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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
That is the question!

Hi, first post, so please be gentle. :)

There's a 2002 166 with the 3-liter V6 with 75,000 km (47k miles) in immaculate condition both inside and out for sale right down the street where I live. The asking price of UDS11,900 is quite reasonable as well, and I'm sure I can negotiate it for a flat 10k or less. (Where I live cars are heavily taxed.)

The problem is, all my friends tell me that getting any parts for Alfa Romeos locally is an exercise in futility. I don't really mind importing parts to service the car, but I'm worried that the few forums I've lurked in and the few parts suppliers I've found online don't have that many parts in stock for the 166. Even alibaba has rear cameras and bluetooth adapters that connect directly to the ICS for the 159, Giulietta, and Giulia, but they come up dry for the 166.

Is the car reliable, provided I give the car the TLC it needs? I do plan to drive the car on a regular basis, and will do whatever is necessary to restore and maintain the car as new as the day it rolled out of the factory, but you can't replace parts that you can't get a hold of.

I even saw on YouTube how owners fawn over their 166s, but they all complain about the dearth of available parts. One guy even had a spare 166 that he bought just for the parts in order to keep his other one running!

I love the angular wedge-shaped designs of older cars compared to the eggs-on-wheels that are the norm today, and the 166 is certainly gorgeous in that regard. If I buy this car, I don't plan to sell it for at least 5-10 years, so I'm also interested the long-term running and maintenance costs.

Are there any current or previous owners of a 166 who don't mind sharing their experiences in keeping theirs running? What's the ownership experience like? Is / was it worth it?

Or am I a fool for considering the 166?
 

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Are you in Ecuador, by chance? Quito? Sorry, but I can't help you with 166 ownership since they were never sold in the USA. Hopefully some of our European friends here can advise you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are you in Ecuador, by chance? Quito? Sorry, but I can't help you with 166 ownership since they were never sold in the USA. Hopefully some of our European friends here can advise you.
That's correct - and if 166s were never sold in the US, then obtaining parts will certainly be an issue on this side of the pond.

You're more than welcome to let me know what it's like to live with Alfas in general, though! I bet the car and their parts are just as hard to come by in the US.
 

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Well, we bought a 164, the predecessor to the 166, new and had it for 7 years. We loved the 164, but it did have warranty issues with the timing belt. The V6 belt drive, oil pump drive and tensioner was extensively redesigned for the 166 and subsequent series, and from what I understand most of the timing belt sensitivities were resolved after that.

As much as I like the 166 design, I don't think I would buy one and bring it here due to parts availability, and it may not be possible anyway due to US emissions regulations, since the 166 was not officially certified under US standards.
 

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That's correct - and if 166s were never sold in the US, then obtaining parts will certainly be an issue on this side of the pond.

You're more than welcome to let me know what it's like to live with Alfas in general, though! I bet the car and their parts are just as hard to come by in the US.
so, you ARE in Ecuador? We are considering moving there, and I'm finding it difficult to get reliable information on importing a "Vintage" car.
 

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First, find a mechanic who can specifically work on Alfa Romeos where you are. If you can find one, he will have a source for parts. If you can’t find a such a mechanic then do not buy the car. They are pretty complex and there will be things that you will not be able to do yourself. There will also be problems (it’s an old car) that even a good mechanic who is unfamiliar with Alfas will take a long and expensive time to repair.

You might ask the seller who his mechanic is, and then see what you think of him before buying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, we bought a 164, the predecessor to the 166, new and had it for 7 years. We loved the 164, but it did have warranty issues with the timing belt. The V6 belt drive, oil pump drive and tensioner was extensively redesigned for the 166 and subsequent series, and from what I understand most of the timing belt sensitivities were resolved after that.

