Alfa Romeo 164

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Citroën C6
Alfa Romeo 164
Manufacturer: Alfa Romeo
Production: 1988-1997
Body Styles: FF full-size sedan
Predecessors: None
Successors: Alfa Romeo 166
Competitors: Audi A6
BMW 5 Series
Citroën XM
Peugeot 605
Renault Safrane
Saab 9000
Number built: 273,857
Alfa Romeo 164

The Alfa Romeo 164 was a full-size automobile produced by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 1988 to 1997.


First unveiled at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, the 164 can be considered the first of the 'New Generation' of Alfa Romeos. It was the last model to be developed while the marque was still independent (although it was launched a few months after the purchase of the company by Fiat), and was most notably the first large front wheel drive Alfa. The 164 was essential to Fiat's plan to relaunch Alfa Romeo as the prestige car brand after the conturbated, cash strapped era of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 164 was the last Alfa sedan to be sold in the US market, where only the 3.0 L V6 was offered (12V 1991-93, 24V 1994-95). Nevertheless it was quite successful in Europe in attracting keen drivers who wanted a prestige sporting sedan, but were tired of German offerings such as BMW and Mercedes Benz.

The 164 was discontinued and replaced by the Alfa Romeo 166 in 1998.


The Alfa Romeo 164 was styled by Sergio Pininfarina in 1987, shortly after completing his contract to design the Ferrari Testarossa. The 164 can be seen to share several styling design ideas with the Ferrari expressed as a four-door sedan. In concern for heritage, the design is also the logical extension and successor of the Alfetta sedan, particularly the late-model 'Long Nose, Square Light'.

The 164 was the first Alfa to feature extensive use of Computer Aided Design for calculating structural stresses, resulting in a very rigid but still relatively lightweight body. The 164 was based on the Type Four chassis shared with Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000. Being the last to reach the market, the 164's bodyshell was the most aerodynamic of the four, and has a markedly sleeker profile and lower coefficient drag. In order to permit this design variation, an exclusive front suspension with angled shock absorbers was developed. Most vehicles were fitted with Koni shock absorbers, while all Cloverleaf models were fitted with Bilstein units with a higher spring-rate.

The 164 was the first of the 'New Technology' Alfa Romeos, and is the technological basis of all Alfas to the present day.

The 164 also introduced dramatically improved build quality over previous Alfas, featuring galvanised steel frame for the first time, ending the most common complaint by Alfa customers about rust problems encountered in older models such as the Alfasud and the GTV.

Despite some purists fear of loss of character due to the adoption of front wheel drive for the first time in an Alfa top line saloon, the car proved itself as an supremely comfortable and sure footed cruiser, with a distinctively sporting character, in line with the marque's tradition. In fact the motorpress of the day found its only fault to be some torque steer, particularly in earlier versions.

Equipped with the most complex wiring loom of any Alfa Romeo, the 164 was designed to compete in the 'large luxury car' segment dominated by the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It offered better value for money in terms of technology (having 3 onboard computers, one for air conditioning, one for instrument systems, and one for engine management; A/C and Instrument functions share a multiple-mode coded Z-80-class microcontroller for dashboard functioning). Air-direction within the ventilation system was controlled by a pair of servo motors, which can give maintenance troubles in older vehicles; Possible high part costs are alleviated by the commonality of these parts with the successor Alfa 166.

Also, the car had some very advanced features for its day, such as automatic climate control and electronically controlled self-levelling suspension (in the top line Cloverleaf models). It also boasted engines among the best in the industry, continuing the Alfa tradition

Alfa Romeo 164 Q4

Alfa Romeo 164 Q4

In 1993 Alfa introduced a four wheel drive variant called the Q4 (short for Quadrifoglio 4), which was equipped with an even more powerful version of the 3.0L V6 engine. The Q4 four-wheel-drive system (Viscomatic) was co-developed with the Austrian company Steyr-Puch. The system was very advanced when compared to other 4WD systems at that time. The system consisted of a viscous coupling unit, central epicyclic differential and Torsen differential in the rear. The whole system is connected to ABS and Motronic units. The power driven to the rear axle is continuously variable from 0 to 100%, so the car can be fully front- or rear-wheel-drive as conditions require. Torque is distributed between axles depending on the speed, turning radius, engine rpms, throttle position and ABS parametrics. This model was equipped with a Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox.


