Volvo began selling its now-legendary brick-shaped sedans and wagons here in the 1968 model year, with the 140, and continued with the rear-driven sensible square Swedes all the way through the 1998 S90/ V90. Of all those cars, though, the most iconic is the 240. The first of the 240s showed up in North America for the 1975 model year, and here's one of them: a 245 DL wagon in a Denver self-service boneyard last summer.
Ever since I began my effort to document some of the interesting machinery that shows up in car graveyards, the quantity of discarded Volvo 240s has remained steady. Back in the late 2000s, I’d had an idea that just about every 240 owner would make the transition from safe and sensible Swedish bricks to green and sensible Japanese hybrids, and that the transition would be wrapped up by the dawn of the 2020s. Such has not been the case, although the 1970s 240s are getting harder to find. Here’s a high-mile 245 in a mile-high junkyard.
Because Volvo made the 200 Series cars well into the 1990s, they were pretty reliable, and 240 owners tend to stick with their cars for decades. I still see plenty of Swedish bricks in the self-service car graveyards I frequent.
In fact, I walk by a dozen or two discarded 240s for each one I shoot, but I appreciate good manual-transmission wagons and high-mile veteran vehicles and this ’90 checks both boxes.
Volvo made the beloved 240 for 19 model years, 1975 through 1993, and the car didn’t change much during that period. By the early 1990s, Volvo had “replaced” the increasingly dated-looking 240 three times, with the 740, 940, and 850, but plenty of buyers were still choosing the ancient brick over the more modern iron. It had to end at some point, though, and 1993 was the last year for these cars.
Here’s a very clean, very high-mile ’93 wagon in a Denver-area self-service yard.
In a Northern California self-service wrecking yard not far from the one in which I found the Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe, I found an example of a first-year Volvo 240 wagon. The 240 didn’t change much during its near-two-decade run, but the very early ones stand out in this setting.
When you’ve got a team of LeMons veterans who have been racing a Volvo 245 wagon since the earliest days of the 24 Hours of LeMons and you want to add a second car to the stable, you’re going to face stern disapproval if that second car happens to be a BMW E30 or a Mazda Miata. Those choices lack imagination! There must be some way to make a Miata fit Bernal Dads Racing’s Volvo-wagon ethos… but what could it be?
The San Francisco Bay Area once had one of the world’s highest Volvo 240 concentrations, but a number of factors are conspiring to send vast numbers of Swedish bricks to The Crusher in recent years. How many? Let’s take a look at the 240 inventory I spotted yesterday at a high-turnover East Bay wrecking yard.
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