Advisor - Car purchase

Buyers Guide Alfa Romeo 164

The Alfa Romeo 164 was introduced to the italian market in 1987. It was the first car which appeared on the market after Alfa Romeo was taken over by Fiat. It was also the first consequently developed upper-class limousine from Alfa Romeo.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 3,0 V6 von 1988

The Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 V6 from 1988

The basic concept of the 164, internally called Tipo 4, was developed together with Fiat/Lancia and Saab before Alfa was taken over by Fiat. However, the first official deliveries in Germany started at the beginning of 1988. Alfa Romeo and the mother company Fiat wanted to solve all minor technical problems of the new model and raise the quality to an adequate standard. After all, the 164 should ensure the economic survival of Alfa Romeo for the future.

The coachwork designed by Pininfarina, shows an ageless and elegant formed body with a low front which softly rises into a fashionable high rear end.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 QV von 1990

The Alfa Romeo 164 QV from 1990

Besides the well known 3.0 l V6 SOHC engine with 184 bhp (192 bhp without 3 way cat), Alfa offered the 2.0 l DOHC-TwinSpark with 143 bhp which was also in the Alfa 75 (introduced 1987) and a 2.5 l 4-cylinder turbocharged Diesel engine with 110 bhp, which was bought from the former Italian public enterprise VM. The 2.0 l DOHC 4-cylinder turbo-engine with 175 bhp which was "borrowed" from the Lancia Thema, this was in fact based like the 164 on the Tipo 4 platform and played no great role in Germany. This engine complemented the engine range.

Model history
Additional to the 1991 model the 164 QV (Quadrofoglio Verde - cloverleaf) was introduced as the top model. It was equipped with a tuned up 200 bhp version of the 3.0 V6 engine.

1991 a new 2.0 l SOHC V6 turbo-engine with 204 bhp was introduced to the market, superseding the 4-cylinder turbo-engine. On all 1991 models the geometry of the front axle had been improved to avoid driving forces affecting the steering system.

1993 the "Super"-models have been launched. Besides a thorough face lift - internal and external - the new 24 V engines were introduced. These engines based on the SOHC V6, but had 4 valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts for each cylinder bank. The power output was 210 bhp.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 Super 3,0 24 V von 1993

The Alfa Romeo 164 Super 3.0 24 V from 1993

The QV-models also were equipped with the above mentioned engine. Again, as with the first 164 QV's, a tuned up version of the engine was used. The QV's reached a max power output of 234 bhp.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 QV 24 V von 1993

The Alfa Romeo 164 QV 24 V from 1993

The basic models were produced with the original model names for another year. They had exactly the same standard as the Super models, but were not equipped with the 24 V engines. The 24 V engines were only available in the Super models. You can clearly spot these models, internally called 164 "FL" (where FL stands for Facelift), by the special DE-projection-headlamps.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 mit Facelift von 1993

The Alfa Romeo 164 with the Facelift from 1993

To reach a lower "emission classification" the 3.0 litre V6 12V engine became a new engine software, which reduced the power output from 184 bhp to 180 bhp. In many countries the technical authorities measure the cars emissions before permission to import or sell cars of the tested type is issued. A major factor is how much hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide an engine produces through the tested rev range. According the measured figures a car is classified and therfore emission classification numbers are used as references. Maybe you've heared about the "Euro 3" or "Euro 4" norms, which are in fact the latest two emission classification references in Europe.

In 1994 the production of the basic models had been ended. From that date on only the Super models, the top models "QV" and the newly introduced "Q4" were produced. At the same time the turbocharged engine was slightly modified lowering the power output to 201 bhp. The Diesel engine, still supplied by VM was tuned up and now had a power output of 120 bhp and slightly improved torque.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 Super V6 TB von 1994

The Alfa Romeo 164 Super V6 TB from 1994

>From now on the absolute top model was the 164 Q4. This model based on the 164 QV was equipped with a Getrag-6(!)-speed gearbox and had permanent all-wheel drive.

