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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
http://www.trademe.co.nz/Trade-Me-Motors/Cars/Alfa-romeo/photos/a-452178245/p-207336998.htm

...a 166.

I've had two 166s in the past and both have really been quite disappointing - both had some appearance problems, neither had the same array of modern-car features as my 156, but then the 156 itself doesn't have the same feel (or quality) as a 164.

A difficult situation which I tempered by keeping a few 164s over the last several years - none being in the kind of condition you might want as a regular-use car. I know many people here have 164s that are in beautiful condition inside and out.

Funnily enough I wondered whether a V6 Spider was a good idea last year - at the time it was too much money for me: see http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/164-168-1991-1995/182472-thinking-replacing-my-164-spider.html After buying, fixing, and re-selling a 166, I treated myself to my TS (four-cylinder) Spider, half the price of a V6. It's in great condition - drives very similarly to my 156, modest performance, better quality, but really does need the roof down to be enjoyed. Could do with a new clutch (heavy) and getting in and out is rather fun - the sort of car you install yourself in, and don't really want to get out of in a hurry. Glad I didn't spend any more on such an occasional-use 'toy'!

Last month I bought a FIAT 500. I've hankered after one of these ever since driving one in England last year - thought it would be a few years until I could afford one, but I found one that was sitting unsold for about a year. It's had just a few month's use (even though it's a 2010 car) and is an unusual spec being a 1.4 Sport Dualogic in bright metallic blue.

My 500's 1.4 engine is different to the USA version (no Multiair) but seems to have the same performance (might be a little more thirsty, in theory at least). The Dualogic is a modern development of Selespeed: manual gearbox and clutch operated by electro-hydraulics (lever/paddles or full auto modes). I think it works brilliantly - smoother and quieter than Selespeed, better performance than conventional auto, more convenient than a manual. It is great to drive in town, has a nice induction burble as well!

However, on the 1000km+ drive home (over two days), I realised that this little car is way out of its depth on country roads. The suspension is particularly hard on the 1.4 models (not the same as USA models) and while performance is fun (and 'Sport' perforated leather seats are supportive), it's a very bumpy ride - the small fuel tank (32L - that's different as well) gives a short range, and there's not much room in the back. Steering tends to be quite stiff and lacks the pleasant feel of a driver's car.

My 500 is, however, in perfect showroom condition. Was expensive - though an $8k saving on new - but it is nice to have that perfect showroom condition and know that it will be an easy car to drive around town and cheap to run - not just in fuel but also in maintenance. It's like a yellow FIAT Punto that I used to own, but better-made and more stylish.

I just wasn't happy to lose my 156 and its capabilities, yet even that car lagged behind the old 164s in performance, handling, and space... but the 164s were so much older and not in the condition I wanted.

So the solution is this 166 - as you can see in the link above, it's a facelift model. I always thought they looked better than the original 166. It has a number of improvements to chassis and refinement under the skin, and you get modern features like Xenon lights and stability control, so it has everything my 156 has, and a little more. I'll be selling my 156 soon.

This 166 has a particularly thirsty 24V engine and 4-speed auto combination, which blunts the performance a bit. I'm sure it will still sound great. There are few of these facelift 166s around anywhere in the world, but especially in NZ where, never officially imported, they can probably be counted on the fingers of two hands. I hope this is one of the best. The pleasant-to-deal-with owner now lives in Sydney and I am meeting him this weekend, as I am also in Sydney to run training courses.

I've paid for the car without even seeing it, so this will be exciting (and foolish), though I have at least contacted the previous dealers/specialists that have worked on the car and received glowing reports. Although it is expensive, it is a lot more car than the 500 while costing less to buy (and more to run), and is actually quite competitively-priced against anything else the same size and age. I considered everything from Volvo S80, Audi A6, and Honda Legend to BMW 530, Mercedes C230 Classic, and Lexus GS300. All in similar price range but all with more kilometres on the clock, and can you really see me driving any of those proudly? They are all good cars, but it's just not the same.

A large Alfa Romeo, a small FIAT, and my Alfa Spider - those three should have all the bases covered. I might even get to hang up the spanners for a while, as I've never owned three cars so new before!

I felt I had to share that excitement with you. Also on the agenda for the next few months - engine swap in a 164 for my gardener Joe (been put off for some time) so I will be here in a more interesting capacity soon. Many thanks for the knowledge and inspiration I've gained here...

-Alex
 

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Hey Alex,
That is exciting news. Congratulations! Very nice looking Alfa. Black on black, can't go wrong :cool: You should align all of your cars, take a photo and share with us. I haven’t seen Uno in long time!
Best,
Sasha
 

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Hi Alex. I am so envious. Well done. Is this the car that Jeremy Clarkson told viewers to live in a run down house so that you could afford to drive the new 166? That was a great show segment.

Enjoy and cheers to you!

