By on September 26, 2013

20 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Volvo 140 is the often overlooked parent of the extremely successful Volvo 240, with everything behind the rear doors pretty much the same between the two cars. I owned a very tired 144 for a brief period and I’ve always liked these things, so I photograph them when I spot them in wrecking yards. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’68 142, this ’69 145, and this ’71 142. Today we’ve got a very clean-looking ’71 four-door, which I spotted in a Denver self-service yard last week.
06 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s a bit of rust damage here and there, but nothing fatal.
08 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty nice, too.
18 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car looks like it has plenty of good miles left, but it’s 42 years old and not really worth fixing up. Next stop, The Crusher!
01 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old reliable pushrod B20 engine, complete with SU carbs.
19 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “thermometer” speedometer, complete with driver-settable top-speed-warning indicator, is one of my favorite bits of 1960s car design.
22 - 1971 Volvo 144 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMy cousin Sam wanted the SUs for his much-modified Harley Shovelhead project, so they’re on their way to Minnesota.

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72 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1971 Volvo 144...”


  • avatar
    PunksloveTrumpys

    I’ve always loved this strip speedo too, the font is nice and bold and manual speed warning adjustment is a nice touch. Reasonably informative for the time as well, considering most yank cars in ’71 lacked a temperature gauge.

    PS: British sports car manufacturer Marcos used this speedo in a few of their models, bit of a change from the usual Smiths fare and I don’t consider strip speedo’s very suitable for sporty driving, but heaps cool nonetheless!

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Just something about the old Volvos….

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What a shame, she looks as if she could go back on the road tomorrow and died of indifference. No room for 144s in a world of Cayennes, Encores, and Cherokee Trailhawks.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Loved the 144 and 244/5 series. If Volvo would make the 245 again, I’d purchase one right now.

    Nope, I’m not a liberal arts “professor” wearing last century’s coats…I just love a good, solid design.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Guess you never had to replace the heater fan. Or unclog the AC drainage after your floor got wet. Or replaced those rear light paper circuits. But those seats and that massive shifter sure do look enticing!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have a final year 244 and while it did have running issues that needed resolving I haven’t experienced any of those problems you’ve named (although i do understand replacing the heater fan is a masochistic experience). The nice thing about a cult car like the 200 series is the aftermarket provides solutions to some common problems if you’re willing to spend some coin.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’ll see your 240 heater fan and raise you a w115 Mercedes heater fan.

        I just looked up the process – looks like it’d take about half as long as the Mercedes.

        I mean, you don’t even need to pull the dash in a 240 to get the heater fan out! Luxury!

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          I raise you the 05 legacy cabin air filter replacement. They fixed it for 06, but 05′s require that you start disassembling at the shifter and work your way around to the glove box. All because of a 3/4″ alignment issue.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            They most certainly did not fix it for ’06 – or ’07 as my 2 hour dash board disassembly adventure can speak to.
            My wife’s ’09 on the other hand. 35 second job.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Really, everything from the A-pillars back is the same as a 240. Notable differences in the front are that the 140 has upper and lower A-arm front suspension rather than struts, and the engine sits straight up and down, vs. canted over in the 240. And the 240 has added crush space ahead of the front wheels.

    Really good cars, and ahead of their time. Though for some reason the Volvo faithful still think that 240s are on the bleeding edge of crash safety. Yeah, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I tend to agree. In a world of their contemporaries they might be but now so much is higher and heavier than what 200 series was designed to crash into, the 240 isn’t quite what it used to be.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I would argue that they were never quite as good as reputation would have them be. Very good in frontal impacts, marginal in side impacts. Mercedes and Saab were well ahead of them even back then, and BMW was just as good. Volvos were certainly better than anything American or Japanese of the same size though.

        Then there is the demographic influence…

        I’d love to find a really nice 142GT someday, one of my favorite cars of all time. Though an early 242GT would not get kicked out of the garage either.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’ve very much enjoy a 242 but having the late 244 from what I understand they are similar and it would simply function as the coupe version of what I have. I think I’d find a 142 or a 144 much more “adventurous” as it were.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Rumor has it Volvo accidently built a few Volvo 243s, half coupe half-sedan monstrosities. They were shipped to Estonia.