Der Alfa Romeo 164 Q4 von 1994

The Alfa Romeo 164 Q4 from 1994

The complete body was based on the "Tipo 4 platform" which was also the platform for Fiat Chroma, Lancia Thema and the Saab 9000.

Only the very early models had some problems with rust. Mainly in the wheel well area around the plastic covered inner fenders, the trunk lid, the waterdrains of the windscreen, rear window and the optional sliding roof.

Thanks to a partly galvanized body the 164 is very well protected against corrosion. Among other things the unprotected rubber seals of the door apertures suffer when people step on them whilst getting in or out of the car.

The outside rear view mirrors of the pre Super models up till 1993 suffered from the salt which is used in German winters to de-ice the roads and the light alloy often shows pitting.

Sometimes it happens that scruffy Super models have the same problems.

A further problem is chipped paint on the hood caused by grit or gravel or when the clear varnish peels off.

Generally these are more or less optical defects, as long as grit and gravel only cause damage to the varnish or clear varnish coat the metal will not corrode.

Some of the earlier models had problems with leaky head- and foglamps.

The fresh air inlet for the heating-blower is located behind the splashboard, underneath the thin plasticcover. Due to the necessary openings in the plastic cover it can happen that foliage, leaves, dirt, everything that flies up from the roadsurface and water choke the water drains. If these drains are clogged then you'll have a nice and damp biotope, which after a few years will ruin even the best galvanized panels.


It's well known that well treated and regularly serviced Alfa engines have a very long life. We just want to talk about the "real" Alfa engines. The turbo charged 4 cylinder engines don't play a role in Germany. We won't talk much about the turbo-charged Diesel engines as we have no information that can be of use for you.If you have any problems then you can contact your nearest Chrysler workshop as VM is now owned by the Daimler-Chrysler AG.The Turbo Diesel is to be found in the Cherokee and Voyager.

The TwinSpark 4 Cylinder
As a result of the weak financial background, Alfa Romeo unlike their competitors, could not afford to develop a 4 cylinder engine with a 16-valve cylinderhead. So Alfa thought back to the "good ol' times" of the GTA era. At that time Alfa earned remarkable motor sports results against much stronger competitors, using a conventional 8-valve cylinderhead equipped with two spark plugs per cylinder and the legendary dual ignition system. The so called TwinSpark system.
The basis for the TwinSpark engine is nothing else than the well known standard DOHC-engine. Compared to the standard DOHC-engine the TwinSpark's cylinderhead has a considerably narrower valve angle. The dual (twin) ignition system consits of 8 spark plugs, 2 ignition systems and the Motronic ( a black box responsible for ignition timing/fuel-injection, etc.). The Motronic controls a lot of different engine parameters and governs the exact firing of each spark plug by sending signals to the ignition-systems. The two spark plugs in the particular cylinder fire slightly offset.
In comparison to other engines the TS-engine with only 8 valves has quite a high performance. This is not only due to the dual ignition system alone. Another innovative invention of Alfa Romeo is responsible for a major power increase. The patented "VIVT-System" (Variable Inlet Valve Timing). The VIVT-system allows a variable valve timing, by moving the inlet cam shaft forward or backward. This means that the inlet valves open or close either ealier or later. This guarantees an optimum cylinder charge and high torque through the whole rev-range.
The VIVT-system already has proven itself, as it was used in the first, Motronic-equipped, injection-engines of the Alfetta series.

Known defects on this specific engine are burned out pistons, mainly caused by the use of spark plugs with the wrong temperature range. Burned out exhaust valves caused by the same reason may also appear. Wrong valve clearence, especially when the gap tolerance is too low, may also cause burned out valves. A weak point are the two ignition distributors, as the ignition rotors are bonded with the distributor shafts. Officially there are only complete ignition distributor assemblies available, costing around € 180.- per unit. The Bosch reference number is 123433 2370 R1.
Thank god that the engines of the "Super"-types don't have this specific problem. These engines are, like the V6-engines of the last few model years, equipped with an electronic coil-ignition system without distributor, rotor and cap.
Otherwise well kept TwinSpark engines are known for their longevity. One imprortant thing is, that these engines due to their huge amount of coolant, need to be treated carefully when cold. You never should demand the engines full power or rev it to the limit before it has reached its operating temperature.

