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    Nathan Chadwick
    Nathan Chadwick joined the group BMW E34 5-series
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    / #2005-Alfa-Romeo-166Ti / #2005 / #Alfa-Romeo-166Ti / #Alfa-Romeo-166 / #Alfa-Romeo

    Our drives / Tales of running modern classics in the real world

    Its happening again…

    Just when Nathan thought that owning one Alfa was mad enough, now he’s got two. Nurse!

    To be an Alfa Romeo owner requires a certain strength of will, more than a little sense of humour and the understanding nature of Nanny McPhee. The rewards are cars that are interesting and exciting, if not always in intended or even positive ways.

    But owning two of them? For those in the office obsessed with boringly predictable German machinery, this is the kind of behaviour that, if applied to anything other than cars, would provoke an intervention. Perhaps some prescribed medication too.

    They’re just unenlightened. Say hello to the latest Italian to grace the Chadwick fleet, a 2005 Alfa Romeo 166 Ti. With a 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine. Hmm. I can sense among some of the readers that I’ve perhaps let the side down, wimping out of a V6. Worse still, this car in this particular specification was recently derided by our own Tony Middle hurst on an internet motoring forum popular among powerfully-built company directors as being one of the most disappointing cars he’d ever driven.

    There is method to my apparent madness though. For a start, I already own a Busso V6 Alfa, which provides all the adrenaline hits I need. I’ve not bought the 166 for that. I’ve bought it to be a comfortable cruiser.

    The first bit of comfort comes on the Running costs of the 2.0 versus a V6. A cambelt change on the V6 is around £700; on the Twin Spark it’s around £300. A replacement clutch is £750 on the GTA; it’s a third of that on the 2.0-litre. Then there’s the fuel economy. Alfa claims a smidge under 30 mpg for the 166 #Twin-Spark , though such a small engine (just 153bhp folks) hauling 1500kg (plus, er, ballast) makes for a busy unit, so I doubt I’ll get that. Still, it can’t be worse than the GTA: I get 19mg out of that when cruising, and 7mpg when I’m not.

    So, how did I end up with a £700 166? Ant from Auto sportivo, who fettles the GTA for me and who knew I’d been looking for a 166, texted to say he’d found one. Single family ownership from new, 72,500 miles up, all the service history and – luxury! – two keys. This is the first car I’ve owned that still had both its original keys.

    There are some negatives. It’s been sat for a little while as a new Mercedes-Benz had replaced it as the previous owner’s family workhorse. The air con doesn’t work, which may just be a regas (any suggestions in the Cambridgeshire/ Northamptonshire area?), and the driver’s Foot-well is a little soggy.

    There are also some minor paint marks, and the cambelt needs changing. Alfa Romeo suggests 32,000 miles or three years as a replacement schedule for Twin Sparks, though some specialists suggest 22,000 miles, and this hadn’t had one for a long time, so I’ve booked it in with Ant.

    My mate Danny pays £312 a month for his BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Aside from a few modern toys, I fail to see what the Beemer has that the Alfa doesn’t. The Italian certainly looks more handsome, and the interior’s far more comfortable. And all for £700.

    Does that make it a bargain? Too early to tell. Finding out will be fun, though.

    ALFA ROMEO 166 Ti
    Year 2005
    Acquired March 2018
    Mileage 72,500
    Costs £700 (car)
    Other cars 2002 Ford Focus 1.6 (daily) 2004 Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

    2.0-litre Twin Spark has just 153bhp. Ti spec includes lowered suspension.
    Aircon doesn’t work but this interior’s still cool.
    Well, at least the car’s good looking, eh?
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    Nathan Chadwick

    Alfa Romeo 166 Type 936 Open Group

    Alfa Romeo 166 (Type 936) 1998-2007

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    The Alfa 155s we should have looked after

    / #Alfa-Romeo-155-Q4 / #Alfa-Romeo-155 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-155-Type-167 / #Alfa-Romeo-Type-167 /

    Trading off the back of its Touring Car successes, along with the sad fact that very few have survived (there are apparently just over 100 left in the UK) Alfa 155 prices are rocketing. Of those, less than a quarter have the ultradesirable 2.5 V6 engine and only 10 have the Integrale-derived engine and four-wheel drive running gear. Four years ago you could still pick these cars up for a grand – happy days, but we should have swamped those cars with care and rustproofing fluids.

    Most of the examples that are currently for sale in the UK are fresh imports, which tells a tale in itself. A Cheshire dealer is asking £8990 for a 15,000-mile left-hand-drive Q4, and probably isn’t far off the mark. In Herts another dealer has a regular 2.0 Twin Spark, ex-Japan, with 45,000 miles for £5940 and it’s just been marked ‘sold’. And in Somerset there’s a similar but UK-market TS for £6995. V6s? You’ll be lucky. And expect to pay the thick end of £10k if a good one does come up for sale. That might just happen as owners realise the value of what they have, but for now most are clinging onto them.

    Snap up and save a 155 now, before they all evaporate.
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    Nathan Chadwick
    Nathan Chadwick joined the group Alfa Romeo 155 Type 167
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    AMG SL55 – the hero car to buy now / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55-AMG-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55 / #Mercedes-Benz-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R230 / #AMG

    At launch, and with the 155mph speed restrictor disabled, the supercharged 493bhp SL55 had the distinction of being the fastest automatic car you could buy, capable of hitting 186mph on the right autobahn. Of course back then you had to pay the thick end of £100k to buy into the game, so such selfshifting speed didn't come cheap.

    Secondhand, the SL55 has got a lot cheaper, but our thinking is that these #Mercedes have finally reached the bottom of their depreciation slope and values are on the way back up. You can still pick up something leggy for £12k, but anything remotely good will be in the mid-to-high teens now. In fact really special examples are now being snapped up by specialists and offered in the mid-twenties or more. Those dealers may have to hang onto them for a bit, but they know which way the wind is blowing and the SL55 is heading for nailed-on modern classic status. So those will be the prices people are paying very soon.

    We’re just saying, right, but if you don’t want to miss the boat, now looks like a very good time to acquire one of these handsome and potent machines.

    Once around £100,000, now just a fraction of that. But prices are rising again.
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    Nathan Chadwick
    Nathan Chadwick joined the group Mercedes-Benz R230 Club - SL
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    Nathan Chadwick

    Lexus IS XE10 First generation Open Group

    Lexus IS XE10 First generation 1999-2005

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