Junkyard Find: 1983 Volvo DL Sedan With 327k Miles

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I've been writing about junkyardified cars here at TTAC since November of 2010, when I documented a pair of Fiat 128s in a Denver boneyard. Since then, we've seen plenty of discarded Volvos here, but no Volvo 200 Series four-door sedans!

That's not quite as bad as it sounds, because I wrote about 13 Volvo 240s all residing in the same car graveyard in 2011's Northern California Volvo 240pocalypse article. Half of those cars were 244s. There was a 244 with BMW grille as well, back in 2013, but that piece was about the grille swap and not the car itself.

But still, after so many thrown-away 242s, 245s and 262s honored in individual posts on this site (I've shot a single junked 264 since I started doing this automotive journalist thing, but I wrote it up for another publication), it's time that we did a proper Junkyard Find about that most iconic of brick-shaped Volvos.

I still find discarded 244s all the time, especially when I visit California. That's where I found this '83, at the Moss Landing (near Santa Cruz) Pick-n-Pull.

Now let's talk about what we should call a 200 Series Volvo with four doors, four engine cylinders and a trunk, because some of you are experiencing brain gasket overpressure due to the fact that you saw the title of this article and realized that someone is wrong on the internet.

Volvo came up with a sensibly European system for naming cars with its 140 Series, back in the 1960s. Three numerals; the first indicated the series, the second the number of engine cylinders and the third the number of doors.

This system carried over into the 200 Series, when production of that car began in 1974, with trim level designations added after the model number. All was well for a while, but then Volvo decided that, starting with the 1980 model year, the 200 Series cars sold in the United States would get trim level codes as their model names. Four-door, two-door, wagon, four-cylinder, six-cylinder— it didn't matter.

That means that Volvo called this car the DL Sedan when it was new (starting with 1986, U.S.-market 240s were badged with 240 followed by the trim level designation). Lately I've been trying to use whatever name the manufacturer used for their vehicles when new (even when it's something maddening, e.g., the 1988 Eagle Eagle or most Subarus of the 1980s). So, even though most of us default to the 1975-style nomenclature by calling this car a 244, I'm not doing that here. ¿ Entiendes, Méndez?

The 200 Series Volvos were screwed together pretty well, and many of their American owners love their cars enough to perform regular maintenance and get them fixed when something expensive breaks. This combination of good build quality, simplicity of design and strong owner-car bond means that many 240s rack up impressive final mileage totals before being put out to pasture. This is one of those cars, having averaged 8,186 miles for every one of its 40 years.

The highest trustworthy (as opposed to not-so-trustworthy) odometer reading I've seen in a junkyard vehicle was in a 1990 Volvo 240 DL sedan near Denver: 631,999 miles.

This car has the sixth-highest odometer reading I've seen in a discarded Volvo, after the previously mentioned '90, a 493k-mile 1990 740 Turbo wagon, a 393k-mile 1990 240 DL wagon (1990 must have been a good year at Volvo assembly plants), a 391k-mile 1985 240 DL sedan that goes up on another site any week now and a 338k-mile 1979 245 DL.

Overall this car stands at just 45th in the Murilee Martin Junkyard Odometer Standings, between a 330k-mile 1982 Honda Prelude and a 326k-mile 1996 Honda Accord wagon.

The DL was the lowest trim level for 1983 and this car doesn't seem to have been bought with many options.

No air conditioning, but it does have the automatic transmission, giving it an MSRP that started at $11,475. That's about $36,027 in 2023 dollars. Serious cheapskates could get a base DL two-door sedan with four-speed manual transmission for $10,650 ($44,437 after inflation). Meanwhile, the 1983 BMW 320i two-door with five-speed manual listed at $13,290 ($41,725 in today's money).

If this is the original naturally-aspirated 2.3-liter straight-four SOHC engine (likely but not certain, given the higher-than-average wrenching ability of your typical 21st-century 240 owner and the bonanza of these engines in junkyards nowadays), it was rated at 107 horsepower and 127 pound-feet.

That was acceptable power for a car that scaled in at just barely 3,000 pounds. Yes, they look bulkier than they really are; in fact, the Volvo 200 Series is very similar in size and weight (not to mention general chassis design) to the early Fox Mustang. I would know!

