Old Volvos never die, but they can be at a standstill. This 164 saloon seems to be getting some TLC body-wise, but what it really needs is four new tyres. If and when it gets them, it may resume a life of effortless cruising in Bangkok, with its power (almost)-everything and A/C. Looks like someone’s trying to rescue this gorgeous green Gotheburg gem. How did it end up here?
The story (sort of) begins in 1958. Volvo halted production of their ancient, slow-selling 831 Disponent, the darling of Swedish cabbies. The 831’s 3-litre sidevalve engine – Volvo’s first six, produced since 1929 – was no longer viable, but no replacement was planned. Volvo were focused on the smaller Amazon and the P1800, where the exports lay, along with the invincible PV544. But the notion of a 6-cyl. car had not left the company.
The next generation Volvo (the 140 series) was in well into the mock-up phase by 1963 and already Volvo was planning to give the higher-end market another stab. The engine was quite literally the Amazon’s B20 2-litre 4-cyl. with two extra pots, logically leading to its code name, B30. This made for a nice 3-litre straight-6, which would share its elder cousin’s (four-father?) famous appetite for mileage.
Style-wise, the 144’s large and airy cabin and rear was mated to a longer front end with a distinctive vertical grille. It is said that Volvo figured that they might emulate the British – especially the likes of Wolseley, Vandenplas, Jaguar and Rover, which would be the new Volvo’s main competitors, along with Mercedes-Benz, Ford, GM Europe and the Italians, in the 2.5 to 4-litre “executive saloon” category. But priority was given to the 144, which premiered in 1966. The 164 hit the dealerships in December 1968, weeks after its unveiling.
The 164 had a few visible changes during its lifespan, starting with fog lamps, which were phased in several markets in 1970 and eventually replaced the original grilles, flush door handles in 1972, larger horizontal taillights, a straight front bumper and revised grille in 1973, and finally 5-mph botox bumpers in 1974. Given the car’s relative success in the US, and to simplify production, it was decided to switch the entire production to the US-style bumpers (but not taillights) – just like the MGB and the Midget. Fortunately, the new V6-powered Volvo 264 was launched in late 1974, leaving the 164 to do a final model year (for the US, Australia and Japan only) in 1975 with a sensational new party trick: electric front windows.
Our CC is therefore a one-year-only non- 5-mph straight bumper model. So far, so what? Well, there are a few details that may seem a bit intriguing to the European or American 164 enthusiast. The De Luxe (two words that, if you pardon my French, can sometimes signify De Merde) name is a bit strange – looks like it came from a 144, or the next generation 260 range. Another quirk is the lack of chrome trim around the rear lights panel, though things get downright interesting inside.
This is not a ’73 steering wheel, it’s a ’72. The same goes for the rest of the dash, which is still the faux wood horizontal slab it ever was, and the horizontal speedo that looks about ten years older than the car actually is. The exterior is ’73, but the interior doesn’t match, it seems. But perhaps the fact that this is a RHD model photographed in Thailand could have something to do with that.
This is what a 1973 Volvo 164 should look like and did look like – at least in Europe, Australia and the US. Volvo sent CKD kits for both the 144 and 164 to a number of places. There were assembly lines in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa. A mish-mash of model years like this is a trademark case of local assembly – this car was either put together in Indonesia or, more likely, Malaysia. This is a tropical Volvo, so I’m guessing it doesn’t have heated seats.
This car also has Borg-Warner automatic transmission, which migrated from the steering column to the floor in 1972. This also shows in the under-dash A/C unit. These may have been dealer-installed or put in from the very beginning in Malaysia; I’m not sure. The “normal” (non-A/C) dash had a sort of amputated fake wood console down there with a small clock (behind which was the fuse box), but knowing the time is less vital than cool air in steamy Southeast Asia.
The official Volvo A/C setup advertised at the time was quite unlike what we have in our tyrelessly green machine. Guess using last year’s leftover RHD dashes meant one had to improvise with local suppliers.
