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Hi. I'm a college student living in North Jersey, and I've loved Alfas since seeing a green 164 in a random parking lot years ago. I've loved them even more after seeing the guys on Top gear harp on about them. I'd really like to actually get one at some point, engaging in restoration and engine repair. I've done plenty of work with electrical systems and some mechanical stuff (I'm actually training to be a mechanical engineer) and am not afraid to do work on a car, although I don't really have any experience in that specifically. I know I must sound very naive, but making an Alfa into not only a personal project of my but also into a daily driving tool has been a dream of mine for a while.

Any recommendations/advice? Where should I get started?
 

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Being that your a university student, that influences circumstances a bit. As I remember being in college some, ur, ah, 40 years ago, I didn't have much money, nor tools, nor a covered, dry place to work. So that has to come into consideration on any choices you make. Also, practicality is a restriction. Spiders are great fun cars, but are only 2 seaters and little room for luggage and stuff. As you like the 164s, that would be the most practical, as a sports sedan.

Caveat to that is, you're still buying a car that's probably as old as you are. Parts and service are NOT readily available as you may think. Parts availability is not too bad, but sketchy sometimes. Learning the car and doing most of your own work will be very useful and cost saving.

Finding a good one will be a challenge in the color and model you want. I'd recommend staying away from the 24 valve models and going with a 12v model, due to the timing belt issues with 24 valve.

I'm a new 164S owner myself (but not new to Alfas). The 164s are quite different and more complex that the 60-70s models I'm familiar with. I'm in the process now of sorting out some issues with the car, but I will say the 164S is a joy to drive. Very powerful, great handling, looks great inside and out. But like any Alfa, it demands that you maintain it.

Getting started? Start surfing the various websites. Ask a lot of questions on the BB here. Literally probably hundreds of years of experience here on the AlfaBB. There ain't much about Alfas that we collectively don't know. Lots of great info and pix. Start watching ebay and craigslist to get an idea of what the asking prices are. And remember, asking prices are often times not anywhere near what the car actually sells for. Keep in mind that on this BB, you're going to see a lot of threads on repairs/problems. This BB is one of the concentration points for such topics. Several long-time BB members in NJ. "Papajam" is a long-time Alfisti and pro-mechanic. He knows his stuff with Alfas and sure he could advise you as well. "Alfisto Steve" is not in NJ but is the resident expert on the BB here on all matters 164.

Since most of us are a bit older now, it's great to see young guys appreciate great automobiles. I remember seeing a Duetto in the late 60s in the showroom (I was in high school) and fell in love with it. The $4k pricetag seemed astronomical then, but it didn't matter. I still wanted one. Didn't get my first Spider until I was about 22 and was established in my career.

Here's a great site dedicated to the 164: Alfa Romeo 164
 

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The 164s are wonderful cars... We have 3 editions: the L(usso), S(port), and Q(uadrifoglio), and love all three. Nonetheless, when it comes to maintenance they are very labor intensive, and hourly rates in northern NJ start at $85. (Don't make the mistake of considering a non-Alfa mechanic.) Thus, for a college student an invoice from a pro shop is financial suicide. However, if you are going to turn your own wrenches, these cars can be affordable. Not cheap, but manageable.

Here's some information to get you started:
Welcome to the Alfa Romeo 164 Home Page!

Furthermore, I would strongly suggest that you check out your local AROC chapter and seek in person advice from its members. The Alfa Romeo Owners Club is the traditional club that precedes the Internet era. There are many people who grew up with these cars and their in-depth knowledge is priceless.

Best regards,
 
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