I’m Being Stalked By A 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S

This car has been haunting me. It keeps showing up in searches, rearing its attractive Italian face whenever I start meandering about Craigslist and SearchTempest.com. I think it’s following me.

I should preface the rest of this missive with the admission that I don’t subscribe to coincidence but I do respect an ineffable higher force which directs energy and meaning, punctuated with a strong shot of karma. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “All energy flows according to the whims of the great Magnet.” I believe this.

Alfa Romeo offended hordes of Alfisti when the 164 debuted. A sidewinder engine powering the front wheels? Sacrilege. Though a more cohesive folded-paper design than the Milano/75 before it, the 164 wasn’t what you’d call a pretty car in the classic Italian sense. Handsome? Certainly. But it was no Duetto. And the dashboard – with its double-DIN Chrysler stereo and center stack chock full of gray flush-fitting plastic buttons – was straight-up 80s Japanese cockpit porn (the 1994-95 dashboard were a modest improvement).

I’ve loved these monsters since their US debut in 1991. The quirky interior, the boxy design, the visage of six chrome intake runners greeting you as the hood opens. I never got a chance to drive one until 1995, and that was the 230 horsepower 164 Quadrifoglio. This 1991 164S is not a “Q” car, nor could it be. But its recurring appearance on my screen is lulling me into a false sense of attraction.

To be clear, this one has needs. While the engine has been rebuilt by the seller, there is apparently some valve noise from the rear bank of the V6 stemming from “chatter from closing too fast.” Which sounds like bullshit to me the seller claims can be fixed with a valve adjustment. Lord knows what other demons are lurking in the drivetrain.

Not this car’s interior

There are no pictures of the interior, the trunk, the chassis, or the rust. The ad doesn’t specifically mention rust, but it’s an Italian car in Minnesota. Two plus two isn’t that hard, people. But it comes with a complete parts car! I have this fantasy I could strip the parts car and recoup the $2200.00 the seller is asking for the whole package.

My only real gripe with this car is the front wheel drive. I know; it’s old news. And I’d get over it the first time I heard that magical V6 sing to redline. Did I mention it’s only 45 minutes away from my house?

The rest of the Hunter S. Thompson “all energy” quote goes on to say, “What a fool I was to defy him.” A debatable point, to be sure. But as I said before, I don’t believe in coincidence.

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10 responses to “I’m Being Stalked By A 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S

  • Reed Hitchcock

    I look at that town-down motor and recall the ones we saw at Alfredo’s in NYS all those years ago. The showrrom packed with brand-new Maserati Biturbos (425s?) and the 164s in the shop, headless. Frightening cars to be sure, but I’ve always wanted one.

  • Dale

    Holy Moley Rocky, don’t you KNOW stalkers are evil? RUN, don’t walk away. This is not the car you are looking for.

  • Tim T

    One of the best V6s built. The intakes valves are disc and cup lifters, and the exhaust is rocker arms and push rods. They are easily maintained… You just do EVERYTHING at 30K mile intervals (belts, water pump, tensioners, plugs, wires, etc..)
    I miss my Alfa Milano. Have severely thought of buying another.

  • J bird

    Looks legit, but I think the 164s had 200hp. The rocker arms for the exhaust valves are known to go south.
    The car looks clean. Rare??? In the salt belt, I’m sure they are like finding hens teeth. I always loved the 164. The dash is fantastic. Like Johnny 5 and Darth Vader was on the design team. The body is timeless. Seems like new cars are going back to this type of style. Lets whip a dead horse with”but it’s Fwd” only the best fwd to come over the pond. I’ve never heard of a bad handling Alfa. I say go for it. They are easy to work on for the most part. Pull the front wheels and take off the inter wheel well covers and you have access to the whole motor. Then all you have to do is wait 3 week of your parts to show up 😉

  • Jonathan Bush

    The 164S did have 200; the Q had 230.

    Reed, I remember that car at Alfredo’s, but I remember it a little differently. I remember the entire front end ripped apart because the timing belt had snapped. I remember being scared.

    I love this: “They are easily maintained… You just do EVERYTHING at 30K mile intervals (belts, water pump, tensioners, plugs, wires, etc..)” It’s been making me laugh all morning.

  • LanEvo

    If you love the 164, you should check out the Peugeot 405 Mi16.

    They have virtually the same styling inside and out (both penned by Pininfarina), but the Peugeot handles better and is generally more reliable. Plus, the 16v engine is a real peach, particularly the alloy-block 1.9L version. Massive tuning potential and loads of fun.

    • Jonathan Bush

      Oh, an Mi16 is on my list. I’ve liked those cars, indeed 405s in general, for a long time.

      • LanEvo

        I’ve got one of each: 2.3-16 track car; Mi16 daily driver.

        I never thought I’d love a FWD car until I drove the Pug. I’ve owned various BMW’s, Benzes, Evos, and things. I honestly think the Mi16 may be the best all-around car I’ve ever owned.

  • lesliewong

    When you said sidewinder, I thought spur gear.

  • Stephen Johnson

    I think the timing belt is actually done once every 60,000 miles and NOT every 30,000 miles. When you change the timing belt I would also change the water pump. Not expensive and good insurance. I have owned two 164S and they are my favorite car of all time. I did change out the radio and speakers but other than that – Fantastic.

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