16th Jun 2009, 00:09

Greetings all -- just checking in and a quick note as we approach Summer Solstice for the year 2009 -- days are very long now and although this is a much cooler Spring than in years past (we had a good dump of wet snow only 10 days ago, now long gone, thank goodness), it has been up to about +27C just in the past four or five days.

I've switched vehicles again with my wife and am once again driving the Passion Red Swede as my daily driver for that commute into the city and back. The S70 T5 SE just keeps on going, and going, and going -- sort of like the Eveready bunny, but a lot more fun.

I've been filling up with more premium fuel than in the past, adding one of those small jugs of octane boost per tank, so performance is notably quicker.

The CD player / magazine started giving some problems a while ago -- the middle disc seemed to skip a lot regardless of which one was in there -- so I'm not using it at the moment. I think the problem is purely mechanical in the player itself or just the magazine, as the radio and antenna still work perfectly. I might have a close look inside one of these days but to be very honest about it, I'm not in any big rush to spend any $$ for a fix.

Now that Summer is almost here, I'm using the air conditioning almost every day and note that it just doesn't seem to be cooling as well as it did in years past. So I *might* get that checked out next time I bring it into the Indie shop for service.

I discovered a much better leather treatment from a dealer supply shop than what I'd been using previously -- the new stuff has "mink oil" in it, and that seems to make the black leather much happier than before (but I have to point out it wasn't at all bad before, regardless). Anyway, after about four treatments, that means that the seats are now notably much more like new -- more supple, and even showing less by way of "stretch marks" and the beginning of cracks so common with well-used leather. This doesn't seem to be just cosmetic, either, which I hope turns out to be a good thing for extending the service life of these seats that are already well over a decade old. I just wonder how they get the oil of those poor mink.

Anything else of note? Nothing, really, except perhaps yet another positive reinforcement for the "performance reason" for owning one of these wonderful vehicles -- I blew the doors off a very shiny silver BMW 325 coupe on the way home today -- the guy came up fast and was sitting on my rear bumper, way too close for comfort, itching to pass. You know the type -- blipping out over the center line to get a microsecond view up ahead, high-beams filling your mirrors, just inches away from playing real bumper cars. So I floored the Volvo (not even in sport mode!) and the turbo seamlessly, almost effortlessly, did exactly what it was designed to do. He tried to keep up for half a mile or so, but gave up -- never had a chance.

I am always amazed at the punch of this engine when the transmission downshifts, the front tires shudder with the torque (and any road imperfections that happen to be there), and the speedo tells you that you've just gone from 70KPH to 145KPH in a very, very short time. I remember reading somewhere in a US publication that this Volvo T5 in 1998 was the second-fastest production car to get you very rapidly from 50mph to 80mph, bowing only to the Corvette C5. I haven't checked out this claim and likely never will, but today sure *felt* like it! OK, time to sign off -- best wishes to everyone.

Cheers / Blueleezard.

23rd Sep 2009, 19:17

Greetings again to all. My reports to anyone interested in the 1998 S70 model (and this particular T5 SE) are becoming "quarterly" -- today is the Fall equinox, or so I'm told. I recall reading somewhere that it actually took place shortly after 3:00PM Mountain time today, only a few hours ago. That, and the fact that huge numbers of various kinds of birds are gathering in the neighbourhood to prepare for migration, must be why I'm providing this comment.

Not much to say about how well the T5 SE is doing, and continues to do. It's actually easy to forget what a good car this is -- after these years of happy ownership, with the odd repairs etc. that are noted in earlier missives, as time goes on it's difficult to find anything of substance or note that is even remotely negative. Oil and filter changes, wheel rotation and tire life, glass, safety / maintenance checks, gas mileage, belts, window lifts, air filters, radio / stereo, paint and fit and finish -- just normal wear and tear, all A-OK. The problem noted with the CD player seems to have cured itself without so much as a how-do-you-do. No objections here. I haven't attended to the air conditioning as it still blows reasonably cool, just not really cold, air. No light bulbs have winked out of existence in a long time. The leather with the recently-improved treatment seems to look and feel better than it ever did -- the minor wear on the driver's side outer, upper bolster is hardly noticeable now.

And lest you think my eyesight and general sensitivities are providing less and less accurate input and lulling me into some form of sleepy complacency, I should note that colleagues with whom I occasionally travel in the Volvo to the airport and back, for example, have asked, since I began the leather treatment, whether the Volvo is a newer version of "that other nice red one you used to have". Hmmm. I reassure them that it is, indeed, the same car, and note that I simply look after this one. That almost always generates comments about the "classy" and very attractive design of the car overall, the superb quality and comfort of the interior, and what is still after all these years the stunningly beautiful exterior colour and finish. I don't baby it and in fact enjoy the hell out of it, but I am picky about this car and I know it's showing a bit of age -- quite naturally so. But I am happy to receive such comments and studiously avoid pointing out the substantial number of gravel impacts right down to the primer on the leading edges of the hood, and the fairings under the front bumper.

Final observation: although I can feel myself taking things for granted from time to time, I don't like the idea of "forgetting" about this wonderful vehicle. So, I will tell a brief story: I was in New York last week on business, about an hour North of Laguardia, and visited a wonderful wine cellar ranked in the top three in the U.S., part of the 18th-Century, pre-revolutionary country inn (once a farm) where we all stayed (this was my fourth visit to this great spot in the past four years). The cellar has over 70,000 bottles, an amazing and very interesting collection, from almost everywhere on the planet. Some wines are very old indeed -- one of the most prized is a single bottle that has been essentially undisturbed since 1903 (the faded label found under the dust reveals all). With a value of over US$11,000, this one is not for consumption (except, I imagine, in what must be *very* special circumstances!).

But the reason I am telling you this story on a Volvo discussion list is that the cellar also has an excellent supply of very pleasurable, great quality, mid-level wines available to have with the superb dinners served in the 1st-class restaurant there. Enjoying a really, really good wine in this context reminds me of driving -- and owning -- this 1998 T5 SE S70 Volvo. Like a good wine, the car is aging very very well, is still as powerful, enjoyable, and robust as it ever was, is durable and dare I say as safe as houses. It is very attractive inside and out, and provides a great, well-rounded, and an overall excellent experience. It rewards the caring owner with a great, long-lasting pleasant glow, a sense of well-being, and something to look forward to the next time. Just like a very good quality wine, it has some years on it, is not terribly common, and definitely not corner-store "plonk" -- nor does it have a screw-top! This one gets better and better with age. Something to be cared for, savoured and anticipated, not simply driven in a vacant, absent-minded, unappreciative, or robotic fashion.

I hope this comparison has some value for you.

Best wishes.