The 164's development was by far and away the most demanding of any car manufactured by Alfa Romeo, and set the standard by which other European manufacturers would be measured.

  • Initial testing of the 164's dynamic elements began in 1984, where Giuliettas where used as test mules for engines and drivetrain. Initial handling bugs were ironed out on the factory's test track in Arese.
  • In 1985, the first pre-production 164's were put through their paces on the road. Heavily disguised, with many false panels and even a false nose design (borrowing heavily from the then equally undeveloped 155), sporting 4 round headlamps, these vehicle mules served to test the 164 for the gruelling 1 million kilometre static and road testing demanded of the design.
  • In 1986 and 1987, the first 150 164's were given their pre-production testing. In terms of engineering demands, these exceeded every Alfa before, and by quite a substantial margin.
  • In Morocco, desert testing saw 5 grey 164 Twinsparks and V6's undergo the equivalent of the Paris-Dakar rally. Road conditions varied from good tarmac to off-road conditions, and accelerometers confirmed the superiority of the 164 in terms of passenger comfort. This data was cross-confirmed in the engineering laboratory with a sophisticated dummy in the driver's seat, with accelerometers both in its seat, and in its ears to mimic that of the semi-circular canals of the ear.
  • The Twinspark and the V6 underwent handling trials at Arese. The Twinspark displayed very mature driving manners at the limit, with minimal skid. The V6 displayed a 25% increase in at-the-limit skid, a natural consequence of its greater nose weight.
  • ABS testing confirmed that the Twinspark has superior braking to the V6. Brake linings of the 164's were run at maximum braking until they literally glowed with heat, and displayed no deviation in form. The 164 was the first Alfa to feature slotted double-walled disc brakes. At no point were the discs drilled to release excess heat, the original design being demonstrated to be excellent.
  • Acceleration testing confirmed the V6 was the superior performer in terms of speed. In line with Alfa Romeo's remarkable ability to get all cars to achieve their speedometer maximum point, 164's were tested to their design maximum — 240 km/h. All achieved them, though the Twinspark displays reluctance to exceed 205 km/h, and achieved 240 very slowly. The V6 achieved it easily, and maintained it, thus demonstrating Alfa's legendary performance.
  • Sound production was tested in an anechoic chamber, the car being subjected to stress and road noise testing, with instruments and with live subjects at the wheel, on a specially designed rig.
  • Electromagnetic stability of the complex electronic system was also tested, in an anechoic chamber equipped with EM emitters (radar).
  • The 164 engines were run to destruction, the Twinspark proving to be the most robust, and with the longest possible engine life. The V6 displayed only 10% shorter overall engine life.


1993 Alfa Romeo 164L at Wheels Of Italy

Pininfarina's last design effort prior to the 164 was the Ferrari Testarossa. The design ideas present in the Testarossa were developed in the 164 within the brief of a four-door saloon. Examples of this include the wedge-profile which is reminiscent of the Testarossa, and the three grooved cheat lines running down the side of the 164's false door-panels and bumpers recall the air intake strakes, and the processed lip of these panels also recall the stylistic separation of elements of the Ferrari.

The wedged notch running down the length of the vehicle is a unique and striking design feature, which helped earn the 164 a unique place in automotive styling annals. It is often described as the most important and greatest example of styling for the year of its introduction, 1987.

The 164 has also been described as a more significant, though no less important departure for Alfa as the well known 'Monstro', the Alfa Romeo SZ of 1988.

