Continuing our search for family-friendly enthusiast cars with an automatic transmission, it didn’t take a lot of looking to find an Alfa 164. Many were sold in the United States, particularly in the coastal cities, and while it’s more of an expert-level car, it’s got the appeal of that amazing Busso six-cylinder, which can’t be stifled by the automatic. In fact, the interesting thing about the automatic on the 164 is it does seem to be set up to hold gears and downshift a bit more than your average automatic of the period. While the Pininfarina design of the 164L is beautiful, the six shiny intake runners are a kind of mechanical beauty you can share with anyone in the family. Just look away long enough for them to roll their eyes at you. Check out this 1991 Alfa Romeo 164L for sale for $2950 in San Mateo, CA.
The automatic transmission is the ZF 4HP18, so while European cars of a certain age have a reputation for losing their automatic transmission, everything should be readily available since they were also sold in various versions of Porsche, Audi, Eagle/Dodge, and Saab. And thankfully, this car seems to have received excellent care – as proof, note the functioning electric windows, power seats, perfect finish, excellent interior, and more. The seller writes a very thorough description of the car, even enough to detail the one time the automatic threw a fault code and went into neutral. After sitting for an hour, the problem did not resurface, though it’s not clear how long it’s been since that happened.
The car’s had a nice upgrade to wheels from an S, and in spite of its 137,000 miles, the car looks more like it has about half that many miles. The seller purchased it with the intent of switching to a five-speed manual, but before you go drastic, why not try servicing the transmission and see where that gets you? Assuming the air conditioning is actually working, the only thing you’ll have to explain to your car-enthusiast-in-training is the unusual ergonomics of the center console.
Original California plates for the early 90s mean this is probably the set the car has worn since new, and notice the plate frame from the dealer who sold the car new. The other concern with this car, besides the auto’s one-time slip-up, is that the last timing belt change was in 2012. The official recommendation is every 30,000 miles, and the seller gives no indication of how many miles have been covered since. So you’ll want to factor in a timing belt change to the price (or take half a year off your expected lifespan). While you’re down there, do something to amplify the sound of that fantastic engine. What are you waiting for? Both of you can be happy, and junior will even fit in the back seat.