Barn Rot: 1987 Alfa Romeo Milano

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Old Alfa Romeos, no matter the generation, always make me question my affinity for German cars. Whether a classic rear-wheel drive Spider or the FWD 164, you can’t deny the fact that these are some of the prettiest mainstream cars made in the last 50 years. This sad Milano here on craigslist has begun to suffer from rust issues after years of barn storage but could still be a worthy project.

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The Alfa was known as the 75 in other parts of the world, and the different name wasn’t the only US-market specific feature. Bigger bumpers, crash reinforcements and an exhaust silencer were among the features that set domestic models apart. The 2.5L V6 on board provided almost 200 b.h.p. when new. Thankfully, this example comes with the factory 5-speed.

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One of my favorite features of Alfa Romeos from the 1980s is their extensive use of genuine or Recaro-like sport seats. I’ve always kicked myself for not grabbing a pair out of a junkyard car, as they were in tremendous condition and super comfortable. I blame the three feet of snow around the car for my lack of enthusiasm. This Milano looks dirty on the inside but otherwise complete.

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The big “if” with Alfas is whether you want to dive into what’s almost guaranteed to be a finicky mechanical overhaul. This Milano hasn’t run in over 10 years and has more than 120,000 miles on the clock. It’s not that they can’t have long, healthy lives, but the odds of an expensive rebuild go up the longer this car stays down. Is the rust going to keep this Milano strictly a parts car?

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Comments

  1. eskild

    German car ??? Where in Germany is this Italian car build ?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      I think the implication was that Jeff questions his enthusiasm for German cars because he’s attracted to Alfas, as they are Italian.

  2. Andy

    Sorry, but I just don’t get the visual attraction to this car. I don’t see anything “pretty” about it. Boxy, dated exterior styling, typical 80’s style modular dash, plastic everywhere. I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but … is it just me?

    • redwagon

      @Andy. i’m with you. i read, “……you can’t deny the fact that these are some of the prettiest mainstream cars made in the last 50 years.” and thought …. are we looking at the same vehicle? i’m looking at an ’87 milano and to me that is no where near one of the prettiest mainstream cars made in the last 50 years. it’s downright ugly. no discussion.

      if the author intended to mean that a spider or a 164 are pretty – perhaps. but that’s not what we are looking at here is it?

      steps down from box.

    • Puhnto

      Yeah, Alfa’s made some of the most beautiful cars but this is not one of them. This is as ugly as a Pontiac Aztec!

  3. Dave Wright

    I too have Alfas (old ones) and many German cars. Never could warm up to these………too much like a Fiat.

  4. angliagt

    These aren’t worth that kind of money.
    If it’s not running,you’ll spend more than $2,500
    getting it going.
    I’m helping a couple,the Wife’s Brother
    passed away,& has one of these on the property
    that they want to sell.
    Anyone interested?

    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      Hi angliagt, email us some photos and we might be able to help find a home for it! Our email is mail@barnfinds.com
      Thanks,
      Josh

  5. Jorge Garcia

    Why are these so cheap compared to earlier 1750 Berlinas ? Is it because the number imported is larger or is there something inherently inferior to the earlier car?
    http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/cto/5830088859.html

  6. Jim Barrett

    These have multiple distractions, some justified and some urban mythical.

    They rot easily, the electrics were cheaped out when new, and the fabulous De Dion transaxle scares ‘Muricans. The dash display is nightmarish, and most folks believe they no one here knows how to work on them, and that parts are impossible to find.

    Like any good European car, if maintained, they last forever. The real payoff is the driving experience, and sweet sound of the Busso V6.

    Just sayin’….

    Like 1
  7. Marco

    The styling of the Milano was controversial from the start. And even though I owned one I wouldn’t call this model pretty. It was definitely different, made a statement and attracted a lot of attention though. It was also a street fighter and a great performer. So much so we raced one in the Firehawk 24hr enduro at Watkins Glen and took third in class. I was on the pit crew and that sucker ran hard the entire race while other cars were breaking down and dropping out. My Milano was the Platinum edition pictured here with the grey leather seats with sued inserts. Very classy AND comfortable as noted. The car also came with matching luggage which I still have. But getting this particular car running will be a challenge. Even getting something minor like an oxygen sensor may be hard and keep you down for months if you can even find one. And all that rust for a car of this vintage and value really has to make you wonder if it’s worth it.

  8. Olaf E

    European Alfa 75 V6’s had a 3.0 engine, the rear spoiler was positioned in a better style. Actually, this US spec Milano is a disappointment the way it has been redesigned for the US market.

    Had one, great car but loved the 1.8 Turbo.

    • Gianni

      No, they sold the 3L here too as the Milano Verde.

  9. Murray

    My late, great Aus Spec 75 was a fabulous car, well when it was working it was a fabulous car…. Had it from new, during the warranty period it was great. Beyond that things went south. But…. on a good day, when the planets were aligned it was the best dam drive around, next to the GTV6 I owned prior….

  10. Kevin Harper

    The milano/75 came in multiple giuses. In Europe it came with the twin spark and everything from a 2 liter to a 3 liter v6. Here it only came with the 2.5 or 3 liter.

    This is a 2.5 which puts out 154 HP not close to 200 that would be the Verde edition with the 3 liter. The verde is also the one with the different rear spoiler treatment and flares.

    These aren’t pretty but look better in dark colors. They are one of the best balanced chassis and an absolute hoot to drive. Many were used at Nurburgring as driver training cars.

    Given the rust, general poor condition and trIm level of the car, I think it is a silver, this car is worth a couple of hundred dollars. Great lemons car.

  11. Adam Wright

    Three piece head gasket, a friend owned an Alfa dealership and said the head gaskets lasted about 15,000 miles. Nightmare, But I love the look

    • Marco

      I put 90,000 miles on my Milano before selling it and never replaced a head gasket or had any other serious issues with the car. It was great.

    • Gianni

      They fixed the head gasket issue with an update.

      Like 1
  12. TR

    Being an 80s kid, I Love these. Wanted one when they were cheap and rusted out, but was, likely rightly told, I didn’t have the experience or cash as a college student to maintain it properly. Would probably have driven it 20k until the timing belt went and was forced to junk it…

    The only guys who can’t see they are cool are usually old dudes with GTV garage queens. Boxy, side flares, freaky dash, is part of the weird and wonderful 80s Italian mod design. But the best part is the suspension, equal weight distribution, trans-axle with diff in the Verdes, inboard brakes and the Busso V6. Its a fun, rare, great thing and love seeing them at shows.

    Like 1

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