The 164 was the last Alfa saloon to be sold in the North American market, where only the 3.0L V6 was offered (12-valve from 1991 to 1993, 24-valve from 1994 to 1995).
It was quite successful in Europe, attracting keen drivers who wanted an affordable and reliable sports saloon, but were tired of German offerings such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The 164 was discontinued and replaced by the Alfa Romeo 166 in 1998. 273,857 had been produced.
The Alfa Romeo 164 was styled by Sergio Pininfarina in 1987, shortly after completing his contract to design the Ferrari Testarossa. The 164 can be seen to share several styling design ideas with the Ferrari expressed as a four-door saloon. In concern for heritage, the design is also the logical extension and successor of the Alfetta, particularly the late-model "long nose, square light".
The 164 was the first Alfa to feature extensive use of computer aided design for calculating structural stresses, resulting in a very rigid but still relatively lightweight body. The 164 was the basis of the Type Four chassis, which it shares with Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000. Being the last to reach the market, the 164's bodyshell was the most aerodynamic of the four, and had a markedly sleeker profile and lower coefficient of drag. In order to permit this design variation, an exclusive front suspension was developed.
The 164 was the first of the "new technology" Alfa Romeos, and is the technological and styling basis of all Alfas to the present day.
The 164 also introduced dramatically improved build quality over previous Alfas, featuring galvanised steel frame and various body panels for the first time, ending the most common complaint by Alfa customers about rust problems encountered in older models such as the Alfasud and the GTV.
Even though some purists feared of loss of character due to the adoption of front-wheel drive for the first time in an Alfa top-line saloon, the car proved itself as a supremely comfortable and sure-footed car, with a distinctively sporting character, inline with the marque's tradition. In fact, the motorpress of the day found its only fault to be some torque steer, particularly in earlier versions.