Cheap And Rare! 1975 Volvo 164E

Volvo has had a good foothold in the American market since the late 1950s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rare models. There were only 8,077 1800ES station wagon made, and the survivors are treasured collectibles now. The six-cylinder 164, Volvo’s luxury car in its day, is not as well-remembered but deserves a closer look.

Offered as a Barn Finds classified is this fuel-injected 1975 164E in Greensboro, North Carolina with a modest $3,000 asking price. It’s a solid running car with a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission, but there are issues and the seller calls it “a restorable project” with “many new parts.” Volvos are legendarily long-lived, as this example’s 241,859 miles attests.

The good stuff: The car runs and shifts smoothly. The power windows work. There’s a new fuel tank, fuel pump, tailpipe and muffler, brake pads and calipers, battery, and tuneup. The tires still have plenty of rubber. The interior of this car looks quite good in the photos, though the rear parcel shelf is somewhat discolored. The stereo is relatively new. The car comes with spare parts and shop manuals.

The bad stuff: There’s a power steering leak that’s “not too bad.” There are small areas of rust “but nothing that can’t be fixed,” and some dents and dings. A paint job is recommended. The dash has a crack and the (converted to R134a) air conditioning is currently non-functional.

“This is a good car and with a bit of work can be a great example of a strong Volvo 164E,” says the owner. Consider the 164 to be a 140 series on steroids, with a deluxe touch. The model was first shown in 1968 at the Paris Motor Show. Instead of Volvo’s faithful B20 four-cylinder, it had an enlarged B30 three-liter inline-six, with dual Stromberg carbs. The engine’s length required altering the fenders and hood. The car has a vaguely Edsel-like nose (derived from the stillborn 1900 convertible project) that isn’t to every taste, but it definitely has a presence.

The car was a comfortable and quiet highway cruiser, with extra-comfortable deep leather heated seats. I can’t tell if the seats in the car offered are original, or if they’re leather-faced, but there’s certainly serviceable. Other than the nose (and some taillight treatments), it retains much of the 140’s boxy-but-right styling. The back seat and trunk are commodious.

The 164E, with Bosch fuel injection, arrived in 1972, originally as an option. The same year there were some dash refinements. The model’s major facelift was in 1973, so this is a late-period car—the last year in the U.S. market, in fact, before the 164 was replaced with the 264.

The 164 was never a mass-market car; just 46,008 were built globally. So the chance to buy a running example for a modest example doesn’t come around often. What do you think? Does the high mileage put you off? C’mon, it’s a Volvo!

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  1. alphasud Member

    Looks like a good deal for 3K. These engines are much more reliable than the PRV 6 that replaced it. Bosch D-Jetronic EFI was also pretty good for power. This should have leather seats but the ones in this car look to be from a 2 series Volvo.

    Like 5
  2. Johnny Gibson

    Might be collectable now but back in the day they were no good for collecting the ladies. Moved to a major city with a friend, I sold my Ford XA 351 coupe, he sold his HT 327 Monaro and Harley. As a filler to avoid public transport we picked up IIRC a 72 model 164 auto in silver, low mileage, mint and solid as a rock despite the culture shock from the switch to a rubber band propelled unit. Still studs in the pubs and clubs but lookout if we gave them a lift home, lucky to get a thank you but 100% not getting their phone number. With the benefit of hindsight I should have kept it as I could have saved myself a fortune.

    Like 11
    • Moss Miller

      I had a ’74 142, and I agree with Johnny that I should have not sold it so soon after purchasing it for just $4500 new and keeping it for one year. But at least I got my money back and ended up with a ’73 BMW 2002, which in Golf Yellow was much more attractive to the ladies. Still, some of the phone numbers I collected in those days were fake, there were no guarantees.

      Like 3
  3. Kevin

    I like it,and would buy it,fix what’s needed, and actually drive it several months a year.

    Like 2
  4. Beyfon

    This is indeed a quite rare model. Volvo did build the 164E as a 1975 model despite already having switched the 140 series over to the 240.
    I don’t know all the details but I would not at all be surprised if it had 240 type seats from the factory. At least the whole floor pan is 240, one proof is that this one has the hand brake in the normal position between the seats, all other 140/160 series cars had it out by the door. (Googling a bit the -75 164 all seem to have 240 type seats and most pictures show velour rather than leather.)

    Like 4
    • jim motavalli Staff

      That’s interesting. Volvo did a similar thing when transitioning from the 122S to the 140 series. The late-period 122s have many 140 features–the seats, the steering wheel, the switchgear.

  5. David Miraglia

    My parents owned a 1969 Volvo 164. great car, I was introduced to driving when my dad let me do a brief run on a empty street in Brooklyn. got me hooked on European cars. I would love to have this164E just for the models memories.

    Like 1
  6. James Farris

    I had an identical car (although mine was a 1974), including color with leather seats, when I was in college. In 1978 I flew out to California for a few weeks, and while I was gone, my brother borrowed it and rammed it into the back of a parked Jeep. It was a beautiful car.

    Like 1
  7. Scott Iaia

    LS swap

  8. 71Boss351

    Still has plenty of life left! It’s not the bullet proof B20 4 cylinder but this is a very reliable 6 that Volvo produced. Leather seats were an option in the USA in 1975 so these seats could be the originals.

