Last post on Jan 07, 2008 at 11:20 AM
You are in the Classic Cars
What is this discussion about?
Volvo 240, Sedan
#201 of 220 Boring but (Mr_Shiftright)
Aug 03, 2007 (5:37 pm)
Okay, this is a very subjective, individual thing, so I understand how my simple explanation came across as a contradiction. I'll elaborate. I drove a 240 just once, and was a passenger in another one a couple of times, years ago, and at the time I considered it a boring drive, plain and simple. No "buts", and I'm sure that the driving dynamics have hardly become more exciting with time. However, for me, at least, perhaps in a strange way, time + wear and tear can add a certain character and individuality to a car. Part of this intangible appeal may be that you come to respect an old tank that's been through some battles, but retains its dignity. In the case of the 240 it's the simple, classic exterior lines combined with the spartan yet functional interior, the rather high (when low was in) supportive seats, the utilitarian seat fabrics, and the tough, durable engine. Added together, these qualities impart a certain character to this car that, considering the current price, compensates for it's driving shortcomings. When the 240 was new, it's styling just looked dated and not with it, so there was little to compensate for the the way it drove. However, time and mileage have imparted a certain charm to the 240, that it didn't have when it was new. Allowing for better ride and handling, and the other differences we're familiar with, I might use similar language to describe the appeal of the Mercedes W123D. By comparison, FWD Buick Centurys and Olds A bodies, and the Achieva (or Ford Tempos, Mopar K-cars, etc.) never acquired the charm and dignity to which I'm referring.
#202 of 220 Re: Boring but (Mr_Shiftright) [hpmctorque]
Aug 03, 2007 (7:43 pm)
You've actually hit on something my younger son mentioned when we had the Volvo 240. It was one year older than he was, but he said it still seemed more modern than the clapped-out K-cars used in his high school driver's ed class. (And these were newer cars than my '80 240.)
#203 of 220 Re: Boring but (Mr_Shiftright) [hpmctorque]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 04, 2007 (7:38 am)
I think the concept of "character", while quite interesting, really isn't about the car itself but a projection of memories, fondness, etc. put upon it by the owner---something I often do myself.
But I was defining boring as very much tied to the tangible aspects of the car...basically a noisy, body-leaning, brick-shaped, sluggish old box. If we define "excitement" in a car as something to do with speed, precision, fabulous noises, "sexy" lines, tire-burning power, eliciting envy, etc.---well the poor Volvo 240 strikes out on all of those.
I mean, even an ox has character, but it's not the most exciting animal to watch or ride .
So one can like a boring thing (no comments on marriage please).
#204 of 220 Re: Boring but (Mr_Shiftright) [Mr_Shiftright]
Aug 07, 2007 (8:38 pm)
How about the emissions? Many of the old bricks I see for sale are bragged to bea ble to pass the smog test. Is this something that you have to work real hard to get one of these cars to do? Are they naturally a nasty soot shootin' carbon emittin' greenhatin' manmade devil?
#205 of 220 Re: Boring but (Mr_Shiftright) [sdawg]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 07, 2007 (10:43 pm)
I think the fuel injected models are fine regarding emissions, at least for the era. Really any fuel injected car should pass emissions testing---that's nothing to brag about unless you have a car with carburetors. Some older Volvos used Stromberg vacuum-depression carburators, which really suck. The really old ones used a version of SU carburetor, which are excellent...you can just dial 'em in as you take the smog test...the Strombergs are a nuisance to tune and they are gas hogs.
Aug 21, 2007 (6:12 am)
When thinking about old Volvos we tend to think about the 240 Series, but there was a 760 for the '83 model year and the 740 was introduced for '84. The 760, a V6, was a lousy car, as I recall, mostly, but not exclusively, because of the engine. A friend bought one of the early ones, and it was quite unreliable. But what about the 740, which, in various trim and power iterations (naturally aspirated and turbo, manual and automatic) became Volvo's main offering by the late '80s? Does anyone here have experience with the 740 series?
The 940, which was essentially an updated 740, came later, and wouldn't yet qualify for discussion in this Classics board.
#207 of 220 Re: 700 Series [hpmctorque]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 21, 2007 (8:49 am)
My impression was that the 740s were just...okay...and that, like most early turbo cars, they tended to hand-grenade. I can only recall two friends who had them and both engines did go bad...they were turbos...so maybe that co-incidence left a bad taste in my mouth about them.
Aug 21, 2007 (9:11 am)
Thanks, Shifty. Technologically, the 740 is similar to the 240. They share the NA 114 hp 4 cylinder engine, and the solid axle rear suspension is similarly pretty basic. Even the dimensions are similar, leaving the styling and interior as the primary differentiaters. Or am I missing something? The 240 seems to have a better reputation for reliability than the 740, maybe because it had more time to be debugged.
I kind of like the boxy look (although not to the exclusion of other styles), which is what attracts me to these old Volvos, late '70s-'84 Mercedes sedans, and the '82-'90 GM A and H bodies. My favorite Volvos, styling wise, are the 240 and 940.
#209 of 220 Re: 700 Series [hpmctorque]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 21, 2007 (9:18 am)
I think the turbo is the main issue here. Otherwise, it would have the usual 240 bugaboos, which is the bio-degradable interior leathers and plastics, the exhaust systems falling off...all of which one can deal with.
I think the Mercedes is a ten times better built car in that era...there is simply no comparison. But the Volvo might be easier to work on and cheaper to fix.
I think one reason the 240s lasted so long was that they were very understressed---but once that turbo got in there, that changed the dynamic and I don't think the car was up to it.
#210 of 220 Re: 700 Series [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 04, 2007 (7:02 am)
My mom had a 1990 Volvo 740 (non-turbo). I remember it not being very powerful. It had a ton of problems with the rear diff when it was new, and the standard "bulb out" indicator seldom worked correctly. It had a nicer interior than a 240, and the interior held up quite well for the five or so years she owned it.