I know the pseudo-British styling is an issue for some, but Volvo managed to tone it down a bit before production began. After all, having a vertical grille was still acceptable in 1969 – nobody minds them on a Benz or an XJ6. But the entire car looks so extremely conservative, albeit in a Germanic rather than a British way, that it does look like it came out at least five years too late.
Round headlamps mounted on the top of the wing – it looked trendy in 1955, so what was it doing on a late ‘60s luxury car? Well, here’s what the competition looked like when Volvo designed the 164, circa 1965.
European luxury saloons were still pretty much ‘50s-era designs. Those that did not have a big horizontal grille (such as the Lancia Flaminia, the Ford Zodiac Mk III or the Humber Super Snipe Series V) were not necessarily the freshest ones. The Jaguar S-Type, one of the most recent cars among the twelve ’65 saloons shown here, still harked back to the XK 120 in many ways.
Jaguar had already started turning Daimler into a clone. While the V8 250 saloon (bottom left) did provide the only 8-cyl. engine in this class, the Jag body looked (and was) another ‘50s throwback. Only GM (Vauxhall and especially Opel, bottom right) and Ford Germany (not pictured) had a transatlantic look of true ‘60s modernity. Old-style grilles were still plentiful, chiefly thanks to BMC’s badge-engineering bonanza, represented by the Princess VandenPlas (middle right, one car that clearly inspired Volvo) in this and the Wolseley in the previous montage, but also available with a horizontal grille as the Austin A110. Volvo, being a relatively small and methodical outfit, took a long while to put the 164 in production and were faced with a European executive car landscape that, by 1969, was markedly different.
Sure, venerable ‘50s holdouts like the Farina Wolseley (until 1971) or the Rover P5 (until 1973) were still about, but some (Alfa, Lancia and Rootes) had pulled out. Ford and GM were still making miniature American cars, only slightly bigger and wider than the previous generation. BMW, Fiat and Triumph brought new blood to the competition, though BMC also fielded their biggest flop yet, the Austin 3 Litre.
The recently-formed British Leyland had another couple of new cars up their considerable sleeve. The Rover P6 (middle right) could now get the same V8 as its older sibling, bringing it into the executive class. Aside from its rear end, the P6 looks a lot younger than the newer Volvo, which is pretty telling. The new Jaguar XJ6 was also a formidable opponent – Daimler were sticking to the older 420-based Sovereign for one last year before switching to the new platform. Big grilles were becoming old hat, Mercedes and Jaguar notwithstanding; among its 1969 cohort, the Volvo does look very old-school.
The 164 was also quite conservative technically. Live rear axles were not exactly cutting edge for a late ‘60s European car. Nor was the (excellent) 4-speed manual with optional overdrive or 3-speed automatic transmission anything groundbraking. Four wheel disc brakes (ventilated from 1972) were standard, as on many of its peers. Initially rated in Europe at 130 hp (DIN), the 2978cc B30 engine was a bit short on power for some, who rationalized that Alfa Romeo could get that much out of a mere 1750cc four. Fuel injection was included in the options list in 1972, long after Mercedes, Triumph, BMW and many others. It provided a direly needed 30 extra horses, which helped prolong the engine’s life, though that time span was not to be very long.
Besides non-automotive applications, the B30 was one of several engines used by British sportscar firm Marcos in 1969-71 – chiefly for its ability to pass US emissions tests. The B30 also powered the Volvo C303 military vehicle (1974-81), which was initially used by both the Swedish and Malaysian armed forces. The famous PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 that took over from the B30 in 1974 had a far longer and more successful service life, albeit not without its issues.
There were a couple of interesting special-bodied 164s – other than the Bertone coupé prototype mentioned in Paul’s excellent 164 post. and Don “Dottore” Andreina’s ode to the 165 wagon that (almost) never was. One was a rather rakish coupé made by Zagato and shown at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show – where the Citroën SM premiered. The Volvo GTZ 3000, had it gone into production as the Italian Volvo importer wanted, would have competed with the Franco-Italian spaceship. The GTZ 3000, while lighter and more aerodynamic than the saloon, was simply not able to reach 200 kph, which sealed its fate. Fuel injection might have made a difference, but Volvo weren’t ready yet.
