2k: An Alfa Story: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164

Sometimes you find a story and other times the story finds you.  This is one of the latter, with a story finding us, or more accurately being spammed into DT’s tips inbox.  It started so innocently enough back in early February when DT’s resident logo guru Kaibeezy sent us a simple tip for an Alfa 164–  $3400. Didn’t someone just comment best car ever?  The comment was from Christopher T. Mahoney who says the 164 is a fabulous European sports car for a reasonable price,  but the car was a green Alfa Romeo 164 with manual transmission and an ad skimpy in details.  Of course I dismissed it as overpriced rubbish and went on to find some kind of customized El Camonster, CFlo headed to his favorite Volvo site, and Hunsbloger did some more TauruSable wagon market research.  But, like a persistent case of the clap, that Alfa just wouldn’t go away and Kaibeezy had the itch.

In mid February, Kaibeezy sends in another note with a (now dead) link:  manual – “perfect inside and out” – $2200 – now that’s tempting! does it have to be green?

More condescending drivel from the “sages” at DT.

CFlo: Tempting. Beware of this statement: Sitting in garage for years.

Vince: Missing a fog lamp…$1000 max.

Hunsbloger: Has anyone seen my Coors Light?

Another month gone by, another email from Kaibeezy: $1700 – do i want it yet?

CFlo: I told you to stop sending us that car.

Vince: $900, I smell a desperate seller.

Hunsbloger: Vinnie – you should buy the car yourself and see if you can export it to Egypt, I’ve heard these are worth way more over there.

It is now a full two months after we first picked up the listing and Kaibeezy sends us his typically insightful and thorough analysis of the subject with yet another link to the same car:

The sad part about this 91 Alfa I keep pestering you with is the fact the seller is being so relentlessly desperate about it. The price goes up and down and up and down. There are multiple listings for it at the same time, with slightly different photos and prices. 


He lists his name and direct phone, which is not unheard of but not usual either.

The thing is, if I were interested in buying one (which I might be ;), I’d sure be taking my time looking, and I’d be seeing this one every day for weeks or months now. It sure sucks away any optimism I might have that I’d ever be able to resell it, or any other 164 for that matter. Plus, anyone looking for these is also checking ebay. Phil should ebay it, set a $1000 reserve and hope for the best.

But the story isn’t over yet, and Kaibeezy continues:

So now today, this other one pops up. A 94, better color, same miles, but, crucially, this one has bathed in magic unicorn tears. $7000 versus the $1500 to $2000 oscillation of the other one.


…and another one, also a 1991 Alfa 164, but this one is covered in a stunning shade of red, indeed looking the part of a proper Italian sport sedan. Its $6,500 asking price seems reasonable if it is in good shape. 


The real lesson in this story is that the rare and finicky modern classics do not follow typical market expectations.  One simply cannot expect a car that is worth $5k in good shape to be worth $2k if it needs $3k in repairs…because…those $3k could easily snowball into $6k making the original price not such a good deal anymore.  Back when cars were built from crude drawings and everything could be run on a weber carb, life was easy for the backyard mechanic.  But all of these electrons in 30 year old cars are starting to cause issues and if the cars haven’t been sucked into some whirlwind of appreciation (e.g. E30 M3) then buying a good condition running/driving example becomes the best deal.  Got your own insight into the used Alfa 164 market? Comments below: