1992 Volvo 240 GL 2.3 from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

An almost indestructible and legendary piece of 20th Century automotive history

Faults:

Overdrive relay died, meaning it lost 4th gear. $20 for a replacement.

When I bought it, the odometer was not working (a common failure, I am told). Also the heater was not working (opened up and removed clayish mud from heater). The clock was not connected to power for some reason, perhaps this happened when the newer stereo was installed, it works fine now. The door pockets were missing, I found some old ones, care must be taken to not kick them when getting in and out of the car, they are fragile.

The headlight adjustment was out, blinding other drivers; I had to tilt them down with an improvised replacement for the plastic thingies that had died. I think genuine replacements are available.

Sometimes is doesn't start like a new car. I had a 1990 Mazda that always started as good as new, even when 22 years old.

General Comments:

It has been a good old bomb, I have twice driven it from Melbourne to Tennant Creek (500km north of Alice Springs), also to Uluru, and back and forth between TC and Alice a few times. Otherwise, it has travelled from Sydney (where I bought it) and around Victoria.

I find the auto is too eager to shift down a gear, but that is preferable to the opposite in my opinion. I would prefer a manual, but they stopped making them some years before this one, so I went for the newest 240 I could find.

It's not a real speed machine and battles up hills at speed. Neither is it especially economical, maybe 9 litres per 100km in the country if you are careful, 12 around town. Reasonable economy I suppose.

The air conditioning is good, and the heater is very effective.

There is not the slightest hint of rust anywhere, and the paintwork is also in VGC.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th April, 2015

1992 Volvo 240 2.3L 4 cylinder from North America

Summary:

Tough and reliable, but don't be scared to do a little work

Faults:

Odometer gear; common problem and easy to replace. Don't understand why a little plastic gear costs $15 though.

Water pump (common issue), easy fix with an IPD pump and hoses; a good time to clean up the fan and fan shroud too.

Muffler rusted free from the exhaust; normally this is a $125 repair at a competent garage; I wasn't so lucky, details below.

Overdrive wouldn't engage, bypassed the switch, kickdown still worked well.

Rear shocks were a bit soft.

One of the tires had a bad wall; replaced two tires and put the good ones in the back.

Plastic pan under the engine was missing at purchase; replaced with a junkyard one, then a cheap non-fitting aftermarket one. You're better off just fabricating a metal one yourself. Without a pan, these cars get pretty mediocre highway MPG.

Various interior trim pieces were cracked or missing; replaced with junkyard bits. Door pockets are well known weak spots on these cars.

Aftermarket radio quit.

False overheating readings, temperature compensation board removed and a few wiring tricks done. Common issue on these cars, but the fix is cheap and easy.

Front spoiler cracked in an accident, replaced.

Mechanical thermostat stuck closed, ripped out. Common issue.

General Comments:

Handling's pretty good with communicative steering, and the short narrow wheelbase will feel a bit "old" compared to a Honda, but some better sway bars will fix that.

Most parts are simple to replace and cheap; get used to replacing interior bits if you want to keep your 240 looking perfect.

A good garage will charge you $125 to buy and install new exhaust piping for your 240; a bad garage will charge you $300 for some truly dreadful custom fabricated exhaust.

Highway gas mileage is decent if you have a pan; without, you'll think that you're driving a V8.

A/C could be better, but was bearable. Black paint didn't help when the outside temps were about 90 degrees.

Almost crashed into a deep sewer in a terrible storm, only damaged the front spoiler, thank you ground clearance!

I had the car out in hail that was about the size of a tennis ball, put maybe two tiny dents on the car. Find me a Japanese car from the 90s that can take that kind of punishment without flinching.

Brought on the cheap to flip and see if 240s live up to their reputation; they do, kept the car longer than I had planned due to how reliable it was.

If you want a fun RWD Volvo, get a 240, but if you want a safer daily driver, I highly recommend a 940 instead; the interior and electrical systems are far better designed than the 240.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 16th December, 2014