By on July 3, 2014

13 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn California, Volvo 240s are going to the crusher in huge numbers as the traditional Volvo-buying demographic transitions to the Prius. This has been going on for at least a decade, and every wrecking yard in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas has at least ten 240s in stock these days. Here in Colorado, the pace is slower but I still see a fair number of 240s (and 140s) in Denver-area yards. Today’s find is an early example of the breed, very straight and completely rust-free. Despite what fanatical 240 worshipers say, the 240 two-doors just aren’t valuable enough to be worth saving once they get a little tired.
10 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI once believed that these “Lambda Sond” emblems indicated the presence of a more powerful engine, ideally suited for bombing through logging roads above the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, all this means is that there’s an oxygen-sensor-based feedback fuel-injection system in the car. Admittedly, this was unusual in 1977, but still not very exciting.
15 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause of American headlight regulations of the era, these hideous single-round-lamp abominations were installed in the first few model years of US-market 240s. By the late 1970s, these cars had better-looking quad-rectangle headlight rigs.
08 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile the wiring in these cars sometimes crapped out, the good old B engines held together for decades.
03 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one even came with air conditioning, which was serious luxury for 1977 Volvo buyers.
20 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis must be one of the very first “My Kid Is An Honor Student” bumper stickers, judging from its condition.
02 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 240 Jihad is going to hate this: 56,518 miles on the clock! This car probably spent decades in storage before getting junked.
17 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe presence of keys means that it was most likely sold to the wrecking yard by an auction house that got the car as a trade-in or from an insurance company.
05 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ll bet factory AM/FM radios for these things are very rare, but not at all sought-after.


Here’s a nice collection of Volvo 240 ads from around the world.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Volvo 242...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    As I have mentioned before, these old Volvos look so honest to me. Honest and competent, and simple. No DLO fail here.

    I read that logo as LAMBDA SOUND, and thought oh well it has a better stereo system. That’s a weird thing to have a badge for.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      What about Honda’s CVCC badging?

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Those Lambda Sond badges have a good story behind them. Volvo worked with Bosch and brought oxygen sensor feedback fuel injection to market years and years ahead of the competition. The Bosch Automotive Handbook describes the theory and function quite well (so do lots of websites out there). Basically, they started with Volvo mechanical fuel injection (which had its own limitations but was a reasonably good FI system for that era) and piggybacked an electric feedback loop (the oxygen sensor reading would fine tune how much fuel was going into the engine) and ideally maintain a “perfect” air:fuel ratio.

      If you read up on it then you’ll probably see that it was an ingenious leap forward at the time. Not to look down on carburetors (and some of the ideas that went on carburetors of that era ran the gamut from kludge to ingenuity), but when it comes to the meeting emissions standards of “nowadays,” carburetors never stood a chance in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      I also read it as Lambda Sound, but then started thinking about Gordon Freeman driving around in it.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    As a recovering Volvo 240 addict, my guess is either the odo failed and was replaced, OR it failed and NEVER got replaced….

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How quick are these to 60mph?

      The gauge cluster does look very clean and newish.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        A ’77 with all of 98hp (U.S. spec B21F engine with the oxygen sensor), not particularly fast. An early two door like this weighed the least of any 240 variant; I think the curb weight came to right around 2,900lbs. With a manual transmission, 0-60mph is about 12-14 seconds- although that depends a lot on your launch technique (ie. how badly you abuse the machinery). Top speed is about 100mph, but that depends on your patience.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Sounds like it needs MORE POWAH.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “Sounds like it needs MORE POWAH.”

            Which is why they offered turbos a few years later:

            127~160hp (variation depends on combinations of displacement and camshaft profiles available/unavailable in the U.S. market, although starting in about ’84-85 there was a dealer-installed intercooler option that was good for approx 160 “factory” hp and wouldn’t affect your warranty).

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Most 240 odometers fail to to a small plastic gear, and sadly most owners don’t have the desire to fix them, even though its a cheap part, takes about just an hour to get to.

