Distant Cousins, Part 2 – 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 and 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S

So now you’ve seen contestant number one, and what an elegant shape it is. But, you whine, the sexy Alfa V6 with its gorgeous intake runners and musical exhaust note sucks up too much fuel, and needs regular timing belt changes, lest it bend its valves, and the term “stepper motor” sends shivers down the spine. So feast your eyes (and your low-budget-fun-car dollars) on this 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 for sale for $1600 in Portland, OR.

1991 Alfa Romeo 164S Peugeot 405 Mi16 left front

Same picture, same cousins. Your 1.9-liter XU9J4 (boy, that sounds way less sexy than “Busso V6”) gives you a very respectable 162hp. To put that in context, the Saab turbo engine put out about 160hp, the Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 had 167hp, and the BMW 2.5-liter six put out roughly 170hp. And this is the same engine that is so prized in the Peugeot 205GTi, a forbidden fruit for North American drivers. Fortunately, this car has fairly low miles (104,000), and looks to be in good shape.

1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 engine

That engine has nothing on the Alfa in terms of style, but those are some pretty crazy long intake runners, making for a lower-torque, high-rev car. Who knew you could probably drive this like a Honda Something Si. Surprisingly, this car comes with a full folder of maintenance receipts, and the air conditioning is even said to be functional. The question is, does it feel like a polar bear exhaling on your knee, or like an arctic gale?

1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 interior

Sadly, while this car looks like a great alternative to the fancier, more complex 164, this car suffers some of the same weak spots. The engine runs a timing belt, and the heater controls have been mcgyvered (seller’s words), and that’s on top of the failing clear coat on the spoiler, and the self-opening (uh, broken) glove box latch. However, these cars, particularly the later ones, seem to be pretty thin on the ground, so this might still be a good choice. Would the reduced number of cylinders (and therefore complexity, right??) with comparable performancedraw you into the French camp?

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