Which is perhaps why Volvo themselves threw in the towel with this line of thinking. In 1966, with an eye towards the P1800 and another eye wandering somewhere between Italy and Michigan, Volvo designers toyed with this handsome P172 coupé, based on the upcoming 164. The idea was shot down even before the 164 came out, perhaps due to the B30’s leisurely performance or for a number of other reasons. The big coupé idea lingered on until the Bertone 262C came to be, a decade later.
Volvo is a marque that has always thrived as the middle child in the luxury saloon class. Not daring, not stylish, but careful, safety-conscious and solid. Kind of like Peugeot in the mid-range saloon class. And like the Peugeots, Volvos were not cheap. Quality build and durability command quite a premium, which not a few well-heeled but discreet folks understood.
But then sometimes, Volvos were not too expensive either, depending on which market they happened to compete – in the UK in 1970, it was as dear as the top-of-the-line Citroën DS, but much cheaper than the BMW 2500. This was probably different in Germany, France and Sweden at the time. Floating exchange rates after 1971 were also cause for alarm; by 1974, on some markets currency fluctuations pushed the 164 dangerously close to the XJ6.
Volvo sold about 12,000 of their 164 saloons in its debut year, then 20,000 in 1970. Production progressively crept up to 30,000 by 1974 and finished back around 20,000 for the final US/Oz/Japan-only 1975 model year. According to the Swedish Volvo 164 Club’s impressive website, over 153,000 units were made in seven years (there are other numbers floating around on the web). That’s even better than the first generation Jaguar XJ6/Daimler Sovereign (around 94,000 units – excluding the 12-cyl. cars – in five years), which was deemed quite a success.
But then Volvo is not necessarily playing in Jaguar’s league, big grille aside. Performance-wise, it’s closer to a DS 21 or NSU Ro80 than to a 3.4 litre Jag or a Rover V8. It drinks just as much as the bigger engines while performing like the smaller ones. And according to at least one automotive journalist at the time, “The well-equipped Volvo 164s [TE] are NOT luxury cars – they have luxurious fittings, a certain dignity, they’re well-built and very safe, but they are truly just basic utilitarian transport with trimmings.”
On the whole, I cannot dislike the Volvo 164 completely. The car has a lot going for it, even though it’s not going anywhere soon. The fugly front end gives it presence, the interior seems nice (though not as big as I thought, especially at the rear), the “Cypressgrön” colour is sublime and the car’s solidity is legendary. But it’s still a 144 with a nose job – not exactly a sex symbol.
A lot of automakers have used this recipe – one bodyshell, two engines and/or noses – with varying success. And the 164 was a success. It certainly helped Volvo re-conquer their place within the global executive saloon market, where they have remained for five decades. But Volvo were not turning into a specialist luxury carmaker: The ratio of 140 to 164 production is well illustrated by the advert above. The bread-and-butter 4-cyl. cars would bring home the bacon – like the 140 series (142 / 144 / 145), which sold over 1 million units from 1966 to 1973, but the more profitable 6-cyl. cars could provide a nice and steady little side benefit.
Unlike virtually all of its competitors, Volvo always lacked one crucial variant: a large domestic market. There were only 8 million Swedes in 1970, of which very few could afford a 164. This means that, of all its competitors, the 164 was most likely the one whose production was the most exported. This Thai example, most probably put together in Asia, is a reminder that Volvo’s reach was already far and wide back then. Nowadays, Volvo is owned by the Chinese and the shoe, as they say, is on the other foot.
Curbside Classic: 1975 Volvo 164 E – The Anglo-Scandinavian, by PN
CC Capsule: 1970 Volvo 164: Out to Lunch, by Jim Grey
eBay Find: 1974 Volvo 164E – Because Swedes Need Luxury Too, by Tom Klockau
Automotive History: The Only Factory-Built Volvo 165 In The World – Part 1, by Don Andreina
Vintage Review: 1969 Volvo 164 Test by Road and Track, by PN
Interesting find, but I didn’t need to read “A Man Called Ove” to realise that Saab is the only Swedish marque I’d ever consider owning.
