My volvo is attractive and usable, but hopelessly outdated car. I am a backyard mechanic with nearly 30 years experience and also I think the king of cheap and old junk cars. Bought my second Volvo last month for $800 with 172,700 miles. I love the retro-classic look with the gold exterior. Almost immediately after letting the car sit it would not start. I traced the problem to the #6 (fuel pump) fuse that looked good, but did not make contact at the end.
You will not find this problem without physically removing the fuse and careful examination. Using a circuit tester may not catch this.
I suspect a lot of Volvo starting problems and related electical problems could be solved with better fuse end contacts, but this year and model used obselete fuse panel design. This to me is unacceptable in a quality luxury car. I think they stopped this in American cars 40 years ago.
It is helpful to pinch the copper fuse contacts to increase contact tension at fuse ends. Volvo has reasonably cold air, but compressor makes noise.
I suspect A/C and electrics, taillights wipers have no guts etc.,. are unreliable on this car. Check ebay for cheap parts. I chose to replace front seats which bend toward the center of the car. Taillights are always a problem on old volvos and you are better to buy them aftermarket on ebay.
Ignition switch seems very worn and does not "snap" back from start to run so I try to avoid leaving key in the start position. when shifting to drive it is easy to put the car into second by mistake so a conscious effort here is needed also.
Car runs rough at low idle and probably needs adjustment. To me this is a tempermental car whose engineering is clearly divergent. Still it is inexpensive, roomy, safe, cool looking in its way, doors hood and trunk seem solid and fit well.
Plastics are better suited to cold climates (I am in Phoenix, AZ 100 to 120 degree temps). Car seems to work in the heat and has not yet overheated. I have checked OEM parts and they are pricey. Found great values on fuel pumps if you need one (this car has 2) at PartsAmerica (checker Auto). I recommend a low temp thermostat / my next purchase.
Update: This car has now overheated. I suspect slow coolant loss but it does not show up in the oil. Anyway, I am now suspecting head gasket may need replacing like the first Volvo I had. NOTE: watch for pitting in the aluminum head water ports. a quick fix is to coat porous areas in the water jacket (where you can reach) with JB Weld on your finger to get it into pitted areas to protect against further pitting.
If you are into nostalgia or hooked on old volvos buy one but dont depend on it.
Seats, A/C, electrics are crap.
Dont drive in places you cant walk home from.
If you are interested in a cheap and reliable car an old Volvo or ANY European car is NOT what you need.
Corners well, good in rain, and seat belts work.