For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

Alfa Romeo's Milano is like the homely guy/girl who, contrastingly, really knows how to rock your planet. This Nice Price or Crack Pipe Verde represents the hottest U.S. iteration of the fugly sedan, but is its price unattractive as well?

When on the road, there are tons of places to grab a quick burger, but most people go with Mickey Dee's. Movie prostitutes could have any personality imaginable, but they are invariably written as having hearts of gold. And while you could pretend spend your dollars on any of the panoply of automotive treasures and travesties we have here, it always comes back to how much Miata you could buy for the given amount. That's why yesterday's kinda' pricy 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 presented such a conundrum, and caused some of you to have a V'ger-like meltdown over the car- error, error, error. Those of you not too overcome with conflict to vote did so with a near equal split down middle of the Nice Price or Crack Pipe ass crack. In the end, with 51.34% of the vote, the Crack won, as it often does. Haters.

I predict less inner conflict today.

It's a funny thing about Italian cars- the coupes are usually molto bella while their four door siblings couldn't get arrested in this town. For example, we recently had a Fiat 130 Coupe here, and it was all kinds of hot, like Jessica Biel in Pirellis. In contrast, the platform-sharing 130 sedan was like driving around in Bea Arthur. These days, the lines between coupes and sedans are blurred and Alfa Romeo has been at the forefront in the building of four-door cars that are just as beautiful as their two-door brethren. But that wasn't always the case.

For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

The Milano, or 75 in Europe, replaced and represented a derivation of the precedent Alfetta/Giullietta sedans. It kept the earlier editions' transaxle layout coupled with a De Dion rear suspension and guibo-equipped shaft from its front-mounted motor. Unlike the Alfetta, which here used the twin-cam four for power, all Milanos arriving in the U.S. came with Alfa's sweet and revvy V6. Most Milanos here carried the 2.5-litre edition of the two-cams with tiny pushrods engine, but in this
1988 Verde edition
, you get the rare and desirable 3.0 which, with its Motronic fuel injection, puts out 183-bhp. Along with the larger, more horsepowery engine, the Verde gets a taller 3.55 (as opposed to 4.11) rear end, and this one is fitted with the 5-speed transaxle.

So equipped, a properly sorted Verde should be able to get you up to sixty in a little over 7 seconds, and with only 2,900 lbs to cart around, the torsion bar front, coil spring rear suspension makes for entertaining handling.

But then there's the body.

For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

Now, styling is subjective, but needless to say, when the subject of the Milano's design comes up, there are few defenders to be found. It's hard to say exactly which of the 37 shadow lines that pass across its flanks does it, but the confluence of styling memes conspire to make the Milano one hot mess of an Alfa. Most cars have a beltline, but the Milano has an actual belt wrapping around it and rising in the back like the top of a pair of mom jeans. The rest gives the impression that the Italian designers boycotted French Curves out of some sort of national pride, and inside it gets even worse. Early Alfas had dashboards that were dramatic – the multi-pod affair of the Montreal being a prime example. In contrast, the dash of the Milano is a jumble of miss-fitting plastic squares, rectangles, and switches, and the e-brake looks like something you'd bring Frankenstein to life with.

For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

This one is in remarkable shape, meaning that it's not sitting askew in the junk yard. The seller seems pretty honest in his description, and while this car isn't showroom fresh, it at least doesn't appear to have any major dingleberrys hanging off of it. The body – in innocuous gray – has suffered only modestly for its 76,000 mile life, while the interior issues begin with sport seats that look like a wormy dog has spent a month scooting up and down on them. Other problems are a headliner that could double as a gangsta's drawers, and the obligatory pinhole burns in the back seat upholstery. Overall, it seems to have dodged the crapwagon bullet that was the fate of so many Milanos. Unfortunately time has not dimmed its fug, and both inside and out this car still screams I heart the ‘80s like somebody was trying to shove Adam Curry up its ass.

For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

But maybe you like that styling. And perhaps you subscribe to the tenet that to be a true auto enthusiast you must first suffer the gang initiation that is Alfa ownership. And as far as Alfa's are concerned the really desirable ones aren't getting any cheaper. Sure, you could probably find a Spider or an Alfetta GT around this car's price, but they won't be anywhere near as nice, and you'll probably crap yourself the first time you drive it once you realize the only thing holding it together is rust.

For $4,500, Looks Aren’t Everything

In contrast, this Milano is claimed rust-free and should provide much of the Alfa experience, with perhaps less of, well, the Alfa experience. If you were keen to gain that experience, then you could do so simply by clicking the buy it now button and plunking down $4,500 American. What do you think, would hitting that button be an all right it's mine moment? Or, an oh shit, what have I done one?

You decide!



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