Junkyard Find: 1988 Volvo 740 GLE with 403,348 miles

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Volvo sold brick-shaped rear-wheel-drive station wagons in North America beginning in 1968 with the 145 and continuing through the final V90s three decades later. The 700 Series wagons showed up just about in the middle of that era, but tend to be overshadowed by their 245 predecessors today. Today we'll honor the 740 longroof by admiring one that drove past the 400k-mile mark during its career.

This isn't the highest-mile Volvo 740 wagon I've ever found in a car graveyard. That honor belongs to a 1990 740 Turbo wagon with 493,549 miles, spotted at the Oakland Pick-n-Pull back in 2020.

The highest-mile discarded Volvo I've ever documented was a 1990 240 sedan in Colorado with 631,999 miles. After that comes the aforementioned 493k-mile 740 Turbo wagon and then today's steel Swede in the number 3 spot.

Then there's a whole bunch of junked 240s with odometers showing between 300,411 and 393,888 miles, all found in Colorado or California.

I found this wagon in the Pull-a-Part in Charlotte, North Carolina, which I visited on the way to work at the 24 Hours of Lemons race in South Carolina.

I also stopped at the Pull-a-Part in Columbia, South Carolina, later that day. That yard produced a radical reshuffling of the Murilee Martin Junkyard Odometer standings, because it was there that I found a 1996 Toyota Avalon boasting a (Carfax-verified) 949,863-mile final reading on its odometer.

That car knocked the 1990 Volvo 240 out of the top spot by more than 300,000 miles, giving Toyota a second Top Ten car (along with a 583k-mile Camry wagon that rolled off the Georgetown line a month prior to the well-traveled Avalon).

For those of you keeping score, here's the current MMJO Top Ten, which includes three cars built in the United States (the Toyotas and the Nissan), three built in West Germany, two built in Japan and two built in Sweden:

  1. 1996 Toyota Avalon: 949,863 miles
  2. 1990 Volvo 244: 631,999 miles
  3. 1988 Honda Accord: 626,476 miles
  4. 1987 Mercedes-Benz W201: 601,173 miles
  5. 1996 Toyota Camry wagon: 583,624 miles
  6. 1981 Mercedes-Benz W126: 572,139 miles
  7. 1985 Mercedes-Benz W126: 525,971 miles
  8. 1988 Honda Accord: 513,519 miles
  9. 1990 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon: 493,549 miles
  10. 1990 Nissan Sentra: 440,299 miles

Today's Junkyard Find is in 22nd place overall, between a Honda CR-V and a Nissan Stanza.

The Volvo 700 Series was born with the 760 sedan in 1982, with that car first showing up in the United States as a 1983 model. The more affordable four-cylinder 740 appeared here as a 1985 model, and a wagon version arrived in showrooms late in the model year.

The 700 Series was supposed to replace the 200 Series, but things didn't work out that way. Instead, the final year for the 740 was 1992, while its more primitive but much-beloved ancestor stayed in production through 1993.

To be fair to the 700 Series, its 900 Series successor was a 700 under the skin, and that car stayed in production long enough to get within shouting distance of the 21st century.

This car has a naturally-aspirated 2.3-liter SOHC straight-four engine, rated at 114 horsepower and 136 pound-feet.

This one has the four-speed automatic transmission, which meant its MSRP was $23,570 ($63,627 in 2024 dollars). Meanwhile, American Volvo shoppers in 1988 could buy a new 240 DL wagon with the same powertrain for $17,620 ($47,565 after inflation).

This car looks rough in its current condition, but that's because junkyard shoppers have been yanking parts off it for a while. The body and interior look to have been in good shape upon arrival at Pull-A-Part, and the original owner's manuals are still inside.

You don't get to 400,000 miles by abusing and/or neglecting a car, and this one's owner or owners treated it well for many years.

It may have been a running trade-in that proved impossible to sell due to the scary numbers on the odometer. We'll never know.

If you're going to spend a lot of money on a new car, don't get a Toyota or Buick. Get a Volvo 740!

Volvo USA pushed the turbocharged version of the 740 wagon hard during the late 1980s.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon in North Carolina junkyard.

[Images: The Author]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

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.

More by Murilee Martin

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 32 comments
  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Apr 29, 2024

    Really enjoy seeing these loyal survivors. The listing seems to prove the adage that the person who owns the car is more important than the make or model of the car when it comes to long term service/reliability.

  • Spamvw Spamvw on Apr 29, 2024

    Nice to know I've broken into the top 10.


    478000 yesterday, but it's digital odo so there will no pics when it goes to it's final resting place.


    As I've said before, since the computer brain reads in KM's it will stop at roughly 620k.


    I've been told that there are VW folks who can reset it. But I'm guessing rust will take the unibody by then.


    Sam

    '02 TDI Jetta Wagon (grey) (manual)



  • Redapple2 34 yr in Michigan salt?
  • Mike-NB2 Zero. Not interested at all. I often don't have my phone with me, and if I do, I completely ignore it. Unless it were to catch fire, of course. But I'm old, so that has to be taken into account too.
  • Urlik It’s only important to me for navigation. OEM’s do Nav all wrong and charge for the privilege. While once they charged big money for map updates, they charge subscriptions for the privilege of a worse Nav than you have on your phone.The other stuff mirroring brings is mere gravy.
  • Rna65689660 Zero interest
  • Redapple2 1- bad quality reputation and dealer horror stories make a VW purchase not happening.2- 1.5 turbo in my driveway is something I d be leery of every hour of ownership.
Next