As much as I like the 166 design, I don't think I would buy one and bring it here due to parts availability, and it may not be possible anyway due to US emissions regulations, since the 166 was not officially certified under US standards.
Ah the Pininfarina-designed 164. As a kid it was my sedan equivalent to a Lamborghini Diablo. A design well ahead of its time. Always wanted one. Envy consumes me from within! hehe

As for the 166: I'm sure you're aware of the 25-year period on all cars not certified for the US. Just a few more years to go! There's a huge JDM scene in the US, maybe you can start an IDM scene?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
so, you ARE in Ecuador? We are considering moving there, and I'm finding it difficult to get reliable information on importing a "Vintage" car.
Indeed, I am! And I can tell you that in the four months between the time I decided to move here to actually pulling the trigger, local car laws changed. I'll be more than happy to answer your questions via PM if it's not Alfa-related, or right here if it is!
 

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And Don, there may be unforeseen facilitating fees involved, also, to such transactions. Just my experience working outside the country. ;);)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
First, find a mechanic who can specifically work on Alfa Romeos where you are. If you can find one, he will have a source for parts. If you can’t find a such a mechanic then do not buy the car. They are pretty complex and there will be things that you will not be able to do yourself. There will also be problems (it’s an old car) that even a good mechanic who is unfamiliar with Alfas will take a long and expensive time to repair.

You might ask the seller who his mechanic is, and then see what you think of him before buying.
Due to taxation and other legal factors, it's not uncommon to own older, 20-30 year-old cars with 100-200k miles on the ticker. You can regularly see late 60s-early 70s Mercs for sale that have been lovingly cared for all these years.

As for your suggestion on the mechanic and parts, that sounds quite logical! It's definitely on my list of to-dos prior to pulling the trigger. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Indeed, I am! And I can tell you that in the four months between the time I decided to move here to actually pulling the trigger, local car laws changed. I'll be more than happy to answer your questions via PM if it's not Alfa-related, or right here if it is!
Do you have a more easy to pronounce given name? Mine is easy, "Don".

My wife (a Columbiana) and I have already sold our home. We've got a six month lease to pack up what we want to keep, and sell or give away everything else. Tickets to Peirera are booked for December 14, and less than a month later I expect to be in Cuenca.

I've already got the wheels in motion regarding both an Alfa and an old airplane to be imported to Colombia. Efforts to arrange the same in Ecuador have left me high and dry. I have read their law regarding old "vintage" cars being imported to Ecuador, but the Ex-pat forums suggest "yeah, but they won't actually let you do it".

I've got a 1977 Alfa Spider I wouldn't mind bringing with me, just for giggles. I've, sadly, decided to sell my 1959 Touring 2000, as the risk of confiscatory taxation and poor roads argues against taking that risk. I vaguely recall reading that one container of "personal effects" can be imported duty free, and I can see a Spider fitting nicely into a 20' container.

So - your insight into vintage car importation to Ecuador is quite timely. I still need to find out who to speak to in order to keep my small airplane with me.

And, Alfaloco,

My (long departed) wife owned a property in the Caribbean, and my dad lived on the same island for about 30 years. I have scars from the experience of dealing with her estate, including that property. I think the written policy in many countries is "thank you for dying, it's all ours now!!"

However, back when I frequently flew myself down to visit my dad (pre-wife), I had occasion to repair a leaky oil seal on my engine. The sharply dressed Customs agent, "Liberd", closely scrutinized my work. After finished, I asked him if he'd ever been in a small plane?

"No sir".

Wanna go for a ride?

"Thank you, sir".

We circled the island, located his family home and circled that, and returned to land.

For the next 20+ years I was never asked to pay duty on anything I brought down for my dad.
 

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Well Don, sounds like you "networked" there very well! That's what we call it here, right? I met my wife Irene while working in Matamoros, Mexico, for Parker Hannifin Corp, decades ago. She worked as a 20 year old, there for the office of the PRI ruling party, the party that controlled Mexico for 70 some years until Vicente Fox was elected.

It's an interesting world out there, alright. ;) Best of luck with your relocation! We will miss you here, Don.
 

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Re: Networking...

My dad was a long-time resident, and well known down there. Small island. My wife, and her departed mom, also. I just flew in from time to time for R&R, but benefited from the extended family. My wife died in 98, and dad in 03, so my relationship with the island was concluded.

In 2012, I loaded my then-9 year old grandson up in the Mooney, and headed south, targeting Uruguay, Argentina, and other targets of opportunity. We stopped by the little island to show him where his great grandfather had lived. Upon climbing out of my distinctly painted airplane, I heard a loud feminine voice "Mister Peterson, Mister Peterson!!!!"