I’d agree, but I will confess a soft spot for the P1800…
The odd mishmash of pieces on this specific car is a little peculiar, but I find myself quite charmed by the 164’s pseudo-Wolseley styling. I don’t know that I would have felt that way when it was new, but I have warm feelings when I see them every so often on the street.
Volvos were such a rare sight in my youth that I never noticed the different front end on the 164. I had just assumed that it was an older (or newer) grille design on the same car. I do like the look of this one.
I have always kind of wondered how Volvo might have done by keeping that six around. When Volvo was becoming the darling of the upper income buyer in the 80s, I suspect that the six may have done well.
I had assumed the same thing in my youth — that the 164 was the 144’s predecessor. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense numerically, but as a kid I wasn’t much of a Volvo enthusiast (what kid was?), and didn’t really know the model numbers anyway. It just looked older, and that was that.
But as an admirer of stodgy cars, I will always have a soft spot for these. And Tatra, this example is a particularly intriguing find — I loved reading the history of the CKD Volvos here.
They had a six all through the 80’s, it was just that they didn’t have a *good* six until the extensively redesigned even-fire version of the PRV came around in ’86. By that time its reputation preceded it. (And even as a fan of that engine I’ll admit that it’s neither particularly powerful nor particularly economical. Smooth-running though.)
I’ll echo by saying I thought the different grille designs were from different generations – not all sold at the same time.
(Another superb entry, Tatra87. And the color of this Franken-Volvo is sublime.)
Nice find T87 in a fantastic colour. My grandfather had two, the second being a big bumper which was around when I was. I’m figuring the first had the curved bumper. Great spotting on the trim differences. I didn’t know they ran the chrome grille and early black grille on the 140 series concurrently.
P358 prototypes (taxi version in middle) from 1958…
Incredible how they stuck with that ’58 prototype’s face for a car that was going to be unveiled as a 1969 model. Seems this predates the Wolseley, too – by a few months, but still.
The rear reminds me of the Simca Vedette. And those blanked-out panels with the 3 stars – really cheap. Good thing they didn’t press on with this feature.
They were pretty close to the 140/160 sedan greenhouse on the taxi version as well.
That grille seems to have had a life of its own. P179 from ’52.
I have never been all that impressed by the 164’s styling and now I know why, it looked somewhat like a 50s styled car but with an airier (?) greenhouse. Take out the window in the “C” pillar and it is almost a Chrysler sedan from the early 50s.
My sister and her husband bought a 164 to replace a very troublesome Mustang II. To me it looked like it was jacked up on it’s suspension and the body was the complete opposite of sleek. Look at it’s competition and you notice that ALL the 164’s competitors have at least a few curves in their shapes….the 164? None.
As far as Volvo continuing with the online 6, the biggest problem with that is it would necessitate a taller hood/less aerodynamic hood than what a V6 might allow. Unless…Volvo did a Chrysler and tilted the engine. (Assuming that was even possible.)
Growing up in nyc in the 70’s and 80’s. i saw quite a few of these volvo’s i remember even as a kid i would think that the taillights and signal lights were after thoughts as they looked like add ons to the cars. not like the stylish tailights of the american cars of the time.
Since when were Volvos – especially back in those days – about looks ?
I quite like the 164 Volvo, long been a fan of the marque, I also like the big Wolseleys, have fond memories of them from childhood so the similarity is welcome.
Regarding styling, Volvos are practical cars and they just work in everyday use, that honesty is one of the things that is appealing about them for me
I rode in an old 240 saloon recently, the styling is dated and really stands out on todays roads.
