50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary

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This is how luxury went in Swedish

50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary-Luxury cars

Striking look. For the six-cylinder, Volvo extended the front of the 140 series – and the 164 was ready

Source: Volvo

In Sweden, which is characterized by social democracy, Volvo has long been reluctant to include a more noble six-cylinder in its range. But the one that came was so lasting that it stayed current for many years.

"We didn’t want to call it Rolls-Royce for the poor, because it’s a Volvo for the rich." The Swedes used this provocative slogan to advertise their new top model 164 50 years ago – perhaps because its mighty chrome radiator grille was reminiscent of the British Nobel brand remembered.

And something else was similar: Takeovers of Rolls-Royce-Limousines in London played the role of the royal state car, this task fell to the Volvo in Stockholm 164 to. Two Swedish kings, Gustav VI. and his grandson Adolf Carl XVI, who is still ruling today. Gustaf, trusted in the comfort of the conservative on the one hand, but also revolutionary Volvo flagship on the other.

50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary-volvo

Solid appearance. The limousine looked valuable, but not ostentatious

Source: Volvo

The front and angular contours of the up to 4.87 meter long four-door model, which was derived from the most successful Volvo of all time, the Type 140 presented in 1966, had a conservative effect. To the elegant appearance of the Volvo 164 was fitting that, unlike its little brother, it was never offered as a station wagon.

The Volvo, on the other hand, was revolutionary because it was the first completely newly developed Scandinavian six-cylinder sedan since the 1930s. The drive was done by a three-liter engine with up to 175 SAE HP, and there were pioneering safety technologies.

Above all, the new big Volvo was characterized by luxury based on the Swedish Lagom principle – the most expensive series from Gothenburg was a vehicle that the prestige class had never seen before.

Sweden was not a luxury country back then

Lagom? That stands for “not too little, not too much, just right”, healthy balance. Applied to automobiles, this means that pomp and show are frowned upon in Sweden. A social trend that accelerated in the 1940s and 1950s to such an extent that Volvo discontinued all voluminous models and engines except for the 800 series taxis.

At that time, the conservative, small premium producer from Gothenburg turned into a volume manufacturer with technically sophisticated but relatively compact four-cylinder models such as the "humpback Volvo" PV 444 / PV 544 or the Amazon.

Attempts to launch new V8 or six-cylinder sedans in the 1950s always ended in the concept car stage – for example the generously proportioned Volvo Philip with V8 engine, but also the Volvo P358 with six-cylinder engine as the forerunner of the Volvo 164.

Too American, too aloof, too little distinguished, was the verdict every time when it came to series production. Until Volvo designer Jan Wilsgaard succeeded in a stroke of genius with which he won the management of the company in 1962 to return to the big class.

Small costs, big impact

It was an affair of the heart for Wilsgaard to take over the so-called badge radiator grille of the prototype P358 into series production, in combination with a four-eye look. As the basis for the 164, Wilsgaard used the basic shape of the recently launched Volvo 144, with angular contours, large windows and strong shoulder lines.

A functional design, which was one of the Volvo brand features for the next three decades. Why not just lengthen the front end of the Volvo 144 so that a six-cylinder fits underneath – inexpensively developed from the existing four-cylinder – and leave the rest of the vehicle, including the wheelbase, unchanged? Wilsgaard was able to limit the development costs for the new top-of-the-range Volvo 164 to the equivalent of an incredibly cheap 20,000 euros.

50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary-Luxury cars

The B30 six cylinder engine was very durable

Source: Volvo

The new engine initially delivered 130 hp with a carburettor, which was enough for a speed of 170. Later, the system switched to injection, which made the car 190 kilometers per hour. Upper class But the 164 wasn’t just the drive: the model ended up costing at least 27,600 marks, almost twice as much as the basic Volvo 140. Even a BMW 3.0 S or a comparable motorized Mercedes S-Class were 20 percent cheaper.

