Junkyard Find: 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo Wagon

junkyard find 1995 volvo 850 turbo wagon

When I’m strolling through my favorite junkyards and looking for significant bits of discarded automotive history, I’m always on the lookout for interesting Volvos. Thing is, my definition of interesting has long spanned the PV544/Amazon Era through the Late Rear-Wheel-Drive Brick Era, meaning that the universe of front- and all-wheel-drive Volvos beginning with the 1993 850 has been neglected in this series.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to fill in some of those blank spots in the junkyard record, and so I went out and found a ’97 850R sedan and today’s find: this 1995 850 Turbo Wagon.

Volvo wagon owners tend to hang onto their cars for decades, come depreciation or expensive repairs, and this car stayed in action until nearly a quarter-million miles had passed beneath its tires.

This DOHC, 2.3-liter five-cylinder engine made 222 horsepower when new, making this 3,287-pound wagon good and quick.

American Volvo shoppers couldn’t get a manual transmission in the 850 Turbo Wagon in 1995, though the factory-hot-rod T-5R version could be had with three pedals, one year later.

Remember when factory cassette decks use to be targeted by thieves, and some cars had these maddening radios that required you to input a security code after disconnecting the battery? When I had my last junkyard-parts boombox-building party, we ran into this problem with a Volvo radio from this era. Fortunately, a previous owner had written down the code on the radio’s case.

The MSRP on this car came to $32,345, or about $55,700 in 2020 dollars. The Audi A6 wagon sold for $35,550 that year, the Mercedes-Benz E320 wagon went for $47,500, and the Passat wagon cost $21,320; all of those European competitors had less power than the 850 Turbo Wagon. Meanwhile, the enormous 1995 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon cost just $27,070 and had an underworked V8 generating 260 horsepower. If you wanted to stand out from the rest of the wagon crowd that year, however, you went for the Mitsubishi Diamante wagon, priced at $28,250 and getting 177 horses from its 6G72 V6 engine.

This commercial is for the 850 Turbo sedan, but you get the idea.

The little red sports car has finally grown up.

For links to 2,000+ more of these Junkyard Finds, head to The Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Mar 31, 2020

    Single worst car I ever owned, and I owned a Malibu Maxx and a Sunbird. Every single system on these was crap, from the HVAC to the PCV. I bought it used for $3,200, spent $2,000 on repairs, sold it 10-months later for $1,100, one of the best days of my life.

  • Sikbrik Sikbrik on Mar 08, 2022

    If I had the room, I'd save every one of these. Yes more complex than my 245s, 745s, 965s but definitely a nice comfortable and capable car and, if you gather the necessary items for DIY, they're pretty easy to keep together well past 250k miles.

  • 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.