            I wouldn’t mind grabbing an early 144 and comparing it with my ’92 244 just to see how muchhow little changed over so many years. Its surprising how much Volvo carried over compared to the other carmakers of the time, no way it’d fly in todays world of 2 year face-lifts and
            constant updates.

            Good cars, but against modern cars their only advantages are good greenhouses and proper bumpers (that’re too low to do much against CUVs and nonsense), well that and dashs that don’t promote distracted driving.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            243? Interesting.

            Which model were you referring to in your second paragraph, the 100 or 200 series?

            Found some 243 info:
            http://jalopnik.com/5148730/ultra+rare-or-ultra+custom-1982-volvo-243-3+door-crossbreed

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            The 200 series, but that all goes for the 100 series too.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would also argue their durability and general reliability (for what they are), but yes they are limited in features compared to any newer model automobile.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            With reliability it varies, at 150k a Volvo will need work but a modern car will either go on without trouble, or it would’ve burst into flames miles ago.

            Durabilitys a mix, you’d be surprised what some modern cars can take and still work, however a lot of the fancy cheap will fall off or scrape.

            Look up “Canadas Worst Drivers” and see how fast they tear apart the trim on modern muscle cars, in rugged terrain or bump and bang cities Volvo 140s-240s are superior and wont cost a grand to fix.

            With features I don’t think I want 20 computers, distracting gadgets, naggy stability systems, stupid transmission modes, and complete vulnerability to hackers. I don’t understand how any of this is even neccesary.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        240s were facing on with cars that were already taller than them. I literally just saw one last weekend out here in flagstaff (go go teaching exchanges!) It came up to just above my knees, around maybe mid-thigh at best. Similarly smalll cars weren’t much taller and it seems mostly a tire size advantage. The volvo had maybe 15s, the three modern next to it had to have 17s and fairly normal to talle sidewalls.

        I think the current ‘high-wall fortress’ myth is just that, a myth. SUVs certainly have higher hoods but most of the passenger cars I see have fairly low hoods with the volvo.

  • avatar
    patman

    Magnificent cars.

    So roomy, it’s like a limo almost. I’m 6’5″ and I could sit behind my 6’2″ dad with room to stretch my legs. And the trunk volume! Wide, and deep and a huge lid that you could fit a refrigerator through.

    They weren’t particularly speedy but handling was quite competent, and probably better than anything short of a Z/28 considering the handling characteristics of most family sedans at the time.

    At 20 years old and countless miles the doors still closed like bank vaults on ours. No serious rust issues for a car from DC and the paint was a little dull but intact. It didn’t start up quite as easily as it would’ve when new but was still dependable transportation. The 4 speed still shifted nicely. Can’t remember the interior but it was still holding up pretty well.

    I think these were about as fine a car as ever built, adjusting for era. The Model A and then the 144 if your looking at quality of design and engineering, materials and construction, and real value for a family car.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Agree on the roominess.. they were a veritable TARDIS.
      I never felt less cramped or more welcomed by a car or truck’s interior than in my 1970.

      The sensible shoe of cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      My 1970 was a TARDIS. I never stopped marveling at how compact it seemed on the outside but how airy and spacious it felt inside.

      I would buy two new ones today if they still built ‘em. And I wouldn’t ask for any improvements over that ’70 but modern corrosion resistance.

      The sensible shoe of family sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “And the trunk volume! Wide, and deep and a huge lid that you could fit a refrigerator through.”

        I’m surprised you didn’t get excited at this comment.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          We have our pride, you know.

          How would *you* like always being a ready metaphor for “big & bulky”?

          Not to mention the casual disregard for just *how* they’d fit one of us in there. On our side? Door? ….(shudder) Back?!

