1977 Volvo 242 DL
Simple design but I doubt there's a tougher, more enjoyable, roadworthy, reliable car... period.
Yep, the seat belts have worn pretty badly (the driver's belt, that is), but what would you expect for original seat belts that are 31-years old and have been extended and retracted possibly 40,000 times?
The B21 engine is a work horse. A piston ring broke at about 300,000 miles while I was towing a trailer over the mountains between Oregon and northern California. I had the engine rebuilt, blueprinted and balanced with oversized bearings and forged pistons. I've used Castrol GTX oil exclusively since the rebuild and now have 385,000+ miles on that engine without a single major problem.
When I bought the car (@ 33,000 miles), I installed heavy stabilizer bars, gas strut cartridges, Volvo rally springs and a lot more up-grade stuff including Laguna wheels from IPD and a front spoiler. I also put a limited slip differential in the rear end for straight-ahead traction on wet or snowy roads. I later equipped the car with an OPTIMA Gel-cell battery which has lasted now for 16 years... believe it or not... and a 70 amp alternator replacing the original 55 amp unit. In effect, I turned the DL model into a GT+ with a 4-speed + electric overdrive 5th gear.
All in all, the '77 Volvo 242 is the finest, most reliable, fun, roadworthy vehicle one could imagine. I live off the US mainland for 9 months each year now, and when I get back and hook up the battery to get the car on the road again each June, it fires up within seconds. Of course, I put STA-BIL in the gas over the winter and take other storage measures. The point is, though, that I doubt there's ever been a more rugged and relaible car made than the late-70's and early-80's 240's with manual transmissions. This is a GREAT machine.
I will never part with this car and may ask to be buried in it instead of a casket (ha!). I love this car. Incidentally, my other car is a 2005 Corvette. I like the 'vette, but I LOVE my Volvo.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 25th October, 2008