      • 0 avatar
        PunksloveTrumpys

        The Mercedes W126 had the same issue, and the plastic gear is basically cast into the rest of the speedo unit (which is in turn soldered in 5 different places to the circuit board beneath it). No need to ask how I know all this….

        Point is, if the 240 is at all similar it’s still a bear of a job even once the odometer/speedometer unit has been removed!

        Oh, and would you have believed the Mercedes W123 used a metal gear on their odometers??

        Ok, i’ll stop now.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          “Oh, and would you have believed the Mercedes W123 used a metal gear on their odometers??”

          ~ what , in the first year of production only ? (’77) ~ I’ve had and worked on , all years / models of M-B 123 chassis and no , they do not have metal odometer drive gears , they have those terrible plastic/nylon things cheapo VDO uses in most of their crappy , built to a budget gauges .

          VDO gauges look *very* nice but they’re cheap beyond belief .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    The single-round lamps weren’t due to US regulations; European models also had them for several years, in slightly larger form. I think they look far better than the quad rectangular lamps (with cheap reflectors underneath) and upright grill that were slapped on later, as those gave the car an even stodgier, Buick-like appearance.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Damn. I’m not a particular fan of these, but if that were in the midwest, I’d buy it whole. Solid bodied 240s are worth something here.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Just the vintage hubcaps alone would fetch a pretty penny on ebay, here in the midwest you have to wreck a Volvo or run it til 300k before you scrap it. They’re everywhere!

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        The hubcaps are the most amazing part of this Junkyard Find. To think that they could have survived 37 years without being destroyed by mechanically-inept tire shop jockeys! Volvo 240 fans know what I mean.

        (That style of hubcaps was very easy to remove- first you had to pop off the center cap with a flat bladed screwdriver and then the big main piece would pop out very easily by hand. Reinstallation was a reversal of the above process. Once installed, they never fell off the wheel, no matter what bumps you drove over or how fast. The problem was that the simple two-step removal process would often foil some nitwit in some shop somewhere, and the nitwit would then destroy the hubcap by using a hammer, pry bar, air chisel, or whatever was handy.)

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          On top of that, most 240 owners go up to 16 inch wheels so not many actually use the chromie caps, just collect them.

          I have a set on my car along with matching 14 inch wheels, they’ve endured Midwest winters on top of other abuse, tough caps that are.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Volvo is on thin ice in the US today. Building cars that ‘last forever’ may not be worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Some would argue they’ve stopped doing that since they adopted shared Ford platforms.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ford adopted the circa 1998 Volvo P2 platform for its use as “D3″. Volvo later adopted the EUCD platform from Ford, which was developed by Ford in its development center in Cologne.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_C1_platform

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      In a world where almost no one can truly afford anything of substance from wages alone, building a simple solid car made of quality materials is certainly needed. Volvo Cars never really recovered from the transition away from RWD. The S80 was revolutionary from a safety and design standpoint, but a dog in practice for many model years. Volvo AB sold Volvo Cars before that became apparent.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That ship sailed a long time ago, SCE…

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Hey, finally a Junkyard Find featuring my first car. Shortly after I got my licence in 1991 I inherited a beige ’78 Volvo 242 with brown interior, an exact match for this car, right down to the round headlights. It was slug slow, wouldn’t start in the winter without yanking out the manual choke, and once stranded me at 1 in the morning in -15C weather a far walk from a payphone when the timing belt snapped. Still, it was my first car and generated good memories over the two years I had it.

  • avatar
    tallzag

    At least on a Chrysler when the last digit of the odo is red it indicates that it is a replacement.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I have actually owned 2 volvo 240′s in my teens. I remember them quite fondly. I had a 1978 two door that was a rather putrid rust brown that matched the actual rust that had taken hold on the car. It still had single round headlights but the buckets were different and were more flush with the grill and turn signals. It was a tank, it somehow kept running until I sold it for about a year later for exactly what I bought it for. My other volvo was a 85′ 240 turbo wagon that had a 4 speed manual trans with push button overdrive and loaded with all kinds of goodies and leather interior. That was a very nice car for a kid to own even if it was more than 10 years old. The utility that the wagon offered was incredible. I would love to own a well preserved 240 just for old times sake.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Such waste, I can’t even bring myself to write about it.

