The ‘Type Four’ project has to go down as one of the most successful manufacturing co-operations ever experienced in the automobile industry. It is certainly the most successful of modern times and has provided a model that other companies have strived to follow. It began as a tie-up between Saab and Lancia, but Fiat and Alfa also produced Type Four-based cars. By sharing the basic floorpan, front suspension, roof and doors, the four makers were able to slash development and production costs by incredible amounts and yet still produce some highly memorable and commercially successful vehicles. The last of the Type Four cars to arrive was Alfa’s 164, an extremely handsome executive sports saloon which, after years of drift and companies, drove Italian company firmly back into mass-market contention. In short, the 164 was the winner Alfa had been desperately searching for more than a decade. Despite the Type Four connection, the Alfa was the most individual looking car of the group. This was mainly thanks to its own unique doors. The Superb wedge shaped, nose-down styling was drawn up by Pininfarina. Alfa was said to be very angry when the remarkable similar Pininfarina-styled Peugeot 605 appeared, unsurprisingly.
Build quality was quite decent, as was the driving position. The 164’s reputation as a fine driving machine was boosted by the 3.0 V6 engine, which lived up to its heritage as an Italian powerplant. The 164 survived for the 10 years, its troubled successor (the 166) being delayed. The 164 was a high point for the Alfa, which it failed to cap until the much needed arrival of the 156 in 1997.