On the other hand, the Volvo shone with an equally innovative and lavish equipment. There were headrests in the front and optionally also in the rear, as well as seat belts front and optional rear, seat occupancy detection for the front passenger, a two-stage rear window heating, leather armchairs including seat heating and the new 2×3 brake system, in which the front wheels were decelerated by both brake circuits.

A lot of inner values

That was luxury of a very substantial kind. Volvo advertised with the slogan: "You can only really appreciate a Volvo after you’ve driven a Mercedes."

More detailed explanations then followed in the small print: “It’s not about how fast or stylish a Volvo 164 is, it’s about how robust it is. The Volvo 164 is just as indestructible as any other Volvo.

Which is why 90 percent of all Volvo cars built in the past eleven years are still on the road. Of course we cannot guarantee that for your 164, but we suspect that you will like it significantly more than a Mercedes for at least six or seven years. "

Words with explosive power, especially since new cars often ended up in the junkyard after six years and the first engine overhaul often took place after 60,000 kilometers.

50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary-oldtimers

The well-finished interior was also a plus point of the Volvo

Source: Volvo

On the other hand, the Volvo six-cylinder type B30 brought the systems to the mileage millionaire, so robust were the crankshaft and other components. Which is why the engine was also used by the English sports car manufacturer Marcos and which as a Volvo Penta boat engine also caused a sensation on the water.

“Buying a Volvo is like getting married: you assume you only have to do it once,” summed up an American trade journal about the “Family Cruiser” of the Type 164, for which the USA was the most important sales market. Aside from Sweden: The luxury limousine met the Lagom lifestyle there so perfectly that it went straight to the top-selling six-cylinder there.

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50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary-oldtimers

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In Germany, on the other hand, the big Volvo drove in the niche between BMW and Mercedes. In 1973, the now face-lifted model was sold just under 1,000 times, which nevertheless meant the best annual result for the 164 model.

However: three times as many registrations as Fiat with its six-cylinder type 130 and almost as many units as Opel achieved with the comparable admiral and diplomat. Even Fords a third cheaper three-liter Granada was not sold much better.

How sustainable Volvo had designed was only shown over the years. From the end of 1974 it was one of the first series production vehicles in the world with a catalytic converter. With a different rear and a different front, it then rose to become the Volvo 260, when it was built until the mid-eighties – even the station wagon, coupe and two-door sedan variants were now added. Unobtrusive luxury and Volvo, that fit – thanks to Lagom.

7 thoughts on “50 years of the Volvo 164: luxury sedan celebrates its anniversary”

  1. Why in D no success?
    Because the thing was the epitome of narrow-mindedness and people who used cars like 164, 5 Series, W123 and the like back then. bought, didn’t expect to drive the car for 20 years.
    Today, in view of the many faceless, aggressively styled cheap cars, such a stronghold looks different, of course, as from a better, more stable time.
    I’ve always liked Volvo and once in a while I drove one (SUV). But I find the 164 more interesting for classic car fans in speed-limited countries. That’s where he can play to his strengths. In D my oldies were more from Italy and had crisp, technically exciting machines. Who wants to snore on the autobahn at the age of 120? I don’t even go with an oldie.
    From a sustainability perspective, I think the 164 is good. Why not drive an Ato for a long time when it just stops? I wish you could buy cars with such solid technology today. For a Mercedes W126 with ESP, 5L V8 vacuum cleaner with 280 PS, multi-contour seats, top air conditioning, 10 airbags and a maintenance interval of 50,000 km, which is technically today. would be possible, I would already pay 80,000 Eur.