Schnittzeichnung durch den Twinspark Vierzylinder

Cutaway drawing of the Twinspark 4 cylinder

Der V6-Motor
The V6 engine is based on the 2.5 litre engine that was introduced with the Alfa 6 and the GTV 6.

These engines can reach a very high mileage with good care and regular servicing.

Concerning periodical servicing, here exists a weak point. The belt-driven camshafts, this belt has to be replaced every 60000 km. The official service and maintenance guide specifies a limit of 80000 to 120000 km, an earlier replacement is cheaper than a complete engine breakdown caused by a torn belt. If you're in doubt cause the verification that the belt has been replaced (i.e. a service booklet and/or invoice) is missing, we strongly recommend that you at once make an appointment with your workshop and have the belt replaced. During that work the valve clearance can be checked and adjusted if necessary.

Der V6 24V Motor

The V6 24V engine

Below you can see how some parts of above mentioned engine look like when one delays the replacement of the timing belt:

So sieht ein gerissener Zahnriemen aus.....

This is what a ripped belt looks like..... die dazugehörigen Ventile

......and here the valves

Another weak spot which especially affects the older models is the timing belt tensioner. On all models before 1995, it is a hydraulic tensioner. As the oil channel between the tensioner and the engine is never hundred percent tight, it is possible that oil leaks out. The leaked oil can damage the belt and will be sprayed all over the engine making a nice mess. However, there are conversion kits available which are mechanically operated, similar to the tensioners from the later models.

Defective waterpumps are often to be found on early models until 1990. As the timing belt has to be disassembled when replacing the waterpump, this is quite an expensive job, one should insist that in addition to the replacement of the waterpump the timing belt be replaced too.

Schnittzeichnung des V6 12 V

Cutaway drawing of the V6 12 V

It can happen that the turbo engine's turbocharger can be faulty. This is easily noticed by listening for strange noises and/or feeling of a decrease in power.

Schnittzeichnung des V6 Turbo

Cutaway drawing of the V6 Turbo

On all V6 engines it can sometimes happen that the sealing rings between valve covers and spark plug boreholes start to leak. The raised oil dust from the valve gear will then appear within the sparkplug boreholes and around the spark plugs seats. This problem can quickly be solved by installing new valve cover seals and sealing rings. By the way, the valve cover seal of the forward cylinder bank is, due to the construction, much easier to replace than the seal from the rear cylinder head cover.

Engines in general
Like all cars which have transverse mounted front engines, the 164's have due to the construction some weak points, which are easily solved but can sometimes be the reason for trouble. The rubber mountings of the engine wear out quickly, caused by the engine movement forces when accelerating or decelerating. This means when one accelerates the engine moves backward along the roll axis, when decelarting the engine moves back forward. This also causes damage on the flexible exhaust tubes. On the upper engine mounts only the rubber mountings wear out, but they are easy to replace. It's a different story with the flexible exhaust pipes. If they have to be replaced it is necessary to change the whole pipe leading from the exhaust manifold to the cat. The bolts which hold the cat and pipe together are always rusty and need lots of rust remover. If that does not work it is sometimes helpful to heat the bolts with a welding torch.

