By on October 30, 2013

11 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI see plenty of Fiat 124 Spiders and Fiat X1/9s in junkyards (and even a couple of Maseratis), but Alfa Romeos are worth a bit more and thus are harder to find. We’ve seen this ’79 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan and this ’74 Spider in this series, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
02 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 164 was the last car that Alfa Romeo sold in the US before its retreat in 1995, and the big front-wheel-drive Alfa sedan had a tough time competing with increasingly ruthless German and Italian manufacturers at that time.
03 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot only is the interior in this one pretty nice, the car is the rare 5-speed model.
05 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin172,886 miles— not bad!
09 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI couldn’t get the hood open to shoot the engine, but I assume the original 3.0 liter V6 was still there.
07 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOoh, 1990s Italian electronics!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

62 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 S...”

  • avatar

    Yes! This is it! Great car. I always thought it very beautiful and boy could that 3.0 v6 TwinSpark sing!. Fastest I have ever been in a car!

    Here, in Brazil, you can still see a few puttering around. Mostly, those which are rolling are in very good condition. There are probably as many as that, or more, not rolling. Either as project cars or waiting for their owners to get the money. I’ve even seen one abandoned on the streets. Bits and pieces disappear every so often.

    To purists not a pure Alfa as this was the first (IIRC) Alfa by Fiat. But it was a very good effort. Purists are overrated anyways.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Although I can’t speak about the sound, the engine on these things looks fantastic. Pity MM could get an engine shot.

    • 0 avatar

      For roughly 5 years I’ve been searching for a replacement rear seat or matching perforated leather that is a match to these optional Recaros. Can anyone tell me the name and location of the salvage yard where this car sits?



  • avatar

    Wow, that has to be a Chrysler sourced cassette deck.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Sajeev, can’t really comment on the sound quality (or not) of the sound system, all I can say is that I was wowed at the interior as a whole. To be honest, I don’t even really remember if we put on music while in the car. Much to busy being young and stupid at the time and driving spiritedly! I would’ve been in my very early 20s when this car came out in Brazil. I can remember the first one I saw in traffic. Dark green, so beautiful and unattainable! Of course, it was one of the first cars that came over when Brazil opened up to the world in the 90s. Imagine the impression that made. In a land that was then so cut off from the rest of the world, this car made a very big impact on what people thought a car could do. Or look like.

      Oh my, how time flies.

    • 0 avatar

      Good eye, I think you are right.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      I thought the same thing, it looks just like the unit that was in in my Parent’s 1991 Caravan.

    • 0 avatar

      that screams Chrysler all over it, with the joystick fader/balance control.

      Shame, as those were mediocre at best and down right crappy the rest of the time.

      I put one in Dad’s 87 Dakota and 94 Dakota, both of them sounded like absolute trash, put in a Delco unit I had laying around, and it could blow the windows out with the same crap stock speakers, it had treble, and reception. The Mopar units had no power, no treble despite turning the tone controls all the way, and other than AM Stereo reception (which was cool) the tuners had poor reception.

      • 0 avatar

        A lot of the high end radios in Chryslers at the time did have a low output designed to feed speakers with built in power amps.

        If the radio you put in that Dakota was a higher end model and the Dak didn’t have the powered speakers, the sound would be pretty poor.

        I don’t know if that’s what happened in your case or if the shown radio is one of them, but it could be the case.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve S.

        That is indeed a Chrysler radio. The later-model premium CD players are plug and play.

        All 164S models came with the 5-speed. Automatics came only on the base and L model. These had hotter cams and higher compression than the lower models.

    • 0 avatar

      Definatley a Chrysler product- That’s the exact radio that I had in a 1989 New Yorker and a 1992 Dakota (Badged for Chrysler, of course).

      Grab it and stick it in a Reliant K- You’ve just added instant class to your $700 wheels!

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently a 1988-91 vintage Chrysler deck. There’s pretty exhaustive coverage at (though no page/disassembly on this deck that I could find).

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, Chrysler sourced, Alfa branded I have a few (alfa branded) units sitting in the basement. All things come around, I guess…or something like that.

  • avatar

    I once rode in one of these as a taxi in the Czech Republic…it was even a stick. My goodness the engine note was glorious. Why can’t all V-6’s sound like that?

