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Thoughts on the Alfa 164?

Discussion in 'Other Italian' started by GrigioGuy, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
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    Yes, I have one
  2. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
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    How much are the ones with the Ferrari (348?) engine?
     
  3. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
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    Those are the Lancia Thema 8.32 (modified 308 QV motor, as redesigned by Lancia and built by Ducati)

    I don't think those were ever sold over here.
     
  4. flaviaman

    flaviaman Formula Junior

    Jul 26, 2005
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    Gregg
    As a former Alfa Romeo Service Manager I would advise you...Don't Do It. A weekend inside Guantanamo is probably more pleasureable! Leaky engines, leaky steering racks, noisy A/C "stepper" motors, inoperative "stepper" motors, woozy struts, automatic transmissions that are prone to failure, 5 speed transmissions that are prone to failure (especially on the hotshoe S / Verde version), mufflers that were most likely pressed from old Biscotti tins.

    And all these faults happened in the mid-1990's when the cars were still relatively new. This was the car that ultimately torpedo'd Alfa in the States, quite an accomplishment.

    Just imagine how these cars are now, 10-15 years later with minimal parts support, and I suspect most owners now do not want to pay to fix them, or else cannot afford to fix them.

    When new they were very nice to drive on the highway, plus with the early 2V cars you got a Chrysler radio!

    Least anyone here think I am anti-Alfa I am not...I've owned 14 over the years.

    I am sure however, someone will post that they have owned a 164 for a quarter of a million miles and it has been painless! They're lucky.
     
  5. TX907

    TX907 Formula Junior

    Sep 13, 2005
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    I think the main things are electrical, climate control stepper motor and belts. Lots of electrical stuff and relays. The stepper motor is supposed to be pretty labor intensive to replace all the little gears. Broken belt can do a lot of damage.

    It seems a lot of the rust issues were much better dealt with by the time of the 164.

    A lot of people really like them. Probably one disadvantage was front wheel drive in a 'sport' sedan.
     
  6. jimpo1

    jimpo1 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    I think Tillman that you're running out of garage space.....
     
  7. 350HPMondial

    350HPMondial F1 Rookie

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    #7 350HPMondial, Aug 8, 2007
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  8. sjmst

    sjmst F1 Veteran
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    Jul 31, 2003
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    I am! I have had FOUR and my current model is the best. Of all the maladies mentioned above, the only one that rings true for me is the leaky steering rack. Other than that, nice car and a great deal.

    More info here:

    http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=16
    From Alfa Bulletin Board




    As far as new parts - they are just as readily available new for an LS as they are for new for an L... Perhaps even more so as it IS a newer car and Alfa still makes parts more readily for it than for the older models. Used parts are not as readily available for 24 valve cars as there were not as many of them imported, less of them around to strip and people tend to maintain them rather than part them out as with many older 164 cars...

    Labour-rates are exactly the same to work on both cars and it takes the same amount of time to R&R either motor for example... Lower control arms take the same time, brakes take the same time, oil - everything is virtually the same in terms of time and time cost! Just don't go to a Ferrari dealer... Find someone to look the car over and who will work on it and who knows Alfas BEFORE buying the car...

    The 24 valve does not have two tensioners per se, rather two idler pulleys and a tensioner for the timing belt and two idler pulleys and a tensioner for the auxiliary-drive belt! On either model I would now do ALL of the belts, pulleys AND idlers on either model EVERY 30K (or 3 years) without even thinking about it... (Inspect them any time that you can!)

    Doing belts on either car is the same for me in terms of difficulty. Only special tool that I would get for either one would be the little aluminium blocks that hold the cams in place when changing the belts... You can do it in the driveway, without a lift, but with a jack and jack-stands preferably...

    They are chalk and cheese in the drive, but the two cars share a great deal more in their design, underpinnings and chassis than what you have been told! Each car has certain characteristics that I enjoy and prefer over the other. (I like the smaller grill on the nose of the older cars as well as their low-end grunt, but I LOVE the peak power of the newer 24 valve engines. The 12 valve versions have a more compliant ride...

    The older cars had stepper motor issues - they solved that somewhat on the newer cars but they changed their adhesive supplier and the trim on the A-pillars and B-pillars peel off on all of the newer cars and require patient repair... Both have heater-core issues!

