Alfa Romeo 164
Released at the Frankfurt Motorshow in 1987, the Alfa 164 was designed in conjuction with Saab (the 9000), Fiat (the Croma) and Lancia (the Thema), and continued Alfa Romeo's move towards front wheel drive. The Pininfarina styled body (design sketches and various models) had a Cd of 0.30 (wind-tunnel pictures) whilst power came from a 1962cc twin spark engine (148bhp), a 2959c V6 (192bhp) and a 2500cc diesel turbo (117bhp). The 2-litre later became available with a catalytic converter and was known (in Italy) as the Europa.
The suspension used MacPherson struts all round, although at the rear it was modified with twin parallel transverse bars. A self-levelling system was available as an option on some models. Speed sensitive power assisted steering was standard, although ABS was only an option at the beginning. Otherwise the equipment was befitting of the top-of-the-range model that it was, and such options as split, electrically adjusting rear seats were available on some models. More normal items such as air-conditioning, electrically adjustable mirrors and seats and electric windows were standard or optional depending on the model. The interior was available in conventional upholstery or leather. An automatic transmission was also available with the V6 engine.
in 1988, the 2.0i turbo was launched. Using a 1995cc turbocharged engine (175bhp) developed from the Lancia Thema engine, this propelled the 164 to 100km/h in just 7.2 seconds and on to 223km/h. It was recognizable by the small supplementary air intakes next to the (standard) foglights. ABS was standard on this version. 1990 saw a series of versions developed specifically for the US market, the 3.0i V6 cat, cat L and cat S. These all used the 2959cc engine, all with catalytic converters and with 179, 179 and 197bhp respectively.
In 1991 several modifications were introduced, resulting in what was generally recognised as a new range. The differences were details, but numerous and significant. The electrical system benefitted from new connectors, new electric window switches, new wiper controls and repositioned switches on the dash. In terms of drivability, the steering system was modified to reduce torque-steer through the wheel and to speed up centering after cornering and the brakes were modified to eliminate squeal. Comfort was improved through a more efficient climate control system thanks to a new radiator and alternator as well as repositioned air vents on the dashboard and new seat materials. Lastly, the body became fully galvanised.
1991 also saw a new sporty version, the 2.0i V6 turbo, introduced. This was a development of the 3-litre engine, fitted with a single Garrett turbocharger and intercooler. the 207bhp produced was sufficient to push the 164 to 100km/h in just 7.7 seconds.
Late 1992 saw the V6 gain an extra 12 valves and two camshafts. The new 3.0i V6 24v produced 211bhp or 232bhp in the sportier Quadrifoglio version. A year later Alfa Romeo introduced a four-wheel drive version, the Q4. Fitted with a new six-speed gearbox and an electronically controlled viscous coupling with variable torque splitting, this was the ultimate 164 in terms of drivability. Leather seats and sideskirts were standard.
Production ceased in June 1997.
Total production of the 164 was as follows :
2 litre versions : 158,057 3 litre versions : 69,748 diesel versions : 45,602
(total 273,857 cars)
Driveline transverse engine at front with front wheel drive or permanent four-wheel drive Suspension front : MacPherson strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs
rear : strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs
optional controlled damping system
wheelbase : 2660mm
track (front / rear) : 1515mm / 1488mm
Brakes front : ventilated discs (diameter : TS 257mm, others 284mm)
rear : discs (diameter : 251mm)
rear load proportioning valve
handbrake operating on the rear via cable
dual hydraulic circuit with servo assistance
Gearbox 5 speed manual with rod linkage
4 speed automatic
Steering Rack and pinion with power assistance Engines click here for details Kerb weight 2.0 TS : 1200kg
2.0 TB : 1250kg
2.5 TD : 1320kg
3.0 V6 : 1300kg
Click here for a cutaway picture of a 164
model max speed 0-62mph standing km braking from 100km/h 3.0 V6 (12V) 235 km/h 7.6 sec 28.1 sec 43.6 m 2.0 TS (1987) 212 km/h 9.5 sec 30.5 sec 45.3 m
Easily carried out modifications include installation of a free-flow air filter (a cold air duct is also a worthy mod) and fitment of a less restrictive exhaust system to improve the driveability, 'Chips' are also available which (claim to) increase the power, driveability and torque all at the same time.
