1973 Volvo 140 142S from North America
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
2nd Jan 2007, 13:46
FANTASTIC REVIEW! I'm also a fan of the older Volvo's, but owning one in this day in age makes it a little hard given emissions testing, and the fact that the 4 cyl in many of the older Volvo's consume as much fuel as a fuel injected V8.
Still, there's a certain something that owning a beautiful older V carries with it...I've had some older BMW's as a replacement for an older Volvo. Sure the BMW handles much better and is a lot faster, but there's a certain rugged simplicity that's lacking from many older Euro cars that the Volvo has. Not to mention those killer comfortable seats with lumbar support and 4 wheel disk brakes! I mean come on! how many cars priced as low as the Volvo's were in the early 70's offered so many options as standard features AND were reliable to boot! There's no contemporary company to compare them to, except maybe Hyundai.. but again, they don't really have anything that sets them apart form the rest the way that Volvo did.
3rd Jan 2007, 02:30
You have just given me the final push that I needed to get my 1970 144 out of the barn and on to the road again. thanks. a fantastic review and hopefully one more classic volvo back on the road!
29th Sep 2010, 12:20
Wonderful review! I'm in that student situation now and my 145 has been a cheap and reliable drive, 40 years old next year. But we have a family upgrade coming, so we need to upgrade what's in the driveway, too - sadly!
29th Dec 2014, 21:15
I hope that you didn't do it!