1988 Volvo 340 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

I'm with Jeremy Clarkson on this one...

Faults:

Given to me as a courtesy car whilst my Ford Escort was in for repair (again).

During the few hellish hours that I was forced to drive it...

The dashboard dial cluster fell back into the console (literally).

Wipers failed.

Fuel gauge stopped working.

Speedometer needle kept ticking no matter where it was on the dial. So from what I could 'accurately' deduce, I was doing somewhere between 20 and 30mph.

Brakes grabbed to the left.

Whichever gear it was in, the gear stick had the same amount of lateral movement as it did when it was in neutral, so it was a case of hoping I'd find a gear in there somewhere, and then hoping it was the correct gear.

And that was in the space of about six hours.

My Escort was a truly awful car, but I never wanted that car back so much as I did whilst I had to drive that Volvo. I'd have more street cred travelling by bus.

General Comments:

Calling it a heap of junk would be paying this car a big compliment.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2017

1988 Volvo 340 DL 1.7 from Belgium

Summary:

No nonsense, reliable and cosy car

Faults:

Very few things went wrong :

Pneumatic boot struts failed (have been replaced).

A few problems with the carburettor, which is a common problem on the 340 1.7.

New clutch after 270.000km.

At 314.000km, I had to work on the radiator, new tires, brakes and exhaust, so I decided to go for a newer Volvo (S40 1.8).

General Comments:

Typical underdog : bad looks, but nice acceleration and handling. Loved the car, especially for travelling long distances on the highway at 140-160km/h. I managed to drive at 7 litres/100km, and it never broke down, except for the carburettor problem that appeared twice.

Very beautiful blue plush/tweed interior.

Only minor points : petrol tank was too small (45 litres) and no power steering on the DL in Belgium.

I have fond memories of the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th December, 2010

1988 Volvo 340 DL 1.4 from France

Summary:

Retro cool, cheap, easy to DIY and super comfy

Faults:

When I bought this car, it had the French MOT, but hadn't been running for a month or two, and was extremely thirsty on gas. After getting documented, I decided to refurbish the carburettor, which was warped.

It was a lot of sanding work to get the base plate straight again, and I was extremely lucky to find a set of gaskets for this old complicated and unreliable Weber carb.

I also changed to ignition spark emitter and distributor head, spark plugs, oil, cooling fluid and all the filters.

I changed the rear exhaust silencer too that I got second hand.

All in all, about 250€ repairs worth and some sweat. But still OK given I bought the car for 400€. Parts are not common in France, but still reasonably cheap.

General Comments:

The car now works fine, and is giving no sign of faults to come.

It's a charming car. I love its retro shape and the ride is smooth, safe and comfortable. Does not pull girls I suppose, but does make fiends laugh.

The engine is no-nonsense extremely basic French engineering, the conception of which dates back to the Renault 4. We're talking about the Cléon line of engines that were only discontinued in the early 90s! Except Volvo had them made by DAF from what I've read. It's trouble-free provided the flimsy carburettor works and it has a permanent transmission chain rather than a belt that you have to change. It's a little slow and still a bit thirsty (but I'm fine-tuning the carb screw settings right now, so should be economical soon).

The dashboard is dull though layout is efficient and quality OK. It reminds me of a friend's Golf 2. Glove box is sweetly lit when opened, and I love the light right of the steering wheel to help you find the ignition - very smart these Swedes. Doors make a lovely solid bang when they close and seats are terrific. Dials are a cool red needle on green figures.

All in all, a straightforward, solid, rather reliable and cheap, extremely comfortable, not so fast, head turning (deafening looks!) car that makes you feel a little special and way better than in many dearer yet cheaper made cars (eg, the Clio RL I used to have).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd May, 2010