OK, so it may look like it’s been parked in the Hall of Mirrors, but Alfa’s 166 is one of the best valued executive saloons for our £1,500 budget. There aren’t many around nowadays (maybe to do with the fact that only several hundred were ever sold in the UK) but if you do decide to venture out onto forecourts then have a look for a 166. It fits the bill perfectly; Italian, cheap, reliable and to all intense and purposes “you aren’t a real petrol head until you’ve driven an Alfa”.
You might have been looking forward to another episode of BOTW, but why another Alfa, I hear you ask? Let’s be honest, Alfa’s have always nose-dived in value but then suddenly surface in nationwide bargain bins. In reality they’re such a steal that you’ll be mad not to peer through the window and ask to sit inside.
Alfa’s underrated saloon has always had a turbulent ride even though its predecessor, the 164 Cloverleaf edition, has become a real collector’s Q-car. If you do happen to find one in the classifieds, expect to pay over £2,000 for a neat example.
The only 166 to have, of course, is the glorious, chrome covered V6-block, an engine that can get any petrol head shivering with excitement. Although we’re all playing economic-money busters at the moment, why not push the boat out a little this week?
With petrol prices coming down, running a tank-busting V6 isn’t as bad as it could have been 12 months ago. I’ve found a fab 166 Lusso (top spec to you and me) advertised for £1,500, although the trader concerned will take a staggering £1,350 cash. This particular Y-reg (2000) 2.5-litre example is in every sense of the word, stunning. I was so taken aback with its spec and price that a quick haul north proved to be a worthwhile trip. It may have 127,000 miles on the clock, but a full (and I do mean full) Alfa Romeo dealer service history backs up the high motorway miles. It’s a one proud-owner car and has been fully valeted every month without fail. The previous owner has spared nothing on any repair and the Alfa invoices show that he’s spent a staggering £2,400 over the last eight years. The grey leather seats are barely worn and you could eat your dinner off them. It’s packed with every toy to keep any car nut happy; climate control, electric and heated leather seats, cruise control, factory fitted Alfa on board multi-function computer and the list goes on.
A test drive revealed that it’s as tight as a drum, and it drives beautifully with no odd noises, knocking or black smoke. The punchy V6 is as strong as new and it still feels spritely through the gears. Back in 2000 Alfa claimed a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of around 150mph. Even today it launches from a standstill like any £30K sports car and cruises like a limo. OK, so fuel consumption is a dismal 26mpg, but it’s not as money burning as most people think.
The deep red metallic paint and grey leather interior are a great partnership, and feeling a little smitten, I’ve been tempted for the first time. Having it AA checked and HPI’d, just to make sure this wasn’t a ringer, all reports came back with a clean bill of health. This was too tempting to walk away from and let someone else have a bight of the cherry. With Christmas closing in, a haggle began and I knocked the price down to £1290. Ah, I’ve just bought an Alfa. With 11 months MOT and 7 months road tax I returned home in my very own 166 Lusso.
A week later and it still starts everyday without fail and feels just like new. I drive it at every opportunity and have renewed my honorary membership of the petrol head society! I don’t regret my decision but I’m going to play devil’s advocate and try to make a profit. I know used values are abysmal at the moment but someone out there would fall over themselves for such a tidy car. Yet another reason to go bargain hunting, even if you just use it to climb the used car ladder.
So, onto the next BOTW, and I promise it won’t be an Alfa.