A rare facelifted example of Alfa’s mid-noughties 5-series has come up for auction, and it’s packing the all-important ‘Busso’ V6
With ‘our’ Giulia Quadrifoglio imminently making its way back to Alfa Romeo, we decided now was a good time to go hunting for something relevant in the classifieds. This immediately presented a quandary. You still need upwards of £40,000 to snag an early used Giulia Q, and we’ve covered the Veloce before. Instead, we decided to turn back the clock a little further.
Here we have a 2004 166 that’s covered a mere 22,520 despite being in existence for the best part of two decades. Crucially, lift that Grigio Rialto (otherwise known as silver) bonnet, and you’ll find one of the finest engines ever made – Alfa Romeo’s ‘Busso’ V6.
As a facelifted six-cylinder 166, it’s an exceedingly rare beast in the UK. The 166 was never a popular car here in the face of more obvious mid-size exec choices like the BMW 5-series, and the updated version of the car was only sold in the country for a short period. We haven’t been able to find any concrete figures out there, but we’ve reason to believe the number of facelift V6s sold in Britain is one of the two-digit variety.
While manual-equipped facelift 166s received an enlarged 3.2-litre version of the Busso, this being an automatic, it gets the earlier 3.0 which is still good for just over 220bhp. It’s a conventional four-speed automatic from ZF rather than the infamous ‘Selespeed’ robotised manual fitted to other Alfa models at the time including the 156.
Inside is a grey leather interior that looks to be in fine condition save for a little creasing on the seats and some wear on the driver’s side door panel. It’s a Lusso-trimmed 166, meaning you get a decent (for the time) array of equipment including cruise control, rear parking sensors, heated electric seats and satellite navigation. The infotainment unit does need a new backlight, though.
The exterior is tidy too, with only a smattering of imperfections you need to be looking closely to see. At some point, it had some repair work done to the front passenger door and the bonnet.
It has a full service history, with the most recent work completed only a few weeks ago. The cambelt hasn’t been changed since 2014, however, and even with the modest mileage covered since then, it’d be wise to get that changed. You’ll need to budget around £500 to get that sorted at a specialist.
Given how infrequently these cars come up for sale, it’s hard to predict how high the online auction on Collecting Cars will finish. Busso-engined Alfas from this era aren’t quite as sought after as you might expect (a 156 GTA Sportwagon sold on the same platform for £8000 last year, for example), so this might end up being a bit of a bargain.