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  • Writer's pictureMatteo Licata

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Alfa Romeo 164

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

The Alfa 164 occupies a unique spot in the Milanese marque’s history. While it’s the last ever model Alfa Romeo developed as an independent company, it is also the first designed on a platform shared with Fiat.

It can also be considered the first and, so far, the last, large Alfa Romeo saloon to achieve relative market success, selling just under 270.000 units over ten years. However, that was long ago, and now even the newest 164s are old enough to enjoy classic car status, with prices for the very best survivors gently rising.

But are you sure you know it all about this seminal Alfa Romeo model?

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Alfa 164.

One: Losing balance

Italy imposed hefty tax penalties on engines over two liters of displacement, which created a healthy market for turbocharged two liters cars. Between 1988 and 1991, the Alfa 164 Turbo was equipped with the same turbo inline-four used in the Lancia Thema… Well, almost!

Part of the quoted 10 HP advantage (175 vs. 165) the Alfa 164 had over the Lancia Thema was due to the deletion of the engine’s two counter-rotating balancing shafts. Apparently, it was decided that Alfa Romeo customers could live with a little less refinement, after all.

Two: Keeping a low profile

When it launched in 1987, the 164’s fresh, strikingly modern appearance was a world away from the boxy Alfas of yore. But making Pininfarina’s swoopy profile possible required some clever engineering on Alfa Romeo’s part.

The “Type 4” platform shared with Fiat and Saab dictated a McPherson strut-type front suspension design, but, on the Alfa, the McPherson strut isn’t aligned with the wheel’s center, thus lowering its top mounts by around three centimeters.

Three: Dead ends

The 164 was only ever sold as a four-door saloon, but that doesn’t mean alternatives weren’t considered. Pininfarina made full-scale models of an elegant two-door coupé, a rather lovely station wagon, and a much less successful convertible, too. However, such ideas were dropped once Fiat took over Alfa Romeo in late 1986.

Four: High-speed intervention

Two Alfa 164 were transformed into high-speed fire trucks for use on the company’s proving ground, the Balocco test track.

One of those cars, no less than a 3.0 V6 Q4, has thankfully been preserved in excellent condition and currently resides in the Alfa Romeo museum’s reserve collection.

Five: Unlucky number

The 164 had to be rebadged 168 on some Asian markets because of the number four’s negative connotation in the local culture. So the four was replaced with the eight, which is instead considered auspicious.


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