1979 Volvo 245 DL 2.1 B21A from UK and Ireland
The car you can put in your will
Rebuilt cooling system: water pump, radiator, heater core, hoses - due to age rather than intrinsic fault.
Rebuilt automatic gearbox.
Gauges failed - first temp gauge, then fuel gauge, then 3 odometers - design fault in odometer drive gear; replaced with £5 used units from ebay. I think this is why they redesigned the gauges in 1981.
Some wear in vinyl driver's seat.
Replaced alternator - due to age.
Replaced rear springs and shocks - age again. I fitted heavy duty springs, but would advise against it unless you regularly carry heavy loads, as they make the back too rigid and bouncy over speed humps.
Replaced all brakes - discs and pads.
Tailgate rattle - needed to adjust latch; still rattles sometimes.
Replaced carburettor to improve fuel economy and emissions.
Replaced all fuses.
Windscreen leak - had it replaced, and later '92-93 black surround replacing chrome to eliminate rust trap and leak prone clips
Tailgate glass leaking; need new seal.
Tailgate hinge broke - replaced for £5 off ebay.
Replaced tailgate wiring harness at same time - £3 from Braydon.
Slight head gasket weep - will replace soon, as these tend to go every 20 or 30 years due to contracting and expanding of alloy cylinder head.
Rear arches gathering surface rust - I intend to fit Lokari mudguards to prevent this from getting worse.
This sounds like a lot, but it is a 30 year old car used for business purposes. It always gave warning when something would go, and I did all the work myself. Parts were very cheap through GSF.
I bought this car as an immaculate 2 owner car from the Volvo club. It has a rare vinyl interior - which was common in the US where I'm from, but probably the only one in the UK. The bodywork has held up very well, with very little rust - only starting to go on the rear arches. The steel used in 1979-80 was very good - earlier and later years tended to rust worse.
The carb 2.1 engine is very reliable and feels very strong, although the automatic gearbox is something of an antique - it's 3 speed and at 70mph is revving at 4000rpm, which means that motorway fuel consumption is roughly the same as in the town - 20mpg imperial. I'm considering changing it over to a manual overdrive gearbox, but it's a really big job.
I've converted the car to LPG, and it runs very well on gas - and saves so much money as gas is almost half the price of petrol. It hasn't affected the fuel consumption that much, but is a bit slower.
My main reason for buying the Volvo is its interior space - great for camping, and I wanted a classic that would last well - my Rover had only 23,000 miles and was like a new car - unfortunately that meant a new BL car, so bits always fell off. The last straw was when I tapped the front bumper when parking, and it shattered. Hence, the Volvo - you really can park by feel in this thing!
People tend to knock the handling on the 240, but I find it to handle very well if you have the muscle for the non-power steering. It's quite large and ponderous, but sticks to the road well, and with the rear anti-roll bar, seems to be perfectly neutral in anything short of insane driving. The slothlike autobox prevents it from generating speeds enough to tax the handling. It also has an amazing turning radius - I've never needed to do a 'three point turn'- it can make a u-turn in an average UK street without touching the curb in one move. I think only my W124 Merc was better in this regard.
The 240 is built to a standard not heard of anymore - all of the mechanical bits have so much built in redundancy - they are built stronger than they need to be. However, although the interior trim is better than my Rover, it's nowhere near as good as my old Mercedes. This is primarily due to a tradeoff - Volvos are much easier to repair at home than Mercs - no presses or special tools are needed, and there are fewer parts. Even the notoriously PITA Volvo heater is easier to change than a Merc W124.
Although I'm not a typical Volvo driver, being only 33, I've been in a couple of really bad accidents, and appreciate the safety - although not as safe as a new car, I'm sure I'll come off better than whoever I hit, unless it's a train.
The key to engine longevity is to change the oil every 6000 miles, and ONLY use genuine Volvo oil filters - they have a non-return valve that prevents dry startups.
Whenever I think of replacing the Volvo with something that gets better mpg, I think again - the cheap £100 a year fully comp classic insurance and ease of maintenance easily make up for the fuel economy and tax bracket.
What other 30 year old car can be used for 15000 miles a year, and be relied on to get you there in all weathers? And, this car only cost me £3000 including LPG conversion and repairs for nearly 2 years.
If you want better MPG though - I'd consider a later model with the 2.3 injection engine and 5 speed gearbox. These can get 30mpg in careful driving. However, their engines are a 'low friction' design and slightly less over-engineered. In other words, they'll be out of breath at 400,000 miles instead of the 800,000 of the old b21.
The biggest disadvantage to this car, aside from the poor MPG, is parking. It is a very long car here in the UK, and when at work, I often have to pass up a few spaces before I find one that I can fit into. But at least my biceps are getting nice due to the manual steering.
But if you care about what your mates think of you, have a very small parking space, or want to go fast, this may not be the car for you - unless you want to spend some money at IPD that is.
Volvo for life.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 16th September, 2010