Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
Old Italian cars are supposed to be fantastically gorgeous pieces of work that sound great, too. But, too often, they're rusty things that don't start. So when clean examples of Italy's automaking history come into view, you stop looking at rust bubbles and torn seats and focus on the looks and the drive. A clean, old Italian car in these parts is a rare and beautiful thing.
Rare definitely describes this 1973 Fiat 130 Coupe. It's a Pinninfarina-styled luxury coupe in the vein of the big Merc or BMW coupes of the era. The Fiat is less common than something German, with only about 4,000 being made in its seven-year production run. For some reason, they've been cropping up somewhat consistently on eBay this year. This one came up a few months ago, but apparently didn't find a home. The astronomical $41,900 Buy-it-now price might have something to do with it.
Still, this is definitely a rare Italian beast anywhere in the world. It's a modern car underneath, too, with four-wheel disc brakes and independent suspension, also with a 3.2-liter V6 engine with 165 horsepower – totally respectable back in the day when a successful Italian businessman would've driven up in one of these with his fine Italian suit and briefcase. The car's original owner was the owner of the Fiat dealer in Modena, Italy. It was bought by another man in 1977 and basically left untouched until someone shipped it to Florida this year. Even with about 33,000 miles on the odometer, it's a very pristine example. You can see traces of the old plastic carpet protector from the factory.
But this 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 might be even mintier. This is a car that's old enough to order a drink for itself, but it's done fewer than 12,000 miles. And it has a five-speed manual, mated to one of the best V6s in history. And it's $18,000!
This time-warp Alfa in Philadelphia looks like a low-spec 164 originally sold shortly after it officially went on sale in the US. The last new Alfa sold here before the company left us in 1995, it shares bits and pieces underneath with the Saab 9000, not that Sven could really help you with some of the Italian parts that are bound to go wrong with this car. And who thought Boring White and Depressing Gray velour was a good combination? But this is a mighty clean example of one of Alfa's best cars, and certainly one of the most usable models they've put together. The lines, done by Pinninfarina like the Fiat's, have definitely held up well, too.
I'm a firm believer in picking the right colors for certain vehicles, and neither the Alfa or Fiat look their best in the colors seen here. The Fiat looks old in brown and the Alfa anonymous in white. Still, both are undeniably clean and showroom-fresh. I must pick the 164 because it's one of my all-time favorite cars, even if this one isn't the 164S. I'd kill to have one of these cars every day.
What do you think? Is it the '70s Fiat coupe or the spotless 164? Or do you just keep away from old Italians at all cost? Sound off in comments.
All photos credit eBay.