By on June 9, 2013

10 - 1975 Volvo 245 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIn a Northern California self-service wrecking yard not far from the one in which I found the Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe, I found an example of a first-year Volvo 240 wagon. The 240 didn’t change much during its near-two-decade run, but the very early ones stand out in this setting.
12 - 1975 Volvo 245 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you want to do a lot of engine modifications in a California-registered car, the easiest way is to use a 1975 or earlier model. That makes this year 240 the only one in which Golden State Volvo freaks can, say, swap in the powerful L6 out of the S80 T6 without getting the OK from the smog referees. This was the logic behind the rescue of this ’75 coupe a few years back (as far as I know, it is still awaiting its Ford 302 swap).
06 - 1975 Volvo 245 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThat wasn’t enough to save this one, of course. Look, only 99,224 miles on the clock!
02 - 1975 Volvo 245 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty beat, so I’m guessing this is a case of either a busted odometer or a car that did 1,099,224 miles.
14 - 1975 Volvo 245 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAs I’ve pointed out before, San Francisco Bay Area junkyards always have plenty of Volvo 240s. The early 1975-80 ones have become quite rare in recent years; I suspect that we’ll be seeing the late-80s 240s for another decade at least.

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30 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1975 Volvo 245 DL...”

  • avatar

    Poor old thing .

    The build date is March of 1976 so I don’t think it’s a 1975 model year , the next year model rolls over in October of the previous year IIRC .

    Over all, this one looks passable ~ no rust out .


    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      MY change depends on the OEM. And nowadays the matter just went bonkers, with some MY extending for 12+ months.

      • 0 avatar

        To meet US regulations a car cannot be built after Dec 31st of the year it its official model year. On the other end they can’t start production until Jan 2nd of the year preceding it’s official model year. However the most change over date for US built models is Aug/Sep with the current year production ending in Aug and the next starting in Sep. Models built in Japan often use July/Aug since they have to make the long boat trip. I’ve never paid that close of attention to Euro cars. The important thing is the VECI and VIN tags that state what model year emissions and safety standards they comply with.

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          VIN contains MY information, digit 10 will tell you that.

          This car is pre-1980, so I would guess its serial number doesn’t have the VIN structure. And it doesn’t.

          Build date according to the compliance sticker is 03/76, so this is definitely a ’76.

          • 0 avatar

            Volvo began using a 15-symbol VIN with MY 1975 for the 160/240/260 series cars.

            The full VIN is obscured but the 8th character is the year and is visible in the photo: E=1976.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan Roth

      This is not a ’75. ’75s were the only year of 240s with the B20 pushrod four cylinder. This one clearly has an OHC B21. Gotta be ’76 or later.


  • avatar

    I get sentimental seeing this Volvo.

    In my Volvo days I owned a 1973 142, a 1974 145 and a 75 242, just to mention some of them. They were great cars, ahead of their time in safety and interior details, such as the seats and the dashboard. They were reliable and easy to repair.

    The estate version in particular was much loved. Used prices were high.

    If I remember correctly DL meant this Volvo had the 2.1 engine, called B21, instead of the basic 1.9 B19 which was hard pressed in such a heavy car. In my opinion, the 240-series was under powered until it received the B230, a 2.3 liter engine.

    And now the Swedish brick factory is owned by the Chinese. I wonder how that will turn out.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan Roth

      United States never got a range of four cylinder options with the 245. It started with the B20, then B21, later the B23 and then finally the B230. There were turbos, which used the B21FT, and the 260s used the PRV.

      DL meant that it had less equipment than the GLs carried standard.

      • 0 avatar

        OK, then American versions were different from the home market, where there was a 244L version with a B19 and a 244DL version with the B21. 244GL got power steering and a B21 with fuel injection, I believe.

        Those cars were hard work to park without power steering.

        • 0 avatar

          We did get some without power steering. My first Volvo was a ’76 242DL. No power steering or A/C, but it did have the O/D manual transmission and a sunroof. Powder blue with blue cloth interior. B21 fuel injected engine, and the only car I have ever bought leaded fuel for, as you could still get it in rural parts of Maine in 1988.

          I very nearly bought a ’75 245DL to replace it, but the combination of B20 and automatic transmission was PAINFULLY slow. That was a REALY nice one though, only had 75K on it in ’88. Bought an ’85 Jetta 2dr instead. Looking back I kinda wish I had bough the Volvo.

          I’d LOVE to find a nice early 242 to add to my little collection.

  • avatar

    The 55 mph speed limit coincided nicely with the years of greatest growth in Volvo’s American popularity. Given how underpowered they were, anyone think there’s a connection?

    • 0 avatar

      As in, would the entire Volvo phenomenon as we now know it, safety icons to professionals’ families for 20 years, have fallen flat if they had had to contend daily with 80 mph highway traffic?

      • 0 avatar

        No, because a B21 powered 240 isn’t in any way underpowered. A B23 or B230 240 is certainly more than adequate, my ’91 245 was perfectly happy at 85-90mph all day long. And that one was an automatic. I will say that a B20 powered 245 automatic was a dog, but it would still cruise nicely at 80. Just took a long time to get there, and with only 3 gears in the aurobox it was LOUD.

        The turbos were rockets for their day, had an ’82 245GLT as well.

  • avatar

    Yes, there’s some mistake, whether on the part of the yard, the DMV, or Murilee. This is not a ’75.

    The US-spec 1975 models came with the holdover 2000cc OHV/pushrod engine, the B20, fitted with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection.

    Because it has the OHC 2.1 (B21, in Volvo parlance) this is either a ’76-77 model, or a grey market import – since in non-US markets, the B21 *could* be had in 1975. But since it has the US bumpers, I’m guessing it got mislabeled by someone along the way.

