Junkyard Treasure: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164

Junkyard Treasure: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164


Cheaper and more powerful than a BMW 525i in 1991.

That’s not Corinthian Leather.

With all the junkyard traveling I do, I run across the occasional discarded Alfa Romeo now and then. Alfa Spiders have become sufficiently valuable in recent years that junked ones don’t show up much, but the Alfa Romeo 164 hasn’t achieved serious collector-car status yet. Here’s an example of Italy’s big, fast BMW 5-Series competitor, found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back.

Someone grabbed the engine, perhaps to swap into a Milano.

Some lucky junkyard shopper snagged the 3.0-liter V6 engine out of this car. For 1991, the 164’s engine made 183 horsepower, which was 15 better than the L6 in the BMW 525i that year. Since the Alfa sold for $24,500 (about $46,600 in 2019 dollars) and the BMW went for $34,900, the 164 looked like a great deal. Granted, the 164 had front-wheel-drive, but you got a nicer interior and the best-sounding six-cylinder engine available in America that year.

So much tire-screeching, torque-steery fun to be had with this car!

While an automatic transmission could be had in the 164, the kind of American who chose an Alfa Romeo as a daily driver in 1991 tended to prefer a three-pedal setup (sadly, such is not the case in 2019). Sure, a clutch job probably cost as much as a new Tercel, and we don’t need to get into a discussion of the character-building electrical system in the 164, but those things were a small price to pay for genuine Alfa Romeo style.

The leather is still in good shape.

This car had 155,914 miles on the clock at the time of its retirement, which isn’t bad for a 1990s Alfa Romeo. The 164 could be purchased on these shores through 1995, after which Alfa Romeo departed the continent for well over a decade.

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