Thursday, June 10, 2010

Simple is Beautiful: Volvo 240 Wagon.

A study in pared down simplicity, the 240 wagon, last produced in '93(I thought '92), marked the end of an era for Volvo. As Volvo phased it out, the (relatively) sleeker 740 wagon visually italicized the straight lines of the 240. But unlike an ill fitting suit, the 240's boxy construction remains classic, damn near iconic even. Simple knobs, dials and push buttons. Red for heat, Blue for cold. Utilitarian and smart. No computer-controlled anything. Reliable and, famously, safe(which I can attest to personally). The soccer-mom car from my youth. Designed by Jan Wilsgaard, Chief Designer at Volvo for forty years (1950-1990), he is quoted, wryly remarking on the success of the 200 series, "it might be due to the fact that the car is a little square and sluggish, just like the Swedes themselves." Square and sluggish as it may be, my 9'6" Dan Taylor would look good strapped to the top of it.







21 comments:

L said...

my parents bought a 240GL new in '84, and it became my own first ride in '96. it could turn on a dime, vibrated doing anything over 55mph and may or may not have given me an invincibility complex. they finally sold it a few years ago, with 250,000+ miles and still running, and i miss it every day. great post.

i also just noticed no mas on your blogroll. doubly good.

Things Is Cool said...

My favorite feature about the wagons - and I'm not sure if it was only in certain years - was the rear-facing foldable jump seats in back.

JP said...

i remember driving through france with my parents in the summer of 86 in this beauty...

isnt this the hipster ride of choice in LA these days?

james said...

Beauties for sure. Wouldn't really know what the kids are driving in LA.

tons of land said...

i've been saying for years that the time is ripe for a reintroduced 240, similar to the revamp of the mini an the bug. the 240s you still see on the road today look relevant aesthetically and functional. perfectly suited for 2010.

Ryan said...

Im flying out from Boston in a few weeks to do a road trip with a friend from San Diego to Vancouver. We need a car we can afford to sell in Vancouver at a loss but will make it the whole way without trouble. This and the first 740's are at the top of my list. Been searching craigslist for one in decent shape.

thewildwood said...

Yes, these are beautiful rides, and you can drive them forever, around town here there are some with the 300,000 miles emblems on the grills

Foster Huntington said...

my family had one of these when i was growing up. i learned to drive stick on one such beast,
foster

RHW said...

In the Fall of 1992 I bought the last 1992 model 240 GL sedan. She was dark silver with tan cloth seats. Power windows, manual crank sunroof panel, weak stereo, and 5 speed manual transmission (on a GL was a special order the deal just happened to have). The price at the time was something like $22k.

This was the last car I had that truly interested me. Within a week or two the little painted on snowflake symbol on the blue A/C button wore off and a front CV joint boot was defective. I replaced the rear deck speakers that first year and met the love of my life.

We traded the GL for a 1994 525i in 1995, another weak engined lump.

Viva Volvo!

Chris Peck said...

I love these cars. My mom had one growing up. in 2007 I bought an 87 from the original owner. The odometer stopped working, the speedometer works sometimes, but it runs perfectly and is a 5 speed with a limited slip differential which makes it fun in the snow.

I have it parked on the street in Brooklyn, and drive it to Mad River Glen every winter and almost drive off the road everytime, but it is the best 500 dollars I have ever spent on anything, ever.

Tony said...

I thought I was the only one who shared an obsession with the boxy form of the 240. I never leave comments as I usually prefer to admire your postings silently, but I cant help but share my relief that I'm not alone!

A truly beautifully-balanced and perfectly-proportioned piece of machinery.

Ignacio "Chuk" Solis said...

drove a 240 wagon for more than a year with its chrome rack on top and my boards on it. great car!! the only problem was that it loves gasoline and dranks a lot!!!!

LETTERPRESTON said...

I had one of these for a few years. I loved it, except for two problems. The plastic parts inside would get brittle and over time break. And the car was an affordable buy but repairs were $$$.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! My first car back in high school was my mom's '87 240 GLE in blue/green exterior and black leather interior. Had everything! Drove that brick for more than 100,000 miles and still drove like new. Roads in Puerto Rico used to be unforgiving yet that car always felt composed and solid. And it was not the first 240 my parents owned, as they had an '80 DL coupe, then a '85 4 door DL, two '87's GLE's and a '93 GL. After that a plethora of 850's and S80's. Volvos rock!

Michel said...

Hi, I have one blue 245 wagon for 10 years now, I never regret this ride, it is made for the open safety road to travel and enjoy so much the material deal. The mechanical still simple, and inexpensive to maintain in good shape, now I have 368,000 km (142,000 miles) on the cluster.

Some older owners of the Volvo 240 told me they regrets this car so much for the kind of fun they lived with it. Some told me; this safety car save my life in a car crash.

I live up north in Canada, the winter still a uneasy part to deal with it, my wagon provide me the best partner to go, year after year.

To preserve this deal, I purchase in 2008 a 1992, 240 withe sedan, I have 690,000 km (266,000 miles) on «this lady» and with is perfect shape, she still today a marvellous head turner car.

Michel

Anonymous said...

I bought one of these cars back in August. It has 347,000kms on it and it still going strong. It needed some work that had languished in the care of previous owners, but with all of that up to snuff, it drives incredibly well. There are new cars that feel less solid than this thing does.

Also, with the five speed, I get mind-blogglingly good mileage for a car this size. Mixed city/hwy driving I manage around 9L/100km, on the highway I've managed what I think is closer to 8L/100km. I don't drive quickly most of the time, however.

Looking forward to having this car take me through university (another four years hopefully) so I'll soon see if she's made of the right stuff.

Anonymous said...

I just found this post on accident while trying to look up general "fix it" info on 240 wagons. This is the only thing I've read of yours but if I had to bet 1,000 dollars on what city you were in, I'd say Portland. I know my people, and you are one of us.

yazaan said...

it's the best car ever made but there is one problem that the car is bloody gasler!!in the same time i don't mind spending extra money rather than spending it on the garage for repairing.so the car is reliable + safety=240 best car!

Kri said...

Ah... always wanted one of those wagons. Those who owned them never wanted to part with them, so I ended up with a four-door sedan. I am now growing old gracefully with it until one sexy wagon comes along, but don't tell the sedan.

Volvorider said...

Great car's look at my web-log foor mutch more info about de Volvo 200 series.

www.volvorider.web-log.nl

ahmadfauzan said...

i owned 240 wagon'88.for those who own it..pls keep it for your next generation.