Technical & Buying Guides

VOLVO 160/164 1969-1975



The Volvo 164 was really the first of the Volvo cars to enter the luxury car market, often referred to as the ‘Swedish Rolls Royce’. The 164 was sold with the promise of being safe, luxurious, solid and reliable, it quickly gained a very strong foothold in the UK Market as specious Executive transport. The Volvo 164 was the forerunner of today’s 260, 760 and ultimately the 960 series cars, being a natural progression over the years from those early cars.

The 164 is still held in high regard by many people and a favorite with many for a classic car, the price being well within most peoples reach. The ‘Tax Exempt’ status of all cars has also helped this car achieve genuine classic status and helped save many examples. The main downside of the 164 is without doubt its fuel consumption. In these days of ever-increasing fuel costs many owners have found running these cars just too expensive. Cars with Manual/Overdrive Gearboxes give much better fuel returns, so do fuel injection engines.

Volvo produced no production 160 Series Estates but available in Australia and an English Volvo Main Dealer in the early 70’s a number of 165’s from 140 estates (145’s), by grafting on a 164 front end. Today examples are hard to find, as most of the limited number are believed to have been scrapped. There is one of this model known to the Volvo Enthusiasts Club which was restored by Cumbers Garage, Brixham, Devon many years ago.

The 164TE and the ’69 model are the rarest of the 160 Series, the ‘TE’ being built in 1975/75 at the end of production run. They were the first Volvo model to have a Radio/Cassette fitted as standard and are painted light or dark blue metallic – usually dark blue.


The first cars to be imported into the UK arrived in the Spring of 1969. Powered by the new B30 straight six cylinder, 2978cc engine, which was in principle a B20 (4 Cylinder 1986cc) with two additional cylinders. Most were identified by a simple numbering system. The first number – the model, second number – the number of cylinders in the engine and thirdly – the number of doors and finally any special features. Models were the 164 – a 4-door saloon with twin Carburettors, 164E – a 4-door saloon with high performance fuel injection engine. The 164TE, being the top spec model of 1974/75 – a 4-door saloon with fuel injection engine and high level of specification

The 1969 164 was fitted with a twin Zenith-Stromberg B30 engine which produced 145bhp at 5,500 rpm with a manual 4-speed manual gearbox as standard, plus an electrically operated Overdrive which only acted on fourth gear. An automatic 3-speed gearbox and power steering were available on this model as an optional extra. The front panel displayed either side of the radiator grille, circular chrome vents, which for the 1970 model became halogen foglamps. The interior had cloth upholstery.

The new model for 1970 saw improvements which included head-restraints on the front seats, improved through-flow ventilation, leather upholstery as standard (Cloth still available as an option) and hazard warning lights. The front panel gained two halogen fog lamps in place of the two circular chrome vents of the ’69 model.

For 1971 the 164 had Power Steering fitted as standard, the wheelbase and radiator capacity were increased and for some markets, electrically operated sunroof and windows. Air conditioning, headlight wipers, and tinted glass were also available as an option. Outside the car the wheel size was increased from 5J to 5½J in width. Volvo in Autumn 1971 offered fuel injection as an alternative to twin carburettors. These models being known as the 164E, which were rated at 175bhp!!!

The 164 of 1972 had flush door handles fitted to the outside. A shorter sporty type stick replaced the long gear lever and a new style dash was fitted.

With new safety laws in the USA Volvo in 1973 fitted new larger bumpers, a new shortened grille and rear light. Internally the car gained childproof locks on the rear and reinforced doors.

The cars of 1974/75 were the last year of production. All were fuel injection, either 164E or 164TE models. The front door windows lost their opening vents and the size of the bumpers grew to meet further USA Regulations, which included the fitting of shock absorbing mountings to the bumpers. .


The 1969 B30 twin carburettor and the 1974/75 ‘TE’ model 164’s are today much sort after but parts, particularly trim are becoming difficult to find in new or excellent second-hand condition. If you decide to buy one of these models to restore make sure you examine it carefully before you take it on. Front wings for are still available but new front panels are no longer available from Volvo and are now very difficult to find. Front panels do differ with models but can be interchanged - differences lower air vents in the front valance and holes for the bumper irons. If you do purchase a 164 remember that front panels are no longer available so if you see one either good second hand or new for sale it is worth putting into your stock of spares.