A general problem of the Alfa engines with the overhead cams are the valve tappets and the camshafts. Tappets and cams on engines with high mileage often show wear. Too much wear causes pointed cam profiles, resulting in a reduced maximum engine power. If this happens the camshafts and all valve tappets have to be replaced. One camshaft for the 6-cylinder engine costs approx. € 307.- (excluding costs for installation). € 154.- for the 4-cylinder camshaft sound like a bargain. If during the inspection of the valve clearence it turns out that the tappets show wear, camshafts and tappets should be replaced, which will reduce costs as all the work has only to be done once.A general problem of the Alfa engines with the overhead cams are the valve tappets and the camshafts. Tappets and cams on engines with high mileage often show wear. Too much wear causes pointed cam profiles, resulting in a reduced maximum engine power. If this happens the camshafts and all valve tappets have to be replaced. One camshaft for the 6-cylinder engine costs approx. € 307.- (excluding costs for installation). € 154.- for the 4-cylinder camshaft sound like a bargain. If during the inspection of the valve clearence it turns out that the tappets show wear, camshafts and tappets should be replaced, which will reduce costs as all the work has only to be done once.

Since 1993 all V6-engines are equipped with selfadjusting, hydraulic valve tappets. The engine oilpressure automatically adjusts the gap between cams and tappets (valve clearance). Therfore this system is called maintenance free. Even with this system defects can happen, there is a rattling noise coming from the valve cover when the engine is warm (operating temperature or higher). If this happens, one or more of the hydraulic tappets are defective. With cold engine a short rattling noise is normal as it takes a little time until the oilpressure inside the tappets rises.

The quality of the pistons from Alfa Romeo's supplier Borgo sometimes just can't deliver the goods, especially when the engines are knocking on. The quality of these parts was getting better as the years went by, but experts talk about a replacement of these parts after 60000 km, as they supposedly could be worn out.
Replacement pistons for the 4-cylinder engines are available from Mahle. Unfortunately the kits (pistons/liners) cost € 512.-, which is almost double the price Alfa would charge for the stock Borgo parts.
Unfortunately Mahle produces no stock pistons for the 6-cylinder engines. Mondial, a subsidiary company of Mahle, can supply piston/liner-kits off adequate quality for both the 4-cylinder engines as well as the 6-cylinder engines. Experts say that they are still not satisfied, as far as quality is concerned.

A problem of all engines with high mileages are the cylinder heads or better the valve guides and valve seals. If these are worn out the oil consumption can be very high. According to Alfa Romeo an oil consumption of 1 litre per 1000 km is acceptable and rated as "normal".

Due to the construction of the Alfa Romeo engines it's a relatively easy job to perform a complete engine overhaul.

As the prices for man-hours differ extremely from workshop to workshop we can not provide any exact figures.

Using parts catalogues from different parts suppliers, we registered the most important parts one needs for an engine overhaul and put our records in the spreadsheet you will find below. If one wants to do an engine overhaul, it is important to compare prices and if possible the quality of the required parts.

Spare Parts Price List (Engine)

Sparepart/ Engine Type
(all Prices in Euro - €)
2.0 TS 3.0 V6 12V 3.0 V6 24V 2.0 V6 TB
Crankshaft (new) 921.- 1.125,- 1.125,- 1.279,-
(replacement,with bearings)
358,- 614,- 614,- 614,-
Bearing Kit 72,- 97,- 97,- 97,-
- Borgo 294,- 506,- 506,- 588,-
- Mahle 486,- -- -- --
- Mondial 312,- 537,- 537,- 693,-
- Standard 307,- 409,- 819,- 409,-
- Tuning 409,- 665,- 1.790,- 1.023,-
Oil Pump 123,- 164,- 164,- 179,-
Timing Belt -- 33,- 43,- 33,-
Timing Chain        
- short 15,- -- -- --
- long 26,- -- -- --
Belt Tensioner -- 256,- 256,- 256,-
Gasket Kits        
- Engine 102,- 199,- 199,- 199,-
- Cylinder Head 90,- 148,- 148,- 148,-
Water Pump 77,- 128,- 128,- 128,-
Radiator 246,- 266,- 266,- 266,-
Exhaust Manifold (each) 138,- 159,- 179,- --
Catalytic Converter 818,- 818,- 946,- 818,-
Exhaust from Cat to rear end 256,- 256,- 358,- 256,-
Turbo Charger (replacement) -- -- -- 962,-
Cylinder Head (replacement) 818,- (pro Seite)
(pro Seite)
(pro Seite)
Replacement Engine (without Cylinder Head)        
kopf) 1.893,- 2.506,- 2.711,- 2.506,-
Replacement Engine (complete, excl. Alternator, Starter Motor, etc.) 2.522,- 3.274,- 3.990,- 3.274,-