  • avatar

    Man that stereo looks like it belongs in a Chrysler product of the 90’s
    I was a little late to post this sorry sajeev

  • avatar

    In college my friend’s mom had a Alfa Romeo 164 Quadrifoglio. I got a chance to drive it – it was amazing.

    It also had one of the sexiest car names ever!

  • avatar

    yeah i rememeber these were getting decrepit 10 yrs ago

    they only sold there sohc 12 valve v6 auto here

    however there seems to be a certain amount of grey imports like 4wd models and manuals and the rare dohc 24 valve v6

    wonderful looking car, very smart looking

    seems to have the usual hangups ie. poor parts sourcing and odd electric issues given the car has more electrics that normal

    one of those cars i’d like to own one day when getting from A to B isnt the primary concern

  • avatar

    Around 1989 or so Alfa and Chrysler teamed up to form Alfa Romeo Distributors of North America which became the importer of Alfa Romeos in anticipation of the launch of the 164 and restyle of the Spider which is why 164’s had Chrysler radios. They also added a number of new dealers around that time, many of which were existing Chrysler or Jeep/Eagle dealers.

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    The ‘s’ model only came in stick, along with the leather dash and kinda weird bodykit. I’m torn on whether i like the 164 with or without it. I wish you got pics of the motor however, those chrome inlet pipes always do it for me.

  • avatar

    I currently own a 95 164 24V LS model and love it to bits. They do have some quirks but routine maintenance and more importantly, frequent driving are essential to keep them running well. Older Italian cars don’t like to sit!

  • avatar

    That’s a NICE interior… very sharp and straightforward.

    (In practice, rows of identical buttons are harder to use than knobs, but it’s still better than today’s touchscreens.)

    Shame about that out-of-place Mopar stereo though…

  • avatar

    Trivia time. This car, the Fiat Chroma, the Lancia Thema, and the Saab 9000 were jointly developed. The Saab actually shares doors and the roof with the other two Italians, but nothing much with the 164, which was by far the most different of the bunch. But if you ever see a 164 and a 9000 parked next to each other, you can REALLY see that all the hard points are the same. My local Alfa dealer was also the local Saab dealer… Chevrolet, Alfa, Saab back then, now Chevy/FIAT, so hopefully Alfa again!

    Of the four, IMHO the coolest version was the Lancia Thema 8.32, which had a variation of the Ferrari 328’s engine in it. THAT one sounded really, really good. A 9000 Aero was the fastest of them all though.

    • 0 avatar

      The Thema 8.32 was over $100K wasn’t it? At a time when Italy wasn’t doing particularly well. I know it had an automatic rear spoiler that flipped out as well. An excellent looking car.
      mmm rawr.
      moar rawr!
      estate rawr.

      • 0 avatar

        Expensive, but I don’t think THAT expensive. On par with an upper spec 5-series I think. No idea what the taxes are like in Italy though – maybe on the road they were that expensive with such a relatively big engine. Never sold in the US of course. And yes, they had the cool electric spoiler. And a REALLY fabulous leather interior.

        • 0 avatar

          I dunno, according to Wiki, £40,095 in 1986! I don’t know where to find a conversion tool for inflation adjustment.


          Current data is only available till 2012. In 2012, £40,086.00 from 1986 is worth

          £99,500.00 using the retail price index

          £130,000.00 using average earnings

          So, yes it WAS that expensive.

          • 0 avatar

            Bloody expensive in the UK at least! Yikes. That was crazy money considering a Saab 9000T was ~25K UKP back then.

        • 0 avatar

          So THATS where electric spoilers came from…
          Honestly I never understood why you’d want a part-time spoiler, but eh, I’m sure the Thema would track straight if it failed to raise.

          Interesting how Saab got together with Italys finest to make a joint project.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting note on the 8.32 V8 – it used a cross-plane crank as opposed to the original Ferrari flat crank. As a result, it sounded more like a domestic V8.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know much about much but I know about the Tema 8.32, my Dad’s pal has a knackered one tucked away for the eventual day he can sell it on eBay for a hundred grand…

      The Thema 8.32 used a version of the Mondial engine, not the 328. It’s a 32 valve three litre, but it had a different firing order and some other changes from the standard Mondial plant to make it less race-car-like when being driven.

      Ducati re-engineered the engine using non-standard parts and, err, lost the specs for the changes during one of their frequent ownership changes.

