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Discussion Starter #1
So, I recently learned about the 164 and like all of you, I've decided that I must own one at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Since I can't find very many for sale, I realize that some sacrifices may have to be made and I might not get the ideal 164. Obviously for me that would be a 95 QV but I know that is unlikely. I guess here is my hypothetical question for the enthusiast.

Would you rather have a 94/95 with the 210 horsepower 24v engine, BUT it's an automatic. Or would you rather have an earlier model with the less powerful 180ish HP engine but you get a manual transmission?

This seems to be my dilemma. I can find 164s with a manual transmission, but they are all earlier models with the less powerful engine. And I can find 94/95's with the upgraded engine, but they are all automatics.

For what it's worth, I am not really an enthusiast driver, though I aspire to become one. I've only ever owned cars with an automatic transmission, but everyone says manuals are more fun to drive and it seems like the Alfa Romeo 164 is a special car and would be fun to drive if a manual. Still, these cars seem so hard to come by that I realize it might be pointless to be picky about things besides quality and maintenance history
 

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Are you a paycom, CC or check book mech? If you are I suggest you think otherwise about 164 as nobody seems to want to maintain them or work on them. Even I now nearing my 80th have slowed down on serious wrenching. The 94/95 will do you in unless you grew up with the model. The S has 200hp if it still has a good S engine in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll be honest I'm brand new to these cars and Alfa Romeo's in general. I just think the 164 is one of the most beautiful and unique sedans I've ever seen, and as a result I have an intense emotional desire to have one. And on top of the styling everything I've read online says they are a joy to drive. It has become my dream car. I can do a little bit of work myself, but I've also called a local mechanic shop that specializes in old cars and foreign cars and they say they've worked on 164s before and would be able to work on one if I end up deciding to buy.

From what I can tell you are recommending the earlier models as opposed to the 94/95's, correct?
 

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I have both the 91S 12V and the 94LS 24V.

My feelings about the two cars is that the 12V engine is simpler and runs nicely, and the 24V is definitely more complicated but is more of a stormer of an engine and car, which I really like a little more. My own preference for tranny is always a manual, but others like an auto. That's fine, to each their own. Both work well.

I'm like Steve, in that approaching 80, my wrenching enthusiasm is waning. Don't know exactly what I will do now that I no longer have my fav mechanic. Not too worried about the S engine, but the LS engine requires a better mechanic, as Steve hints at. It's the belt in that one which I worry about getting exactly right. I could do it, but I don't want to.

If you are a decent mechanic, can read a repair manual, and understand how mechanisms work, and really want one regardless, I suggest going with the 12V 164 at first. If a newbie with little car knowledge but willing/able to learn, however, you CAN learn on the 12V if you apply yourself, and not be afraid to ask for help. It's how we learned, but be careful, and I'd stay away from the 24V (alas, I hate saying that since mine at least runs very well).
 

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I would never buy an automatic Alfa Romeo, not because I always will want a manual, but because I've not got faith in their automatic (or selespeed) transmissions. What transmission does a 164 use? ZF something ...

Pete
 

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Manual 12 valve. The automatics are old generation ZF four speeds. Hopeless really. The automatic did not achieve parity with the manual until the 6 speed. You really need to get a manual shift to enjoy these cars. After 2006 you can get an automatic with some expectation of at least parity with the manual. The ZF 6 speed is superior to any manual imho.

The 24 valve engine is better than the 12 valve but not with an automatic. The issues with the timing belt on the 24 valve were the original installation at the factory. A number of engines were delivered with faulty tensioned timing belts. A few broke under warranty which spooked ARDONA into changing ALL 164 timing beits to prevent catastrophic warranty claims. I got a free belt on my 12 valve car. In reality the timing belts are durable and reliable. The 24 valve used a more modern tooth design for the belts, I believe. Others can chime in on that. In any event these engines have all had a new timing belt by now and the timing belt is no reason to choose one engine over the other.
 

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The problem is getting a 24V belt replaced when the time comes in the future. A good mechanic familiar with these does need to be found unless you really know what you are doing, or have the b*lls to do it yourself if you don't. My b*lls are old and somewhat tired, lol.

BTW, more than a few sporty drivers do seem to like the auto, regardless of your opinion. Steve I believe is one of those. I respect his opinion.
 

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If you decide you have to have a 24 valve car, start by chasing up the unique set of tools required to set the timing after replacing the timing belt or finding a mechanic who does. Without these tools or access to them, I would stick with the 12 valves. All you need to set timing on a 12 valve are ordinary hand tools and a printout of the PDF timing template that Steve has posted somewhere on this site. My 24 valve tools are actually copies of the factory tools I bought from a guy in the UK, but he appears to be out of business now.
 

