Junkyard Find: 1994 Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon

junkyard find 1994 volvo 940 turbo wagon

The Volvo 900 Series replaced the 700 Series, which replaced the 200 Series, but — in true Volvo fashion — there was sufficient production overlap between these related models that all three were available at the same time for a couple of years in the early 1990s. The 940 sold well in the United States, but you’ll see more 240s and 740s today, perhaps due to the great affection held by Volvo fanatics for the “real” rear-wheel-drive Swedes.

I went into a Northern California wrecking yard determined to shoot the first 940 or 960 I saw, and that car turned out to be this 940 Turbo station wagon.

These cars were heavier and more complex than their predecessors, but the increased costs of maintenance and repair didn’t stop their owners from keeping them on the road for many years. This one made it to Toyota Camry territory on the odometer.

The paint is faded and the seats are upholstered in blue tape, signs that we’re not looking at a car owned by a fastidious garage-it-always type with a whisk broom in the glovebox.

Back in the early 2000s, I ferried a 940 Turbo Wagon across the country for my sister (later adding a pair of GMC van horns), and I was very impressed with the power out of the heavily-boosted 2.3-liter four-cylinder.

162 horses out of an engine this size was serious stuff in the 1990s. It’s easy to find turbochargers in California wrecking yards these days, unlike a few years ago, because every “tuner” kid who wants a bunch of turbos already has 19 of them in the garage.

In theory, a five-speed manual transmission was available in these cars. I have yet to see one.

Think of it as a limousine… for your luggage.

Back in the 940 Wagon’s homeland, it was all about the safety for pregnant women, ja.

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4 of 22 comments
  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Mar 26, 2018

    You see 240s more than these partly because they sold better, and partly because they have a bigger following. I couldn't really get into these like I could the 240. The light lenses, seatbelt buttons, headliner, seats, hatch panel, door panels, all of these things were prone to cracking, not that 240s had great interiors but at least the headliners held up. Safely wasn't bad, but in offset collision tests at the time these cars kinda sucked (The VW Vanagon eats through these). I do recall that US turbo tranmsissions didn't get the lock up torque converter, it was too weak for our driving. Volvo did cheapen out the suspension on this model, something to do with the back links I think? Made them more prone to throwing their take out in spritied driving. My 91 740 at 197k was having issues going into reverse, piston slap, tea kettle noises, shot suspension everywhere, rattles galore, no AC, but the turbo still worked. Had terrible power around town (less than my NA 240s) but above 40mph and it'd start moving. Around here they're scarce, by '94 Volvo people had moved on to rust bucket Subarus, while the loyal held on to their discontinued 240s.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Mar 26, 2018

    I've owned a baker's dozen RWD Volvos over the years. The 940 is a 240 with most of the stupid evolved out of it, and 240s have PLENTY of stupid baked into them. Courtesy of being an early '60s design that was never intended to have the sorts of even minimal creature comforts they acquired by end of production. There is simply no universe in which it is cheaper to run a 240 than a 940, it's just a better engineered car all around with a lot fewer built-in dilemmas.

    • See 1 previous
    • Brosaz19 Brosaz19 on May 30, 2018

      @brosaz19 ...for slushbox models.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.