Sitting in it I had forgotten what it was like to view the bonnet from the driving seat. I think all my cars since a Mk 5 Ford Cortina have had aerodynamic sloping bonnets and virtually all you see ahead is the window surround
It was a pleasure to see an expanse of bonnet stretching out in front of you, easy to judge the extremities, I miss that view, the most memorable sights looking out the windscreen for me have been the Fintail Mercedes, all Jaguars, even my 75 Eldorado
More and more I fancy the old 3 box shape, I could be tempted by a clean 164
Haha, yes, isn’t it a treat to see the color of your car from the driver’s seat?
Especially if the bonnet has a fresh coat of wax polish, and watching the beads of rain water get blown off as you drive faster,
Not exactly positive, but I suspect that the paint color is Sea Green… IIRC, Cypress is darker, nonmetallic and doesn’t have the bluish tint shown in this 164’s paint.
Always liked 164s for some reason… perhaps they were a bit more distinctive in the US without all those British lookalikes about.
I liked 164s. They were popular with professional men in those days, especially doctors for some reason. One of my customers, a heart specialist, had an automatic 164E in dark green. Nice car, smooth, not exciting but very comfortable.
Another trip down memory lane, and a fine one at that. My dad, after a series of Mercedes S-Series sedans, took a hard look at the price/value relationship of the German cars. Keep in mind, this was during a period where the USD was sinking rapidly, and Mercedes had discovered they could charge just about whatever they wanted… and still get the sales. Coupled with our experience with my 142, the folks ordered a 164E and picked it up in Gothenburg during my Spring Break in ’73. It was shipped home to California (NC with Volvo Tourist Delivery) that summer.
The Volvo proved to be a comfortable, reliable, and durable choice. The A/C coped easily with the hottest temperatures and, unlike the prior Mercedes, didn’t cause the car to overheat in rush hour traffic. The torque curve of Volvo’s inline six was well matched to the Automatic, giving the impression that it was more powerful than the engine specs would lead you to believe. And, like all Volvo’s of that time period, the exterior size of the car was deceptive. The car constantly amazed those that rode along with the interior room and trunk space, given the car was actually the size of a domestic compact.
Did it impress? Yes, but not in the way a typical prestige sedan would have. One uncle, a long time domestic luxury car buyer, bought a 164 himself, and later a 264. A doctor friend of ours in Bend bought one after riding/driving ours. Finally, a neighbor bought the car in ’79, with well over 100K miles on the odo, and proceeded to put another 100K+ miles on it.
Problems? One of the benefits of the Volvo was all the advantages of an upscale European sedan without the Service trauma and drama. Dad never had the Volvo Service manager on a first-name basis, in other words. The only real issue I remember was a leaky fuel injector. The Volvo Dealer in Portland replaced all six under warranty (it was a known Bosch issue), and conveniently that happened while the folks were up here visiting.
In summary- a great car, and a bit of a hidden gem. The perfect car for people who valued comfort and quality, but cared little about current styling trends or what impression the neighbors might have when you brought it home. I’d argue the Toyota Avalon fits the same market niche today the 164 held back then.
Your comment strengthens my earlier opinion. Volvo pulled out of this market just as Mercedes was leaving the “its expensive but you get more” niche in favor of the “holy crap, how much?” niche that it occupied through most of the 70s and 80s. The six cylinder Volvo could have been “the thinking man’s Benz” which would have been an incredible value proposition compared to the Mercedes diesels that were their lower-priced models. Volvo reliability and safety coupled with a modicum of power would have been a winning combination in the late 70s and 80s.
Jim, Volvo didn’t stop making 6 cyl. cars; the 164 was replaced by the 264, which used the PRV V6 (jointly developed by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo). The 264 sold quite well and continued the theme. The only big difference was that the 264 used the same shorter front end as the 240, and the grille wasn’t as dramatically different, so the visual impact was not as obvious and strong as with the 164.
The engine in the 164 was of course based on the old pushrod Volvo four, and was not really suitable for the era of ever tighter emission controls. But they could have developed a inline six version of the new OHC Volvo four; I suspect it would have been a more satisfying engine than the V6, which never engendered much love.