It was Omell. A local young lady now much older and in charge of marshalling aircraft. I hadn't known her well, but what a welcome thing to be greeted so gustily, and with a bear hug!

If I can slip my 115 into the container, I'll remain in touch with the BB. Eccentrics. My people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Do you have a more easy to pronounce given name? Mine is easy, "Don".

My wife (a Columbiana) and I have already sold our home. We've got a six month lease to pack up what we want to keep, and sell or give away everything else. Tickets to Peirera are booked for December 14, and less than a month later I expect to be in Cuenca.

I've already got the wheels in motion regarding both an Alfa and an old airplane to be imported to Colombia. Efforts to arrange the same in Ecuador have left me high and dry. I have read their law regarding old "vintage" cars being imported to Ecuador, but the Ex-pat forums suggest "yeah, but they won't actually let you do it".

I've got a 1977 Alfa Spider I wouldn't mind bringing with me, just for giggles. I've, sadly, decided to sell my 1959 Touring 2000, as the risk of confiscatory taxation and poor roads argues against taking that risk. I vaguely recall reading that one container of "personal effects" can be imported duty free, and I can see a Spider fitting nicely into a 20' container.

So - your insight into vintage car importation to Ecuador is quite timely. I still need to find out who to speak to in order to keep my small airplane with me.

And, Alfaloco,

My (long departed) wife owned a property in the Caribbean, and my dad lived on the same island for about 30 years. I have scars from the experience of dealing with her estate, including that property. I think the written policy in many countries is "thank you for dying, it's all ours now!!"

However, back when I frequently flew myself down to visit my dad (pre-wife), I had occasion to repair a leaky oil seal on my engine. The sharply dressed Customs agent, "Liberd", closely scrutinized my work. After finished, I asked him if he'd ever been in a small plane?

"No sir".

Wanna go for a ride?

"Thank you, sir".

We circled the island, located his family home and circled that, and returned to land.

For the next 20+ years I was never asked to pay duty on anything I brought down for my dad.
Hey Don,

Most people only get halfway through my online handle so they just call me haf. On a related note, I'm sure the locals will get a kick out of your name. See, for older gentlemen, they don't use "mister" or "sir"; they use "don", followed by the name. So you'd be "Don Don" 😄

As for importing vintage cars, I'm afraid I have terrible news for you. From what I understand, you are not allowed to import used cars older than five years from the date you submit the papers for approval. In other words, if you were to submit the papers on June 30, 2021, you could only import a car that was manufactured on June 30, 2016. In fact, I doubt you can import any car, period. Importing second-hand cars are reserved for Ecuadorian citizens who have lived abroad for two years or more and are returning to Ecuador. Importing new cars is allowed, but the tax rate is pretty high here - and not what you are looking for anyhow.

I'm not sure about private aircraft, but I do have a friend here who enjoys his occasional Cessna and glider outings, so I'll ask him. I'll also get in touch with someone who's an expert on the myriad convoluted import laws that exist here. Just give me a day or two and I'll either get a straight answer from them, or put you in touch with them directly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: Networking...

My dad was a long-time resident, and well known down there. Small island. My wife, and her departed mom, also. I just flew in from time to time for R&R, but benefited from the extended family. My wife died in 98, and dad in 03, so my relationship with the island was concluded.

In 2012, I loaded my then-9 year old grandson up in the Mooney, and headed south, targeting Uruguay, Argentina, and other targets of opportunity. We stopped by the little island to show him where his great grandfather had lived. Upon climbing out of my distinctly painted airplane, I heard a loud feminine voice "Mister Peterson, Mister Peterson!!!!"

It was Omell. A local young lady now much older and in charge of marshalling aircraft. I hadn't known her well, but what a welcome thing to be greeted so gustily, and with a bear hug!

If I can slip my 115 into the container, I'll remain in touch with the BB. Eccentrics. My people.
Latin America is notorious for its under-the-table approach to resolve any legal or bureaucratic hurdle. While Ecuador was no exception, I can say from personal experience that things are different this time around.