Rust is not a major problem with the 164 series. The cars are well rust proofed from new. The underside of the car being heavily undersealed and if checked regularly should provide excellent protection against rust. However like many cars of the time. The Underseal becomes hard, cracks and allows moisture to venture between the steel and the seal, thus allowing corrosion to take place. So pay particular attention across the whole of the underside and particularly in the wheelarches. What looks solid may not be!!!! 

When purchasing a 164 Series one should however remember that these cars are old, the last cars being built in 1975. However despite their age fortunately the 164 does fair better that most other vehicles of the same age.

Rust does however appear in the following areas:

Front Wings:

Front wings on all 164 cars are prone to rust particularly around the headlight. Look also along the top edge where the wing is bolted into position. Wings are still available new and can be replaced easily as they are bolted onto the main bodyshell.

Front Panel:

Rust is very common in this panel in the area around the join with the front wing. Make sure there is a seam where the two panels join (Front Wing and Front Panel). In rusty cars this is often filled in with filler and no physical groove where the two panels join can be seen (See Fig: 1). Check also the condition of the bonnet slam panel around the lock.

Radiator Crossmember:

Rust does appear in this chassis section. Check particularly the front sections behind the front valance. The rear of the member can be rust free due to splashed oil from the engine, while the front section has totally disappeared.

Inner Front Wings:

Rust in this area is extremely common. Purchasers should check this area with care particularly around the bonnet hinge mountings. A repair panel is available but requires welding into position. Check also the front end of the inner wings where they meet the front panel and the top rails where the wings are bolted onto the car.


Look for rust in top corners under the bonnet.

Front Scuttle (area below front windscreen):

Rust appears at the two extreme ends of the panel between the windscreen and the front wing. Repair of this area can be expensive, as it requires both the windscreen and the front wings being removed.

Front and Rear Windscreen:

Rust can be found around both these areas. Pay particular attention to ANY rust, which appears to be coming from under the windscreen rubber. It is common to find large holes behind the seal due to corrosion when the windscreens are removed.


Look for rust in the front edge.


Generally 164 doors are long lived, however rust does affect the lower section of the skin and frame. Look also for rust around lock mechanism. Doors from the 142, the 2 door car doors are particularly difficult to find second hand but the club is able to help locate any parts that a member may require. Early and late doors are interchangeable (later cars have flush door handles)


Sills generally are good but rust is common in the rear portion where they meet the rear wing.

Rear Wings:

Check condition of both inner and outer wheel arches. Repair panels are available for the arch edge and are reasonably priced. Check also the inner wheel arch inside the boot. This is where the top of the rear shock absorber is mounted and rust can affect this area.


Rust is very common in the two wheel wells on either side of the boot floor. Repair panels are available.

Boot Lid:

Check edge of boot lid.

Rear Axle Mounting Arms:

Rust can appear in the pressed arms used to mount the rear axle. Check condition, replacements could be expensive.

The above is only a guide to rust problems in 164’s. Care should be taken to check all parts of the car but do remember that all of these cars are old and last cars were built in 1975.


Around Headlight - front wings

Front Panel where it joins wings.

Top on front wings

Bottom of Doors – Skin and frame

Sills – Rear portion.

Wheel arches, front and rear

Boot floor – Both spare wheel wells

Front edge of bonnet

Crossmember under radiator – check front edge

Inner front wing – tops of inner wing and is where bonnet hinges are mounted

Ends of front scuttle (Panel below front windscreen)

Rust can appear around windscreens


Injection parts for Injection Engined models are expensive new, hard to find second-hand

Interior hard to find in good second-hand condition, particularly front seats

Some chrome trims no longer available new.

Time Clocks on all models rarely work but can be rebuilt

Front Panel no longer available new

Front Fog Lamps no longer available new.



ALWAYS check that the car is fitted with a Genuine Volvo Oil Filter, other makes can cause problems with engine lubrication if they do not have the non-return valve fitted in them. A Volvo B30 engine should cover over 200,000 miles without major rebuilding – although camshafts, valve guides and fibre timing gears may need replacement at around 100,000 miles.

