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1991 Alfa Romeo 164S: Style, Pace and Grace

The Italians have always done things just a little bit differently, and with a little bit of flair. Take the Alfa 164 for example: at a time when its European competition came in the form of cars like the solid but Germanically-sober Mercedes W124 and BMW E34 sedans, the 164 stood apart with its show car styling and powerful front wheel drive powertrain. In “S” form, the Alfa’s sweet V6 produced a remarkable for the time 200hp, catapulting the car from 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds and on up to a top speed nearing 150mph. The trouble with 164s is that it is getting harder and harder to find good ones. Many owners simply aren’t prepared for the commitment that a proper Italian car requires, and instead opt to let them fall into a state of disrepair and ultimately become little more than driveway ornaments. That’s why this red 164S grabbed our attention. Despite having over 150,000 miles, it shows all the signs of having been properly cared for. Find it here on eBay in Pipersville, PA with a buy it now price of $7,495 or best offer.

The asking price for this car is quite strong when you look at the pool of Alfa 164Ss out there, but the overall condition of this car puts it a step or three above most of them. For starters, the body is rust-free. Being a California car for part of its life certainly didn’t hurt, and the owners of this car have almost certainly been diligent about washing and waxing. The interior supports the story of regular care and feeding, with no splits or even apparent fading in the leather upholstery, the carpeting is clean, and the red stitching on the steering wheel and shifter is still intact. The embossed Alfa logos can still be seen in the upper seatbacks, and the rear sunshades are still present and accounted for.

Probably more important than this car’s cosmetic appeal is the condition of its mechanical and electrical systems. When shopping for 164s potential buyers must prepare themselves to be regaled with tales about how great the cars are, except for…. And the list of exceptions seems never-ending. Near the top of the list is usually the climate control system. While the Italians are famous for making things look great – the interior switchgear of this car included – they are less adept at making them work, and if they do work they don’t always keep working for long. It is the sign of a mature, caring owner that the system functions properly in this car, and that the confusing rows upon rows of identical switches on the dash don’t look like they’ve been beaten to a pulp.

The seller does not indicate when the clutch, water pump, and timing belt were last replaced (and this IS an interference engine), but he does say that the car comes with full service history from 1994 on, so certainly those items will be well-documented. It is also a strong statement for the seller to say that “everything on the car is functional” and he even makes a point of including the adjustable-firmness suspension – usually long-since retired. We always like seeing full documentation of service history, but also complete sets of keys, books, and even sales literature. Those are further indicators of an owner who has taken great pride in their car.

The 164 shared its platform with the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema, and Saab 9000, but we would argue that it was the 164 that steals the show in comparison with the others, which were far more conservative in their execution. The pens at Pininfarina took the opportunity to showcase their design talents, normally reserved for the likes of Ferrari and other far more exotic cars, and the result is a still refreshingly angular car with performance to match its looks. Think of the 164S as the four-door that Ferrari never made, or if you consider the one-off Pinin show car, the one that they mass-produced. Again, the price is strong, but can you find a better deal on as nice a car?


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