Manual Gearbox
The manual gearbox of the 164 come from FIAT's production line. An exception is the 6-speed box from the 4-wheel-driven-164 Q4, coming from the German company Getrag. The durability of the standard transmissions of the models until 1993 suffer from bearing failiure, they have bearings with plastic bearing cages. These wear out faster-than-average. In the majority of cases one can hear a whining noise in the first three gears. First one can hear it only when the car is overrunning the engine, when the problem advances one can hear it also under power. A repair will cost approx. € 768.-. A new transmission is available for approx. € 1535.-.

Schnitt durch das Schaltgetriebe

Sectional drawing of the manual transmisson

All Wheel Drive
Due to the fact that the Q4-transmission is a rarity, maintenance and/or replacement is expensive. To check and fill up the transmission and the differential units takes quite a lot of time and each unit needs a different gear oil. It is to suppose that a missing or incomplete service-booklet indicates that neither the transmission nor the differential units have been serviced. Repairs on the all-wheel-drive system are extremely expensive, which for sure is a reason that especially the 164 Q4's are traded at relatively low prices.

Schemazeichnung des Allradantriebes 164 Q4

Schematical drawing of the all-wheel-drive of the 164 Q4

Automatic Gearbox
The automatic gearbox used in the Alfa 164 comes from ZF. We never heared about problems with it. As with all automatic transmissions it is of major importance to check the oil level periodically. Also a complete oil change should be done regularly. Only ATF (Autom.Transmission Fluid) is allowed to be used in automatic transmissions. If you are changing the oil, one should change the ATF-filter as well.

Schnittzeichnung durch das ZF-Automatikgetriebe

Sectional drawing of the ZF- automatic gearbox

Chassis/ Suspension
The weakest point concerning the otherwise perfect suspension of the 164 are the silent-bloc mounts of the front- and rear suspension. The best indication of worn out rubber-mounts is the spongy road behaviour. Unfortunately the rubber-mounts can only be replaced together with the corresponding rods. Spares are available through Alfa Romeo. The front wishbones together with the steering knuckel pins for the steering knuckle cost approx. € 179.- each. The rear longitudinal control arms are available for approx. € 72.- per unit.

The british supplier SuperFlex offers polyurethane bushes for the front wishbones, but from Germany there are no references or information available.

Generally it can be said that here too the bushes and rods should be replaced after 60000 km.

On older 164's (especially models till 1992) it can happen that the lower spring retainer almost rusts away. If corrosion is that intense it could happen that the retainer brakes away under load, the car will then, be extremely lowered either on one side or in the worst of cases on both sides ;-). For this repair it is necessary to uninstall and disassemble the complete shock-strut. Due to the high preload of the coil springs it is recommended to either use professional tools ( spring compression plates/rods) or let the workshop do the job. The spring retainer can be ordered at Alfa Romeo for approx. € 26.-.

It's quite common that a 164 from the first series (till 1990/91) sometimes steers in a different direction than the driver expects. Especially with fat tyres, worn out suspension bushes, and on rough roads this effect can be even worse.

Layout des 164 Fahrwerks

164 Suspension layout

QV- and Q4-models are equipped with the electronic suspension control system. The adjustments are done by lowering/increasing the damping force and not as thought by many dirvers by adjusting the height. When switched into "auto" the shocks are automatically controlled by different sensors. In position "sport" the shocks operate with increased damping force. Due to the lot of different sensors massive electronic problems can occur. Troubleshooting is very complicated and time consuming. Replacement for a leaking shockabsorber is very expensive.Die QV- und Q4-Modelle besitzen die elektronische Fahrwerkssteuerung.
This electronic suspension control system was available as an option for the "standard" Super-models.