Curiously, we’ve never done a CC on the 264, and yet have had gobs of 240 series cars and wagons here. It’s on the To Do list now. 🙂
Aha – I had thought that the PRV-powered Volvos came along later. In any case, the Volvo six with the PRV was (to my understanding) sort of the antithesis of what a Volvo was supposed to be. I took flying lessons from a guy who had been an auto mechanic in Sweden. His hierarchy was Volvo 4 > Saab > Volvo V6, with a big jump between each one. A great Volvo with a problematic engine was never going to pick up old Mercedes customers. 🙂
Volvo wanted the 200-series to have more front-end crush space, so the PRV engine being no longer than the four was a significant consideration.
Interesting find; I didn’t realize these were assembled in so many far-flung places.
I’m a bit surprised that you say the early carb version engine was considered short on power. Comparing it to an Alfa is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, as the two would undoubtedly never be cross-shopped. And the Alfa needed lots of revs. The Volvo had a very healthy torque curve, which gave it a rep of being very satisfying to drive in normal circumstances. And at the time, it was considered quite brisk. The R&T review that is linked at the bottom of your article glowed about the 164’s power and good acceleration; in that same issue they also tested the new BMW 2500 sedan and the new 3 liter MGC. The 164 was decidedly quicker than the other two. Their headline for the review was “The Conservative Sedan That Goes”.
Yes, the Alfa and the Volvo are very different beasts. But what the pundit who wrote that was getting at was that the Volvo six was pretty leisurely.
And that’s what the Autocar comparo also shows. I don’t know if it’s down to the US-spec engines, but the Brits got very different results. The BMW was quicker (by quite a bit) than the 164. Even the Citroen DS got better performance results than the 164.
It’s funny how different the trade journos felt about the 164’s ride. I read some articles that praised the car’s comfort and others called it choppy and harsh. But that’s a more subjective area. When it comes to hp per litre, top speed, 0-60 mph acceleration and the like, the numbers are there. And in Europe (and Australia), the 164 was not a particularly quick car, especially considering its engine capacity.
Very curious about the big difference in performance compared to Autocar. In the R&T test, the 164 did 0-60 in 9.5 sec, and the 1/4 mile 17.6 @83 mph. The BMW did 0-60 in 10.0, and the 1/4 mile in 17.3/81. The BMW’s times in Autocar are similar, but the 164’s times to 60 are almost a full 3 seconds different. Are you sure the Autocar 164 didn’t have an automatic?
In 1969, there was no meaningful difference in putout between the US and Euro versions. The 164 was rated at 145 gross hp, the BMW at 170. But the 164’s substantially greater torque explains the similar acceleration.
Your instincts were 100% correct! The Autocar 164 was an automatic. Hence the discrepancy.
Funny how the Brits would test the autobox version and the Americans would test the manual.
Incidentally, if you or anyone else wants to read more period tests on the 164, there’s a treasure trove of them available on the Swedish club website:
This identical example is sitting at a gas station near my work, although not visible here, it is also a 164.
Since the background of this story was South East Asia. When we talk about executive saloon, I wonder why there are mot words on Toyota Crown and Nissan/Datsun Cerdic. By the 70s, Japanese saloons had replaced most of European models mentioned here except Benz, Volvo.
The fortunate Thai citizen who bought that Volvo back in ’73 (which in Thailand was the year 2526) would have likely cross-shopped the Crown and Cedric. Maybe also an American Ford or a Chevrolet, though those were getting a bit too big for narrow Bangkok streets. I’ve certainly seen the Kujira Crown in this country. And I would have probably picked that over the 164, personally.
A nice find in a very nice color–unique without being garish. I’ve always been a fan of the 164’s styling, I think due to the slightly Jaguar-ish nature of the design. (I’d never seen a Wolseley or Vanden Plas until the era of the internet…) Elegant in its own way and yet still practical.
That Zagato concept, while it would have been quite cool, looks kind of like an Alfa with a Volvo nose grafted on. And the second coupe proposal (P172) quite reminds me of a Fiat 130 coupe. Funny considering how, despite Bertone’s involvement, both the 262C and the 780 were recognizably Volvo with just an Italian nip/tuck (more successful on the 780 than the 262C. To me at least.)
