By on April 14, 2021

Rare Rides has featured many an Alfa Romeo previously, spanning several decades from the Fifties to present day. Among all the featured cars from the illustrious marque, only one was a sedan.

That figure grows to two today with the lovely, stylish, and luxurious 164.

The 164 was Alfa Romeo’s flagship sedan, and a replacement for the rather dated Alfa 6 which was in production since 1979. The rear-drive 6 saw its last model year in 1986, as the much more modern and front-drive 164 was ready for ’87.

In development since 1978, the 164 was part of a four-company joint effort to produce a safe, stylish, and luxurious executive car for the world market. Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Saab signed a cooperative agreement and developed the Type Four platform. Said platform produced today’s 164, the Lancia Thema featured here previously, the Fiat Croma, and the car with which our readers are most likely familiar, the Saab 9000.

The manufacturers pooled their resources to create a flexible sedan that could take on not only mass-market competition from Ford and Opel/Vauxhall but also luxury offerings like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and 5-Series. By the time the 164 debuted, formerly independent Alfa was a part of the Fiat group. It was the last of the four cars to enter production, and maintained the most unique styling: The other cars shared door panels, but the Alfa got its own. 164 was also the first Alfa to use considerable input from computers in its design, for real computer-aided passion in a pre-internet sense.

The 164’s angular, lovely lines and heckblende were shaped by Enrico Fumia at Pininfarina, who would go on to design the Nineties GTV and Maserati 3200GT. Engines ranged from a 2.0-liter Twin Spark inline-four to a 3.0-liter V6 of Alfa Romeo’s own design. In the middle were a 2.0 turbocharged Fiat engine, and a 2.0 turbocharged V6 from Alfa. Economy-minded customers could have a 2.5-liter diesel from Sofim, which was primarily used in Renault vans. Transmissions on offer were four-speed if automatic, and five or six speeds if manual. Though the vast majority of 164s were front-drive, Alfa introduced an all-wheel-drive Q4 version later in its run, with a drive system developed by Steyr-Puch. Q4s could send up to 100 percent of power to the rear wheels if necessary, and all were equipped with the 3.0-liter V6.

In North America, the 164’s breadth was a bit more limited. All examples had the 3.0 V6 engine, available in 210 horsepower in the base LS trim, or 230 horses in the S. Ailing as a domestic offering, the 164 was the final product offering of Alfa North America in 1995. At that point, the brand went dormant on this continent until the arrival of the 8C circa 2008. Elsewhere, the 164 continued in production through 1998. It was replaced by the less successful and less good-looking 166.

Today’s Rare Ride hails from 1994 and is a black-on-black example with an automatic. With 80,000 miles it asks $8,995 which is quite dear.

[Images: Alfa Romeo]

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21 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1994 Alfa Romeo 164, Saab-adjacent Sedan...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As a sucker for Italian cars, I guess I don’t think $8995 for a clean 164 is so terrible. Of course, maybe it’s priced for suckers. :)

    Good thing it’s 2500 miles from me.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it is. You can search around and find one that’s a bit better condition for much less money than that.

      • 0 avatar

        I hunted for one of these a few years back. It wasn’t hard to find one in similar condition that would only fetch a grand or so. An “S” can fetch a few more dollars, but the LS is a throwaway.
        The only ones that command any kind of value at all are the Quadrofoglios, and they are really hard to find, let alone in good shape.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a sucker for the wheels on this particular car. I’d probably pay a premium of a grand just to get them, if all sense departed my body and I bought a 164 to start with.

    • 0 avatar

      SCE, Me too. MiTo.

      It’s completely unfair that Alfa designers keep making beautiful cars time and again while most of the rest of automobile world sucks.

      My favorite was the 159 from the 2000s.

  • avatar

    Someone in my region had a white one when I was in high school, in the early 10s I came across a white one in a u-pull-it, probably that very one. $9K and get all the extra unobtanium at no cost? Surely they jest.

    Ad also claims the rear seats are heated… quite a nice touch if true.

    Seems its had six owners too… that seems incredible due to its Saab/Alfa heritage as conventional wisdom suggests it should have been a Chinese refrigerator long ago. First/second owners aficionados and the next four collectors?

    Ut oh I may know why… Alfa 3.0 apparently uses a timing chain:

    Timing belt and this thing would not have survived past owner four (third would probably have done it in but forth for sure).

    • 0 avatar

      Well I’ll be damned.

      The rear heated seat buttons are not where you’d expect or even look, which is very fitting for an Alfa Romeo.

    • 0 avatar

      It has a dry timing belt for the cams and a wet chain down in the sump that drives the oil pump. Broken T belts and bad tensioners sent most of these to the junkyard.The 164 T belt tensioner breaks if the engine turns backwards. From kickback at shutoff or rolling back in gear. Next time you start it The exhaust valves hit the pistons. Game over. The GTV-6 is a better car. So is the 75/Milano. The 4 cam engine is great but only in the Euro Quadrifoglio. S model with 5speed is the only U.S. 164 model worth owning.

  • avatar

    OK, we can disagree all day about whether the SC430 was a good looking car or not, but there’s no argument when it comes to this Alfa – she’s gorgeous. And look at those intake runners. Just lovely.

  • avatar

    I adore looking at these and hearing them alike, but couldn’t ever bring myself to buy one, even when they were way more common. Italian reliability, ’90s-quality plastic, and unobtainable parts: what could go wrong?

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    The 166 and 156 facelift versions were very pretty but most gorgeous of all was the 159 Wagon.
    Sure, they aren’t Corollas for reliability but one can put up with a lot from a beautiful if needy mistress.

  • avatar

    In the town where I lived in 90s (70 miles north from Moscow) there was a (only) one in dark blue color with 3.0L engine (that is in the country where 2.0L was considered as a big displacement as you can practically afford) with MT of course. I had a privilege to drive it just to check it out – owner was proud of his car because of how sharp looking and unique it was – no one else had one. I was impressed with all aspects of the car, including interior and how engine looked under the hood.

  • avatar

    It OK but the ground effects look tacked on at the last minute, as if ripped from a Scirocco, Jetta or something. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re held on by Phillips heads.

    Actually those two (era) VWs looked way better. From the side the 164 looks a lot like the Hyundai Excel sedan, except the Excel had cleaner, smoother bumpers, no need for goofy ground effects.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    In a suburb near where I work, a guy with a kind of “rural-looking” property has several Alfas sitting in the yard out front, the same way Fords sit in yards in… other parts of the country.
    I’ve never seen any of them run, or move, but I guess it’s nice to have Italian art pieces in your front yard.

  • avatar

    There’s a Wheeler Dealers episode on one of these that, I’m inferring, some of you would like watching, if you haven’t already:

  • avatar

    I had a 1995 164 Quadrifoglio (hence my avatar), the last of the breed. Loved, loved LOVED that car, but the maintenance and repairs ate me alive. I won’t list them all here, but…

    It’s an interference engine design, and the DOHC heads (on the ’94 and ’95 models) had a bad habit of eating the teeth off the timing belt. When that happened to me, it was a $6,800 rebuild. 24 bent valves is no fun at all.

    Like any good Italian mistress, the 164 is a beauty what will leave you shattered and penniless; and you’ll be glad for it.

    I was happy to have it, and happier to see it go to the next victim.

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