    Hint: to determine the model year, look for the emissions label on the LH strut tower.

    Yeah, I’m a bit of a Volvo geek.

  • avatar
    Swamp Yankee

    Assuming they are solid, someone will be grabbing the hood and fenders to do a flat nose conversion.

  • avatar

    My parents had a 1975 245 automatic and it was the ungodly slow (0-60 in something like 17 seconds) despite a very short rear axle ratio that meant is was spinning almost 4,000 RPM at 60 MPH. The engine was not happy with its work and always sounded very strained, and the sound-proofing was almost non-existent meaning you heard every groan very clearly unless it was covered by excess wind noise. It also left us stranded multiple times in the middle of nowhere with a variety of ailments ranging from a clogged fuel filter to a broken cam-sprocket (made from plastic). It was a terrible car in every way except it had good cargo space and comfortable seats, and yet it was better than just about every other wagon of the era that family friends had the misfortune of owning such as the Volare, Torino, Pinto, Malibu, etc. What an awful era for car lovers.

  • avatar

    One of my best friends in high school had a beautiful orange ’75 or ’76 DL wagon. We always joked about the “volvometer”: the blank gauge in the middle of the cluster with a little Volvo symbol in it.

    “What’s the volvometer reading at?”

  • avatar

    For the price back then I would have gone full-sized american woody over this Swede with 4 & 3 auto.

  • avatar

    I bet it had over a million miles, or like roughly every 240 the plastic odometer gear broke and the at that point cheaper owner didn’t want to pony up $15 to fix it.

    Good cars though, just the past few days I saw maybe 4 or 5 Volvo 240s from the 80’s-90’s, all of them sedans oddly.

  • avatar

    The 244 with AT was slouch. The 245 likely more so. I remember 244 sedan DL you had to select 2 to pass and the engine would roar with supposed power. It was crude and noisy.

    The best geek choice from Volvo in 1975 would have been the older 164 non-injected six. Coupled with 4-sp manual and electric OD. You got a bit of a lurch when the OD switch was engaged. 164 six was lumpy in town but relaxed on hwy with OD. The clutch was heavy. The 164E injection model was unreliable with hard start issues.

    I would have gone Chev or Buick woody. And Volvo should have sought GM motor like Rover

  • avatar

    My best friend bought a ’75 245 DL manual with the B20. After a few months he regretted it and longed for his ’72 Datsun 510, which unfortunately had rusted away – the Datsun 610 replacement was an utter joke with no IRS on the wagon.

    Stodgy to drive, tiring on the highway, heavy to park, he persevered for 6 long years, and then did the obvious. Bought a secondhand ’78 Chevy Caprice wagon. Better in every way for his family, just a better car, period. To me, those Chevs were the highpoint of American RWD design, and better than the crappy Ford that came out in ’78 by about 300%. The Chev lasted 10 years, and so he then bought another newer one secondhand.

    I was a Volvo nut in the ’60s, went rallying, the whole 9 yards. The 140 series came out, and it was “Hello Grandpa” time. The 240 series were 140’s with Mcstrut front suspension instead of A arms, and really don’t deserve any particular adoration as great cars any more than Panthers do. It’s a car that many people thought was “great” because they neglected to go and test drive anything else. IMHO.

    And around these parts they rusted anyway, despite being assembled here to the obvious blind eye of the Swedes. Er, cancel that. The local Volvo plant manager married the slinkiest girl from my high school class!

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t vouch for the early 245’s, but I test drove quite a number of cars before buying a 244 and enjoyed it a bit, but its a later model with the B23, one of the cars tested was an older Panther btw.

      I was seriously considering a Caprice or Olds counterpart but too many of them in my price range had bad transmissions.

      I have to agree that the Caprice was perhaps one of the best RWD American cars for the time, but in an accident the Volvo would fair better due to the different construction methods, both were boxy but solid cars of the time.

      Really be it Volvos, old Mercs, Caprice’s, or Panthers, you buy them only for their modest styling, cheap price, and durabilitylongevity, they’re the cars you use off the racing circuit.

      Even then though, they rally 240’s over in Europe on a frequent basis and they fair well, its the 7900’s that have trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      “the Datsun 610 replacement was an utter joke with no IRS on the wagon.”

      The original 510 lost its independent rear suspension in wagon form too.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Am I seeing things, or are there three dead spiders inside the instrument cluster?

  • avatar

    Something tells me you may not need a “BRAKE FAILURE” light to tell you what’s wrong when driving.

  • avatar

    Is this the one with the flat grill and the rather enormous “bug-eye” headlights?

    Always thought those Volvos looked absurd compared to the later square headlight models.

    • 0 avatar
      Ashy Larry

      No, I think those (quad bugeye headlights) came in 1978 on US-spec cars. ’76 models had a single round sealed-beam headlight on each side. Euro-spec had flush headlights in both cases.

  • avatar

    I still drive my 1975 245dl nearly every day. I replaced the bosch injection system with a weber card do to not being able to find a fuel regulator. It has the four speed m40 (no od) tranny there isn’t Any problem with power and though its running at 4000 at 75 it doesnt seem to care if it did it would have died years ago. Its virtually rust free and with a couple of pumps fires right up even on the coldest Minnesota winter nights. This little gem has never let me down and even with my cars made this millennium I still consider it to be my most reliable proven vehicle. It has the b20 and a faded orange original paint job and Brown vinyl interior (dl was the base) deluxe model. Besides the fuel injection these things have a plentuful supply of cheap parts and require very little to keep running mine only has 370,000 miles On it.

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