1987 Volvo 740 GLE 2.3 carb from Kenya


Built for life


Engine stalled while on a weekend long journey with my family. Had to be rescued by my mechanic. The problem was that oil had leaked into two cylinders, causing terrible engine misfire. The problem was resolved by carrying out an engine overhaul by replacing seals, valves, overhaul gasket, plugs, and normal engine service. The car runs okay now after that. Seems like the previous owner had neglected it.

Fuel pump was also replaced.

Other than that, the other issues were normal wear and tear items: front and rear shocks, front wheel bearings, control arm stabilizer, bushes, center bearing, front corner lights, alternator brushes, brake pads, and clutch. All these items were worn out due to age and had to be replaced when I got the car from the previous owner.

General Comments:

I think of all the used cars I've had (5 before), this one has been the best. It surprises me considering its age. I've previously owned a Daewoo Cielo, followed by two Peugeot 405s, followed by a Mercedes C200 1997, then a Sunny B12 1992 and now this Volvo.

The car is strong and solid (no creaky sounds and the body holds firmly together after all these years), comfortable, feels and drives safe (brakes when you want it to), good acceleration especially while overtaking, excellent turning circle (able to fit it in tight spaces as well as move out easily despite the length), relatively economical on running costs, and probably the best quality about this car is its reliability. I've never had a car as reliable this one.

Its looks are kind of boring to most people, but that does not bother me... I love looking a little out of the norm.

I feel like I could stay with it for a long time, and I plan to put some extra money into it just to spruce it up and keep it in top notch condition.

They don't make such cars any more; I wonder why. It still feels like it has many more years ahead; it actually beats some newer cars on the road.

Anyways, I love my Volvo 740GLE and will have it a long time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th July, 2014

1987 Volvo 740 2.3 liter inter-cooled turbo from North America


The drive-line & suspension are built to last


Tachometer, odometer, fuel-gauge & speedometer stopped working reliably.

Rod-knock became noticeable about the 3rd year of owning it.

Fuel-injection cable-harness wire insulation disintegrated, and caused shorting.

Overdrive occasionally switched on unpredictably in 4th gear.

Sunroof did not work & leaked.

Heater made a screeching noise & eventually failed; so, no heat available.

Turbo malfunctioned for a while, then mysteriously recovered. It made a strange sounds & the engine ran rough during the malfunction.

Headliner lost its adhesion & drooped down.

Paint clear-coat was nearly completely destroyed.

Fuel pump failed.

Alternator failed. I replaced the diode bridge only ($55), after which the charging system warning light came on only when it was working! The motor needed to be revved-up before the light went out, and the charging system went on!

Ultimately, the engine 'blew up', with a rod sent through the crank-case wall. Strangely, it still produced enough power to get it to the highway off-ramp. When the smoke cleared, I could see the engine internals through the crankcase hole. I scrapped the car.

General Comments:

I bought the car from a soccer-mom who was having no luck selling it because it was a station-wagon with a stick (which I preferred). Price: $1000. A great deal! After 5 years, I had only added ~$1000 total for repairs. That's very cheap cost of ownership. It was a 'beater' that served me very well on the basis of excellent mechanicals.

The car was a pleasure to drive. It handled fairly well, had surprisingly good power & had the smallest turning radius I ever saw in a car! I suspect that the turbo with manual gearbox was tempting for an earlier driver/owner to drive hard. The gearbox, suspension & steering were excellent, and gave me no problems except for the quirky overdrive that occasionally engaged without pressing its actuation button (a very minor fault). Driving visibility was great. In all, a very solid drive-line helped me get around for very low dollars.

When searching Craigslist for a replacement, I noted what my mechanic told me about avoiding old, used vehicles with front-wheel drive and/or automatic transmissions (which are much less reliable than manual transmissions). I ended up, after many hours of searching, buying a newer (1992), nearly identical Volvo 740 (non-turbo) with a recently-replaced automatic transmission. This 2nd Volvo 740 is in better shape, so I expect another round of good reliability for at least another 5 years. It's the devil I know! And it's a devil with merely mischievous behavior, rather than a very evil devil that drains the pocketbook.

The Volvo 740 is a very tough car that trumps newer Volvos that are mostly FWD, and it trumps most other older cars because it's simple, straightforward & very safe. I like the wagon because it's versatile while being a pleasure to drive despite its weight. I only wish I found another turbo with a manual transmission, but am quite satisfied with my newer one because it's in very good condition for the bucks ($1390). Unlike newer cars, it looks easy to work on with lots of open space under the hood, including the turbo version.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th May, 2014