Luxo-barca: 1994 Alfa Romeo 164LS

25 years ago if you wanted luxury on four wheels, you bought a four door saloon sedan.  There was no thought of luxury in a high-riding, truck-based SUV.  The established marques of the world all had their version of the luxury executive sedan.  Germany had BMW and Mercedes, Japan had Lexus and Infinity and Italy had Maserati and Alfa Romeo.  Find this 1994 Alfa Romeo 164LS for sale in Spokane, WA for $4,000 via craigslist.

The 164 was the last Alfa before Fiat took them over, fired all the old guard and then Alfa’s became warmed over Fiats.  The 164 was also the result of a joint venture to develop a shared platform (the type 4 or tipo quattro) that was shared with the SAAB 9000, Fiat Chroma and Lancia Thema.  The 164 was the last of the type 4’s to be devloped.  This LS is the end-of-cycle refresh, and was the last Alfa to be sold in the US until their return with the 8C.  In Europe the 164 was replaced by the 166, which probably shared some DNA with a large Fiat.

The 164 was powered by the Busso-designed V-6.  The last of the 164’s used the 4 cam version of the engine in 3 liter form.  It put out around 210hp in the LS and sounded like Pavaroti and not some farty Fiat Ferrari with a couple of cylinders lopped off.  It was also great to look at with chrome intake runners and aluminum cam covers instead of plastic covers, but the seller didn’t bother with a picture.  They did include a couple of interior shots, but didn’t get a good angle on the groovy multi-button dash.  Contemporary road testers complained about that dash, but as a long term owner of a 164, an intelligent human figures it out pretty quickly.

The biggest knock against the 164 by those who haven’t driven one is that it is wrong front wheel drive.  In practice, it doesn’t really matter for this class of executive sled.  I do have to say it looks a lot better than the current “Giulia”.  There is no mistaking it for anything other than an Italian car vs. the new one that is very Germanic with an over-sized Alfa grill slathered on the front.

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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent and bought a 164 brand new from an Alfa Romeo dealer.