          Some of us are outties and have coils to protect back there.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Don’t blow a gasket…or a freon coil? If a volvo could swallow a refrigerator I will eat my hat. I’m going panther love on trunk swallowing capacity, it may be shaped odd but if you wanted to drag anything amorphous or lots of smaller things that is the car of choice. You didn’t measure in golf bags, you measured in golf carts with the Crown Vic.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I say this as a Gen Xer, and in all seriousness; this car looks better than 90% of the vehicles produced today.

        Modern vehicles are an over-styled mashup of an incredible array of points, curves, wedges, creases, angles, appendages, circles, angry/sad/pouty/grinning/clown faces, Gilles -all reducing functionality, creating a schizophrenic design & in many cases, adding unnecessary length, girth, width, height, weight, hideousness & expense to the world.

        BRING BACK CLEAN LINES & the elegance of less is more. Bring back purity.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “So roomy, it’s like a limo almost. I’m 6’5″ and I could sit behind my 6’2″ dad with room to stretch my legs. And the trunk volume!”

      Thus, why we ship in boxes and not basketballs, if modern cars were as square and spacious we’d have no demand for CUVsSUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Exactly.

      • 0 avatar
        phreshone

        That’s why I miss my S70 so much – 3 box design, with a nice clean aerodynamic front (about .31 cd) – as much usable interior room as the current S80 and a nice boot to match – got 27+ mpg at 80mph+ cruise, LP turbo 5 cyc good for 250k miles, did a 500+ mile tank on a round trip from DFW to Houston once

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Assuming you can wrench, go find a brick for a secondary car. I’m not sure if I’d recommend an 850/S70 to the DIY, but all of 4-cyl RWD’s I would. I’m fortunate to have a Volvo specific “hookup” and I have contemplated a FWD 850/S70/V70 when I have money to blow again (although perhaps a 140?).

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Owned the two-door version of this car with a manual transmission in the same mustard yellow color. Loved every ownership minute. Rust on the tips of the front fenders as pictured was the only serious repair. I attribute it to driving in the saltbelt and parking in a heated underground garage. On a quiet evening you could hear the tinworm munching! Sold it for top dollar after 10 years and 115,000 miles. In those days most cars had been towed to the junkyard long before that time and mileage.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    Parents had a 1970 that was IDENTICAL to that one when I was a kid. Same colors and everything, when I was 5 or 6 years old my dad had it running in the driveway (had been off the road for awhile) and he let me sit in it. I put the pedal to the floor and my brother said “green smoke” came outta the exhaust pipe…LOL (1985-1986~)

    When we moved 4 hours away they put it in some old guys barn for storage, but we never went back to get it. The next time we went back to that town his barn and property had been turned into a subdivision (he had passed away). (early 1990′s)

    I believe I spotted it in someones driveway though, around 2001-2002 after moving back so chances are it was either given away or auctioned away from the old guys estate sale and someone still has it, hopefully until this day.

  • avatar

    Very good design from the year I was born. Don’t have any experience with Volvo as they were never common in Brazil, but I think this looks even better than the later boxy wagons Americans seem to love so much. Grat sightlines and the general design almost guarantees a roomy interior. I guess this kind of a car is why I don’t mind, no, I like the Renault/Dacia Logan. Seems like the modern Logan is a direct descendent of this school of design and is quite a break from the swoopiness, unrelenting creases, angry clown or gaping fish faces people today can’t see to get enough of.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Saw an interesting comment from a designer of one of those new creased angry clowns, the new Cherokee.

      He was talking about a spiritual cousin to this car, the classically boxy old Cherokee, and he said that with modern functional requirements (presumably including aerodynamics for gas mileage, front-end pedestrian safety, etc.), “we couldn’t build that today if we wanted to.”

      • 0 avatar

        Funny thing is they could. I know North American and European safety regulations are different, but the Logan is/has been on sale in Western Europe as are the cars derived from it (Sandero, Duster etc.). So, they could, they just won’t.