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had driven a 91, manual, for about a block when I decided to look into a 164 as a replacement for my Biturbo.Part of me says I should have kept the Biturbo (4 door, auto) and just completed sealing the engine but the front fenders had that predictable rot and good body work and paint can often cost more than those cars are worth running. Same for the 164 but the rot is in the rear end usually. These cars don't grab much in the resale market, not because they are bad cars but because parts are expensive (try pricing belt tensioners and bearings, little things that cost $50-70 for a more common car cost a small fortune for the 164) and many of those go unchanged,leading to broken belts, smashed valves and bad reputation. You would think they would have used a more commonly available part and that would have helped in the long run but that's not our story. So, whatever you look into, check into history. CHECK for rust, around the rear, in the trunk, the area near the gas cap and under the rear section of the plastics before you dive too deep. As for 12/24, auto or manual. My experience with manual cars (my fist 3 cars were Mazda RX7, one manual, 2 auto if I recall correctly) is limited. Yes, manual are fun but clutches are no longer cheap. The RX 7 one used to cost me around $200 installed. When my son shows me the cost for parts for his manual Toyota Celica, I both laugh and weep. Everything is so much less expensive and he can order a complete clutch kit for less than the price for my tensioner and bearing. The cost for a manual kit for the 164 are not cheap. The auto gets a slightly bad rap due to lower performance but that really depends on how you drive. As I have a 95 ls auto, I do NOT miss clutching in stop and go traffic. I don't know if the Auto trannies last as long (with usual maintenance and care). I am not a barn stormer, only drive the car less that 1000km per year to keep my insurance down and don't feel the need for speeding tickets so an auto tranny is more than fine for me.
For engine, I read more about the simplicity of the 12v when timing belts are concerned and also better things about the tooth profile of the gears and belts for the 24v (unless I misread). I've done my own belt, no special tools and nothing has gone "crash" but the special tools would be beneficial for security.
Exhaust parts ca be pricey, if you want to stay "original" but if more realistic, mufflers and pipes can be customized easily. I'm not sure about the converter though.
As for styling, I really prefer the LS styling cues (side skirts, trims, interior console layout....although that still has too many buttons and would have made more sense with dials instead).
There's a nice example of one for sale near Toronto for around $5000 CDN (so around $3700 u.s.) that has had just about everything done. You can look it up on Kijiji-Toronto-Alfa Romeo 164. Shop carefully and enjoy.
 

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All the 164 v6 versions are very nice but for me the engine which corresponds to it the most is the 24v. The raucous noise combined with the power it develops makes the 164 a "demonic" sedan.
It is also interesting to note that the 164 Super 24v has hidden potential, in fact the installation of 45mm intake pipes frees the 20hp from the rare QV 24v versions. Combined with a mapping from Squadra Tuning this frees up more than 30hp for a ridiculous price and brings performance to the level of gta 3.2
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the recommendations everyone, I'll probably opt for the 12v then for maintenance reasons alone, and they do seem to be easier to come by. Still not sure if I'll end up with a manual or automatic. The wannabe enthusiast in me wants to get a manual but I would definitely need to practice first. I've always driven automatics and would hate to get a manual and burn out the clutch immediately lol. Also going off various websites and facebook marketplace it seems like all the manuals are at least 1500 miles away from me, but there is a decent looking automatic with 100k miles just 600 miles away or so

There's a nice example of one for sale near Toronto for around $5000 CDN (so around $3700 u.s.) that has had just about everything done. You can look it up on Kijiji-Toronto-Alfa Romeo 164. Shop carefully and enjoy.
I saw this one and I am definitely thinking about it/looking at it. However, I think I would have to wait a while, which is fine, but I don't think it's legal to import the car right now during coronavirus, not sure I'd be able to. In addition, and I know this seems minor, but if it's a Canadian car it probably has daytime running lights, and it would annoy me a little bit not to have the option to turn my lights off while driving during the day. Not a dealbreaker, but I'd rather buy a US model if I can. I just wish there were a few of these close to me. They're all hundreds of miles away, if not over 1000, so I can't just go and check it out then think about it.
 

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I will chime in again whether you ask or not. I have been driving since new and then used 164B/L/S 12v models since Feb 1991 my 164s. If you are in a heavy traffic local the 12v V6 A/T model can be a hoot and a holler. In town traffic I drive mine in 3rd so I can keep it out of 4th and torque convertor lock up under 40 mph. This 3rd position on 12v shifter allows you to slap shift to 2nd gear so you don't have to go full throttle to get downshift. I can keep up with traffic and play with folks who think their pocket rockets and M3/M5/AMG/Hemi/Turbo packages are hot stuff. You would be surprised what 183 to 200 HP in a 164 can do even with A/T (my L A/T has S engine). RPM is your friend in an older Alfa Romeo to get engine up on the cams. The 12v 164 works well starting at 3200 RPM.
 

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The Canadian spec 164 has a relay fitted at the rear end if the centre console to run the required DRL. Not super easy to remove but fairly easy. It works by essentially bypassing the Off position of the head and tail lights switch so selecting lights off switches them all back on again. An elegant solution and safer because the tail lights are switched on as well. The instrument panel lights stay on also. Switching the ignition off switches all the lights off whether the control switch is on or off. The park light position works as normal, bypassing the ignition switch. You won't get high beams until you switch the headlights to ON. The high beam flash feature works with the switch OFF.

