By on March 14, 2022

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn North America, the Volvo Brick family first appeared with the 140 in the 1968 model year, and the sensibly square Swedes remained on sale here through the last of the S90s and V90s (formerly known as the 960) in 1998. I’ve managed to find junkyard examples of all of these cars, including such oddities as the 262C and 780 Bertone Coupes, but the Volvo 164 has been a tough one; prior to today’s Junkyard Find, I had documented just a single 164. On a recent trip to a snow-coated yard between Denver and Cheyenne, I found another: this scorched and punctured ’70.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsVolvo had built luxury sedans before, if you consider a late-1930s taxicab to be a luxury sedan, but the 164 was the first of the type to be sold on our shores.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 164 was based on the 140, with 3-liter a straight-six engine made by adding two cylinders to the B20 four-banger. This one made 145 horsepower, which was 10 fewer than the 4.1-liter six that went into 1970 Chevrolets.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 164 got a longer nose than the 140, adorned by this British-style grille.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 164’s interior was much plusher than that of its 140 cousin, but the one in this car was destroyed by fire.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, radio - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAt first, I thought that the fire started when something electrical shorted out behind the dash, as often happens.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBut then I noticed that all the glass had been smashed intentionally and that the fender badges had been erased via bullets. I think this Volvo was sitting in a field somewhere in rural Colorado (or southeastern Wyoming, or western Kansas) when bored yahoos killed a case of Four Loko and then destroyed the car with firearms and gasoline.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis is a shame, because this car was fully loaded with the optional leather upholstery and Borg-Warner automatic transmission.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, build tag - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe build tag tells us that the body color is Stålblå Metallic and the upholstery is was Beige läder.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFrom the rear, the 140 connection is more obvious. In fact, a 1993 244 looks very much like this car from a rear quarter view. Why change what works?

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven if this car hadn’t been vandalized so cruelly, it probably wouldn’t have been worth a serious restoration. A near-perfect ’71 sold for $9,500 a few years back, but you’d have spent at least that much on upholstery and bodywork to get an intact-but-worn 164 to look that nice. Most Volvo fanatics would prefer to apply their hard-earned kroner to an Amazon coupe or 1800E.

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 164 was available here from the 1969 through 1975 model years, which means that— very briefly— American Volvo shoppers saw 164s and 240s side-by-side in showrooms.

A civilized car built for an uncivilized world.

[Images courtesy of the author]

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1970 Volvo 164...”


  • avatar
    VeeDub

    Is that huge thing a A/C compressor ? Seems by size a air compressor !

  • avatar
    VeeDub

    Is that huge thing a A/C compressor ? Seems by size a air compressor !!!

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    What happened to the 20 or so photos you used to take of these Junkyard Finds?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Apparently, they don’t last forever.

  • avatar
    BEPLA

    A friend had a 164E (good for 160hp) when I was in the Military – It had been passed to him by his family, who had purchased it new when they were stationed in Germany. It had the manual transmission with electric overdrive. Drove like a powerful little tank despite being 15 years old at the time – far smoother than my old 144S had been. Leather was standard – not an option. The only options were the color, Sunroof, A/C, Electric Overdrive (4 speed manual was standard) or Automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I will never, ever purchase a Toyota. That being said, nice article about the Volvo.

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    These look so much like Rovers of similar era with that grill.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    It’s a shame this thing got toasted and ventilated. I remember seeing these back when they were new, although at the time, I was more impressed by a Chevelle SS454.

    If it were salvageable, it could make a nice twin-turbo LS-swapped drag n’ drive competitor.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Really like the proportions of these with the hood and wheelbase stretch. I think the 164 is the best-looking of all 100/200 series Volvos.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Opulence!

    https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/d/greensburg-1980-pontiac-bonneville-coupe/7457778591.html

  • avatar
    rpm773

    Fire and bullet holes….wow.

    Perhaps, as Murilee proffers, caused by bored yahoos shooting at it in a field…

    …Or perhaps it belonged to a Swedish spy, who met his demise after brokering one too many clandestine deals on the eve of WWIII.

  • avatar
    rpm773

    Fire and bullet holes….wow.

    Perhaps, as Murilee proffers, caused by bored yahoos shooting at it in a field…

    …Or perhaps it belonged to a Swedish spy, who met his demise after brokering one too many clandestine deals on the eve of WWIII.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “In North America, the Volvo Brick family first appeared with the 140 in the 1968 model year,”

    Nope, the 144S came out as a 1967, Murilee. They made them here in Halifax NS Canada as well as Goteborg. Started making Volvos here in 1963:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_Halifax_Assembly

    There were two years of the 140 series with the B18B engine, supposedly the same one they shoveled into the 1800S. and a claimed 115 bhp SAE gross. However, it was a real wheezer in the 144, and a 544 with the B18D 90 hp engine would see it off. Blame an extra 500 pounds of ugly weight.

    I was a college Volvo nut until I drove a 144 in the spring of ’67. It was just a lumbering beast that felt like a 122S with hip-waders on.

    Fun factory tour, though, for an engineering student, and noting the precision door adjustments made with 2×6 planks, leverage and jumping up and down was a treat — Volvo used to accuse other carmakers of just that in the TV ads of the time! Bend that Swedish steel! Quality, yeh. Best-looking girl from my high school class married the Svedish plant manager in Halifax, ya.

    No doubt the B20 which cme along for the ’69 model year was a bit better than the B18. 200 cc of extra go-powah! We hoped that the 164 would give the car a bit of a kick, but considering the 144 was an understeering plonker as it stood, adding two more cast-iron cylinders up front hardly transformed the 164 into a lithe, agile, sporting direction-changer. Two ho-hum cars in a row from the Swedes. Us young ‘uns were not impressed, and that Brick series ended my Volvo fanboyism. They also rusted worse than the 544 and 122S around the front suspension, which at least the 240 corrected.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    My friend’s Dad bought his daughter a 1969 Volvo – the month she was born. He used it sparingly and, as such, she got a nearly new 1969 manual Volvo for her sixteenth birthday in 1986. Many of us learned to drive a stick in that awesome time capsule.

    Ten years later my brother and I did some work for her Dad at his property. In his barn, under car covers, were a Plymouth Superbird and a 1959 Cadillac Series 2 convertible. A serious car guy by any metric.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      My recollection is that the Volvos of this era really did have very nice, easy-to-use, manual transmissions with good shift action and a light clutch. Perfect for learning to drive “stick.”

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        @Johnster

        It was a very forgiving clutch, yes. Light as a feather but with not much power in front of it. The stick shift was fairly tall but it was far more precise than the manual Chevys I’d then driven ( farm trucks, all ). Double-declutching made driving even more smooth but took a bit longer. A great car for teens to learn in. And learn we did.

  • avatar

    that s a treasure but will require alot of work to bring it back to its glory

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I think the restyled “nose” of the 164 was intended to suggest the radiator grill of the MB and I remember the 164 often being compared to the Mercedes-Benz 250 and 280. The 164 wasn’t quite in the same league as the 250 and 280, but they also didn’t cost as much.

  • avatar
    gconan

    By any chance do you recall the name of the yard you found the 164?
    Thanks

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