Deadpan comic Steven Wright is well known for his pithy one-liners. Here's one. 'I intend to live forever. So far, so good.' OK, strictly speaking that's two lines, but who's known for their pithy two-liners?
Anyway, the reason for quoting that is so that we can ask you this question: if you could re-buy any one of the cars you've owned in your life and then somehow make it live forever, which one would it be?
The idea of making an Alfa Romeo live forever might seem alien to some. Or indeed many. Not because Alfas aren't worthy of the immortality treatment: far from it. More because Alfa immortality seems such an unlikely prospect, given the reputation they have for doing the exact opposite of living forever.
That reputation is often shown to be unjustified. This week's Shed of the Week is a perfect example. According to legend, a 1993 Alfa should be something you'd want to walk away from at high speed. Running, Shed thinks it's called. Especially when the 1993 Alfa in question is purporting to be a genuine classic for less than £1,500.
And yet here it is, a solid-looking and smart 164 that's fully MOT'd up, that's had all the right work done by an enthusiast owner, and that -?can it be true? - has a Busso 3.0 V6 lurking under its bonnet. Shed can't say for sure that a 3.0 164 has never appeared in SOTW, but he is quite positive that there hasn't been one for the last seven years. Nor is he one for overstatement, but he will say that in the list of best-sounding six-cylinder engines, the Busso six is right up there.
Not only does this motor sound epic, it looks stoating too, although maybe not so much in this case. The next owner might want to invest a bit of time and effort into restoring both the plenum and cylinder head cover to their former glory. At least the iconic chromed inlet pipes still have a nice sparkle about them.
Forget all that for a minute. It's a Busso for heaven's sake, and a low miler at that. The even better news is that not only is it a Busso, it's a Lusso. This is the spec of choice for discerning Alfisti, bringing with it a healthy dose of Italian leather and a sunshine roof to let even more of that delicious din in.
Pininfarina drew up the 164 executive saloon as a hot Latin antidote to the cold Teutonic sterility of mid-1980s German tackle like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes W124. Unfortunately for Alfa, motorists quite liked cold Teutonic sterility, to the extent that many potential 164 buyers preferred to wait a year for the E34 Five to come out rather than buy a 164 a year earlier in 1987. As such the 164 was not a roaring sales success, assuming you define a quarter of a million sold in an 11-year lifecycle as not roaring.
Today we see the 164 as a cruelly neglected classic fully deserving of our attention and adoration. The V6 was a bit heavier up front than the 2.0 Twin Spark 164s. Alfa tried to even up the front/rear distribution by relocating the battery in the back, but even so they were forced to admit after extensive in-house testing that there was a 25% higher chance of skidding in a 3.0 than there was in a 2.0. A disappointing result, but it must have been fun getting it.
There must be a catch with this car, surely. Not really. Well, yes, the c-word is mentioned on the MOT. Whenever Shed sees the phrase 'within 30cm of a mounting' on an MOT certificate, he always gets a vision of his gravestone epitaph. On this Alfa's MOT certificate from last November, the phrase was used to describe the approximate location of some corrosion to the nearside rear. Despite galvanisation, crumbly Alfa floorpans are about as common as nuts in May. The underseal will often fail at the joint between the floorpan and the sills, allowing Mr Rust to gain full access to the floorpan edges. Although the tester wasn't specific, the problem on this car could be in the vicinity of the rear seatbelt anchorage point or in the rear trailing arm mount area, where holes from the seam to the wheel arch can appear. The jacking points eventually rot too.
In the case of our SOTW none of this metallurgical malarkey has so far amounted to a fail, just an advisory, so with appropriate fettling there should be plenty of life in the old girl yet. Fettling in this case involving welding up. This is not an easy job, and experts recommend having a fire extinguisher handy when you're putting heat anywhere near the box section under the back seat, but surely it's worth the risk of personal immolation if the prize is another Busso 164 kept on the road.
Anything else? See that tea-plantation-terrace of Thunderbird-style buttons on the centre console? They are there to control wiring and ventilation systems whose complexity and fragility fuel many a lively fireside chat at Alfa Owners Club meetings.
Even so, look at it. If this car doesn't get snapped up quicker than a chicken leg in a piranha-infested river Shed will hit himself in the face with a fresh halibut, that being one of the longest-living fish and therefore the most appropriate one for this story. Also, halibut are delicious. You've got to supply it though, because they're also expensive. Unlike this sumptuous Alfa.