1980s / 1990s / Alfa Romeo / Endangered species / Italian

Endangered species: Alfa Romeo 164

alfa-romeo-164-v6-3There are two ways to look at the Pininfarina-designed Alfa Romeo 164. One, it was introduced as the latest in a long line of powerful and well-appointed range-topping Alfa sedans designed to take on the cream of the crop from big names such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.  Two, it was developed after Fiat’s purchase of Alfa and it shared its platform with the Fiat Croma, the Lancia Thema and the Saab 9000, making it the first in a long line of front-wheel drive Alfas.

In Europe, its main market, the 164 was never a truly common car but it wasn’t a flop, either.  By nature, a large Italian sedan caters to a small target audience (not counting the Italian government) and, all things considered, the 164 had a successful career.  Its story is different in the United States, where it either contributed to or was a victim of Alfa’s heavily-publicized demise in 1995.

Like the 90 before it and the 166 after it, the 164 saw its value drop at a faster-than-average rate on the used car market in many countries throughout the European Union and most low-spec examples were considered throwaway cars before they celebrated their tenth birthday.

Government statistics indicate only 446 Alfa Romeo 164s are currently registered in France.  The numbers are not broken down by engine but, statistically speaking, the 3.0-liter is one of the rarer models because most 164s were ordered with either a turbodiesel or a low-displacement four-cylinder gas-burner for tax purposes.

The story is not much brighter in the United Kingdom: Website howmanyleft.co.uk reports a total of 203 164s still on the road, including at least 78 V6-powered examples.

red-scale-endangered-rwp

Although endangered, the 164 has fared better than most of its siblings.  The same government statistics indicate 332 Lancia Themas and just 214 Fiat Cromas are left in France.  Often billed as the most solid of the bunch, the Saab 9000 has performed the best and 712 examples are currently registered.

As a side note, the 164 pictured below belongs to the same Alfisto that owns the 33 SportWagon we featured a couple of months ago.  We classified the 33 SportWagon as critically endangered because only six examples are left in the United Kingdom.

8 thoughts on “Endangered species: Alfa Romeo 164

  1. One odd tidbit about these is the wheels are a popular, if it could be called that,
    replacement for the CX Michelin TRX wheels. Bolt pattern and offset are the same, and happily the wheels look very nice on a CX Prestige. With the mention of the 9000, I wonder if those wheels would fit as well?

    I haven’t seen a 164 on the road here in SoCal in decades.

  2. My wife and I bought a 164 LS (Super) in 1994 and still have it. Ours has low mileage, about 57,000, and is in great condition as it has always been garage parked. Hardly see one on the street these days. Usually only at the garage when we have it serviced. Our cars still has the original clutch. Waiting for it to become a collectible. It still feels special to me.

  3. Hi Ronan. Our car is black, but we live in San Francisco. I would like to keep the 164 as long as I can, but am told that some OEM parts are no longer available therefore a rebuilt or a good used part is the only way to go. I have the 24 valve engined car and recently replaced the intake runners with a larger diameter set that is supposed to increase the power to the same specification as the 164 Quadrifoglio. I didn’t really notice a difference, but it made me feel better though.

  4. Pingback: Is the Alfa Romeo Spider (916-series) a future classic? | Ran When Parked

  5. Good friend and former student had a 164S, what a wonderful ride!
    Character, exhaust note that sounded quite Italian, not super fast but held it’s own.
    He kept it until it popped several head gaskets. Wish I’d bought her!

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