  9. Steve Clinton

    There are Volvo fanatics who would love this car, and then there are the others who consider Volvos as drivable appliances.

  10. Dan D

    I desperately wanted one of these as my first car in 1974. Even found one with the 4-speed plus electric O/D. But my Dad ended up buying me a ’71 Toyota Corona instead.

  11. John Wenzel

    My parents had a 1974 Volvo 164E in Maroon with Burgundy leather seats. My mom was the primary driver. It was beautiful and a great vehicle in town or on the highway. As it aged it’s injectors needed occasional attention. Then the distributor started acting up around 1983. It was especially troublesome since parts were difficult to find, even in junk yards. Don’t remember how many miles were on it when Dad decided to part with it but I know it well exceeded 100K miles.

    Like 2
  12. Allen Member

    I had two four-door 164s: a ’73 four-speed with overdrive, and a ’75 automatic. IIRC, both were EFI. The ’73 is one of my all-time favorite cars. I loved everything about this car. The seats were the most comfortable I’ve ever seen – leather-covered and DEEP! The support continued right out to my knees. The car was sort-of fast, incredibly good-looking in BRG – a rather formal proper European luxury sedan. When viewing the grill, “Edsel” did not come to mind!!!!!! Quality was impeccable. Mine was seven years old with 105,000 miles on the clock when I bought it. I had never purchased a car with over 100,000 miles on it before, but something inspired me to take a chance. It did have some rust problems, but for a DD – nothing I couldn’t live with.

    I sold it only because Volvo parts were EXPENSIVE. About the only “major” repair it ever needed was a power steering pump. A new one would have cost more than I paid for the car. We found a used one and even that was expensive. I wrongly feared that maintenance might get expensive as the odometer started pushing 170,000 miles. WRONG! Expensive repairs? Yes. Frequent repairs? No! I traded it for a ’78 Honda Accord. That too was a good car, with insanely good gas mileage, but lacking A/C. ‘ Traded that for a Datsun 810. Total dog! One of the worst cars I ever owned. ‘ Traded that for the ’75 Volvo. Lucky find: a Florida car with only 49,000 miles on it. Spotless! In many respects, it was equal to the ’73, but three features rather turned me off. First, it was an automatic. B-o-r-i-n-g-! Second, it had a higher ride-height with the 5-mph bumpers. And third, it had shallow velour seats that were merely “OK”. Whereas the ’73 rather challenged me to a sporting and intimate connection with the road and the car – indeed while coddling me; the ’75, rather an appliance, did not challenge me – and with those average seats it coddled me less. I couldn’t really drive it, moreover I felt like a passenger with enough controls to have my choice of speed and direction. I couldn’t stop yawning – so I sold it.

    Strangely, this does not detract from this car currently for sale. Perceptions change as do comparisons. How I’d love to have this one rather than my wife’s T&C van (the burgundy school-bus) or my 2003 Ranger FX4; both really excellent appliances. The ’73 Volvo has a sunny-day replacement in my pleasantly-modified 1957 MG ZBV Magnette saloon.

    Like 1
  13. Sam Sorrell

    I owned a white ’75 164. Bought it from a buddy when I was in the Army in 1985. It was the first car I drove where you really couldn’t tell you were going hella fast down the road; it was such a smooth and quiet ride. However, the rings were shot. It liked to guzzle oil. I kept a case in the trunk and every 200 miles I checked the oil level.

  14. mikey tee

    I had one and it was one of the best cars I ever owned. The brakes would stop on a dime. The trunign radius would allow a uturn o na two lane highway without leaving the pavement. greta car .good fuel mileage an enough power to get yo urolling. I upgraded as most people did to the later leather seats fro ma 245 and they fit right in. I think these are but cannot tell without seeing the headrest. I got more attention wit hthat car in the late 80’s than any car I have ever owned.

    Like 1
  15. RJ

    This would make a great project for somebody – retro-fit ’72 header panel, grill and bumpers, and find the correct body-mounted driving lights. Swap in a ’72 cylinder head and ECU to make it run as intended. Then all you would need would be an M410 od transmission. All simple wrench work.

    Like 1
  16. Tin box

    I grew up in the ‘71 164 that my parents bought new and kept until I bought my mom an 84 GL in ‘90. Fostered my enthusiasm for the brand that led to ‘71&’72 142E’s, ‘78 GT, ‘83 245T, and finally a ‘99V70t5…would love to find a manual 72 164E. The B30 is the bullet proof B20 with two more cylinders, and occasionally soft cams…easily tuned to be a strong runner.
    This def wasn’t based on the 240 floor pan – they were strut front suspension cars.

    Like 1
  17. Fritz Kelsbie

    Had a 72 164e gold metal sun roof best car I’ve owned

  18. Dick Romm

    My ’74 140GL bought new went for 318,000 miles before I retired it. Went X country coast to coast, and also drove the Alaska Highway. Best seats (leather) of any car I have ever owned especially for a long distance drive. Needed some repairs along the way, but actually very reliable. Engine overhauled at 225,000 miles…still used the original unburned valves up to the time it retired. 1974 to 2000.

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