      All of this means that a rebuild of the engine requires unobtainable parts and fitting a Mondial engine (a surprisingly economical thing to do, considering it’s a Ferrari) won’t really work and would leave you with undesirable engine characteristics.

      And thus, we are back at my Dad’s pal’s Thema sitting in a garage some sort of engine fault and no real chance of ever getting back on the road. I knew of another two cars in the UK a few years ago both in much the same boat. I always thought you could put the PSA V6 in it, or the Alfa V6 from the 164 above, and it would still be really cool. Both engines were available in the Thema at different times.

  • avatar

    Look at that, even red stitching on the wheel! A teacher when I was in high school had a red 164. Hers was a 95 model, and it was all red, no contrast cladding. It always looked like such a slick car. Her husband was a car guy who had recently passed away, and I think she started driving it once he was no longer around to tell her not to. She sold it -agh!- before I was done with high school in 2004, and bought a silver A4.

    It was definitely the nicest 164 I’ve ever seen. A lovely design with very nice seats. I always did like the identical VCR-style buttons on the dash as well. Someone took care of this to get it to 172K miles as well. No dealer support, limited mechanic support, outrageous parts prices – but at least you got stitched dash trim in 1991. How Italian.

    • 0 avatar

      Alfa parts prices are not that bad. The 164 was a lot of generic Bosch, Hella, and Valeo. Parts are not hard to find in the Internet era, and pretty much everything is available. Competent service is hard to find though. If you can’t DIY, you certainly would not want one unless you happen to have an Alfa specialist around.

      But realistically, how much “dealer” support is there for ANY 22yo car?

  • avatar

    Keith was a man of much patience.

    Keith sighed, folded the newspaper back up, and tossed it on the passenger seat of the Alfa in disgust. It said “June 15, 2001”. It also said he had lost his ass, what was left of it anyway. The middle manager sat there in the parking lot of the Wienerschnitzel, and let the simple fare soothe his forming ulcer.

    He lit up the Alfa’s V6. His two hour lunch break was over, and it was time to get back to his duties of mop-up crew at Webvan. His predecessor saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship before having to do any of the firings. They had sent Keith all the way down to Long Beach to deliver the news. God, it was hot. He glanced at the dead futuristic control panel, but that was the extent of his efforts to improve the climate in the car. Anything more would be futile. He was rather blase about a little discomfort at this point anyway.

    When he got to the warehouse, it was eerily devoid of life. A few frown-faced employees gathered belongings, and toted them out to their cars. A pickup bristled with some of the ubiquitous totes, filled with obviously stolen grocery goods. He gave the ex-employee an uncaring passing glance. It was the least he could do. The nervous man, surprised at the Alfa’s sudden appearance, adjusted his ball cap and left. There was an air of gratitude about it.

    Keith sat down in his temporary office. Like everything at the operation, there was a sickening newness about it. New, and dead. Stillborn. He rubbed his face for about 10 minutes, and realized that there was nothing more to be done. In a matter of moments, he was once again, standing in the parking area next to his slightly faded red machine. He admired the idle rows of shiny box trucks that symbolized an incredible failure. If he saw another one of those damn vans ever again, it would be too soon. The leather seat, while inoperable, was perfectly tuned to it’s occupant. There was something poetic about it. A secretary came out with her loot, and was also startled by the Italian sedan. Keith simply gave her a nod, engaged first gear, and put the past behind him.

    The Alfa cruised smoothly down the Seaside FWY. It was short detour on the way back to ‘Frisco, but he just had to do it. The big gantry cranes of the docks appeared off to the side. He had dropped his speed to 40mph in the light mid-day traffic. The scene with Nicolas Cage behind the wheel of Eleanor was thick in his head. The anticipation was building, and his heart was already rendered mad. Now. He quickly dropped down into third, and mashed the pedal into the carpet. The tuned runner V6 delivered seven glorious seconds of induction noise that echoed off the container trucks as he passed. It did what Calgon could never do for a man.

    Keith was still in a relaxed state while sitting on the 405 for an eternity. He was in no rush, after all. This continued up U.S. 101, where he set his pace to the harmonious drone of the engine. The waves of joblessness concerns came and went with the tide of thoughts of hope, and a carefree attitude in this place.

