Junkyard Find: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 L
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.
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.
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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Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.
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