I had my mechanic remove that relay. I forget why he was under the console to do work but he didn't charge anything extra to pop out the relay. I'm not totally sure exactly where it is but it is a standard silver cased Bosch cube relay. Removing it is all that is required to return the system to USA spec. Replacing the relay in position turns it back to Canadian spec. Easy.
 

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I probably would not get one now, but eventually I would love to own a Milano or 164 in an automatic.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I will chime in again whether you ask or not. I have been driving since new and then used 164B/L/S 12v models since Feb 1991 my 164s. If you are in a heavy traffic local the 12v V6 A/T model can be a hoot and a holler. In town traffic I drive mine in 3rd so I can keep it out of 4th and torque convertor lock up under 40 mph. This 3rd position on 12v shifter allows you to slap shift to 2nd gear so you don't have to go full throttle to get downshift. I can keep up with traffic and play with folks who think their pocket rockets and M3/M5/AMG/Hemi/Turbo packages are hot stuff. You would be surprised what 183 to 200 HP in a 164 can do even with A/T (my L A/T has S engine). RPM is your friend in an older Alfa Romeo to get engine up on the cams. The 12v 164 works well starting at 3200 RPM.
Steve I've only been on this forum for a few days but it's clear you know your stuff and I'm honored that you replied to my thread. Please feel free to chime in as much you want! This is very useful information for me and I deeply appreciate your advice. Good to know that the automatic can still be sporty. I'm used to driving Crown Vics and Lincoln Town cars so really... most cars feel sporty to me anyway lol

I found a white 91 automatic for sale a few hundred miles away with 100k on the odometer. Only thing I don't like is that it has cloth seats instead of leather but that's not a big deal to me if everything else works and they have maintenance records. Otherwise I found another one, a 92 164L on the west coast but it is a manual and has 135k miles, guy is 2nd owner though and has an alfa spider too so I'm sure he took care of it. If I buy soon it would probably be one of those, the canadian one does look super nice though and the asking price isn't much more, I just don't know much about importing and it seems like it might be impossible with coronavirus, who knows how long this will go on for
 

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Those cloth velour seats are to die for. My first new 164B had them. My daughter's 164B had them and I have a spare set I used to put in my now sold 164S in the summer time. In fact I am currently sitting in the velour passenger seat I made into an office chair. They are the poor man's Recaros.
 

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Cloth seats are far superior to leather for actually sitting on and are better for driving too since they grip you. Also, cloth is cooler in summer and warmer in winter. I had a very rare SAAB 9000 Turbo with velour cloth seats (very hard wearing nylon based fabric) almost all North American SAAB turbos came with leather. After a couple of decades and 150,000+ miles there was no visible wear on the seats, not even the driver's seat. All my SAABs had cloth seats except my beloved Aero (killed by an inattentive driver who rear ended me while I stopped for turning traffic) which had the celebrated Bridge O'Weir Scottish leather. That was pretty fine (but nowhere near as durable as the nylon velour cloth, I'd have preferred the Italian wool that came on a very few Aeros).

The 164 leather is very good, full grain and really tough wearing, but the cloth is actually preferable day to day.

My 164 manual shift is also available to you but is Canadian, has nearly 240,000 km and some rust around the rear wheel arches. I also have a bunch of parts and two sets of alloys and one set of steel wheels (with the shorter lug bolts). Timing belt is overdue for a change.
 

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The only problems with the leather seats in Alfas are that the stitching doesn't hold up in many cases, the leather doesn't smell like English car leather (so nice), and is prone to severely drying out if not protected, getting hard and then cracking, and finally, they can be slippery.

I as well prefer nice cloth seats for the same reasons Michael and Steve mention.
 

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I bought my '92 164-S when it was brand new and with 135,000 miles, still love it. I considered a 164Q that my brother-in-law, Todd took in on trade at PSA, 20 years ago but for sentimental and other reasons, kept the 'S'. Maybe I am one of the 'younger guys' here (just turned 60 today) and want to say "Thank you" to Steve and Del and all you guys that have helped keep 164's going, all these many years!

A good friend gave me a running 164L auto, with a 'few' needs. After spending $4,000 restoring the car to normal driver level, my son drove it for a year or so and then decided that he 'needed' a manual transmission car (I sold the 'L' for $1,800). My daughter loved driving the 'L' with its sporty Auto; some folks are just meant to drive an auto but I sure prefer shifting when I want and the extra power a manual provides. The only time an automatic makes sense to me is in stop and go (Atlanta) traffic. There is a learning curve with a manual and you have to use the parking brake or the car may just roll away when you park.

If resale value matters much to you; I've noticed an increase in people looking for 164 'S' and 'Q' models. Sure they cost a bit more but they are worth it. They will "out Alfa" most of the Alfas I have ever driven. As a hopeless Alfaholic, I hope to keep the (more then a few) Alfas I have now, for a long time. The 164-S offers about 90% of the performance of an Alfa Romeo Montreal, for about 10% of the price -and it seats four adults!

We may never see a $100,000 164-S but when driving this unicorn, it is more rare and more unique then most of the cars around, many that cost 100K or more. OBTW, make mine red with dark grey leather!

Mark
 

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