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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all. Longtime BMW enthusiast here (recently brought both a E39 and E34 V8 back to life) who has had a long term interest in running a 164. I've done some reading about the maintenance and engineering of these cars and feel like it's within my skillset, although a very different work approach from the deliberate Germans.

What I can't figure out is where to parts shop for these cars. For any BMW, I would usually shop between FCP, Turner, RMEuropean, and even Rockauto for service parts. I also have a wholesaler I use in Northern NJ for a lot of regular consumables - oil, filters, brakes, rotors, etc. The net effect is I've been able to keep running costs pretty manageable without resorting to whatever trash AZ and Advance push for those cars.

However, for the Alfas, there doesn't seem to be much out there. Rockauto carries a small collection of so-so parts and there's Centerline who carries more but at very high prices. I'm also having trouble finding certain pieces, like shocks - I've heard KYB be referenced but neither they nor Bilstein carry anything in the current catalog for the 164. It's looking like running a 164 would be roughly 2 to 2.5 times the cost of my BMW's.

Are there any other popular vendors out there I am missing? I know these are orphaned cars, but I feel like it can't be that bad...
 

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During the course of restoring my 164 (and now my GTV6) I have purchased parts from Centerline, Alfissimo, Difatta, Mr. Fiat, Rockauto, various eBay sellers, some Amazon sellers, and some Alfa owners here on the BB. I have always been able to find what I needed in a reasonable time period. Nobody has everything you will need, but somebody has what you will need. I have not had to source anything from beyond the US. A number of owners here like to use sources in England and Germany for parts, but most of the time, shipping from them is more than the cost of the part (sometimes way more).
 

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A good napa salesman is invaluable for the small stuff like electrical, tensioner pulley, etc. for bigger stuff centerline and alfissimo are my go to. For the strange and uncommon difatta brothers and eBay (lot of parts out of Latvia for some reason). Parts are expensive, just comes with the territory of owning an uncommon Italian car from the 90s.


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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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So far, no real problems with buying parts for the 164, as there are a number of suppliers, as well as private persons with parts. There are just a few parts which are difficult to find. I've even bought parts from Latvia and Bulgaria with no problems.

I like Difatta (he says still lots of various parts), Alfissimo, Centerline, APE (for used), and others in the US. And, as I mentioned above as have others, there are individuals with NOS and used parts in their private collections. Ebay usually has a fair listing of some parts. There are some parts listed in OZ, but the shipping costs to the States seem to be quite high.

Many of us usually end up with a stash of the more difficult to find spare parts, buying them as they come up for sale now and then.
 

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My son has a 1986 BMW 535-is (I think). Parts and prices are similar between the two. If you can work on one you can most likely work on the other but each has their unique quirks and personality. I'd suggest a nice 164-S or Quad, if you can find one.

On the Alfa, timing belt, water pump, power steering rack and starter are among the nastier jobs. The cars are equally fun to drive. Although the FWD is barely noticeable, I wish the Alfa were RWD like the BMW...

Mark
 

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Call Dean Russell at Trail Auto (Detroit).. tell him Shorty's son from Toledo sent you.. .. best time is between 5-6PM EDT 313-561-0435
 

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So have you pulled to pin on a 164 purchase or still just kicking tires? Parts are parts and many of us have extra 164 spares.
 

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Some smaller parts are available from Rockauto BUT I have ordered pulleys (that did not fit), and you have to be careful you find the right part for your engine type (12v, 24v). I purchased 2 Gates acc. belts that both squeal and the tensioners listed may or mar be correct. they are not always the most accommodating when they send an item that is not correct as they will stick to what their supplier lists is correct in most cases and shipping back can be as expensive as the item.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for the replies and filling in the blanks, I can see that availability isn't awful and you can cross-shop. I'm more used to the BMW approach of pulling the PN's you need from RealOEM and then using those to search until you find need at the right price-to-quality. It looks like for Alfa it's some of that, but also seeing who/what you can buy from in the community (which I'm not opposed to, it's just different) and from nontraditional online stores for auto parts (e.g. eBay).

