Junkyard Find: 1971 Volvo 144

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1971 volvo 144

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.

In fact, these cars are not uncommon in self-service wrecking yards, even though it has been 42 years since the last one was built. In this series prior to today, we have seen this ’68 142, this ’69 145, this ’71 144, this ’71 142, this ’72 145 wagon (plus this 140-based Volvo 164).

I spotted this one about a week ago in a Northern California wrecking yard surrounded by billboards advertising Bay Area rapper E-40’s new malt liquor. The demand for Volvo 140 parts isn’t so high, so not many parts had been picked from this ’71.

It had the look of a car that had been sitting for a few years before being towed off to this sorry final parking space. Inside, I found part of the cover of the May 2010 issue of SF Weekly, the one with the story of Epic Beard Man.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

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  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Feb 22, 2016

    Four photos? What, are they cutting Murilee's budget? Jeez...

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 22, 2016

    I just don't get the cult-like appeal of these cars. It must be a Jeep thing.

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    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 23, 2016

      Yes it is like a Jeep thing. Volvo RWDs, like Jeeps, are beloved for being ridiculous in a good way for what they are... these things were reliable, effective, relatively cheap, and overengineered for their time. The 200 series in the 80s was designed to have a lifespan of about 19.3 years, this in an era when a ten year/100K lifespan was "good". The drivetrain while slow, thirsty, and crude, is capable of a million mile lifespan. The auto transmission (an Aisin Warner unit) is quite stout (for an auto) and does not typically fail. The seats and interior are designed for longevity and relative comfort for the time. The cars are easily serviced by the DIY and can be made to keep going for decades to come. If these had been offered in 4x4 I think they'd be considered the Lada Niva of the West.

  • Theflyersfan Some of my extended family have lived in Orange County/Anaheim area since WW2 ended. They were in Anaheim before Disney and when there were actually orange groves. When I lived out there, I battled up from Ventura County down there a few times a month for dinner and ballgames and it was always interesting to hear from the older members about what things were like out there before it all really blew up. And how starting in the 1950s, they could no longer see the mountains anywhere and the sky was frequently this sick brownish haze. And then starting in the late 1990s, when things really started to clean up, they said there were now more days when they could see the mountains again compared to not, and it was really only the Santa Ana winds that brought in the gunk from the Inland Empire into the basin. There's still a long way to go - during the pandemic, it was wild seeing videos of how clean the air got when so many people were working from home, but it shows that even with all of the heavy industry there, it can be done. I know everyone is all over the map when it comes to climate change and causes or if it's happening, but regardless of views on that, I think we can all agree that burning less gasoline and diesel helps everyone breathe a bit easier when we don't have as many smog alert days.
  • Fred It's always someone else's fault. Now where is my bonus?
  • Canam23 I moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and half the time the air was unbreathable. It is 100% better now thanks to the work of the AQMD. If you remember, when the first pollution controls were mandated in the 70's, Detroit said it was impossible to meet them. The Japanese just started working on the problem and just did it. All the tougher laws to mandate air pollution have resulted in not just cleaner air for our children, but also much more efficient engines in our vehicles. So Stellantis, I'm not buying it.
  • Theflyersfan Nope. Has nothing to do with Gladiator sales falling off of a cliff and having 5-figure discounts. Or...YTD 2023 compared to last year:Compass +7%Wrangler -14%Gladiator -31%Cherokee -25%Grand Cherokee +6%Renegade -35%Wagoneer -31%Grand Wagoneer: -14%End of 3Q 2023: 490,106 Jeeps soldEnd of 3Q 2022: 541,297 Jeeps sold490K is still a decent number of expensive SUVs sold, especially Grand Cherokees, but it's still a decline. And people want the 4xe models, so that could reverse the trend if they crank more of them out. But let's blame the government for everything. It'll lead a news cycle on any red hat network.
  • VoGhost California is the reason Dodge and Chrysler were starved of new models for the past decade. OK...