The 200 Series was just about the same car as its 140 Series ancestor from the A pillar rearwards, the main difference being the MacPherson strut suspension on the 200. Some junkyard shopper has purchased a fender from this car, giving us a good look at that suspension.

It has been picked over with the thoroughness I often see on these cars, because there are still plenty of Northern California 240 owners who need parts (plus even more eBay sellers of Volvo parts who prowl these yards).

Volvo began selling the intended replacement for the 200 Series, the 700 Series, as a 1983 model in the United States. As it turned out, the 240 sedan and wagon outlived its immediate successor in the showrooms, remaining available here through 1993. The last member of the 140-derived rear-wheel-drive Volvo Brick Family sold here was the 1998 S90/V90, meaning we got a solid three decades of these cars.

You ride in safety while you ride in comfort… in a Volvo.

Admittedly, the turbocharged version was more fun to drive. In 1983, a new 127-horse GLT four-door with four-on-the-floor manual cost $14,360 ($45,084 now), but Volvo threw in a sunroof on the deal.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

1983 Volvo DL aka 1983 Volvo 244 DL aka 1983 Volvo 240 DL in Northern California wrecking yard.

[Images: Author]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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5 of 16 comments
  • Carson D Carson D on Dec 26, 2023

    The arrival of the second-generation Prius was a black swan event for the Volvo 240 population. It's only gotten worse since. The overlap between the sort of people who drove Volvo 240s and the sort of people who can't be convinced to drive an electric car is barely visible to the naked eye.

    • See 2 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 27, 2023

      The newest 200 series examples were twelve years old in 2005, I think the second or third plus owners couldn't finance a new car in the time period even if they were inclined to the Prius (you have to remember, decent 240s in 2005 were still a song at $1,500-3,500ish). I'm sure there were more than a handful of original and perhaps long time second owners of '86-93 200s who thought, "yes its time for a change" but Volvo's new customer base is/was somewhat well-to-do and most would be on late 90s or early 00s cars by the time XW30 Prius bowed. If you adjusted your argument to say post 2010 I'd agree as it was in the 2012-18 period which saw the denouement of the Volvo 200 series, at least in the junkyards.

  • Redapple2 Redapple2 on Dec 26, 2023

    Please note. The white lettering is still clearly readable on the heater's push buttons. At 14,000 miles and 1y-6mo, it was gone from my lovely, new 1984 Chevrolet. (you ve had time to memorize them dummie)

  • Ras815 Their naming scheme is almost as idiotic as having a totally separate Polestar brand for EVs that look exactly like...de-badged Volvos. But you can tell it came from the same idiocy.
  • Dukeisduke "The EX naming convention is used for the automaker’s new and upcoming EVs, the EX30 and EX90."Only upcoming when they can figure out the software.
  • SCE to AUX I've always said that consumer/business pressures will reign in government decrees, as they have in the past in places like California. That state has moved the goalposts many times for "ZEV" mandates.But the problem is the depth of politicization of the EPA. Mfrs need continuity and long-term commitment to requirements, not living on a 4-year political cycle of who's in the White House and Congress. Your President - whomever that is - isn't going to be around forever.Ironically, backing off the gas means handing a greater lead to Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, (and possibly H/K/G). The whiners have begun heavy investments whose ROI will be extended by years, and their EV sales will reduce even further.It's like the coach granting his players less practice time because they're tired, while the other team stays fit - that's how you lose the game.
  • Dukeisduke The administration is slowly dribbling out details of the change - it's like they don't want to piss off environmentalists, the auto manufacturers, or the UAW. John McElroy covered this very well in today's installment of Autoline Daily: AD #3751 - 2024 U.S. EV Sales Could Grow 43%; China Price War Spreads To ICE; U.S Vehicles Biggest Ever, Also Lowest CO2 - AutolineAlso, even though vehicles in the US have gotten larger, heavier, and more powerful (thanks to the shift away from sedans to trucks and SUVs), according to a year-end report by the EPA, in 2023, average fuel economy was at its highest ever, and CO2 emissions of new vehicles were at their lowest ever ( The 2023 EPA Automotive Trends Report: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Fuel Economy, and Technology since 1975, Executive Summary (EPA-420-S-23-002, December 2023 ).
  • Golden2husky How about real names instead of alphabet/numeric soup?