Still have some general questions on work/servicing though that I'm trying to work through. Right now I'm only interested in the 12V cars since it appears the 24V's are a lot harder to live with. Can y'all tell me if my understanding here is correct, or am I off base?

  1. Obviously the big one is the timing belt/tensioner/WP job which I will assume is a must on these cars unless you have positive proof it was done recently. I'm not afraid of timing an engine, have done it on BMW I6's, but in that world you have the guardrails of cam blocks and crank pins which basically prevent you from doing the job wrong. On the Busso V6, it's all cam marks and counting teeth on the belt (very similar to the Subaru's I used to work on). I haven't been able to read a full timing belt guide yet (is there a "bestlinks" section where I can find that? Searches weren't fruitful) but as I understand it all the work must be done through the wheelwell with the strut removed. Is all of the hard work in getting to the belt or are there other challenges there?
  2. The job I do the most on my BMW's is suspension arms. BMW use pre-loaded rubber bushings for every control arm and they only last about 50k to 70k miles before they're done. The preferred repair strategy is to replace the entire arm at once as the ball joint and bushing are non-removable. I can see on the 164 that the front is a standard A-arm MacPherson with a bolt-on separable ball joint and two rubber bushings on the body side (looks like they're also bolt on). So far, so good. The rear looks like it's a semi-trailing arm/multilink setup with three main arms per wheel - two atttched to the center crossmember, one to the body. Would you replace those arms as one piece, or are you expected to have new bushings pressed in?
  3. The other big thing on the BMW's is the cooling system - they're a big failure point especially when they're original. I know the WP should be addressed on the 164 as a preventative, but what about the rest of the cooling system?
  4. What kind of work is needed to service anything on the rear cylinder head? Does the intake have to come out?

As a side note: this would actually be my first car with a transverse engine layout, hence my concerns with the learning curve.
 

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Changing a timing belt is not hard, you can’t do it in an evening after work, but it isn’t hard. Some do it with the strut out, some leave the strut in. A water pump change isn’t manditory but if there is play in the shaft it is then, water pump in theory should last two timing belts. Serpentine belt idler pulley will likely need to be done, but that is basically off anyway.
I check and adjust valve clearances at the same time as the timing belt change, luckily intake don’t usually need a change and just need a wrench to do exhaust.
I haven’t had troubles with my cooling system, make sure the fans and their control systems work.
How nit picky do you want to get, they are 30 years old now, everything is a potential job. Any job that would require the engine out would be BIG, everything else is manageable. So steering rack, head gaskets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After more research, I think I'm ready to make a move on one of these cars. It's been a long time coming :).

Will probably make a WTB/ISO post shortly but if anyone has a well cared for 12V manual car they are thinking of parting ways with, feel free to DM me. For reference I am located in Northern NJ and willing to travel a state or two for cars that are a good fit.
 

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1991 164L
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Did you review "Roadtrip" John's buyer's guide?
Alfa 164 buying guide Alfa 164 Buying guide

John's very good buyers guide: My Take on Buying a 164S

When flying for AA and living in Queens he found one and brought it back to life. I think he took it back to ND when he retired from AA. He may have it near Daytona Beach now as they were building a house near there. Us old Alfa 164 Alfisti seem to like warmer weather for our aging bones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you Steve for the links! I have read both pieces before and will again in advance of any purchase.

$8k is a little out of my budget if I'm honest, right now i'm trying to spend between $4.5k and 6.5k.
 

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Great you came to this forum before purchasing. Brilliant source for advice and, even though am based in the UK, it is my Alfa forum of choice. Alfisto Steve is one of the top-five mega stars on it who have helped me keep my 24v 164 on the road. Welcome to the club :)
 
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