1991 Alfa Romeo 164L

Illustration for article titled 1991 Alfa Romeo 164L

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Not a lot of Italian machinery on the island these days; we've seen two Alfa Graduates (an '85 and an '89), three Fiats (a '77 124 Spider, an '81 Strada, and an '82 X-1/9), and a Ferrari Mondial T. Today we're adding another Alfa to that list, with a daily-driven 164L.

Illustration for article titled 1991 Alfa Romeo 164L

Looking up the Wikipedia entry for this car, I learned a really cool Alfa fact: in Chinese, "164" sounds like "all the way to death." For that reason, the 164 was badged as a 168 in Hong Kong. Of course, Alfa Romeo's profits from North America still went all the way to death by 1995, so this car is one of the last Alfas you could buy here.

Illustration for article titled 1991 Alfa Romeo 164L

In 1991, you could buy a brand new 164L for $27,500. That was about 7 grand cheaper than the least expensive BMW 5 series that year, but 5 grand more than a new '91 Cressida. The Cressida was probably faster, more comfortable, 4000% easier to service, and had an expected lifespan approximately 50 times longer than that of the 164, but who cares? Look at how pretty the Pininfarina car is! Come on, life's too short! Yes, such were the thoughts that doubtless went through the mind of the car shopper who purchased this car back in the days of Gulf War I. And look- it's still running 18 years later!

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Rob Emslie

The 164 was a very pretty car, almost redeeming Alfa for the eye-gouging Milano. I have acquaintances who own a beautiful example (along with a Giulia Super, lots of Citroens, etc. . .) and it's pretty much a daily driver.

That six is reasonably reliable, but the 5-speed gearbox is problematic, as is the climate control. A lot of parts are shared with the sister SAAB 9000 as well as the Fiat Chroma and Lancia Thema, tho they were never sold here in the U.S.