Styled by Pininfarina, the 164's exterior bore a more than a passing resemblance to the Peugeot 605, launched a year later, and also styled by Pininfarina. This is particularly apparent in the wedge-shaped body and in the longitudinal groove along the side of both cars. However, individual stylistic treatment given by features such as the integration of the traditional Alfa triangular grille, elongated in the hood, and the full-width rear light cluster distinguished the 164 from its French counterpart.

The 164's styling cues have been carried over to contemporary late-series 33s, and to the 155, and the aerodynamic wedge shape introduced in the 164 remains a visible design feature in all subsequent Alfa Romeos into the present day.


The base 164 engine was the 2.0 L Twin Spark with two spark plugs per cylinder. Apart from that, this engine was also notable for having a two stage valve timing system (before Honda's famous VTEC), and an induction valve blade-type system, aimed at improving low end torque. The block of the Twin Spark was the illustrious 2.0 L that had been a part of Alfa's road and race car history since the 1930's, and so gave buyers a strong sense of heritage, as well tremendous advantage in terms of reliability. New to the engine was the introduction of fuel injection, controlled by a Bosch Motronic system. A very sophisticated engine, with traditional Alfa chain-driven DOHC, the engine has a single fan and generator belt which drastically improves reliability and reduces parasitic friction. The battery of all 164's is placed in the boot to achieve a close-to 50:50 weight distribution.

Next was a 2.0 L 8 valve petrol turbo, derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale, and including an overboost feature. (this was later replaced by the V6 Turbo in some markets).

The top of the line was the classical Alfa V6 in 3.0 L guise, in 12 valve and later 24 valve versions. The 3.0 V6 was also used to power the four wheel drive Q4 variant.

For some markets a 2.0 L V6 Turbo version was developed, based in the 3.0 L engine with reduced displacement and a very sophisticated engine management system from Bosch.

Finally, there was also a turbo diesel version with an engine sourced from the Italian engine maker VM Motori. Rated at 125 PS (92 kW) even this weakest version was capable to propel the aerodynamic saloon past the 200 km/h (124 mph) mark.

Alfa Romeo DOHC 24-valve V6 engine in 164 Q4


Model Engine Volume Power Torque 0-100 km/h,s Top speed Model year
2.0 T.Spark 8v I4 1962 cc 108 kW (148 PS) 187 Nm (138 ft.lbf) @ 4700 rpm 9.2 215 km/h 1987-1989
2.0 T.Spark 8v (cat) I4 1962 cc 106 kW (144 PS) 187 Nm (138 ft.lbf) @ 4700 rpm 9.9 210 km/h 1990-1992
2.0 TS 8v I4 1962 cc 106 kW (146 PS) 193 Nm (142 ft.lbf) @ 5000 rpm 9.9 210 km/h 1992-1995
2.0 TS Super 8v I4 1995 cc 106 kW (146 PS) 187 Nm (138 ft.lbf) @ 5000 rpm 9.9 210 km/h 1992-1997
2.0 Turbo 8v I4 1995 cc 129 kW (175 PS) 265 Nm (195 ft.lbf) @ 2500 rpm 7.5 220 km/h 1987-1991
2.0 V6 Turbo 12v V6 1997 cc 154 kW (210 PS) 306 N•m (226 ft•lbf) @ 2750 rpm 7.2 +240 km/h 1991-1992
3.0 V6 12v V6 2959 cc 141 kW (192 PS) 261 Nm (192 ft.lbf) @ 4900 rpm 8.1 230 km/h 1987-1989
3.0 V6 12v (cat) V6 2959 cc 135 kW (184 PS) 261 Nm (192 ft.lbf) @ 4900 rpm 8.1 230 km/h 1990-1992
3.0 V6 12v Super V6 2959 cc 132 kW (180 PS) 255 Nm (188 ft.lbf) @ 4400 rpm 8.0 230 km/h 1992-1995
3.0 V6 QV 12v V6 2959 cc 147 kW (200 PS) 274 Nm (202 ft.lbf) @ 4400 rpm 7.7 240 km/h 1990-1992
3.0 V6 24v Super V6 2959 cc 155 kW (211 PS) 266 Nm (196 ft.lbf) @ 5000 rpm 8.0 240 km/h 1992-1997
3.0 V6 24v QV V6 2959 cc 170 kW (232 PS) 276 Nm (203 ft.lbf) @ 5000 rpm 7.0 245 km/h 1992-1993
3.0 V6 Quadrifoglio V6 2959 cc 170 kW (232 PS) 276 Nm (203 ft.lbf) @ 5000 rpm 7.7 240 km/h 1993-1997