    Reply
  2. Beautiful car. Especially the front and the interior. Volvo should have spent a thousand or two thousand euros more on the design of the rear. At that time it wasn’t enough for me for the 164 but only for the 144, which I spiced up with a four-spoke steering wheel of the 164 (from an accident); still the most beautiful steering wheel I’ve ever had.
    The second photo here with the monstrous bumpers is from the US version, by the way. The comparisons with Rolls-Royce are a bit far-fetched. At night and from a suitable angle, the 144 and 164 may have certain similarities with the C-pillar of the Silver Shadow. The front is more reminiscent of a Jaguar XJ Series I of that time.
    The average life expectancy of a Volvo at the time was over 17 years, which was monstrous and enormous. They still rusted. The sheet metal, however, was thick enough so that it could be caught in good time, while other automobiles of that time were able to rust through almost overnight. Certain parts such as the front apron were hot-dip galvanized.

    Reply
  3. Beautiful car. Especially the front and the interior. Volvo should have spent a thousand or two thousand euros more on the design of the rear. At that time it wasn’t enough for me for the 164 but only for the 144, which I spiced up with a four-spoke steering wheel of the 164 (from an accident); still the most beautiful steering wheel I’ve ever had.
    The second photo here with the monstrous bumpers is from the US version, by the way. The comparisons with Rolls-Royce are a bit far-fetched. At night and from a suitable angle, the 144 and 164 may have certain similarities with the C-pillar of the Silver Shadow. The front is more reminiscent of a Jaguar XJ Series I of that time.
    The average life expectancy of a Volvo at the time was over 17 years, which was monstrous and enormous. They still rusted. The sheet metal, however, was thick enough so that it could be caught in good time, while other automobiles of that time were able to rust through almost overnight. Certain parts such as the front apron were hot-dip galvanized.

    Reply
  4. Beautiful car. Especially the front and the interior. Volvo should have spent a thousand or two thousand euros more on the design of the rear. At that time it wasn’t enough for me for the 164 but only for the 144, which I spiced up with a four-spoke steering wheel of the 164 (from an accident); still the most beautiful steering wheel I’ve ever had.
    The second photo here with the monstrous bumpers is from the US version, by the way. The comparisons with Rolls-Royce are a bit far-fetched. At night and from a suitable angle, the 144 and 164 may have certain similarities with the C-pillar of the Silver Shadow. The front is more reminiscent of a Jaguar XJ Series I of that time.
    The average life expectancy of a Volvo at the time was over 17 years, which was monstrous and enormous. They still rusted. The sheet metal, however, was thick enough so that it could be caught in good time, while other automobiles of that time were able to rust through almost overnight. Certain parts such as the front apron were hot-dip galvanized.

    Reply
  5. My first car, the 164. A dream for the Autobahn with the silky-soft row six, plus the comfortable leather seats! But the consumption: 12 to 15 liters, depending on the driving style. And nobody should tell me anymore that Swedish steel doesn’t rust. It does, with this model the lower edges of the door, the sills and especially the two spare wheel wells on the side of the trunk are at risk. In addition, all nodes of the floor assembly. Ultimately, the rust attack was also the reason why I had to put the 325,000 km car in the scrap press … sniffed…

    Reply
  6. Excitingly calm. And yes, you have to want to and be able to afford a Volvo, at least back then. Today a Volvo is back on the way to developing unique selling propositions, at least when it comes to looks. Hopefully also in terms of durability, but motor-wise you go the same way as the competition, so small motors with a lot of power, complete madness! In normal operation, these motors consume no less than large-volume and less powerful motors, but in contrast, they cannot be driven smoothly, they have to be switched constantly, the motors themselves are constantly revving up and down. In addition, recently the installation of environmentally harmful battery technology, I do not know whether this is the right decision. People in Germany, Japan and America are now convinced that individual mobility will belong more to hydrogen propulsion in the future.

    Reply
  7. Current downsized engines deliver more torque at a lower speed than older naturally aspirated engines of comparable power. Then why do you have to switch more??
    In addition, they actually consume less on average, which you can check with a look at the relevant fuel portals. Apart from that, no engine turns up and down by itself, it always needs someone on the gas pedal.
    The real problem with modern, supercharged engines is the workshops. Because as long as the trainee always gives a lot of gas after changing the oil and filter, so that the oil lamp goes out faster, turbo damage will continue to accumulate.

    Reply

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