Introduced in 1968, the Volvo 164 was a longer, upscale version of the 140-Series. It's powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder connected to a ZF gearbox, and equipped with thick woolen fabric on the seats, textile floor mats, air-conditioning, power windows, and a rear seat designed for two people, with a drop-down armrest in the center.
The launch of Volvo's 140-Series in 1966 gave rise to the idea of placing a straight-six engine in the 140 body. The 140 chassis was extended by four inches from the windscreen forward.
Volvo's original idea was to create a V8-powered sedan. Development started in 1958, and Chief Designer Jan Wilsgaard came up with the concept car pictured here, . Market research told Volvo that Americans buyers were moving towards smaller cars, so the large sedan was cancelled in July 1960.
However, some of Jan's design elements made it into the 164. Here is Job #1, made in Torslanda, Gothenburg, 1968.
Volvo 164 production was relocated to Kalmar, Sweden in 1974. In this new factory, cars were moved on battery-operated trolleys controlled by loops in the floor. The Kalmar plant was closed in 1994.
Until 1971, the carbureted version of the 1645's 3.0-liter six produced 145 horsepower, thanks to a pair of Zenith-Stromberg 175CD2SE constant-depression carburetors.
This engine, the B30, was also used in a number of Volvo’s military offroad vehicles, while a marine version with three carburetors, was also produced by Volvo Penta.
Volvo added Bosch's latest electronic fuel injection for 1972.
As on Project 358, Volvo's iron mark logo was placed on the diagonal just as it was on the first Volvo back in 1927.
When Car and Driver tested the Volvo 164 in its July 1969 issue, readers were treated to a description of the kind of people who were expected to buy the new Volvo: "The Volvo people are looking to steal buyers from Buick, Oldsmobile and Mercedes showrooms, and they are doing just that. Volvo's new customers are professional types—doctors, lawyers, dentists… people who can afford something different."
An American ad for the 164 had the same theme: "The Luxury Car That Shows You Have More Than Money."
After its first year of production, the 164 was given leather upholstery as standard, integrated halogen-type auxiliary lamps, and headrests. In the US, it was offered with tinted electric windows, an electric sunroof, and air-conditioning.
The Australian-market also got an accessory exterior sun-visor.
Heated seats became an option for 1974.
Compared with a 140, the wings, grille, front bumper, hood, headlamp bezels and front indicators were unique to the 164.
The limited edition 164TE was made only in 1974 and only for 3 markets, Great Britain, Germany and Australia. The 164TE had extras like air-conditioning, a four-speaker 8-track player with radio, a headlight wipe/wash system, rear headrests and reading lamps, and a fully carpeted trunk with lighting. Color choices included metallic light blue, metallic copper and metallic teal.
A Volvo 164 was also turned into an ambulance. Volvo’s special vehicles division had a prototype built that was significantly taller and had an extended wheelbase. Although only one was ever built, it was a forerunner of the ambulances that would later be built on the base of the Volvo 265.
The last model year was in 1975, and all the cars built for that year were exported to the US. By then, the car's successor, the 264, had already gone into production.
I drove this car around the Volvo Museum back in 2014, because Volvo was crazy enough to let me.
First impressions? It's way sportier than you'd think, and a lovely classic car to have today.
Interestingly, Coachbuilder Coggiola (makers of ) built their prototype 262C coupé on a 164. This prototype kept its 164 front. Zagato also built its 1970 Geneva Motor Show star on Volvo's sedan. The car has vanished since, but is rumored to be in one piece, presumably parked next to the Bertone Mustang.