Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Alfa 164 shared development of its Tipo Four platform with the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema, and Sweden's Saab 9000. It’ll be up to you to say whether this Italian is worth the sharing some of your hard-earned cash.
Have you ever unknowingly stepped in dog crap only to discover your misfortune later when reaching down to pull the shoe off by the heel and finding it - and now your hand - covered in slippery and unspeakably disgusting filth? And, what is that, corn?
Picture the emotion that might foster and you'll have an idea of how yesterday’s custom 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S was greeted. That wheeled weirdo was appreciably tidy, but - like a monkey with a strap-on - its Accordiness was just oh so wrong. It'll come as no surprise then that it went down in an overwhelming 92% Crack Pipe loss. Hell, it probably would have done so had it been given away for free.
So, legendarily there were four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Those were the dudes whose arrival ensures that the party is very much over, and even James Franco ain’t gonna’ save your unrepentant ass. Similarly, there were basically four cars that sprung forth from the Tipo Four platform, of which one was the Alfa Romeo one-sixty. . . that’s right, you got it, four.
We in the U.S. never even got a chance at two of them - the Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema
and Louise. And the third? Well, when exactly was the last time you saw a Saab 9000? Yeah, I know, Saab 9000 guy, you just peered out the window and gandered one in your driveway right this minute. Smart ass.
The thing of it is, while the Apocalypse guys will be harbingers of the world’s end, the 164 pretty much served that role for Alfa Romeo in the US of A.
Maybe it was the 164 being the first front-wheel drive Alfa ever to officially set meat to macadam in America that did it. Or, perhaps it was just time for Alfa to go sit in the corner and think about what it did, which was to produce cars that were desirable drivers, but frustratingly next to impossible to drive for any length of time due to horrific and systemic part failures. I that was the case, the 164 was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That’s not the case with today’s 1995 164 LS edition, as it’s not only a survivor of the Tipo 4 tribe, but it also comes with the rare and most desirable 5-speed stick for all your transmission shifting needs. Most of these cars came to America with ZF 4-cog slushboxes, Alfa figuring if they were foisting a front-drive executive sedan on the most slothful nation on the planet they might as well go whole hog.
This one however is half-hog, although it does appear to possess all the other labor saving features one would expect of the automotive equivalent of a guy in your house named Jeeves. That means that the sweet leather seats (I mean, just eyeball at that stuff, it looks as supple as Monica Bellucci’s underboob) are heated. And, there’s power windows and door locks, and a sunroof to boot.
There’s also a claimed 150K on the car, and for an Alfa, it’s remarkably intact for that number of miles. Oh sure, one of those power windows doesn't work, but for an old Alfa that being its only foible is freakin’ amazing. In fact, buying a factory Alfa (i.e. one that hasn't seen extensive restoration work over the years) is tantamount to going to Vegas and putting your life savings and your wife’s virtue on red to win. And then letting it ride.
That’s because the building of each and every Alfa was a crapshoot. Maybe it was a good day at the factory and all the sub-supplied parts were of reasonable quality. On the other hand, it’s quite possible that the gods were not smiling on one particular car - or hell, a whole batch of them - and Marco the paint booth guy neglected to compensate for the humidity or something, starting the car off to rusting even before actually being screwed together.
Or maybe that lovely leather, itself of fine quality, was held together by stitching supplied by a contractor that ran out of the UV-resistant stuff and didn't tell Alfa. That could mean that it's just one fat ass away from ripping apart like a stripper’s chaps. Like I said, every Alfa is a roll of the dice.
But perhaps not this one. There is after all that beautiful and intricate 210-horse, 3-litre V6 with its gorgeous intakes pipes and masses of cast alloy. Then there’s the lovely Pininfarina body, arguably the most beautiful of the Tipo 4s. That design, which hearkens back to the early ‘80s, has held up remarkably well and stands in stark contrast to the over-styled cars of this class offered today.
It’s also being offered for sale in Staunton Virginia, birthplace of Woodrow Wilson and probably as remote and podunk a burg as you could imagine. How an Alfa 164 is viewed there is anybody’s guess, even if Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center, housed at the Blackfriars Playhouse.
Of course, for $3,785 you - or someone like you, maybe Saab 9000 guy - could liberate it. It’s now time to determine not who, but for that price, if someone should do so. What do you think about this 164 for $3,795? Is that an Alfa bet you’d be willing to take? Or, are the odds not in its favor?
A crank of the shaft to Kurt H for the tip!
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