        One more point, I think Hyundai is the one with the angry clown look down pat. The Cherokee looks like something that I just can’t put my finger on, but not like an agry clown. At least to my eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Business requirements can easily derail a project from the start, the more ridiculous they are the higher percentage a chance of failure.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I always felt that at least visually, the Jeep Patriot was the spiritual successor to the XJ Cherokee. Kind of weak sauce in the powertrain department but good to look at.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I’ve been thinking the same thing as of late. No it will never withstand the abuse a solid axle XJ can, but a freedom drive II equipped Patriot is nothing to sneeze at in terms of capability:

          http://www.expeditionswest.com/equipment/reviews/patriot/

          Pretty legit if you ask me!

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Considering that Mercedes is still selling a boxy, overpriced, fancied-up version of an old SUV they built theres no reason why Chrysler can’t build a new Cherokee that at the least has some resemblance to the earlier models.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Such a shame this is going to the crusher.

    I’d love it if some rich guy started a foundation to save cars like this. A few hundred bucks could save a piece of history.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    Call the Wheeler Dealers! Ed likes Volvos…

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I had one of these in 1995 ~ bought it @ the L.A.P.D. Valley Impound Auction , for $125 , no keys , it was a DUI car without damage so the gamble was good it ran O.K. and it did in spite of a totally worn out engine ~ once properly tuned it always started *instantly* cold or hot (typical Volvo) and got 25 MPG’s in spite of the B/W three speed automatic it had .

    Slow uphills but easily outran most ” Sports ” cars & Motos when going down even the twistiest canyons , even when fully loaded up with four or five adults , I occasionally got cries of ‘ slow down ! ‘ .

    It was anvil reliable but a bit too stodgy so I sold it after a year or three .

    Mine was the pastel lavender color and after some nights spend hand polishing & waxing , it looked very nice indeed .

    Often , these better cared for examples have a nifty Volvo steel spare gas can in one side or the other of the commodious trunk under the mat .
    -Nate

  • avatar

    I’m really starting to appreciate these cars from a design standpoint. IMHO they are as good looking as the Amazon and PV544. The newer 240s just don’t look as nice with their bigger bumpers and plastic trim.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I tend to agree, but anything designed before 1973 will probably look better. The most famous example of bumpers ruining the look of a car I can think of was the so called “Federal bumpers” on the 1973-1976 Continental Mark IV. Look at a ’72 and compare to the latter you’ll see what I mean.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Is this the same model (except it’s a sedan) that Z.D. drives in that hipster show The New Girl? I say Z.D. because I have no idea how to spell her first or last name.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Zooey Deschanel IIRC. The only reason I really know this is because I have a slight crush on her sister Emily (the chick in Bones).

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I never got why mass media seems to associate hipsters with these, I’ve met several 240 owners in person or talked over the phone with them and none of them were even the slightest hipster-ish, in fact they were quite pleasant to chat with.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have yet to see a 144/142 around town, but the 244/5 and 744/5 have become popular in the new hipster doofus part of town, Lawrenceville. Not sure why, I assume its the “oddball” car factor combined with the fact its a car you can buy cheap with welfare/grant/unemployment money and depend on it to an extent.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Depends on where you live, I imagine.

        In Portland, the stereotype works; but then again around here, you can’t turn over a rock without finding a few*.

        (* Hipsters or old Volvos? Both.)

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Murilee, next time you hit the yard please get back to us with how many parts were taking off of this one. Around here 240s are often stripped to their bare bones before being crushed. The hubcaps on these 140s alone are worth fair money let alone the other bits of trim.

    I would say that its a shame that 140s and 240s are scrapped like this, but the metal and the rust proofing is often so good that you can’t tell a 300k mile clunker from a 115k daily driver without driving it.

    Also, did this model have a 5-digit or a 6-digit odometer?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Since this is a S model, that means it would have had the offset emblem and long metal strip going diagonally across the grille, yes?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This needs a Crabbyspiritual!