Schemazeichnung des automatischen Sportfahrwerks

Schematical drawing of the electronically controlled suspension system

The 164's brake system with ABS (optional for TS-models), internally ventilated front discs and ventilated rear discs met the standard of this class. The pure braking power of 8.8 - 9.1 m/s² was rated good at the beginning of the production. In the meantime good brake systems reach deceleration values around 9.8 - 10.0 m/s².

Schema der Bremsanlage mit ABS

Schematical drawing of the brake system with ABS

As the Alfa 164, especially with its V6 engine, motivates to drive fast, the brake wear on the front brakes is of course very high. If one is always driving really fast, it can happen that the front brake discs are shot after 20000 km and have to be replaced.

Among others the high brake fading (decreasing braking power and/or decreasing friction between pads and discs due to heat) is a weak point. This can be solved by replacing the stock pads with Ferodo DS 2000 pads. If brake servicing is due, it is recommended to use o n l y high-quality spareparts.

The actuating mechanism of the hand brake (situated on the rear axle) often blocks. This can be solved by installing an overhaul kit but it is better to replace the defective caliper.

Heater/ Ventilation/ Airconditioning
Many 164's were delivered with the optional automatic airconditioning. A known weak point of the system are the servo-motors actuating the ventilation drum, ventilation flaps and the temperature adjuster. As the the servo-motors carry plastic gears, wear is pre-programmed. Damaged servo-motors produce a clicking noise which seems to come out of the glove compartment. If this fault occurs it is not possible to change the position of the ventilation flaps or change the temperature (no reaction even when pre-set temp. is set to another value).
The servo-motors, although they are produced by Bosch, are only available through Alfa Romeo and only as a complete set, they cost " only " € 266.- As it is necessary to disassemble the whole dashboard to replace the servos, Alfa Romeo will charge about € 1025.- for the working time.
For the tinker freaks an australian supplier offers a repair kit containing metal gears for the servos. The price for the gears rise up to € 266.- by the time they arrive in Germany. But they sure are year 3000 compatible ;-).
The service life for the stock servo-motors (at a normal yearly mileage) is approximately 160000 km. But it can happen that the gears peg out much earlier.
In most cases the holding fixture of the ventilation-drum is also broken, but Alfa Romeo can supply a reinforced ring to solve the prob.
Older 164's can also bother with squeaking noises coming from the blower. In this case either the whole motor or the bearing of the blower-wheel has to be replaced. There are two ways to get the blower out. Either from the engine compartment, which means that the airconditioning system (if there is one) and the heater have to be disassembled, or from the interior, but then the complete dashboard has to be taken out.

Many of the older 164's airconditioning systems are filled with, the in the meantime forbidden, refrigerant R12. However, in some specialized workshops the R12 can be superseded with the non polluting refrigerant R134a, which has less impact on the environment. If this has to be done, it is necessary to suck out the R12 and disassemble the airconditioning and replace all seals with R134a-proof seals. The compressor gets a new oil-filling. It is recommended to replace the drier right away. Depending in which condition the system was, the repair charges start at around € 385.-. Eventually the whole job is going to be rather expensive, but driving in summer will be great fun. Keep cool ;-)

The many electrical "helpers" and the whole lot of control lamps suffer from permanent malfunctions. Basically this is a typical problem of Italian cars, but compared to other earlier types of Alfa Romeo, remarkable improvements have been made.
Generally one should duly test all electrically operated equipment, like window lifters, rear view mirrors, seat adjusters and seat heaters, remote controled fuel cap and trunk lid, head lamp adjuster, and so on. To have malfunctions solved by Alfa can cost a small fortune. Another important thing is to test all indicators of the check panel. Some witty fellows like to remove the bulbs, indicating a malfunction. We have also heard about knowingly people using black coloured bulbs. The main thing is, that when the "Test"-button is pushed all indicator lamps, except the ABS-control, have to light up and have to go off when the button is released.