The brakes can be improved by the use of a higher specification fluid, fitting drilled and grooved discs, using a superior pad compound and fitting stainless steel braided flexible hoses.
Dampers and springs are readily available for the 164 which will improve the handling, and a strut brace can be fitted at the front to increase the stiffness of the bodyshell. The rubber bushes can also be replaced by items made from less compliant material.
Buying / Selling
The 3000 V6 is a beautiful piece of engineering, and this model has to be the most desireable, especially in 230bhp form. The Cloverleaf model holds it's value well since it is almost a collectors car, and the numbers produced were quite small.
Some tips to do before selling : (they may seem obvious, but most people don't do them and thus are in a weaker bargaining position)
Tidy inside the car thoroughly : hoover the floor, empty all pockets, ashtrays (wash), glove compartment etc..., wipe the trim with a damp cloth, give the cockpit a good airing to get rid of any odours ! Reset the trip meter to 00000 - it is a pleasant (subconcious) surprise.
If the car has been standing give it a good run - this will clear out the engine (reduce exhaust smoke), put a shine on the brake discs and loosen up any joints that may otherwise make some noises.
Jetwash under the car, especially under the engine and in the wheelarches. The prospective buyer may be an enthusiast, and this makes it easier for them to see what they want to check.
Even if you don't have a service history, try to find any receipts, especially for the last timing belt change.
Obviously wash the car and clean the windows !
If you are going to buy a car always check the following :
Firstly check the bodywork. Check that there are no mismatching panels, large areas of discolouration or signs of fresh paint (compare inside the engine bay with the external body colour), all of which probably indicate accident damage.
Check the main electrical functions - wipers, windows, lights, etc... try putting the main beam and wipers on at the same time. Check the headlights for cracks and make sure that the air-conditioning unit works.
Check the brake pedal does not go to the floor if pressed hard for a long time and if possible check the brake discs for wear (through the wheels). Check the gearchange for clean engagement, the gear linkage can become sloppy when worn, but these can be replaced. The automatic gearbox is also one of the weaker points of the car (where fitted).
The engine should be run up to temperature, check the exhaust for smoke (especially on turbocharged models), the condition of the breather (look for mayonnaise), the condition of the oil filler cap (again white deposits can indicate head gasket or other serious problems) and the colour of the coolant (preferably not thick or dark brown!). Listen to the noise of the engine, then depress the clutch and engage first gear. Whatever noise has disappeared was coming form the gearbox, what remains is from the engine. Also check the condition of the engine oil on the dipstick.The lighter brown the better, if it is thick black then leave quickly.
Try to find out when the timing belts were last changed. If not recently then have them changed - the official interval is 36,000 miles.
Check tyre wear, uneven patterns could imply a bent chassis.
Always take it for a test drive. Check that the car tracks in a straight line with no steering input and also remains straight under braking. Find a large open area and complete several lock to lock turns (also in reverse), listening for any noises. Try the handbrake when moving - seized rear callipers will mean uneven braking or no braking.
For books on Alfa Romeo see our Online Bookstore
There is also a list of all our picture galleries (including museums, motorshows and various events).
Wallpapers/Desktop Backgrounds of numerous Alfa Romeo's also available to download.
There are also various statistics regarding production and sales.
164 comment form
I purchased a 1990 5 speed base model as a 1999 Christmas present to myself and enjoy it greatly. This is my third Alfa and fourth in the family so I know the need for TLC to keep in good relations with the car. Forums such as this are great ways to share information and, most importantly, maintenance tips. So far I am delighted with the car as I believe I lucked out and got a well tended one but only time will tell for sure-meantime its just pure fun. Told the selling dealer that it was the first time coming down the 18th that I WAS MORE EXCITED WITH THE LOOMING OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE THE CAR THAN HIT MY NEXT SHOT(caps by accident but OK). (Glenn B., USA)
I live in Bristol, U.K. I am currently on my 4th 164 (I've had a '89 V6 Lusso, a '91 Twinspark and am currently on my 2nd '93 24V Super).
PROS: glorious V6 (12v torquier until about 3500 rpm than 24v), fast, comfortable, well-equipped, don't rust, stylish, rare.
CONS: torque-steer (later versions are better), confusing switch-gear (later versions slightly better), parts prices, minor electrical gremlins, 24 mpg, aircon not very efficient when idling.