    • 0 avatar
      MAGICGTI

      I feel the same way, from the pics its clean enough to have been original miles. :(

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        For shame. This would have made a fine 302 swap candidate at the very least given the condition.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I had a ’92 740 wagon that was clean and had a totally straight body, but didn’t run. I kept it in the garage for years hoping to do the Mustang V8 swap…but got divorced instead and the ex had it hauled off by Goodwill. B**ch.

          Damn shame…that would have been the ULTIMATE Q-ship.

  • avatar
    OzSRV

    Perfectly good car there. I would have saved it given the chance.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    theres a few 242GTs always in the craigsiists things

    they look great for that ls1 6 spd conversion

    and the whole idea of a 240 coupe is kinda arch as it is

    a 242 coupe thats screaming fast is just too much

  • avatar
    cartunez

    When I was younger for some reason I loved the look of these.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Count me as another fanatical 240 worshipper. People need to save and restore as many of these as possible.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I’m going to go ahead and tell myself that’s 1,059,518 miles.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Whyyyyyyyyy.I hope the odomoeter has gone around once, so the real mileage is a million more than what it reads…or it was thrown away by some blasphemer with a sick sense of humor…
    Even if they don’t demand a lot of cash, (except a mint first gen 242 GT or Turbo) these cars have a cult following as drifters/rally cars back in Scandinavia still, and easily accept any kind of drivetrain you can throw at it (turbo’d Volvo engines with 500-800 hp, or small blocks with 300++ horspower are the most common, but I have seen them with Turbo’d BMW and offcourse Supra engines.)
    PS 2 door versions are a lot more rare than first generation Mustangs ;)

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I was at an Oakland junk yard getting some stuff for zee Beetle and found 2 interesting Volvos. 1 was a last of the breed 1993 sedan in excellent shape. Registration in the car was from last year. Got me thinking what could’ve happened. Only thing that came to mind was a biggish dent on the drivers door – must’ve gotten totaled by insurance company.

    The other made me tear a little – Amazon 122 with 4MT. Body was in rough shape but the car was still pretty complete. Thought about getting some chrome parts off of it to sell off but checking eBay revealed they’re worth maybe $15-20 in great condition. Now I know why it’s at the yard.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Oh stodge! 3-sp auto bet there was a roar on kickdown with little else. Would the a/c been a dealer kit? Likely felt compressor engage.

    While the 73 164E was in for the umpteenth time with injector issues we had a 240 loaner with slush. Compared to 164 manual with electric o/d it was slooow & noisy.

    The only improvements were the elimination of the 164′s heavy clutch and Vanden Plas front end.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I remember getting one of these from Hertz in Boston. Driving back from Cape Cod in a snow/sleet/freezing-rain storm wasn’t all that pleasant. It handled like a RWD car on icy roads. When I turned it in, the Hertz clerk mentioned how good it must have felt driving a good “winter” car in that storm! I then realized a lot of Volvo’s cache came from a belief in the car’s qualities that it didn’t have.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      These are RWD cars, they also seriously need snow tires to really hold winter roads well.

      I drove my 240 in the snow a few times and kept stable only by the power of hope, and predictable handling.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Be it sedan, wagon, coupe, ’93 0r ’74 I don’t like seeing any Volvo scrapped unless if theres a good reason to. To heck with “It’ll make my car more valuable”, these are good cars and should be treated as such.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    “While the wiring in these cars sometimes crapped out, the good old B engines held together for decades.”

    You ain’t kidding. My first (and to date only) Volvo 240 ownership experience was in 2008 with a pale blue ’85 245 that was rustier than I thought it was (never buy a car in the rain, and/or dark) but was a total blast in the snow. Unfortunately it left me stranded twice in the same spot in the span of a month. The first time the oil plug blew out of the back of the head. The second time, something with the wiring harness that ran inexplicably under the engine crossmember went bad.