It would be interesting to know what percentage of 164’s came to the US. I rather suspect a higher one than average, and quite a bit higher than the 140 series. My guess is that it was rather targeted at US buyers, and its relatively large but torquey engine made it more suitable to US buyers than European ones, who judged cars more by displacement then by real-world usage patterns, where the 164 was more in its element.
I have a half-azzed answer to that question. The B30F was the low-compression version of the B30, and specific to the US/Canadian markets. From 1973-1975, Volvo built 78.749 164’s equipped with that motor. That alone is over half the Volvo 164 production total, and represents only 3 of the 7 production years. Given that, I think we can safely assume that the overwhelming majority of those cars made it either Stateside or up to Canukistan.
In Auto Motor und Sport, I refreshed my memory on another oddity about Volvo’s pricing strategy. In Germany, the Volvo 164 cost exactly as much as a Mercedes 280SE when new. It was the car for “cool individualists” in Germany. (In the US, pricing was more Buick-ish than Mercedes-ish). AM&S also points out that the durability and reliability of the model is almost legendary, and it has accumulated a bit of a following in recent years.
(link text is in German)
I had an early 164, bought it used as my wife’s car. Old style door handles, vent windows, column shift for the auto. It was golden color with a black leather interior, really comfortable seats. It had a tiny fan belt that was a persistant problem, had to replace the diaphragms in the Stromberg carbs. We moved it on after rust in the fender/firewall took the hood hinges out.
There’s a white 164 just round the corner from me like that, ‘G’ reg so 1968/69. Must get some new batteries for the camera.
Maybe someone built the subject Volvo the same way Johnny Cash created his Cadillac in “One Piece At A Time”; that would explain the seemingly random collection of parts:-)
What a pretty color that Volvo is. What is it about Volvo and their tailpipes sticking out so far from the rear bumper? My Volvo 240 had this same issue.
I agree with the comments above that stated that this was the “thinking man’s” luxury car.
This was the car you bought if you had money and did not want something that screamed “I have money” like a Benz or Caddy of those days. Sort of like a Buick.
I consider Volvo to be Europe’s Buick.
Hoorah, a 164! Great writeup of a very interesting find, and I greatly appreciate your dwelling on details of trim and lights.
The chrome surround on the back of the car looks great with the vertical up-to-’72 taillamps, but not with the ’73-up items which interrupt the surround at the left and right edges; I think the car you found looks nicer without it.
About the taillamps, though: you say:
I do not believe that is correct about the taillights, and it does not seem supported by the factory 164 parts catalogue, which gives “up to” and “after” chassis numbers as well as country specifics for all ten(!) varieties of taillamp (many of which are readily interchangeable, differing only in detail). The taillight changes were made sharply at model year changes for the US market, though other markets’ lesser or nonexistent use of the model year concept meant things like taillight changes could occur during a single year.
All of that is background to say I can’t figure out which US-style taillamps you say the rest of the world didn’t get, because the factory parts manual seems to confirm my observations over the years that the smaller vertical lamps were supplanted in all markets by the larger 4-panel type shown on the car in this article (for ’73 in the US, similar timeframe elsewhere), which in turn were supplanted in all markets by the larger-still 6-panel type for ’75 in the US, similar timeframe elsewhere, and shown here—these also being used on the 262 and 264 through ’78.
You mention the fog lamps—never offered in the US, but my Canadian-market ’71 has them. There’s also some interesting noodlery to be seen in the headlamps. The car you found, like most but not all non-US/non-Canada cars, has the ø8-inch headlamps. Early cars got convex-lens tungsten-bulb units made by Bosch and marked “VOLVO” and “Robo” (a Bosch brand also present on the front park/turn lamps, short for RObert BOsch). Starting around ’72, “VOLVO” and “BOSCH” branded halogen-bulb (H4) flat-lens units were phased in; that’s what the Bangkok car has. Belgian-built cars, however, got (better) ø8″ H4 flat-face lamps made there in Belgium by Cibié. US/Canada cars got ø7″ sealed beams with a 2-piece filler ring setup to take up the space between the outer diameter of the 7″ lamp and the inner diameter of the 8″ lamp mount.
