The idea of designing a larger, more exclusive model had existed for a long time.
In the late 1950s, a big luxurious Volvo with a V8 engine and a powerful, vertical grille was planned.
But this project never got off the ground when a survey indicated compact cars were the future — especially in the United States.
The launch of the 140 series in 1966 however, precipitated the idea of putting a straight-six-cylinder engine in the 140 body instead.
By doing this Volvo reasoned it would deliver the combination of prestige and compact size that they were absolutely certain people needed.
Chief designer Jan Wilsgaard kept the chassis of the 140 series and used the front from the 1950s 358 project, extending the chassis 10cm from the windscreen forward to accommodate the newly developed straight-six engine.
This was designated B30, had a 3.0-litre capacity and developed 108kW thanks to twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors.
The fittings were considerably more lavish than those of the 140 series, with thick woollen fabric on the seats, textile floor mats and a rear seat designed for two people — with a drop-down armrest in the centre.
After the first year of production, the 164 added leather upholstery as standard, headrests and integrated halogen-type auxiliary lights.
In the US, it was offered with electric windows, an electric sunroof, air conditioning and tinted windows.
US magazine Car and Driver tested the Volvo 164 in its July, 1969 issue.
“The Volvo people are looking to steal buyers from Buick, Oldsmobile and Mercedes showrooms, and they are doing just that. Volvo’s new customers are professional types – doctors, lawyers, dentists . . . people who can afford something different.”
The Volvo 164 underwent continuous development throughout its life, with the addition of features such as electronic fuel injection from 1972.
Despite calls for a six-cylinder Volvo wagon, including a prototype that was constructed in Melbourne in 1972 a 164 wagon was never offered.