    You can add the S and Q body kits to the older 164 Base and L cars, but not to an LS.

    The Sport function of the newer LS tranny is sweet, but BOTH older "non-electronic" and newer electronic boxes have issues (as low as 50K-60K miles...) The resale on a 5-speed is MUCH better - not as much the price as it is the liquidity of a 5-speed over an automatic...

    As far as deferred maintenance - as with Milanos and GTV6s - you tend to run into cars for sale where the driver feels "abandoned" by Alfa Romeo due to their departure - the values dropped so rapidly - and you typically run in to a car where the customer just said - screw it - I'll just drive it until the wheels come off of it and then dump it. The poor guy buying the car spends 5-10K to perform deferred maintenance in the 1st year and then sells it "because it is too expensive to maintain...") Some lucky SOB buys it and gains all of the benefit!

    By the same token, you do run across cars from passionate Alfa owners that were meticulous in their maintenance - but those folks are typically NOT the ones selling their cars either....

    Even then, you run across a car which appears to be well-maintained, but underneath there is still much to be done that people don't always take in to consideration (such as rubber - mountings and bushing that wear out regardless of mileage...) The car may only have 50K miles on it, but after 10 years, all of the rubber is shot any way!

    Check for:
    Stepper-motor receipts
    Heater-core receipts
    Timing-belt receipts
    P/S Pump and rack receipts
    Lower control-arms (cheap though)
    Bushing replacements
    Rear exhaust sections
    Airbag/sensors/computer replacements
    Automatic transmission skipping, hunting for gears, or hard to get into reverse
    Clutch replacement on manual cars
    Rubber hoses such as P/S, vacuum boots and oil-coolers
    Radiator leaks
    Chipped windshields!!! (Expensive and hard to locate on all models)
    Bad climate control LCD displays on the newer models

    Hope this helps - don't mean to beat up on whomever advised you...
     
  9. nizam

    nizam Formula 3
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    #9 nizam, Aug 10, 2007
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    I'm one of 'em lucky people.

    Like most Alfa owners, we have a number in our Italian fleet. I recently sold my 1994 164LS (3.0V6 24v) with 112K miles and all I can say is, "I must have been lucky." Nary anything abnormal to report in its 12 year tenure in our household. It was comfortable, fast, and (gasp!) reliable. Our other Alfas haven't been troublesome at all. Our Ferrari on the other hand, appears to be slightly more fragile, but that's for another thread.

    Since sjmst has listed the 164's documented potential problems, I'd like to highlight that the engine - when maintained - will last a loooooooong time. Stay away from cars with the "deferred maintenance" issues because when they are maintained normally (i.e. change the oil at reasonable intervals, do the t-belt when required, adjust the valves in the 12-valve models every 50K miles or so) they are trouble free.

    Tillman - we still have our old 1987 Alfa Milano Verde, with over a quarter of a million miles on it. This is the same engine as in the 1991-93 Alfa 164's. Take a look at the oil sample result from Blackstone Laboratories that I just received. FYI - the car is on the original engine; no rings, no "new guides", no fresh head gaskets at 1xx,xxx miles, no oil top ups between changes, etc. It will almost always hit the rev limiter once the oil has warmed up ... we didn't baby this engine (but we didn't abuse it either!)

    Like I said, I must be very lucky.
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  10. 4Rings

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    I love my '94 164LS. It obviously has its quirks..(it IS an Alfa..) but it runs and drives superbly! It's fun to drive, looks good, and hardly anyone else has one!
     
  11. GT601

    GT601 Rookie

    Feb 22, 2006
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    My 91 S has 174,000 miles on it and it's time for new head gaskets due to a bit of an oil leak. It has been a flawless car for the $800.00 I paid for it five years ago. I'm the third owner and the heads have never been apart. They are great cars.

    Paul
     
  12. sjmst

    sjmst F1 Veteran
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    Not surprising. Oh. btw. I also had a Ferrari Mondial until about two weeks ago. I kept the Alfa. The Alfa is Toyota like in quality compared to the Mondial, and faster and more comfortable. Turns heads almost as well too. Not saying it is a Ferrari (nothing is), but how ironic complaining about the reliability of ANY car on a Ferrari site! ;).
     
