Built Like No Other
Various light bulbs would spontaneously pop off and roll around inside the taillight lenses.
The muffler would detach and swing around underneath the car, knocking around.
Various bits of chrome and plastic bits.
I never thought I'd get old enough to say that they just don't build them like this anymore.
Once upon a time, in a financial pinch, I came to own Betty, a dark blue 1973 142S for the then grand sum of $350 (to a poor student, this is an enormous sum of money).
I have to say that since then, I have never driven another car that, at 30 years old, won me its trust and allowed me to... dare I say, love a car.
Older Volvos are one of the single best investments you can make.
Betty, at 25 years old, was just coming into her own. She was quick (if loud and thrashy), comfortable (if orthopedically correct thrones upholstered in velcro appeal to you), and built like a Sherman tank.
You could hit a mailbox and find the clock miraculously begin to work again. You could kill the battery, leave it overnight in below-freexing temps and suddenly find the battery recharged. The heater was so hot you could fry an egg sandwich on the dashboard, and the ancient controls and displays seem built to last an eternity.
You only need the mental capacity of a village idiot to work on it - because I was a car idiot, and I successfully changed this and that with no problem. And I sometimes did this maintenance incorrectly, yet Betty never failed to start. Despite its lack of power anything, no Onstar, no telematics, no ABS = it ran, drove, and gave its all every day I owned it.
To a Volvo of this vintage, 'Dynamic Stability Control' meant not going around a corner faster than you should be going.
Once, on an icy country road, I swerved to avoid a Jeep Cherokee that was "play driving" in every lane, but the correct one. Betty went into a ditch, taking several small trees and a shrub with her. Shaken, I threw her into reverse, thinking that she was done for.
Not only did this Swedish Humvee back uphill out of a ditch in the ice, upon inspection she was completely undamaged save for a few branches of pine stuck in the grille. With her headlamps ablaze and her cabin heated to the temp of an Arizona desert, she rolled on.
Betty was only given up due to my mid-20s desire to have something sexy with leather seats and a sunroof and power what-have-you. I sold her for more than twice I bought her for. I know that, probably someplace, Betty is plowing down the rural driveway of a Vermont farmer in three feet of snow.
That's the way I'd like to remember her, anyway.
If you ever see one, buy it. Before it disappears.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd January, 2007