Camshafts on injection engines can be prone to wear at around 100,000 miles and can be mistaken by unskilled ears as Crankshaft Big End Bearing failure, more skilled enthusiasts will note the sound is only half engine speed – hence valve area. Fibre timing gears can be replaced with all steel gear sets (as fitted on TE Models as standard) – originals are one fibre, one steel. The originals are fine and give no problem but if you intend to up-rate the engine steel gears are a must.

Engines with high mileage’s can smoke particularly on start up of on over-run down hill. This will generally be caused by valve guide wear and oil running down valve into combustion chamber.

The B30 engine can be converted to run on unleaded. Original Valves fitted are already hard (Stellite) but valve seats will have to be replaced – Unleaded head conversions are though the Club.

Manual Gearbox:

The manual gearbox fitted to the 164 is robust, long lived, and should not cause any real problem. When driving cars it is best to ‘slip the clutch’ when engaging and dis-engaging overdrive. This helps to give a smooth operation and avoid damage to components. The use of the wrong oil can cause problems – Gear oil should never be used in gearboxes with overdrive. Oil is shared by the two units – checked and filled in the Gearbox. Manual Gearboxes without Overdrive use Gear Oil. Check Workshop Manual for Oil Grades. Overdrive Gearboxes are often found second hand and cars converted from Auto to manual. Reconditioned Overdrives and Spares are available through the Club.

Auto Gearbox:

The Automatic Gearbox fitted to the 164 was made by Borg-Warner and gives little trouble. However if the vehicle has stood for a long period it may be worth having the box fully checked and serviced before use.

Rear Axle:

The rear axle is again almost indestructible, however, loss of oil can cause premature failure. Check for oil leaks around the pinion bearing seal (where prop shaft bolts to axle). It is common on higher mileage cars to encounter differential whine, but this does not mean that the axle will not give further long service.


All 164 Series vehicles have disc brakes all round – the handbrake is operated by brakes shoes mounted in a drum in the centre of the rear discs. All are very reliable but Brake Calipers on rear are prone to seize particularly if vehicle is left for long period in damp conditions. Both ATE and Girling Brakes were used – check which your vehicle has before ordering any parts, as they are different. Brakes are twin circuit.

Engine Types Fitted to UK Spec Vehicles:

B30B – 2978cc Twin Zenith  Stromberg Carbs – Fitted to all twin carb models

B30E – 2978cc  Bosch Jetronic Fuel Injection – Fitted to all injection models.


Volvo 164 For Sale general fall into five groups:

For Restoration:

For a car to use as a basis for a total restoration or spares

Running but require work:

Running but in need of some major work in near future e.g. Sill replacement, inner wing repairs etc.

Cars generally in good condition:

Cars generally in good condition but may need minor work to improve appearance – good useable car with no major faults or corrosion.

The Best Cars:

The best cars – not concours but having only minor faults.

Be prepared to pay more for the 1969 model or the 164TE.

The Very Best Cars – Concours Winners & Rebuilt:

Cars, which have been fully restored or are Concours standard, depending on all round condition of the vehicle. Interior, chrome, originality, and low mileage will add to the price, as does documented history of the car, original bill of sale etc.


If you are looking to buy one of these cars it is important to make sure that the car in question is a '164TE’ and not a 164E made up to look like the former. Here then are a few things to look for:

1/  Paintwork – Light or dark blue metallic, most were dark blue.

2/  ‘TE’ Badges on front wings and rear panel

3/  Volvo 8-Track stereo fitted as standard

4/  Rear seat Head Rests as standard

5/  Map reading lights in rear

6/  All have automatic gearboxes

7/  Air Conditioning as standard

8/  Fuel Injection Engine

9/  Built 1974/75


The Volvo Enthusiasts Club provides Technical Information on the service etc for all 164 models and other Classic /Older Production Volvos.


Please Note: This Buyers Guide is produced and updated by Kevin Price and is the Copyright of the Volvo Enthusiasts Club. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior permission, in writing from:

Kevin Price, Volvo Enthusiasts Club, 127 Kidderminster Road, Wribbenhall, BEWDLEY, Worcestershire, DY12 1JE

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