lot of problems with the air flow meter as it would read funny and stall the car.

And one must keep up on the cam belts, fail one and the valves hit the pistons to a very expensive mistake.

It was my wife's car, and I didn't really enjoy driving it.

RexSeven UltraDork
July 26, 2013 3:30 a.m.

Hmm... Beginning to rethink this one... It's not often the GRM hive mind tells you to walk away, and when it does, it's usually for very good reason.

Adrian_Thompson UberDork
July 26, 2013 5:54 a.m.

What's happened to this place? Since when were a few well founded design issues, parts supply problems and lack of accessibility to work on a car reason not for the masses to cry 'DO IT'

This place embraces Maserati BiTurbo's as long lost brothers, laughs in the face of sourcing parts for obscure Gallic cars, wears Miata's as a badge of honor and is considering making a successful LSx swap before breakfast an entry requirement for new forum members.

shakes head in wonderment and walks off into the sunset..err sun rise.

JThw8 PowerDork
July 26, 2013 6:35 a.m.

I owned one briefly, and to be fair it was a $300 pos that I bought so I could take some drive train measurements to see if it was feasible for a Yugo swap. I only drove it once, about an hour drive home.

It was wonderful. I enjoyed the drive even on a completely clapped out example such as I had. Not the most sporting thing in the world but I can see how a well maintained one would make an excellent commuter if you could exercise some of the known demons.

alfadriver PowerDork
July 26, 2013 7:46 a.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson: Outside of it being an alfa, the car is pretty unremarkable. A 96 Taurus had more power. And IMHO it didn't handle well but it did have a lot of negative camber.

The Soch v6 seems to be a better match.

RexSeven UltraDork
July 28, 2013 6:14 p.m.

I drove the Alfa in NH just to get impressions since it was near the Peugeot. It was a wreck reconstruction and seller wanted a little too much for it. I quite enjoyed it. Engine was punchy, the interior is very nice, the automatic is not bad when in sport mode. Bit rolly-polly but stuck well in sweepers. Def. a cruiser, but that's what I'm looking for anyways. I will be looking at the Alfa in MA tomorrow- higher miles but its a North Carolina car. I also located a 12V (also automagic) in MA that I might have a look at if I can make the time. Damn cars are all far apart from each other...

EvanB PowerDork
July 28, 2013 6:15 p.m.
JThw8 wrote: I owned one briefly, and to be fair it was a $300 pos that I bought so I could take some drive train measurements to see if it was feasible for a Yugo swap. I only drove it once, about an hour drive home. It was wonderful. I enjoyed the drive even on a completely clapped out example such as I had. Not the most sporting thing in the world but I can see how a well maintained one would make an excellent commuter if you could exercise some of the known demons.

So is it feasible for a Yugo swap?

JThw8 PowerDork
July 28, 2013 7:50 p.m.
EvanB wrote:
JThw8 wrote: I owned one briefly, and to be fair it was a $300 pos that I bought so I could take some drive train measurements to see if it was feasible for a Yugo swap. I only drove it once, about an hour drive home. It was wonderful. I enjoyed the drive even on a completely clapped out example such as I had. Not the most sporting thing in the world but I can see how a well maintained one would make an excellent commuter if you could exercise some of the known demons.

So is it feasible for a Yugo swap?

sawzall, big hammer, welder....anything is possible. But short answer is yeah it seemed like it would work. My subject car was an auto, if it were a 5 speed I'd have gone further with the swap.

alfadriver PowerDork
July 29, 2013 2:41 a.m.

In reply to EvanB: Both the 12 and 24v engines were used for the Statos replicas. Good engines with a lot of character.

alfadriver PowerDork
July 29, 2013 2:56 a.m.

Btw a side comment. I speak down on the 164, yes. But if one really really wants one, totally go for it. Alfas are cars of emotion, not logic.

They have odd driving positions, break if you don't keep up on them, and break worse when you do. Ham fisted mechanics are as bad as POs are.

But if you drive one, wow. Just wow. With the right delicate touch, the car will have a nice conversation with you. And the stereotypical hand movements, you emulate with the steering wheel and shifter.

They are amazing cars. Just not for everyone.

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