  13. Alfissimo Int'l

    Aug 11, 2007
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    #13 Alfissimo Int'l, Aug 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I would say that the alfa 164 turns just as many heads as a ferrari any day of the week.

    I have to point out that ENZO FERRARI had a Alfa Romeo 164 as his personal commuter car for many years.

    These cars are 4 door sedans and excellent highway cars. The quality is Top notch for the time. I think still is. I have people ask me if it is a new 2006-7 model. I tell them ...well it is actually a 1991. The jaw hits the floor.

    As far as reliability, it all comes down to the work you do yourself or if your mechanic is a fan. I can say the Uwe from Omega Motorsports in Culver City LA is a 164 owner and knows the cars well for example. None of his customers have major issues and most of the 164's maintained with him are all reliable. Yeah there are issues just like every other car on this planet. Is it like a Japanese car, no. Do we want it to be NO!
    It is all about the mechanic! Maybe the dealer that the above worked for was sloppy! Have seen it before. Some dealers where good some where horrible! Was alfa's demise because of the 164, no way! it was the upper management, dealer network! The cars that where unreliable where due to bad, sloppy mechanic's and that is still true to this day.

    As a parts supplier I can say most of the parts are still available without any problems. Some interior and exterior parts have slowly disappeared!
    Luckily more and more Italian after market manufacturers are making high quality parts for these cars which is helping with some of the expensive motor mounts, suspension and such.

    I would never buy a 164 as mentioned that has super low miles and nothing done to it. You will end up doing it all later.
    Buy one with good records of all work and one that has been driven and maintained on a regular basis.

    These cars are fun to drive, VERY comfortable, FAST, good looking, good MPG and practical!

    Visit the alfabb.com for more info. Nice crowd, always welcome new owners are potential new owners!

    Here for example is my own 1991 164S 12V with Recaro version:
    2nd Last picture is of a friends 24V 3.8L conversion!
    Last picture being of the tensioner for the 24V that was mentioned.
    On the 12V a mechanical tensioner was used as well to take place of the old hydraulic which leaked from time to time and caused belt problems. But if rebuilt everytime the belt was done there should be no issues! I think it is a better design myself.
    There are as many problems with the 164 as there are with ferrari, toyota, mercedes, GM, ford and any other vehicle out there.
    There are some items that are a pain to work on, steering rack being one, starter being another but other than that once you have done it it is a piece of cake!

    Good luck, I think it is a fine car not just from owning one but because I have owned many other cars in the past and this one although not bullet proof is a great car.

    Ciao!
    Jason
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  14. junglejustice

    junglejustice Rookie

    Aug 11, 2007
    4
    FYI - the "S" model runs the earlier generation 12 valve engine (although a higher compression - 10.0:1 - version of it...) Good point though - the 24 valve from the later cars (1994 and on) is one sweet and flexible power-plant! (Same horsepower as a 308 and the Lancia/Ferrari V8 mentioned earlier and lighter too!)

    It makes a great transplant in to a GTV6/Alfetta or in to a Milano/75 road car as mentioned. (Surprised that more Ferrari guys don't run these as Italian project/track car alternatives, to bending priceless metal on the track...!?) They are being tuned with upwards of 3-400 naturally aspirated and 6-700 twin-turbo charged Italian horses in 1,000 kilo bodies!

    On-topic; hello kettle? This is pot...

    We have about 200,000 miles in our household on about 6 past and present 164 cars (12 valve and 24 valve versions) and aside from the general maintenance, no major issues to write home about (not like a 355 that needs the heads rebuilt after only 26K miles due to excessive oil-consumption and heavy exhaust smoke...!)

    Talk about expensive maintenance - my buddy's 30K mile service (required at 10K miles due to age), ran 15K USD!!! That same service is under 2K on the 164! Where Ferrari dealers charge 100-110 dollars per hour for Alfa service, their are many local independents (who do a better job any way) that charges 80-90 dollars an hour to do great work on an Alfa (and the parts mark-up is about half!)
     
  15. GT601

    GT601 Rookie

    Feb 22, 2006
    4
    Pulled the heads today and there is still perfect cross hatching in the cylinder walls after 174,000 miles. Have the cams re-welded and some new guides popped in and I doubt that I'll have a grand in the head rebuild.

