Only in my case, it would be Always Looking For Another Because One Broke, or ALFABOB. I imagine somebody already has the as a personalized plate – likely in California, where extroverts seem to thrive.
Now, I’m not the first person to experience a broken Alfa, but both my ’89 Milano Verde and my ’95 164LS both have experienced bottom end failure within their first weeks in my garage. I am documenting the Verde failure and rebuild, but to summarize, it threw a rod while I was doing 75mph on the Interstate. Since I missed it so much, I bought the 164LS to have something over-the-top to shuttle me around in while the Verde engine is on the stand. Well, the 164LS developed rod knock while driving at 55mph on the highway. Luckily, it will only need new rod bearings, which I can manage to replace with the engine in the car.
Andrew provided us with the photos and the following to say about his Saab:
“At 300,000 miles young, we like the burble of this Swedish sled. It only gets better as a whine overpowers it and boost creeps in, typical of the laggy days of yore. Its nimble reflexes that gave it a rally pedigree almost make you forget it can also swallow half that Ikea store.”
I couldn’t italicize the title, so I had to save it for down here: the e34 is the ideal BMW.
Andrew brought his e34 down to Brown County, IN, where we took the cars out for an Italian tune-up or two. The 3er was, understandably, the nimbler of the two German sausages, but the 5er has a pleasingly deliberate way of moving. When it came to changing speed, the e34’s smooth, torquey M30 ‘big six’ reacted with aplomb, and reigned supreme in the undulating terrain. Of course, I had no issue reservations with keeping the e30’s M42 at full boil. None at all.
Thanks to Andrew for the photos!
The M-B 190E 2.3-16 most directly compared to the e30 BMW M3, and rightly so, given the pair’s history of competition in DTM as well as the marketplace. But, the current market values of these special models has diverged; these days, e30 M3s are priced as high as a new hot hatch, while 2.3-16s can be had for common e30 money.
In light of this shift, the e30 318is presents an interesting alternative to the 2.3-16. Dual overhead cams, hydraulic lifters, timing chain, forged crank and rods, 10:1 compression, 4 valves per cylinder, and a tubular header from the factory raise the M42 engine in the 318is to the upper echelon occupied by the 2.3-16’s Cosworth-headed lump. A limited slip differential option further boosts the 318is performance credentials, but with no dog-leg gearbox or ground effects, it lacks the uniqueness integral to the experience of the 2.3-16.
As for driving dynamics, the 2.3-16 is easier to slide, yet slower to react due to its steering box. The 318is also reacts more quickly to throttle inputs, especially wide-open inputs broken only for shifts at the 6,300 RPM. Now, the sounds effects of the M42 are plenty satisfying – that is, until you’ve stomped on the 2.3-16. Wide open throttle in the M-B yields an intoxicating induction growl that is solely to blame for the 50% reduction in fuel economy whenever I drive Taylor’s car. You’d think the reduced pumping losses at WOT would be on your side…
And I posed for the iPhone while holding a stereotypical Italian beverage in dorky, Saab-inspired fashion.
How is the Saab-Alfa to drive?
Well, power is just right for the 3,450lb sedan. Starting at the base LS-spec 211hp, this car adds the Q-spec intake runners and a Squadra chip for a total of 240hp. So with a power/weight on par with a VW R32, it moves. The Stebro exhaust is blatant auditory affirmation of any throttle input.
In the curves, it belies its Saab underpinnings, starting neutral, and progressing to lift-throttle oversteer when needed. This replaces my e30s, and around town, it feels tighter and more alert.
Of course, in true Alfa fashion, it’s currently out of service for what started out as a bad Motronic H20 temp sensor, and progressed to a full-fledged Alfa 24V V6 timing belt job.
In spite of this, I’m smitten with the car. Ask me about the interior sometime – especially if you have a full afternoon to listen to me waxing about the peanut butter leather and Alfa logos embossed into each seat. I’m in way too far with Alfas, and I don’t have any reason to believe that I won’t be that guy with 25 Alfa parts cars sprawled in the front yard, say, 5 years from now.
We met Taylor in Lousiville, before he headed up to Indiana for a brief visit. At the end of the weekend, Taylor set off in GTI, and got to experience the elite peril made possible by a set of bald set of Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs in heavy rain. The sensation is somewhat akin to driving on a rumble strip, but without the ability to change direction. But he made it back…
Perhaps as an acknowledgment of the danger I exposed Taylor to by lending him my GTI, I installed H&R Sports and Bilstein Sports on the 2.3-16 for him. The self-leveling rear suspension now resides in a bucket. Not even a bucket I paid for. It was free at the Brown County Winery.