Introduced with a faux wood dashboard, a six-cylinder engine and an optional leather interior, the 164 represented Volvo's first venture into the luxury segment since the demise of the PV 60 in 1950.
Jan Wilsgaard designed the 164 — initially in the late 1950s as a concept car called the P358 powered by a V8. The P358 was cancelled when the home market was found too small. The front styling was inspired both by the Wolseley 6/99 and the Volvo P1900.
In 1968 Volvo introduced the 164 as an extension of the 140-series, equipping the 164 with a 3.0-litre straight-6. The bodywork of the 164 from the windshield forward differed from the 140: including a longer bonnet accommodating the bigger engine and a larger, more prominent grille. The height and width were the same as the 140 series. The interior was equipped with a faux wood dash and optional leather. The 164 was Volvo's answer to the Mercedes-Benz 250 and Jaguar XJ6. Despite its relatively heavy weight, the 164 compared favourably in terms of fuel economy to other 6-cylinder European cars of similar dimensions such as theBMW 530. In 1973 the 164 received the same makeover as the 140, i.e. different taillights and slightly revised sheetmetal, completely revised dash which included face vents (eliminating the need for the quarterlights in the side windows although these continued for another year,) and the grille was now a somewhat smaller plastic item, as the front bumper was now straight rather than dipping down under the grille. In 1974 the Volvo 164 became one of the earliest cars (along with the 1966 Cadillac, 1970 Lincoln Continental, 1971 Saab 99 and 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL) to offer heated seats. Cars built for the final (1975) model year show small signs of a facelift: new front seats with a centrally mounted handbrake and different badging on the trunklid as well as 6 segment taillights. For a more detailed list of changes see the Volvo 140 Series as all changes occurred on both 140 and 164 simultaneously. The 164 was replaced by the 264 which was powered by the PRV 2.7-liter V6 engine.
Engine and powertrain
The 164 was powered by a 3-litre OHV straight 6-cylinder engine, the B30, which was a 6-cylinder derivative of the proven B20 4-cylinder engine that powered most other Volvo models.
The 164 was the first six-cylinder equipped Volvo in 10 years, since the PV800 series ceased production in 1958.
1969–1971 models were equipped with dual Zenith Stromberg 175CD2SE constant-depression carburetors. In 1972, Bosch's first volume-production electronic fuel injection system, D-Jetronic, was offered as optional equipment. Carburetors were dropped and "D-Jet" became standard equipment for the 1973 model year. Cars equipped with the fuel injection were badged as 164E models, the "E" standing for einspritzung(German for fuel injection). Like other fuel-injected Volvos, the 164E models gave improved performance and driveability with less-toxic exhaust emissions than their carbureted counterparts. Being one of the first fuel injection systems on the road, however, the D-Jetronic system gained something of a reputation for being difficult to keep in proper repair. Unlike its B20 counterpart, the B30 engine had poor gas mileage, though still better than American luxury cars.
Transmission options included a manual 4-speed M400 gearbox, which was known as the M410 when equipped with the optional electrically operated Laycock de Normanville overdrive. Both the M400 and M410 had Volvo's "remote control" shifter, which used a conventionally short, vertical shift stick placed between the front seats. Manual-shift models other than the 164 and the P1800 continued until 1971 to use Volvo's direct-control shifter, featuring an extremely long, almost horizontal shift lever with its pivot point well under the dashboard. A 3-speed automatic transmission, the Borg Warner BW35, was also offered. The automatic shift selector was mounted on the steering column from 1969 through 1971, and on the floor from 1972 through 1975. Despite its rough operation and inefficiency, the BW35 was popular in the North American and Australian markets.
Body and chassis
The 164 was only offered as a 4-door sedan, and shares many body and chassis components with its 144 forebear. From the cowl rearward, body sheetmetal is identical with the exception of the remote shifter transmission tunnel, which would reach the 140 series in 1972. The front was lengthened 100 millimeters in wheelbase and 60 millimeters in overall length to accommodate the longer 6-cylinder engine. Because of the shared components between the 140 and 164, several private parties have constructed station wagon and 2-door hardtop versions with 164 front ends. Despite strenuous calls from Volvo dealers for a 6-cylinder Volvo station wagon, including a prototype built in Melbourne, Australia in 1972 and possibly another in South Africa, an estate version of the 164 was never offered.
When developing the 262C coupé in the mid-seventies, Volvo employed a 164 as a testbed. The resulting two-door "162" with a lowered, vinyl-covered roof (recognizable in the later 262C) remains on display at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden.