With a name like that, who needs a headline?
Alfa Romeo is one of the most storied automotive brands in history. And, like most Italian brands, Alfa Romeo is associated with style and performance and experience. But there’s something special about Alfa that can be hard to define if you’re not an Alfisti.
Ferrari has the supercar chops. Fiat is the volume player. Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, has always been the artist. While all car designs have evolved over the years, few marques have put forward bold new designs with the style and grace of Alfa Romeo. From the sultry curves of the Giulietta to the slab-sided 75 and beyond, love at first sight is only the right Alfa Romeo away.
I’ve never owned one, but I’ve come close. And I’ve wasted so many years thinking how nice it would be to own one, I’ve likely missed the boat on being able to afford the one I want. Then again, having said all of the above about Alfa Romeo, I suspect there’s a good chance that’s not the case.
Robert Monzi lives in Gran Canaria, Spain, and daily drives such an Alfa Romeo.
It’s an amazing machine!
[tgp] Let’s start with some Introductions: You and your Alfa V6. It’s a 164, right?
[rm] Yes, it is a 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Quadrifoglio Verde with the three liter, 12-valve, “Busso” V6 engine. I think in North America it was called the 164 S.
On Alfa Romeo 164s
[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. As an Alfa 164 owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth with the rest of us? What do you love about them? What do you not love about them?
[rm] What I personally love about the car is its unique personality. There’s the legendary engine which produces a smile on your face everytime you rev it, and paired with the very good gearbox and suspension, makes it a car easy to handle even with a sporty driving style. Then, there’s the beautiful Pininfarina design both on the outside and the inside of the car which makes it really stand out.
Unfortunately, the build quality is not the best. Some parts, especially electrical and plastic parts, did not age well and are prone to breaking. Getting spare parts is not that easy anymore, especially for the QV model, which has some unique features such as the electrically adjustable suspension.
[tgp] What’s the story behind your car? How did you come to own it?
[rm] I moved back to the Spanish island of Gran Canaria two years ago, and was looking for a sporty car which still has some practicality for everyday use. I have always liked 80s and 90s sedans and having grown up in Milan I felt a connection to Alfa Romeos, so I started checking the local ads and stumbled upon the 164. I knew this model existed but did not know much about it, so I started investigating reviews and forums.
What I read about the car convinced me to go check it out at the dealership, and the moment I saw it I knew I wanted to have it. During that time I was also inspired by Davide Cironi’s video series in which he saved an Alfa 75 from a barn to rebuild it for track use. The idea of restoring a car to its former glory resonated a lot with me and convinced me to go for the 164.
The Alfa Romeo Community
[tgp] How’s the Alfa Romeo community doing these days? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot?
[rm] When investigating the car, I stumbled upon the alfaBB online forum. I was surprised by how much knowledge these guys had about the 164 and how there was a tutorial for every issue the car might have. This fact helped me gain more confidence in my decision to get the car.
Later on I found two dedicated Facebook groups for V6 Alfa Romeos and the 164, specifically. Everyone I met there and had contact with has been really friendly and helpful. You can find people that can detect your car’s issue by looking at a blurry picture from a mobile phone or by hearing a 10-second audio of the engine noise, and you can get a lot of parts for a fair price. The stereotype that Alfa Romeo owners are very passionate proved to be true.
Another popular place to hang out and meet Alfisti from all over the world is Instagram. I was surprised about how posting a few pictures of the car helped me to find new friends and to reconnect with old mates.
Finally, I must add that the car culture on Gran Canaria is really impressive. The island might be small but I’ve seen Ferrari F40s, Lancia Delta integrales, Toyota Supras, and countless other classics which I had never seen before. Plus, I got very lucky because I can rely on a mechanic on the island dedicated to Alfa Romeos which is a true expert and has an impressive collection of classic Alfas.
This Gearhead Life
[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?
[rm] In my opinion, we should embrace even more the connection possibilities the internet offers us to meet people all around the globe that share our passion. We should support and inspire each other and respect that everyone can and should do whatever they want [to with their machines], and be curious about how the automotive world will change with the rise of electric vehicles. When I see what is already possible today with restomods and the like, I am very excited to experience how the automotive world will evolve.
[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?
[rm] In my family, cars have always occupied a special role. More than a tool for driving from A to B, it was the feelings that we could experience while driving. I think the best conversations we have had in our family were in a car while we were driving somewhere. It is this blend of sensations of freedom, of finding a place to relax and to forget everything else, that you can only experience while driving that they have passed on to me.
Robert makes an excellent point back there. Whether we’re any good at it or not, we all know we should support and respect and inspire each other—but we need to be curious about the automotive industry in general. That’s music to this gearhead’s ears.
When you think about how often we (owner-enthusiasts) get involved with the industry, it’s almost exclusively in the form of critiquing new models and passing judgment. Our DIY experiences have given us incredible insight into the industry, but we really don’t know the half of it.
It’s easy to lean on personal anecdotes as a crutch for doing the real homework. And why would anyone do homework if they didn’t have to? Well, if all our years playing with cars tells us anything, it’s that nothing can stop a gearhead from diving deep in search of answers when he or she wants to do it.
Stay curious, my friends.