    After attempting to troubleshoot it in my snowy driveway for a couple days I gave up, gave it away and purchased a Dakota Quad Cab. Never again, on either.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      That oil plug was designed to blow out before any of the crankcase seals blew out from excessive pressure inside the crankcase. The idea there was it would be much much easier to replace than something like a main seal or an oil pan gasket, etc. In almost every case, the excessive pressure was the result of an ill-maintained or non-maintained PCV system leading to a badly fouled flametrap. The flametrap was easy to access and clean but it was located under the intake manifold- out of sight and out of mind for many owners.

      Sorry to hear that you and the prior owner of your car didn’t know about this!

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Speaking of why certain cars end up in wrecking yards, it’s a old car crushathon in the business of passing them to the next owner. This is a REAL truth about cars that nobody knows. Here goes:: 1. Donate your beloved car to a worthy charity. Think it goes to a good home? Wrong! If it doesn’t run perfect, or is too old, or too dirty, dead battery, poor paint, doesn’t pass emissions, cracked windshield, etc. it goes straight to either a wrecking yard or right to the crusher. 2. Trade your car in to one of the “push, pull, or drag it in”, we’ll give you $3000 for your trade! See reasons listed in number one why it goes to the junk yard. 3. Dealer auctions. Pretty much the same, many go right to the junk yard. 4. Any auction. Many scrap dealers attend these sales and buy vehicles just to scrap. To sum it up, I think the most despicable practice are the charities accepting donated vehicles, and they purposely don’t reveal what happens to your vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      JEFFSHADOW

      The Salvation Army sends most of its “donated for a tax write-off” vehicles to the third world auctions. If there are no bids for a few weeks then they go right to the wrecking yards, for $50.
      I bought my 1975 Buick Riviera from “Cars for Causes” on eBay for $305 and it is being restored to showroom condition. Rare is the mid-1970s Riviera with bucket seats and a floor shifter!
      On the Volvo topic: Remember the 2000 Volvos and how they designed that beautifully sculptured fender. Look carefully and you’ll see an expertly updated 1994 Honda Accord structure-a great idea to interest Honda buyers looking to go upmarket.

  • avatar

    When I lived in the backwoods of Norland in Sweden it was not uncommon to see these tanks wrapped around a tree, in a ditch or halfway down a hill on some logging road. The height of fun was to buy one of these cheap at auction and practice your motocross skills whilst hooning it in the mud. Miss those days. I wonder if LeMons is as much fun?

  • avatar
    JH294

    This may be my favorite junkyard find write up. I have always been charmed by these old volvos with their unpretentious lines. The interior switch gear/ hvac cracks me up in its austerity. It’s interesting to think that these cars were kind of considered yuppie-mobiles (at least in south east Pennsylvania) in the late 80′s/ early 90′s. In addition to Volvo marketing its products as safety-first cars they seemed to enjoy an up-market reputation despite being kinda non luxurious. I’ve read that the Swedes make super comfy seats though.

    Now all 4 of those commercials were outstanding. I loved the old man voice over at the end of the first ad. Took me right back to a time I didn’t know I remembered (circa “don’t leave home without it” credit card). THe other three ads are automatically awesome because the safety features are touted while full-on driving hoonage takes place. The director’s decision to jump the cars and pause the frame at maximum air is epic. The music was the icing on the cake.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    What a shame .

    I surprised these are no longer wanted , I remember them new , like tanks with bio-degradable F.I. sub harnesses they were .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Calico Jack

    The 240 series was an amazingly good car. Not fast, mind you, if that’s your highest priority. But thoroughly superior in so many other ways. If I lived in an area of the country where the junkyards had interesting cars (nothing but battered old Fords and Chevys in my neck of the woods)I’d cruise junkyards looking to pick up project cars like this 242.

    Man, what I wouldn’t give for a 1993 Classic Edition wagon.


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