1984 Volvo 240 Turbo intercooler b21ft-L from North America
A proven race winning formula, with proven reliability and practicality; a dark horse
Spare wheel wells rusted away
Corrosion on rear arch, sill
Driver's seatbelt torn
Exhaust to silencer area has rusted a hole
Dome light doesn't light when the front doors open, only the rear
Bad dash assembly, many places misaligned
Light switch plate has huge gap and rattles at high speed
Left mirror folded and now becomes loose
Electric mirror bad contact, and the motor is funky and noisy
Electric window switch bad contact, sometimes doesn't work
Seat is badly torn and internal structure damage
Engine mount replaced
Intercooler pipe disintegrated
Sometimes overheats, but better after a radiator flush
Clicking noise at front rolling assembly
Leaks at rear main seal or tranny?
Drain plug threads were scratched = leak
Paint on bumper comes off
Engine stutters at idle, especially with no load
This car has a cool appearance in turbo form with blackened trim and special 15" alloys. It's unlike the 90 degree edged brick like the 700 series, and the shape lasts well since the 70s and produced till 90s. It is a formal saloon shape with long overhangs, but has a very solid agricultural tank feel also added with sportiness. It reminds you that some of today's world class sports cars such as Skyline belonged to this type of sporting saloons.
Although it is very long, it's quite narrow so it feel nimble on curves. The wheelbase is short, giving it fantastic turning circle, 5.0M turning radius. The car just turn even when you don't expect it to in the tightest of spaces. After getting used to driving it, and turning at the last moment and parking perfectly with ease, driving other midsize cars become cumbersome.
The handling is quite good, the steering has lots of kickback and is not that smooth, but also has road feel and good weight; it is also direct 2.5 turns lock to lock. It's nimble on a slalom and has good balance. Body roll is pronounced and feels heavy, but easy to control. It will understeer slightly on wet, but can be canceled out with power oversteer. It can power oversteer easily even on dry. Brake dive is however horrible.
The suspension is basically a live axle located by trailing arms with panhard rod and F and R sway bars, the dampers are gas type. It gives very stable rear traction on flat surface, but front end could use more camber (adjustable). Ride absorption is OK and has lots of travel, but dancing on cambered surface is uncomfortable. There's lots of wind noise, but less than my uncle's newer 240.
Braking with 4 wheel disc is no problem, but the pedal feel is a bit soft.
The engine is a single overhead cam direct acting 8 valve (no rockers) crossflow 2127cc inline 4. Turbocharged with garrett tb03 to 8 psi and then 10.5 psi after 3500rpm and intercooled with cores the size of ones from trucks. The engine layout is intuitive and simple; everything is well placed, although the dip stick is a reach to the firewall.
The engine bay is huge, so even with the turbo, there's tons of free space, so cooling is never a problem. A proper engine oil cooler is also in place next to the rad to ensure safe hard and long running.
At idle, the sound is a rattly and loud fan noise but the exhaust has nice burble. With the 4AT transmission, off the line power feels like 1.5 NA (weak), but tractable. When the turbo starts spinning up at 3000rpm and boosting into the yellow zone progressively, the car surges forward smoothly and strongly with fierce turbo sound. I don't know when the power dies off because I never driven to the redline. Usually when it shifts up, it's still in boosting zone, so overtaking is no problem.
The 4AT shifts harsh either when shifting automatically or putting into D or R. Shifting up produces more shock than down. But the interface is simple to use PRND21 with OD button. Kickdown works at highways speeds and drops into 3rd, but it usually won't do it unintentionally.
I don't know much about mileage because I drive it rarely, but by looking at the aerodynamics it can't that good, probably around 20mpg.
But driving this car makes you proud because it is older than I am, yet it is a performance car that's rare, and unexpectedly a Volvo. Too bad you still get a sense that Volvo is among the uncool brands. But don't worry, the shape should inspire fear to those that know 240 turbo won many honoured touring championships in the 80s, and is among the M3 and Sierra Cosworth famous stars. The practical attributes from traditional Volvo are all still intact with more space than I ever needed, but the boot is too shallow because of the fuel tank.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th April, 2008