1991 Alfa Romeo 164S – REVISIT

Back in the 1990s it took a special kind of person to buy an Alfa Romeo 164. With Alfa Romeo on its last legs in the US market, they started offering this new front-wheel drive sedan in 1991, just as Lexus and Infiniti were heating up with their smaller offerings, BMW was about to unleash a new 3 series sedan and Acura came up with a new five-cylinder luxury sedan, the Vigor. All of the above offered better reliability and a wider dealer network, but for those wanting the verve of an Italian car, only the 164 would do. And for those wanting just a bit more than the standard 164, the 164S was on tap for the sport minded individual. We featured this car back at the end of 2012 and it is back up for sale for Alfisti looking to sate their appetite until the new, promised offerings from Alfa Romeo make their way stateside once again.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S

The below post originally appeared on our site November 12, 2012:

Oftentimes a car manufacturer will come up with different names for the same vehicle based on the demographics of the market in which the car is being sold. Some examples include the Alfa Romeo Milano, which was known as the 75 in its home market and the Fiat Strada, which was called the Fiat Ritmo elsewhere. Alfa Romeo had a conundrum on their hands when they introduced the 164 sedan in 1990. As some may be aware, there are homophones in the Chinese language that denote certain sayings. In Chinese, the 164 meant "all the way to death." Fearing a PR disaster, Alfa Romeo changed the badge on the trunklid to 168, which roughly translated to "all the way to prosperity." A small, relatively painless change in order to avoid scaring off potential customers. There's no way of telling how this 168S got this badge here in the US market, but it appears from the Carfax report that this was a simply badge swap by the owner.

Year: 1991
Model: 164S
Engine: 3.0 liter V6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 137,753 mi
Price: $9,888 Buy It Now

TThe 164 Quadrifoglio Verde (badged as the 164 QV) was available from 1990-1992 as the top of the range model. It featured an extended front spoiler, deeper side-skirts and a deeper rear apron. Inside, the 164 QV featured sculpted sports seats and mechanically the car featured an up-rated 3.0 12V V6 and adjustable damper settings.

The story of the 168 in Hong Kong is unique in Alfa Romeo history, and has a lot to do with the Chinese belief in the significance of numerology and outright superstition. Even in modern Hong Kong society, these beliefs continue to thrive, and while not every Hong Kong resident may personally believe in unlucky numbers, they are almost universally known by nearly everyone.

As is illustrated by the 164, in some Asian societies, the relationship between certain groups of numbers can be highly complex and go unnoticed by most Westerners. In the simplest terms, for example, the number 4 in Chinese is nearly synonymous with the word for "death." Thus, different combinations of numbers can represent different things: some lucky, some prosperous, and, as Alfa Romeo soon discovered, some which could profoundly affect sales of their cars.

In the Cantonese dialect, which is prevalent in Hong Kong, 164, when pronounced as a phase, literally means "the more you go the more you die." This had immediate and obvious meaning when taken in the context of an automobile. Alfa's Hong Kong-savvy sales representatives made an unprecedented move and quickly cabled Fiat management for permission to substitute the much-maligned 164 emblem with one now marked 168. The number 8 is perhaps the luckiest in all of Hong Kong as it is similar to the word for prosperity and wealth.

Therefore, what was originally one of the worst rear insignias imaginable instantly became one of the best: 168 means "the more you go the wealthier you'll be." The Alfa 164 was always a great sports sedan to drive but the "S" version offers even more enjoyment. In all ranges the car offers excellent performance and pulls very strong and without hesitation.

Driving the Alfa is really a pleasure. There are no signs of mechanical issues and there is no noise in the drive-line. The clutch is excellent, the transmission shifts very well, the synchromesh gears are excellent (even at higher speeds) and the car is fitted with new set of Falken Ziex 195 65R 15 91H tires and original wheels. The car steers straight, stops straight and has excellent brakes. An inspection of the underside of the car is clean and free from rust and any signs of previous repair or accidents. We encourage a review of the photos as the old adage "A photo is worth a thousand words" clearly applies in this instance! All of the electrical components are fully functional.

The trunk and engine bay are very clean and consistent with the condition of the car's exterior and interior quality and the original Alfa insignia mat is in place and in very good condition. Under the mat are the properly secured spare tire, wheel and the cars original jack.

We often times receive questions that go something like: "Does the car really look as good as it does in the photographs"? The answer in this case is yes. This car is a very attractive example of the difficult to locate 164 S Alfa Romeo with most desirable 168 badge. Perhaps most important, this is an opportunity to own a truly unique and original Alfa 168 S that offers great handling, looks and performance at a very attractive price.

It's nice that such a detailed history was given on the 164 by the seller, but little in the way of this particular vehicle's service and ownership history has been provided. Even though it has somewhat high mileage, it certainly looks to be a fairly honest 164. I was always a fan of these S models in red with the contrasting gray cladding and the tan leather has a rich look about it that few new cars these days can match.

-Paul

1 Comment

  1. miek says:

    People have been tearing these up for their engines to put into GTv6s and the like. Which is sad.

    If this car was RWD that would not be happening.