Model Engine Volume Power Torque 0-100 km/h,s Top speed Model year
2.5 Turbodiesel I4 2499 cc 86 kW (117 PS) 260 Nm (191 ft.lbf) @ 2200 rpm 11.1 200 km/h 1987-1992
2.5 Turbodiesel I4 2499 cc 92 kW (125 PS) 288 Nm (212 ft.lbf) @ 2000 rpm 10.8 202 km/h 1992-1997


  • 1987 - 164 unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show
  • 1988 - 164 goes on sale throughout Europe (Series 1)
  • 1990 - Mild suspension tweaks to alleviate torque steer, styling update on rear light clusters; Also, introduction of Bosch electronic switchgear internally, and revised instrument switchgear in Lusso versions (Series 1.5).
  • 1993 - Range revamped. Many small exterior changes including new headlight clusters. 3.0 L V6 engine upgraded to 24-valves, but the 12-valve engine remains. (Series 2)
  • 1994 - Four-wheel drive Q4 model introduced with the 3.0 L V6 engine. New interior design and fittings, and final-series trim options introduced. (Series 3)
  • 1995 - Alfa sales in United States cease.
  • 1997 - 164 production ends.
  • 1998 - 164 selling ends.


Alfa Romeo 164 Procar V10

Alfa Romeo 164 Procar V10

File:88Alfa V10-500.jpg
The hart of the beast

During the 1979 and 1980 Formula One seasons, fans were treated to the sight of some of the era’s best F1 pilots joining sports car aces and the occasional wealthy enthusiast in BMW’s Procar series. BMW created this Euro-styled version of IROC to highlight the gorgeous M1 exoticar, and it turned out to be one of the best spec-racing series of all time. BMW folded the program after two seasons, but Alfa Romeo hoped to revive the co But, as these videos of the prototype show, it would have been something. And yes, that’s former F1 ace Riccardo Patrese doing the driving!

External Links

More about the Procar V10

File:Procar 1.jpg
Alfa Romeo 164 Procar V10 All the panels removed


  • 1987 - 164 unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show
  • 1988 - 164 goes on sale throughout Europe
  • 1990 - Mild suspension tweaks to alleviate torque steer.
  • 1993 - Range revamped. Many small exterior changes including new headlight clusters. 3.0 V6 engine upgraded to 24 valves, but the 12 valve engine remains for purchase
  • 1994 - Four wheel drive Q4 model introduced with 3.0 V6 engine
  • 1995 - Alfa sales in United States cease
  • 1997 - 164 production ends


A silver 164 QV appears in the Vin Diesel movie, XXX. Belonging to one of the Russian gang members, it can be seen in some detail as X places some explosive on one of the doors before blowing it up !

The 164 served as the basis of the convertible Alfa Proteo, which in turn served as the basis of the new Alfa Spider.

A possible high-performance modification of the 164 is to insert the Ferrari engine from the Lancia Thema 8.32 / Ferrari, which shares both engine and transmission mounting points, as both cars are built on the Type Four chassis. This modification is considered theoretical, but mechanically possible. There are no reported modifications, and for proper application of power to the road, a 164 QV 4WD is required as a donor car.

The 164 was re-labeled as the 168 for Malaysian and Indonesian markets, as the number '164' had a very negative connotation, and '168' has quite the opposite.

External link

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