1994 Alfa Romeo 164 Q4

The 164 split critics when it debuted and continues to polarize today. The main problem was drivetrain. Had it been another large, expensive rear-wheel drive sedan, it actually would have fit in with the competition and maybe even stood out a little on its own merits. But it was given a front-wheel drive platform that was shared with other European automakers like Lancia and Saab. In the US, the only similar cars in its high price range would have been a Cadillac. It didn't stand a chance against BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

It's a shame because the 164 was otherwise pretty neat. Its nearest relative, the 75/Milano, was a sharp, roomy, fast rear-wheel drive sport sedan. The 164 was given a similarly fresh design that contrasted with the more traditional German designs at the time. The body courtesy of Pininfarina is clean, simple and forward thinking. This example looks fine in black, though I prefer the classic red paint typically seen on others. The rare Q4 package adds ground effects and a rear spoiler that gives it a menacing, hunkered down look.

The real sweet spot of the 164 though is underneath the hood glistening in polished chrome: a 3.0-liter 24-valve 6-cylinder engine good for nearly 230 horsepower, really impressive for the day and still decent now. Just like Cadillac's maligned Allante, however, all the muscle was sadly directed to the front wheels, producing quite a bit of torque steer and dismissing it as a serious contender.

This example has just 126k on the clock. The seller says they are the second owner, have records available, did major maintenance and added new parts.

Here's the one saving grace about the 164. It makes for one of the most entertaining, stylish and still useful (with those four doors) second hand car out there, because most of them go for a fraction of what even the cheapest new car costs.

Available here on craigslist for $4,000.

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