By on March 30, 2016

1968 Volvo 144 in California junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

How is it that there are still sufficient Volvo 140s left, more than 40 years after production of the original Swedish brick ceased, that you’ll still find plenty of them in American wrecking yards? Not in the quantities you’ll find of their 240 descendants, of course, but anybody driving a 140 today should have no problem getting parts. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2016

1971 Volvo 144 Sedan front 3/4 in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap. (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2015

00 - 1987 Saab 900 in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

About five years ago, the Saab 900 was a relatively common sight in American self-service wrecking yards, but now examples of this Saab 99 descendant are getting rare.

Here’s a non-turbo 900S that I spotted not long ago in a Denver yard. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2015

20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples deemed worthy of saving, but a few have hung on in side yards and cornfields long enough to show up in wrecking yards now. We saw this ’68 sedan in California last year, and now there’s this ’68 wagon in Denver. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2014

12 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI see plenty of Saab 900s in self-service wrecking yards these days, but Saabs older than that have all but disappeared from the U-Wrench-It ecosystem. I did see a truly ancient Saab 92 at a yard over the summer, but that was in the heart of Saab’s homeland. So, it came as a big surprise to spot this Saab 96 three weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2012

Even though Project Volvo is geared towards the budget end of the scale, Sweden’s Polestar has been working on a factory backed S60 concept that puts out 508 horsepower and 424 lb-ft. The most surprising element, aside from the absurd power, is a 6-speed manual gearbox, something not readily available on North American Volvos. Polestar has apparently built one for an unspecified customer. We won’t get to drive it, but we hear there’s a brown XC70 kicking around the press fleet with a Polestar ECU flash.

By on February 27, 2012

Today is Wagon Day, a brand-new made up holiday when North Americans are tortured with photos of wagons that will not be available to us despite our endless pleas. First up, the Volvo V40.

(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2012

Today, the Volvo 760 celebrates 30 years on this planet. Concieved in an uncertain time in the auto industry and launched in 1982, the 760’s various incarnations lasted until the S90 and V90 were laid to rest in 1998.

Like so many great cars, the 760 was built with whatever happened to be laying around at the time.  Cost-effective was the operative word, and the 240’s basic architecture was lengthened slightly, while losing 220 lbs in the process. A 2.8L V6 (the famous PRV motor) was available, as well as a diesel, but the 760 Turbo would live on in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts.

My friend Chris, who took the above photograph, grudgingly gave up his own pristine 700-Series Turbo this summer, for a Lexus IS250. I only got the chance to drive it once, but reveled in the massive turbo lag and equally entertaining turbo boost and the utilitarian nature of the cabin. The 760 Turbo was arguably the last idiosyncratic Volvo (though the 740 and 900 Series carried on its lineage despite re-skins and name changes), with a host off oddities like the self-leveling Nivomat suspension, a turbo boost gauge without any calibration, and the “4-Speed plus Overdrive” manual gearbox.

The introduction of the 850 range in the early 1990s marked the end of an era, as front-wheel drive and transverse engines asserted their dominance in the Volvo lineup. While I’m a fan of the current cars (the S60, XC90 and XC90 are solid vehicles), the old, boxy rear-drivers are iconic vehicles and arguably the heart and soul of the marque.

By on January 20, 2012

Could Saab end up in Turkish hands? According to Bloomberg, Turkish private equity firm Brightwell Holdings will bid for the remnants of Saab, with a view to producing cars again.

(Read More…)

By on January 6, 2012

Amid Volvo’s announcement of a plug-in hybrid for markets besides diesel-loving Europe came another tidbit about the lone Swedish brand’s future direction. Rather than 5, 6 or 8 cylinder engines like years past, Volvo will be downsizing, much like BMW – and using modular engines to boot, much like their Bavarian rivals.

(Read More…)

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