Hammer Time: The Weakness

Steve Lang
by Steve Lang

I love old rear wheel drive Volvos.

The way they all start up with that trademark two to three cranks right before the engine begins the never-ending combustion dance. The smell and feel of that interior. Filled with every noxious petrochemical substance known to man between 1986 and 1995.

I even love the fact that they seem to be hopelessly underpowered in the eyes of some. Fools that they are!

Yet us brick enthusiasts, the enlightened ones, know damn well that they will endure in the only race that really matters. Time… and they’re damn good at towing too. And hauling. And seating the family, And sleeping in. And razing from the near-death of abusive prior owners.

To be blunt, I bid on nearly every one that I find at the auctions. Except these days I can’t seem to find them. The youngest of ye olde progeny is now a 1995 Volvo 940 which, at 17 years old, is legally able to drive itself.

The 960/S90/V90 comes with a white block engine that isn’t quite as authentic in the classic Volvo driving sense as the red block 240/740/940. Yet when I see one come across the block, if it’s good, I’ll usually bid on it too.

It’s hard for me to say goodbye to an old Volvo. How about you? Is there an old model out there that makes you rubberneck a good ninety degrees or so if you see it for sale on the road somewhere? A W124 wagon perhaps? An old Celica?

What model tickles the nostalgia bone and tries to find any way into your wallet?

Steve Lang
Steve Lang

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  • Jim brewer Jim brewer on May 18, 2014

    We all have a soft spot for our first car, our first interesting car, etc. I see this as asking about the car we admired then that we still admire. For me, I'd say a 1984 Toyota Celica Supra. About 150 hp. That was a lot in those days. The list price was the equivalent of about $34K in today's money, and you would pay every bit of it and possibly a premium in those days. It seemed very capable, and aggressive, yet reliable at a time when that was at a premium. You almost never see them today. This was before they had a lot of electronics. My guess it was one of those deals where some super crucial expensive part breaks at almost exactly the same time on all similar models and the car disappears from the road in the space of a couple of years. A 240Z Datsun was the aspirational car of every high school kid back then. It has proven that it deserved our attention.

  • Dustboy Dustboy on May 18, 2014

    I grew up in a 1980 chocolate brown 245 DL. That machine was slow, but it was also unstoppable. I bought it from my folks when I turned 16. There was a time when I could fit everything I owned inside it. In 2004 I sold it with 230,000 on the clock, running strong. Friends still text me pictures of it when they see it on the street. I still feel like I betrayed an old friend when I sold it. Cash-for-clunkers must have taken a lot of the 240s off the road, I used to see them everywhere. Now even in Berkeley or Santa Cruz they are a rarity.

  • Azmtbkr81 Azmtbkr81 on May 19, 2014

    2 door full-size SUVs like the Bronco, Blazer, Ramcharger do it for me. Clean lines, perfect proportions, heaps of practicality, and cheap parts are their strong points. These vehicles are easier to maneuver and park than modern pickups and go places crossovers can only dream of. It is a shame they are no longer being made.

    • See 1 previous
    • Azmtbkr81 Azmtbkr81 on May 20, 2014

      @87 Morgan Go for it! I have just under $10k in my '96 Bronco and after 2 years of catching up on maintenance and a few modifications I sold my car and made the Bronco my daily driver. As long as you don't mind turning a wrench occasionally (I just came in from replacing a leaky wheel cylinder) these old trucks can be reliable and relatively economical daily drivers.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 20, 2014

    Mine would be the original Toronado 66-67, and the Bentley Arnage. The first GM FWD, and the last Ye Olde World Bentley.