    What a timeless, honest design. Good lines, nothing flashy, just pure sturdy good looks. I even see a bit of RR in the back there. I really like it, even the color.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’ve also been appreciating the ‘honesty’ of older car shapes as of late. A sedan used to have a trunk and a hood, and a passenger cabin. No it’s not as efficient use of space as today’s aerodynamic blobs (my Civic is as worse an offender as any modern sedan!). I also miss regular sedans having some decent ground clearance to avoid curbs and to drive on rural roads or through snow. Even modern SUVs have every sort of aero-black plastic chin spoiler and wheel-wind deflector, waiting to get ripped off.

      The average modern crossover has about the same ground clearance as this old Volvo, modern sedans are all dragging their bellies around.

      Here’s an old Moskvitch that a Russian car mag ran into during some offroading near Murmansk (testing a Renault Duster vs a Lada Niva):

      http://cache.zr.ru/wpfiles/uploads/2013/09/201309191140-201309191140-30.jpg

      I’ve gone on many a camping trip back home in Siberia where everyone took their Ladas, Volgas, and Moskvitches and took them over terrain that would probably ruin a modern crossover’s low-profile-tire’d rims and rip that aforementioned chin spoiler right off. But I understand that I’m in a tiny minority that wants that sort of capability/durability in an economy car.

      • 0 avatar

        In Brazil cars have always been raised a couple of mm in comparison to their first world brethen, even when they’re the same generation of the car. Last weekend we went to a farm in the countryside and that involved a 35-40 min ride through dirt roads, up and down hills, hard packed and soft surfaces. I was following a 4×4 diesel Ford Ranger in our 1.0 Renault Logan and though the truck had to go slower sometimes for us to keep up, I was was very happy with the performance of the Logan in the dirt. There was one long uphill where the dirt was very soft, almost like very loose sand that had me a bit worried, but the car made it fine. Never bottomed out either. It handled everything well and passed through some rough patched that I thought might’ve scratched my Ford Ka.

        So, there are still cars out there that can make it through. The people we went to visit basically live there so they have an interesting collection of cars. The aforementioned Ranger (I believe 2009) a 1979 Chevy D20 PU and a late 60s or early 70s Beetle. According to him, when it rains, the best car to get through it is the Beetle.

        Driving in the dirt is too fun. It had been a long time I hadn’t done it.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Russia is the same way with imports all getting the “undeveloped roads” package. The Logan sold there has a full 160mm of clearance (6.3 inches) under the standard steel skid plate protecting the oil pan and transmission. Older fwd Ladas (Samara, Kalina, 2110) have as much as 180mm of clearance from the factory (a full 7 inches!!)

          VW beetles do have some serious offroad chops. The Soviet equivalent, the Zaporozhets has a similar reputation back home. It’s a known fact that as you go deeper and deeper into the woods to go mushroom/berry picking: first you loose the Ladas, then the Moskvitches, finally you only have Zaporozhets and 4x4s getting to the most remote spots. The weight of the engine over the rear axle, combined with little weight over the front axle, a torsion bar suspension with good clearance and smooth underbody (no exhaust or driveshafts) lets them glide right over treacherous terrain.

          • 0 avatar
            scwmcan

            Well according to the specs the 144 Volvo ( and the amazon/122) had a full 8″ of ground clearance as I recall. ( our family owned 4 140 series and a 123GT over the years) they were great cars for light off roading ( my father was known to do a bit more than that). We loved those cars, easy to fix and didn’t need the fixing that often, unfortunately the salt used in New Brunswick winters was their downfall. If I ever get up the money for a project car I would like to find one of these old Volvos to fix up.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Such an elegant car!

  • avatar
    Dan R

    I have a S90 and had a 960. Great cars!
    “Graduated” to an XJ8, a mixed blessing.

  • avatar
    GST

    My 144 was the sort of very light grey. Best front seats of any car I have owned. My wife agrees. Every time we bought a new car, we always looked at Volvo’s first, but never bought another because theyl did not seem to be worth the prices charged.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This is just too new for me. My Volvo love ends where it starts, with the 64 PV544 B18D I drove in high-school. It was hard to destroy, but … what can I say, I was young and found a way.


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