Junkyard Find: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 L

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Alfa Romeo took a break from the North American car market during the 1996-2008 period, and the very last Alfa model available here before the company's strategic retreat was the 164 sedan. Here's one of those cars, found in a Northern California boneyard in November.

junkyard find 1991 alfa romeo 164 l

Based on the same chassis as the Saab 9000, the front-wheel-drive 164 offered a lot of European style and power for the price.

This one is the mid-grade L, which had an MSRP of $27,500 (about $60,825 in 2022 dollars).

The 1991 BMW 525i cost $34,500 ($76,310 now), had 168 horsepower and an interior that was far less Italian than this one.

The 164 came with this great-sounding 3.0-liter V6, which made 183 horsepower. If you got the hot-rod $29,500 164 S ($65,250 today), you got 200 horses. Granted, the BMW had rear-wheel-drive.

This is the fifth 164 I've documented during my junkyard travels, coming after three 1991s and a 1992, and each one of them had a five-speed manual transmission.

A four-speed automatic was available, but that doesn't seem like the sort of option desired by anyone crazy enough to buy a luxury sedan from an Italian company with one foot out the door (during a nasty recession).

This car looked to be in great cosmetic condition upon its arrival here.

This parking permit shows that this car lived in San Francisco a couple of years back. Zone X is in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, where O. J. Simpson grew up.

Before coming to California, this car spent some time in Connecticut.

It must cost plenty to keep one of these cars on the road today unless you know how to fix it yourself. There is a person with that knowledge in my Denver neighborhood.

When a very nice low-mile 164 L sells for just over 10,000 bucks, one like this had virtually no chance of being put back in service once something expensive broke.

Alfa Romeo sold more cars than Saab and Honda in the late 1980s… in Europe.

[Images: The author]

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2 of 10 comments
  • Bryan Raab Davis Bryan Raab Davis on Jan 10, 2023

    Still elegant in spite of its decrepitude.

  • JK JK on Jan 16, 2023

    I see a lot of old Alfas here in Turin, but I've never consciously noticed a 164. I think that they would be a real executive car during that period. 155s, which are similar are pretty rare. I don't think Italians find the boxy Alfas collectable, even Giuliettas. Lancias of the era, however, are another matter. They still turn heads.

  • Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
  • Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.
  • Stodge I test drove the 200S and damn, its suspension was so firm, I was convinced it didn't actually include suspension at all. It hurt my spine and hip, it was that firm.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird If Mopar had only offered sport hatch versions of the 200 and or Dart they might have sold more of them for folks who wanted some more versatility without having to go for a small utility Compass Patriot or new at the time Renegade or Cherokee.
  • El scotto I started driving in the late 70's. The cars high school kids could afford and wanted were very very worn out muscle cars. Oh Lordy those V-8's bring back some happy memories. Oh there some outliers in my crowd, a VW Bug and a Dodge Scamp with slant six; neither car would die. In 10 years their will be young people wanting very used Teslas or Dodge's with hemis. B&B, I say that if someone is excited about their EV, Hybrid, or Hemi welcome them to the club of people who like cars.