If an indicator lamp is on, it is not always sure that the belonging equipment is defective. It could also be a malfunction of the Alfa-Check-Control unit or just a loose connector or a defective transmitter. An old trick is to bridge or by-pass defective fluid-level-transmitters. All transmitters, except the oil-level-transmitter, are controled via ground (negative). A series resistor has to be placed if one wants to by-pass the oil-level transmitter. A new transmitter costs € 72.- at the Alfa dealer.

The ABS-indicator lights up when the ignition is turned on and should go off when the engine is started. If the indicator stays on, one can worry about a defect in the ABS-electronics. As a rule in most cases it is " just " a broken wire leading to one of the four wheel-speed sensors. To find the faulty wire is very complicated and requires adequate measuring instruments.

In the 164's produced after 1993 a different, new display and new controls for the airconditioning system was built into the middle console. The display, also produced by Bosch, suffers due to variations in temperature under broken conducting paths. A typical sign of a malfunction is that not all segments of the LCD-display are correctly displayed. The price for the display is € 1023.-, but a replacement is rather useless, because the new one can fail again within short time.

On older 164's the speedometer (not the odometer) can show incorrect values. The pointer flickers and the indicated values are in most cases far to low. The reasons are the potentiometers necessary for calibration. They are fixed to the printed circuit board of the speedo/tacho-unit. With increasing age the conducting paths corrode and the conductivity decreases.
The speedo has than either to be replaced or repaired at a speedo-service shop (No!!! We are not talking about these dubious "odometer-specialists" offering lower/higher mileages!!!). The indicated speed range then has to be adjusted using an oscilloscope.

The carpets are sunlight sensitive and often bleach out. Same can be said about the seats.
An eventually existing leather outfit should be in neat condition.

Well, if the leather shows a little bit of patina, this is sure tolerable, considering that we're talking about used 164's. If the leather is brittled or the colour is scraped off, the only remedy is to get new ones made in a specialized saddlery. The costs will sure be over € 1025.- .

Some of the QV- and Q4- models are equipped with Recaro seats, which could be ordered as an option. These seats provide perfect, sporty comfort and are even better than the stock seats. Besides the standard electric adjusters and seat heating system, these leather "noble-seats" are equipped with an additional memory function.

Der optional lieferbare "Edelsitz" von Recaro

The optional available `noble-seat΄ from Recaro

The dashboard on QV and Q4 models is also covered with leather. Sunlight and solar radiation cause the leather to shrink and unveils a gap between instrument carrier and instrument bezel. If this happens, the saddlery, for little money, can help you with a new cover.

Miscellaneous parts of the interior panels and trims are often loose and make different kind of noises. Either one learns to live with that or "tinkers" around with special automotive silicone to get the loose parts fixed till the end of time ;-)

Sometimes the condition of the rubber pads on the pedals can reveal the true overall-condition of the car.

The 164 is not only a good touring car, it is definitely a good long distance car. But it is rather a fast freeway car than a roadracer, as it is not very handy.

The 164's brakes and the achieved brake forces are unfortunately far below the engines power level. That applies especially to the QV- and Q4- models, even though the Q4 has internal vented brake discs on all four wheels.

Alfa Romeo 164 QV 24 V

Alfa Romeo 164 QV 24 V

Concerning sheer engine power with a fast QV 24V it is possible to hang on to a Carrera 2's rear on the freeway. As long as the Carrera 2's driver does not think about braking. If he would, the QV driver would see trouble coming his way.