And what’s this, not a word about the “Oops, we almost forgot!” front park/turn lamps perched atop the corners of the front bumper? That’s part of the 164’s charm; I don’t mind them so much, though they really do look like an afterthought, and eventually I will probably find or reproduce a set of the very-very-very-seldom-seen Italian-spec lenses for them.
Pity this Bangkok car has the crude, inefficient Borg-Warner 35 automatic. So did many of the American-market 164s. These cars are just heaps better with the excellent M410 4-speed with Laycock de Normanville overdrive.
The “Volvo air conditioner” offered through ’72 on the US/Canada cars was sourced from Frigi-King in Texas, as were many other so-called “POE” (port-of-entry) A/C systems made available on imported cars at that time. So it strikes me as likely similar arrangements were made with local suppliers elsewhere in the world.
Glad this post was to your liking, Daniel!
Re: the taillamps thing, it’s not as simple as you say, but it seems I got it wrong as well. A bit of digging up has left me with one fact: the “small” cluster (identical to this post’s featured car) and the “big” one were both in use from 1973-75 on both sides of the Atlantic.
I don’t know how to explain the following pages otherwise:
I had figured that US-spec 164s were like the one in Paul’s post. Having never seen those taillamps on a 164 in Europe (I hadn’t seen very many 164s prior to this one), I thought it was US-spec-only. The 164s in European ads or tests for ’74 seem to all have the smaller lamps. But the huge photographic evidence contained in the links above seems to contradict my theory. These are the Volvo 164 Club of Sweden’s photo pages of ’73, ’74 and ’75 cars (with chassis #) as sent by their owners. I’m seeing both types of taillamps used throughout. Swedish/European and American-registered cars are in both camps. This is a bit of a mystery.
It seems the rear chrome trim was also absent on some Swedish cars — or at least, Swedish-registered ones. Perhaps a delete option or special request? No idea. Other mystery. The 164 club website, though full of data and info, is mute on both this and the taillamp thing.
No, sir, I can’t agree with you; the giant 6-panel lamps did not exist and were not factory-installed prior to 1975, whenever “1975” production started in any given market. It is certainly not the case that factory literature is infallible or necessarily error-free, but it’s really the best we have; trying to generalise from the general public’s photographs is fraught with danger of making errors. If we must generalise from photos, the most reliable ones are those in the factory sales brochures. Here is a 1974 164E brochure (see back cover/last page: 4-panel lights).
Sweden (or is it Volvo ownership?) tends to make people a little bit crazy (or is it the other way round?), and one manifestation of that is undertaking to swap the 6-panel lamps onto cars originally equipped with the 4-panel lamps. I had this discussion in close detail some years ago with Jon-Erik Öberg, longtime Volvo 140/164/200-series expert and lifelong Swede (his own ’75 at http://www.164.se , and his other relevant site at http://www.164club.se ). So that’s one part of the explanation for what you are seeing in photos.
The other part is less weird: plain old errors in recall and registration. Even in North America where the model year has always been the basis for vehicle registration, it has long been common for vehicles to be misregistered by a year or two. This largely stopped in 1981 with the advent of the standard 17-digit VIN with vehicle model year encoding, but 1980 and earlier cars, especially in US states with little or no formal registration paperwork, are frequently misidentified with regard to their year. And photographs on the internet are even more frequently misidentified…!
Oh well if it’s become fashionable to put the big taillamps on, that’s one thing. Seems a very popular swap. And it seems the opposite swap (from big ones to small ones) is equally important.
Not 100% convinced.
It’s one-way-only. The body holes for the 4-panel lamps must be enlarged to accommodate the large 6-panel lamps. Hence my snide remarks about crazy Swedes. 🙂
The ’75’s are easily recognizable because Volvo switched to the new style Leather seats that also came with the 240GL’s.