Junkyard Find: 1970 Volvo 164

junkyard find 1970 volvo 164

In 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.

Volvo 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.

The 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.

The 164 got a longer nose than the 140, adorned by this British-style grille.

The 164’s interior was much plusher than that of its 140 cousin, but the one in this car was destroyed by fire.

At first, I thought that the fire started when something electrical shorted out behind the dash, as often happens.

But 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.

This is a shame, because this car was fully loaded with the optional leather upholstery and Borg-Warner automatic transmission.

The build tag tells us that the body color is Stålblå Metallic and the upholstery [s]is[/s] was Beige läder.

From 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?

Even 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.

The 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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  • Johnster Johnster on Mar 15, 2022

    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.

  • Gconan Gconan on Mar 21, 2022

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

  • 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.
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