    Paul
     
  16. Alfissimo Int'l

    Aug 11, 2007
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    Tempe AZ
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    Jason
    Jesus Crimeny Paul, can I come over and play in your garage? LOL! :) Out of the 5 cars I see...mmm I will test drive the GTV6 Please!

    Regardless, the 164 is an under-appreciated, misunderstood, under valued Italian Sedan!

    Any one who has ever turned wrenches can work on these without too much of an issue, technique and know how is key with this car, patience is another. If your a check book mechanic you need to find the right mechanic, a lot of alfa Mechanic's have neither technique nor patience, along with no real experience with the alfa 164. They are all OLD SCHOOL 4 cylinder guys. They like the easy stuff and the 164 V6 is too much for them to handle. But there are plenty who do work on them and understand them

    J
     
  17. 8.32

    8.32 Rookie

    May 16, 2005
    36

    This does get repeated an awful lot, so a small correction, if I may. Two thirds of 8.32s were series 1 cars, all of which had their engines built at Maranello. Some of the series 2 cars had their engines assmbled at Ducati from components entirely manufactured at Marenello.


    regards,

    Rich
     
  18. sjmst

    sjmst F1 Veteran
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  19. speedy

    speedy Formula Junior

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    I think this car is currently at a dealership/service shop on Harry Hines, just north of Mockingbird a bit. I looked at one this past weekend with 138K on the odo. Looks like a good project car.
     
  20. Eau_Rouge

    Eau_Rouge Karting

    Feb 9, 2006
    51
    Benelux / France
    The 164 is an old car. Although quite reliable, they do need attention as daily drivers.

    I have one from 1995, did a 3500 km trip with it last week through Italy and Corsica and have now decided to get rid of it. I bought it as a student 2.5 years ago and it served me well for 40.000 km without any major servicing required. In total she has covered over 230.000 km.

    I could imagine in the States that these cars are very difficult to keep on the road considering the limited specialist and parts network.
     
  21. EMILIO

    EMILIO F1 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2006
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    it was a nice car
    not a real Alfa though (IMO)
     
  22. MikeZ_NJ

    MikeZ_NJ Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2002
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    Wow, glad I came across this thread! I'm currently thinking about a 164 for a daily driver... ALFA = Always Looking For Another. :)
     
  23. Futureman

    Futureman Formula 3

    May 16, 2007
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    I bought a '91 Alfa 164S in '95 from the original owner who was a doctor in Waxahachie, TX. It was a beautiful car and a blast to drive, even though it was front wheel drive. The car was exceptionally well cared for by the PO. My first year of ownership was a breeze. Completed the 50K mile service and drove it every day. Then I moved to Houston. The first thing to go was the blowers for the A/C. A month after getting that fixed, the compressor went. Then after that, the stepper motors (which actually don't go out the way most think and the dash does NOT have to be pulled to fix them, but that's a whole 'nother story). Then I lost 3rd gear. Then the compressor went out again. I bought a BMW 325i and parked the Alfa. Tried to sell it. Couldn't in Houston with no A/C. So I got the A/C fixed and started driving it again. Realized how much more of a vehicle it was than the Beemer. Sold the Beemer. Then promptly cracked the oil pain at a gas station on the underground tank covers. $900 repair. All of this happened within a two year period. Oh, and the keyless entry, never really worked right. Sometimes the doors locked, sometimes they didn't. Thus, never left anything of value in the car, and never put in an aftermarket radio. Electronically adjustable shocks quit adjusting, defaulted to "sport" mode. Replacements unavailable. Instrument cluster hood would curl in the heat. Replacement, unavailable. All the switches for seat adjustment and heaters, and all the pull handles broke regularly. Replacements were never redesigned to last any longer. Totaled the car in an accident on Jan. 7, 2000. Got down on my knees and thanked god for putting me out of my misery of 164 ownership. My mechanic in Dallas nicknamed the car, "El Diablo Negro"....the black devil.

    All that and to this day, both me and my wife (who I began dating during the 164 ownership saga) still remember that car fondly. When it worked, it was a thing of beauty...both to drive and look at.
     
  24. sjmst

    sjmst F1 Veteran
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    What I think people forget is that the NEWEST Alfa Romeo in the USA is 17 years old. Compare it to other 17-20+ year old cars to be fair.
     

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