Junkyard Find: 1971 Volvo 144

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.

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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.

    • See 4 previous
    • 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.

  • Arthur Dailey Is most of your driving in stop and go urban traffic?Do you have kids, who you have to drive to and from their activities? Sometimes with their friends/teammates.Do you have pets? Do you have some mobility issues?Can you perform maintenance yourself?Do you have a discretionary fund for unforeseen repairs?Do you have another car, so that you only need to use this on weekends or rural/highway trips?Check your answers to the above. They may tell you that as nice as this car is, you might be better off with a new, boring but more practical SUV.
  • DungBeetle62 Before everyone dumps on California and their tax structure and Gavin's hairstyle, my recent road trip (which didn't get to California) was as follows when tanking up Super Unleaded.Texas - Fort Worth area Costco : $3.36Texas - Amarillo Sam's - $3.46New Mexico - Albuquerque Costco - $3.75Arizona - Flagstaff Sam's - $4.25Nevada - Henderson Costco- $4.72Oil is oil is oil is oil. State taxes vary, transporting the refined product varies, but a friggin BUCK AND A HALF more a gallon (and we're talking Costco to Costco here) ain't passing the smell test as you get out west. No, count me in with thinking someone out west is going for a bigger bite of the apple and figuring people will blame Newsom.
  • Tassos Whoever pays $23,000 for this 15 year old unreliable car will regret it. I would not pay half that.Go get an excellent E55 AMG, also 2008, and pretty close HP-wise, with far higher Torque, and a proper luxury interior..
  • VoGhost Why would anyone want to save a car dealer? No really - what actual value do they provide?
  • FreedMike Really nice example, but these are LEGENDARY for being money pits.