I left the country 21 years ago, and returned this February. Yes, there's still corruption, but this time around they are really doing their best to snuff it out. Virtually any transaction here is tracked and traced in an effort to eliminate money laundering, so even a USD3000 transaction will raise suspicion from the authorities.

Buying your way through bureaucratic red tape is also harder, as all fees are paid to independent banks, with the deposit slip your ticket to the next step of the process. Long gone are the days where payments were made within the government office and everyone could take a slice of that pie.

As for customs, that's arguably the hardest nut to crack - or so I've been told. Every customs inspection facility here is filled with surveillance cameras for the sole purpose to detect any irregularities with shipments and manifests - and what the customs officers report.

The truth is, for decades the country lost money hand over fist because the revenue that was intended for the government entities wound up in the pockets of civil servants and public officers. They are having none of that now.

Having said that, every man has a price, and I'm sure if you were to connect to the right high-ranking officer you could work something out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sorry, that was kind of off a tangent.

I went to check the car at the second-hand car dealership. It's in great condition. However, what am I supposed to glean from my conversation with the salesman?

"Look, I could tell you right now that the car is in great shape and while that is true, you will spend two months with the car in your garage collecting dust every time it breaks down while you are looking all over for a tiny spring or piece of plastic. Now if you really want it, I won't stop you, but you've been warned."

I'm still looking for local Alfa parts dealers and mechanics. Fingers crossed.
 

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Not too many years ago, a number of South American countries signed onto an agreement that included, among other things, a shared agreement regarding the importation of cars.

It essentially said

No cars to be imported, except brand new, and then they tax you the same as if it was bought locally..
Cars with diplomats, ok.
Vintage and classic ok, being 25 years old, or more.
The receiving country was entitled to "approve" the vintage/classic car before importation.

As of a couple of weeks ago, this language was still to be found online. Could be newer language. However, it originated with a multi-country, multilateral agreement.

As I noted, the expat forums, none of which were terribly current, generally reported "yep, that's the law, but good luck making it work".

I'm too old to fight losing battles, but I don't mind making enquiries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Not too many years ago, a number of South American countries signed onto an agreement that included, among other things, a shared agreement regarding the importation of cars.

It essentially said

No cars to be imported, except brand new, and then they tax you the same as if it was bought locally..
Cars with diplomats, ok.
Vintage and classic ok, being 25 years old, or more.
The receiving country was entitled to "approve" the vintage/classic car before importation.

As of a couple of weeks ago, this language was still to be found online. Could be newer language. However, it originated with a multi-country, multilateral agreement.

As I noted, the expat forums, none of which were terribly current, generally reported "yep, that's the law, but good luck making it work".

I'm too old to fight losing battles, but I don't mind making enquiries.
This is new to me, but I'll certainly ask. Saw a 1979 Celica Supra on sale a month ago in CA...
 

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By the way, an old friend in Argentina says his friends all laugh at him, and by proxy me, whenever he would say "I am going with Don", the local pronunciation of "con Don" reminding them of a useful tool for avoiding the angry father of one's youthful lady friend

I just read some discussions on the 166. A magazine in England declared it the worst depreciating car, typically retaining only 14% of its value three years after being sold new.

I drive a 916 GTV, a rarity in the US. It's ok as a runabout GT.
 
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Re: Networking...

My dad was a long-time resident, and well known down there. Small island. My wife, and her departed mom, also. I just flew in from time to time for R&R, but benefited from the extended family. My wife died in 98, and dad in 03, so my relationship with the island was concluded.

In 2012, I loaded my then-9 year old grandson up in the Mooney, and headed south, targeting Uruguay, Argentina, and other targets of opportunity. We stopped by the little island to show him where his great grandfather had lived. Upon climbing out of my distinctly painted airplane, I heard a loud feminine voice "Mister Peterson, Mister Peterson!!!!"

It was Omell. A local young lady now much older and in charge of marshalling aircraft. I hadn't known her well, but what a welcome thing to be greeted so gustily, and with a bear hug!

If I can slip my 115 into the container, I'll remain in touch with the BB. Eccentrics. My people.
I can hear them now... "De plane! De plane!" Only your old Mooney touched down on terra firma.
 
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