Jeff
Dallas, Texas
 

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Ohhh a facelift model, nice! There has been one (grey, facelift) sitting in a yard here in Ballarat for a few months now - I haven't been game to go take a look for fear of what it may lead to. Good price but we just bought an XC90 to haul all the baby gear around.

Can't wait to see some snaps of your collection lined up. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thank you guys! Stu - "for fear of what it may lead to", I laughed!

Cheers Sasha, it's going to be tough having to sell the Uno - I'd rather keep it, but don't have the space - want to garage all three of the relatively recent arrivals. I've had the Uno for ten years. Maybe I should pay to store it somewhere.

And yes Jeff, that was it.
Jeremy was particularly excited about it - my favourite quotes:

"I have to say though, it's not the fastest car in the world. It's front-wheel drive too, so it's not a thriller in the corners either. But if you judge a car on how it makes you feel, rather than what it can do... the 166, is in a class of its own."
...
"You know what that is? It's a little black dress that you'd take to an embassy ****tail party. At a schloss. In Austria."
...
"...the interior of this car; it's far and away the best thing about it. It's not exactly a button-fest; there are no controls all over the steering wheel, and you don't even get cup holders. But it's SUCH a nice place to be! You actually look forward to doing a journey just so you can come and sit in it".
...
"It's arranged over four storeys, two bedrooms, and I must say I like the distressed look that's been achieved by the previous owners..."

Like most cars that Jeremy likes (Renault Avantime, for example), the facelift 166 was a complete commercial flop. About 100 were sold in England, 36 of them being the 3.0 V6, 44 the 3.2. I've only ever seen three for sale in NZ and the last one had registration DLN725 - this one is DLN726 - so it's almost like having a numbered special series.

Technically of course, they are nothing special - a 164 Q4 or a Thema 8.32 would be far more interesting.

I suppose I didn't really need this car (could have waited for a nice 164), but it was (sad though it may be) a major life goal to 'collect' a facelift 166, which I do remember being brand new (six times the price I paid). This is still five times the price of an older 166, but I always thought I should give the 166 a fair chance. They don't age well and seem to have most of the 164 problems plus a few fresh variations on a theme, such as when (not if) the heater core leaks, it wets the transmission ECU and causes erratic faults (with permanent damage). And the indicators never cancel when turning left. Of course, I will rise to the challenge of keeping this one up to scratch, starting with tied-up plastic bags for that ECU.

Besides, probably easier to spend the money up front, rather than over a series of frustrating episodes. I've been there and done that with my 156. Purchase price is easily forgotten, but maintenance is ongoing...
 

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Great job Alex. That segment of Top Gear is first class. I sometimes think the current stuff they do does not match up to the quality of the older stuff. I had not watched that in quite a while, thanks for finding it and enjoy your new purchases.

Cheers,

Jeff
 

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Technically of course, they are nothing special - a 164 Q4 or a Thema 8.32 would be far more interesting.
I can only agree with you on that :D

That is a very good selection you have gathered and going for the facelifted 166 is probably a good idea. I think the underpinnings are not changed and they are not that solid on the 166, but I believe there are some improved aftermarket components for that, if needed. And you still have that lovely engine to look at...:cool:

I test drove a new 166 2.5L V6 more than 10 years ago and it was sooo much fun! Just like test driving the 156 2.0L when it came out.

Enjoy the new(er) stable :)
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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From what I have read, the newer 24v engine was an improvement over our US market 94/95 version. Don't remember what the changes were, but I remember thinking at the time that it was a much improved engine. Wouldn't mind one of those.

Friend of mine in Bordeaux, France who rebuilds older Alfa models owns a 166, and loves it, putting many miles on it every year driving to Paris and back for business. He never mentioned how he thought it compared to the 164, just that he thought it was a great road car.
 

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Now that is the sweetest looking 166 around.

I never really liked the original front end, as it looks too much like a 156 and didn't bring anything new. It was a conservative design, building too much on the sales success of the 156.

And now you've got two newer cars, so the average age of your stable is improving. Mine might go vintage if we manage to keep the Alfa (23 years old), the petrol ZX (18) and the mercedes (13) for say... Ten more years? I sure would feel proud if they were in mint condition ten years from now.

Good luck with the 166. And if it breaks down, well, a seasoned Alfista has a jump suit and a set of wrenches handy at all times. :D
 

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From what I have read, the newer 24v engine was an improvement over our US market 94/95 version. Don't remember what the changes were, but I remember thinking at the time that it was a much improved engine. Wouldn't mind one of those.
Basically the engine is the same, but some parts are changed, e.g. I think the oil pump is different. And when replacing the water pump make sure to order one for a 164 or GTV, as they have a metal wheel and not the plastic wheel used in the 166, which easily cracks!!!

Now that is the sweetest looking 166 around.

I never really liked the original front end, as it looks too much like a 156 and didn't bring anything new. It was a conservative design, building too much on the sales success of the 156.
The 166 was actually designed before the 156, but was probably put on hold, as it was more important to get a replacement for the 155.
 
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