If one can afford or wants to spend a lot of money for a good braking system, it would be best to talk to car tuners or brake manufacturers like AP-Lockheed, Brembo or Tarox. They offer complete upgrade-kits with 4 or 6 cylinder fixed calipers for about € 1790.- plus the charges for installation and TÜV/ MOT approval. The diameter of the front discs of only 284 mm (11") increases to "gigantic" 320 - 330 mm (12,6" - 13"). The anticipated braking forces will live up to a modern sports car and will be able to handle the engines power. For an expirienced 164-driver a Carrera 2 "on the brakes" should not be a problem any more.

Brake Upgradekit from Tarox with 6 cylinder caliper

Brake upgrade kit from Tarox with 6 cylinder caliper

However, as mentioned above, the only way to replace worn out brake components like pads or discs is to use high quality spare parts.

In general it can be said, that repair and/or maintenance costs for all 164's are on a high level.

Recommendations for buyers
Basically it is not possible to give real buying recommendations on every single model of the 164. Each model or better each model related to which motorization it has, has its advantages and of course disadvantages. One might prefer a 12-valve engine with its smooth torque increase rather than a more or less "nervous sports engine" with 24 valves. Another one might swear by the classic 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual ignition system. The next one might prefer a Diesel rather than any gas engine and another one by all means wants to have a 6 cylinder turbo.
At least there's one thing all gas engines have, even without a sports exhaust system: a nice sound.

Sure one should prefer a neat and well treated 164 with a complete service booklet rather than a scruffy, abused one.

The models till 1990/91 have, due to the rather inferior front axle, quite a lot of problems with the enormous drive forces affecting the steering system. But also on the later, improved models the problem has not been completely solved.

The "normal " V6 models and the 4 cylinder models fetch almost same prices.

Also the costs of the upkeep are not very different, but the gas engines >from the " Super "-series are classified as " Euro 2 ", which at least reduces the tax load to a tolerable level for the coming years compared to the higher taxes for " Euro 1 "-classified, older models.

QV- and Q4-models rather seldom appear on the second-hand car market. No doubt that a Q4 has to be definitely higher rated than a QV. But the Q4's have due to the very high service and repair costs a very bad reputation. Therefore it can sometimes happen, that a Q4 is offered a lot lower price than a QV.

Finally the service and maintenance condition is the point to rate it as a good or rather bad car. A completely filled out service-booklet can save one a lot of inconviniences and keeps ones bank account in good condition ;-)

The "Super"- models have, compared to the first series gained a lot of weight. On some cars the difference makes up to 300 kg (660 lbs). But consider that in fact this overweight has to do with the extras and first of all with the two airbags, of the later models. Therefore it is possible to beat a 24-valve "Super" (which in fact is 10 bhp stronger) with a QV of the first series.
So if one wants to call a well-conditioned first-series-164 with "only 184 bhp" his own, inevitably does not have a worse car, compared to one who ownes a last-series- "Super"- model.

Anyway, they are all beautiful.

Alfa Romeo 164 Super 3,0

Alfa Romeo 164 Super 3.0

One thing is for sure. The 164 will be due to the high number of units, one of the classics of the modern Alfas.

At least all the honour is due to the 164, as after the take over by Fiat, it secured Alfa Romeos survival.

Strictly speaking it is the last REAL Alfa Romeo. But some Alfisti might disagree with that...... For them a REAL Alfa Romeo has front mounted engine and transmission and the driven wheels have to be at the rear.
But don't let them mislead you, stick to your opinion: the 164 is a real Alfa Romeo too!

Schnitt durch den 164 V6 3,0 der ersten Serie bis 1990

Sectional drawing of the 164 3.0 l of the first series (up to1990)

Schnitt durch den 164 QV 12V

Sectional drawing of the 164 QV 12V

Schnitt durch den 164 Super

Sectional drawing of the 164 Super

A list containing all technical data of all models of the 164 can be found and downloaded (as Excel-file) at the Service - section.

Text: Chris
Pictures: Alfa Romeo und Andi
Copyright by Chris und

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