TO BUY: Check all usual things - smoke on start-up, panel alignment, water in oil, cam-belt changes (expensive to do but financially crippling if ignored!), history more important than mileage. Rust never a problem (apart from minor trim bits, e.g. rear door window 'divider', wing mirrors).
Interior trim squeaks a bit, but seems to hold together well. High engine temperatures (100+) on 24valve normal when idling or in town (but should be 70ish on a run). Check all electrical toys thoroughly - e.g. sunroofs can get stuck open (but can be closed manually), seats sometimes dodgy too, central locking, aircon (e.g. pipes under bonnet should get freezing cold). Prices are cheap compared to, say, BMWs (yeuch), although Cloverleafs rather dearer. Cloverleafs had 200 bhp as opposed to 192 - (12valve) 230 bhp v 210 (24valve); leather trim, electronic suspension, body-kit, only in red, white or black (12v, not sure about 24v). N.B. Cloverleaf is NOT 4-wheel drive, although there was a 4wd model - very rare and left-hand-drive only. (Simon N., UK)
As a replacement car while my MAserati Ghibli was being serviced this summer I was given a 1991 Alfa 164 V6 turbo (it was the only car available). Initially I sneered, but as I made my way onto the highway I started appreciating the delicious Alfa V6, quite different from the aggressive Maserati V6 but equally appealing and refined. And the performance was still awesome, allowing me to cruise all day at 190-200 Km/h easily keeping up with much more modern executive cars. Despite its age, most of the 164's electrical gizmos still worked properly (including air con and the headlight wipers!), with the exception of the driver's seat height switch. The bodywork was perfect as well, and the leather interior was ok for its age. All considered, this 164 seems to have withstood its 9 years almost as well as a BMW 5-series of similar vintage. I am thinking of buying a V6 turbo as a second car now, considering how cheap they are in Italy (2000/2500 UK pounds will get you a pristine 1993 164 V6 turbo). Andy
I live in Canada and Alfa's are extremely difficult to find. My father purchased one 3 years ago, a 1991 164 and i believe there are only two of them in our city. Once he bought a 2000 Jetta the 164 has basically become my summer car. It is wonderful, a pleasure to drive. The gears are getting loose as the years go by, but the car has still got kick and a lot of it too. Expenses are pricey as parts are hard to come by in North America but we haven't run into many problems as we only drive it 3 months out of the year. All around awesome car as it is unique ...wouldn't change it with anything else. (Giulia, Canada)
I have an Alfa 164 3.0 24v(1995) It's a fantastic car I have ever had. It's never have any serious problem. It's sends clear message to the drive what driver need to. It fast(252km/hr), beautiful engine sound, but thirsty(4~6km/liter). I never want to replace this car until I can alfa provide new beautiful big car with soul( better with RWD). I will keep this car for classic.(Tony, Taiwan)
I recently purchased my 2nd Alfa 164, I owned a 1989 3.0 V6 and now i bought a 1991 3.0 V6 QV. This is really a fantastic car, i needed to change the clutch plates because they were worn out but the rest of the car is in very good condition. A few minor details occured. As usual the rear window slit rust and the seat hight ajustment (electrical) doesn't work. But for the rest i just love the car. It's very fast and drives super comfortably. You just keep buying this model. Even when you know it's not economic to drive.. (Bart V, The Netherlands)
Hi, I have a 1991 164 2.0L T-Spark. I thought the cornering left a little to be desired. I discovered Eibach made lowered and progressive springs for the car, so bought a set and had them fitted. The car now corners much better, and the total cost of the operation was around £300. Quiet a reasonable outlay for a large improvement. (Kevin, UK)
I have just bought myself an Alfa 164 1990. It has had one previous owner. An old man and an enthusiast. The car is great. I compare it to my five cylinder Audi and wonder what I have been doing all this year. (Joe, Sweden)
My dad owns a 1990 164 3.0 V6 manual. Its quite rare here in Malaysia.Its such a fantastic car that still looks great today.Its always a pleasure to drive it. I would not want any other executive car.This is the best. (Joshua P, Malaysia)
The 164 has always been 'the car' that I wanted to owned, and now its mine. Its something different from the mass produced cars and the design is timeless being from Pininfarina. Handling wise is excellent. I felt like driving a sport car (but in reality its a 4 door sedan). I have not found anything else that can replace it at the moment. Its unique! (Suaz, Malaysia)
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