Junkyard Find: 1983 Volvo 242

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 volvo 242

Volvo built the 200 Series for nearly 20 years and the owners of those sensibly rectangular machines tended to keep them for decade after decade, so I have no problem finding plenty of discarded examples during my junkyard travels despite the last ones rolling off the assembly line in 1993. Most of those machines have been the fourcylinder/ fouror fivedoor cars, though, because more cylinders and/or fewer doors didn’t seem stolid enough for your typical American Volvo shopper. In fact, prior to today, I had documented as many junked 262C Bertones as 242 twodoors (and just a single 264 sedan). Now I’ve found this rusty 242 in a self-service yard between Denver and Cheyenne.

The fender tag shows that it was built at the plant in Ghent, Belgium and that it’s a California-spec car rather than the 49-state model. Just about all the other 240s I’ve found in junkyards were built in Göteborg.

This car may have been sold new in California, but it sure didn’t stay there long. I’m guessing that this 242 spent some time in a Rust Monster-friendly place like Michigan or Maine before coming to Colorado (they don’t use much road salt around here and the single-digit humidity helps slow down corrosion).

Moe’s Broadway Bagel in Boulder has been around since the early 1990s, and I see these stickers on many Front Range junkyard vehicles.

It’s well-traveled, with better than a quarter-million miles on the odometer. I find 240s with more miles, but 263,554 is a respectable final total for the old Swede.

Volvo stopped making the two-door 240 after the 1984 model year, so this car is one of the last ones. While not exactly sporty, the two-door coupe was quite a bit cheaper than the four-door; in 1983 a 240 two-door sedan with manual transmission listed at $10,650 (around $32,265 in 2022 dollars), while the four-door version cost $11,085 ($33,585 now).

If you want to get picky about the official name of this car, Volvo called it a 240 DL when it was in the showrooms; these days, everybody uses the more useful 1975-1979 naming system to describe 200 Series cars. That’s what I’ve done here.

The engine is a 2.0-liter B23, rated at 107 horsepower.

The interior is pretty well beat up, the body is rusty, the odometer shows a scary number, and it has a type of transmission that few are willing or able to drive these days. The local Volvo 240 aficionados have all the projects they can handle, so this car was bound for The Crusher the moment it entered the junkyard ecosystem.

You could get a turbocharged version with 127 horsepower for $16,050 (about $48,625 today).

The 700 Series was supposed to replace the 200 Series, but that never happened. In fact, the 240 stayed in production a year after the 740 got axed.

For links to nearly 2,400 additional Junkyard Finds, check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

[Images by the author]

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2 of 23 comments
  • Heron Heron on Aug 04, 2022

    E30 BMWs will do the same thing. VDO plastic gears turn to butter with time.

  • Stiltson Stiltson on Dec 25, 2022

    Well honestly I just love the idea 💡 of being able to buy a classic 240 volvo, often for less than a 1000$ and putting in a couple hundred dollars worth of parts, and being able to drive it for many years to come. You can get just about any parts locally and affordable for these cars. Sadly there were a few years that had wire harness that some creatures loved to eat. But the electronics on these cars are bulletproof. The engines are legendary, and if you know the secrets of the pvc system, and keep it clean, you will be able to enjoy the car for many years.

  • Stanley Steamer The last pair I bought have elastic cuffs instead of velcro, which I like better. Easier to remove. I tend to wear through the finger tips.
  • FreedMike I'm feeling 100% more rugged just looking at the picture of this rig.
  • Jeff It would not surprise me if this strike lasts a long time. As Lorenzo stated above Ram and Ford are running months of supplies of full size pickups (as much as 100 days) and GM has about as many Silverados and Sierras. Manufacturing plants have been running at capacity and trucks have been piling up on dealer lots. There are also large inventories of Gladiators and Rubicons as well. There will be some vehicles that will be in short supply but I agree that the manufacturers anticipated a strike and prepared for a long strike. I do see a compromise on pay raises but if the UAW holds to reinstate pensions and full health coverage for retirees it will be a long strike.
  • Honda1 I would pay to see Farley get on national tv and tell idiot boy fain to gfh!
  • Manny_c44 I have a 2015 Audi A3 2.0T with 88k miles. I tuned the ecu to put out 320hp at about 60k miles (apr stage 1) and have had it on Michelin Pilot Sport A/S4s for roughly as long. Maybe it's because of fastidious maintenance, cleanliness and low miles/yr but it has never required an out-of-warranty repair. I initially went in expecting problems to crop up, but so far nothing.There are some quirks. You have to remove the front bumper to replace the headlight bulbs (2hrs to change bulbs), the coil pack boots will tear if they are not engine-warmed before replacing spark plugs (torn boot remaining deep in the block), it has always burned oil (top off oil once per 10k mile oil change interval). If you want the Haldex AWD to always be engaged you must keep it in Sport or Manual mode, otherwise it is a passive/response in D. The interior build-quality, grip and the drivetrain are remarkable for the price. It has really been a joy to drive and maintain. I have been, quite frankly, surprised and humbled by the quality of this car. I will likely move on to a TTS or RS3 for heavier steering and a sportier suspension