    The Alfa exited the highway, and was nearly home. Keith made one of the last turns, and accelerated briskly through third. The 24 valves shared their beautiful voice a final time, then terminated in abrupt silenzio as all of them bent on the pistons. The sedan rolled to a stop on the neighborhood street. Attempts at a restart were in vain.

    The man pulled four “benjamins” from his pocket, and commenced loading the dead Italian on the tow dolly. Keith admired the flaking Alfa with a bit of regret, out on the street for the last time.

    “That was a great car when it ran.”

    • 0 avatar

      Your best yet….

    • 0 avatar

      Hah. Pretty good. Thanks! By your time line, this Alfa was left by Keith in 2001. It’s now 2013 when it made it to the junkyard. Wonder what happened to it in the intervening years? Maybe you’ll be inspired yet again Crabspirits.

      BTW, when I saw the article I wondered if it’d inspire you. I was betting it wouldn’t ’cause I reckoned it’s not really your kind of car. Great thing it tickled your muse.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re truly gifted Crabspirits.

    • 0 avatar

      Nice! However, as a pedantic Alfa nut I’m obligated to point out that the 164S had a 12v engine, not the 24v in the 164LS or 164Q.

      And the reason he didn’t bother with the climate control system is that he couldn’t stand to hear the constant clicking of the stripped stepper motor gears, with only a weak tepid breeze as payoff.

    • 0 avatar

      I was all set to point out it was Der Wienerschnitzel back then, but I looked it up and they dropped the ‘Der’ in 1977.
      Crap, I’m getting old…
      Great story!

  • avatar

    What was the Milano? The Alfa 75?

    Those seem way better than this thing.

    • 0 avatar

      The Milano/Alfa 75 had that fantastic rear “transaxle” thing going on: rear wheel drive, transmissions mounted where the rear diff would usually be – just like a Porsche 944 of similar vintage. And the rear brake disc were inside, by the diff – a la Jaguar E-type.

      The 164 was front-wheel drive, but still had a a magnificent sounding V6, like the RWD Milano and GTV-6.

  • avatar

    I saw one of these in a Houston yard about a month ago, in a little better cosmetic shape.

    Interestingly, the passenger floorboard was full of service records. It looked like somebody took a long time to figure out the “don’t throw good money after bad” maxim, and recently threw in the towel.

    (Since there was so much personal information in there, I’m guessing the owner stiffed the repair shop, and they are the ones who sent it to the scrapper.)

  • avatar

    Stereo bu Chrysler and seats by BMW? They almost look like mid-’80s BMW sport seats as found in the M5, 535is, etc.

    I’ll have to say I like the 164 styling a little better than the Milano, which always looked to me like it had been rear-ended and had the trunk pushed up at an unnatural angle.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, they look like 1990s vintage Recaro seats. Did they put those in the S models? If so, why are they still in the car – or did this one just get towed in?

  • avatar

    Murilee- You need to get back out to that yard pronto. Drop me a msg to 8745th @ gmail and I will tell you why.

    BTW, I’m the author of these articles…


  • avatar

    the number “164” isn’t very auspicious in Chinese, it’s a homonym for “will die enroute”. My understanding is that Alfa changed the model number designation to 168, which is a lucky number (sounds like “on the road to prosperity”), for some Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

  • avatar

    My wife got a 5 spd 164 base new and we put 120K miles on it before our son pranged it paying attention to the radio rather than the road. Picked up a red 164S and drove it for a few years until the rust got it. The seats were not as quite as comfortable as those in the Saab 9000 that shared a chassis with it, but the engine was wonderful. The transmission and shifter were better than you’d think for a front driver, especially the S.
    Sure, I’d like another and they do come up on ebay from time to time. But the car I’d really like back is the first one I bought, a 1968 Fiat 124 A series Sport Coupe. There was one in Toronto a while back with a 2L Abarth and fancy wheels. Murilee won’t find one of the originals in a junkyard, unless he can identify cars from piles of rust.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Saw one driving in Houston yesterday , oddly enough , headed towards downtown . It was a champagne color , looked great . Haven’t seen one in a year or more , most likely . Twenty minutes later , another unusual sighting , a silver Fisker Karma , with dealer tags . I was in traffic on the freeway , and kept trying to slow down to get a better view . at which point the Karma accelerated and left me behind. Like the Alfa , always thought it looked a lot better in person than in photos .

  • avatar

    Love the Mopar radio!

  • avatar

    There are a few of these on the road in NZ, they share their platform with the Fiat Chroma, Lancia Thema and Saab 9000. Result of merging/collaboration between the (somewhat beleaguered, at the time) Italian manufacturers.

    The 164 is by far my favorite out of these offspring. I think the Alfa’s styling is much more distinctive than the rest and has an unusual amount of character for a late-80s car. There is an excellent review of the 164 by Motorweek circa 1990 here:

    I’ve only ever driven one Alfa 164. It came up for sale about a year ago and I went around for a test drive, first getting distracted talking to the owner and his son about their Lancia Stratos replica which was sitting on the driveway. I didn’t see the Alfa until about an hour after arriving, a true pair of Italian car fanatics!!

    The 164 was dark green with white velour upholstery and pretty much immaculate. The rare 5 speed manual gearbox, too. I especially loved the interior styling: form over function in regards to the identical rows of center console buttons, but an Alfaholic wouldn’t have it any other way. The owner kindly let me drive it about 20 kilometers (have yet to experience a more generous test drive), the ride is reasonably smooth and body lean well controlled. The engine note from the 3.0 V6 is one of the best I’ve ever heard!

    Understandably, I wasn’t the only one impressed by the car. The online bidding exceeded my price range and I had to let it go, I’ve yet to see another example as good as that one come up for sale. Presumably the owners just keep holding onto them, and its definitely true what another poster said about most of the ones on the road being in very good condition.

    Thanks again for a great find, Murilee.

    Auckland, NZ

  • avatar

    I remember driving one of these in my valet parking days back in 1998. It wasn’t a long ride and I don’t remember the actual experience but what I do remember is trying to figure out where the switches for the power windows were. I looked everywhere until I found them on the roof where the map lights usually are. That’s the only thing I remembered about those cars. Bonkers!

  • avatar

    “I couldn’t get the hood open to shoot the engine, but I assume the original 3.0 liter V6 is still there.” Why do you guys at TTAC always automatically assume that every old car you see still has the original engine?

  • avatar

    Well, here in the US at least a halfway decent Fiat Spider and most likely an X 1/9 are both currently worth alot more than a Alfa 164 in any condition. It’s just not that desirable of a car. Alot of my Fiat club freinds have had them over the years but when they are chosing which car to take to a show, these stay home.

    I drove a Milano Verde hard once and it was fantastic to drive. However looking at it (and the 164) wasn’t so pleasant.

    I love Italian cars but this is near the bottom of my list ones I lust after.

  • avatar

    It’s a great car, it really is.

    If only it had a more useful 5-door hatchback shape instead of a trunk. Maybe some nifty 3-spoke dish alloys with sticky rubber. Drop that heavy V6 for a nice little twin-cam 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder with great passing power and impressive longevity. Get some heated leather Recaros, and a dashboard that’s intellible *and* tilted at the driver.

    Oh, then it’d be a 9000 Aero.

    I love the 164. But I still believe the 9k Aero was the best car ever built. No helping the hopeless, right?

    • 0 avatar

      No, there’s no helping you! :)!

      Specially as these were one of the last Alfas that used Alfa’s traditional wheel designs. No spokes! Everybody has copied the Germans on that. How I long for the day when cars really had wheel designs that would show from whence they came. It’s been at least 20 yrs the reign of the spoke has lasted. Time for a change?

  • avatar

    Some friends of my father’s proudly drove one of these home from the showroom back in the early nineties. Within the second week it was in the shop, where it would spend much of it’s time during the period when they were still determined to drive the thing. Within the second month the first rains of the year made their way through the flimsy weatherstripping and filled the car with mildew that would have put my mom’s old ’67 VW fastback to shame. From then on it became an MGB type garage ornament until they found someone to tow the thing away after owning it less than a year.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Kyree: It’s hilarious to me just how derivative this Amanti looked. It was a hodge-podge of S-Type, E-Class and...
  • Undead Zed: I really wish some of these companies would just do something different with their EVs. Everybody getting...
  • Jeff S: I dated a gal back in the early 80s who had a Lancia Beta it was the best handling smoothest shifting car I...
  • Corey Lewis: This plan won’t work. As others have pointed out, Fiat has too much overlap in branding already....
  • FreedMike: The purists seem to misunderstand one simple fact about Lancia as it is: it’s dead.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber