By on July 16, 2018

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexVolvo made 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.

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexIn fact, the 240 was based on the even more ancient , being more or less the same car from the A pillars back, and much of the 140’s chassis design came from the antediluvian . You could say that the 1993 240 is based on designs from the 1950s or 1960s, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, odometer - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexSomeone took very good care of this one over its lifetime, putting better than 12,000 miles on it every year over a quarter century. There’s no rust, the interior looks great, and the paint is less faded that what you’ll see on a lot of 10-year-old cars.

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, timing belt sticker - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexChanging the timing belt at 256,500 miles, because it’s due, shows the kind of dedication to maintenance you don’t see with most owners of older cars. Sure, it’s a non-interference engine and the timing belt may have been replaced after it broke, but I’m betting it was done because the maintenance schedule said so.

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexThe final 240 had 114 horsepower from its 2.3-liter engine. These cars weighed a lot less than their bulky profiles might suggest; the 1993 wagon scaled in at just 3,051 pounds. That’s 150 fewer pounds than a 1993 Mustang GT.

Volvo got rid of the “245” name for these wagons after 1979.

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, front seats - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexI see these days, but their numbers are decreasing.


Are you considering a minivan for your family? You might as well stuff your kids into a wood chipper!

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62 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1993 Volvo 240 Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Kind of Jeep Cherokee(esque) from some angles. These were very popular with the elbow patch crowd back in the day.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    That looks like the VW/Audi 5 cylinder engine.
    And yes, get the kids, put the dog in the back, and slap on the “Coexist” and “Visualize Whirled Peas” stickers.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Exactly. My cousin, SAHM spouse of a Wash DC mid level bureaucrat had one very much like this. I believe the school that her kids attended had a fleet of them in the teacher lot also.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      It certainly does resemble to the VW/Audi 5. They were developed at the same time and were meant for the same market (upmarket sedan). Both of them lean slightly to help them fit under the hood (OHC valve train makes the engine taller than the older style pushrods and rockers). Volvo worked with Porsche on the cylinder head design in the early 1970s, probably a lot of the same people who designed the VW/Audi engine.

      The guts inside have a lot in common too- the valve tappets are inverted buckets and you adjust them with removable shims of varying thickness, they’re both iron block + aluminum head. I can’t remember if the VW/Audi engine had the cam riding in the head like the Volvo (the Volvo cam did not use replaceable bearing shells; it just didn’t need them) or if it had a third shaft for the fuel pump and distributor like the Volvo engine (sort of an artifact from where the camshaft was in the predecessors of this engine). Both of them have really nice intake and exhaust manifolds, something that U.S. carmakers hardly ever did in the 1970s (they didn’t have to and it was less expensive to make performance with more displacement).

      The first water cooled VW/Porsche engines in the early Rabbits and 924s had this heritage too.

  • avatar
    Boff

    I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars, for some reason. Would have loved a turbo wagon. Back in ’91 or so my stepmother was looking for a new car and we test drove a 240. I vividly remember how stiff the ride was and how austere everything seemed. The car was also pretty slow. She eventually chose an Acura Legend (good choice).

  • avatar
    Boff

    They had a great magazine ad in that era with the tag line saying something like “some car makers still believe in rear wheel drive” and it had a stack of pics of various race cars then the 240.

    *EDIT* found it https://www..ca/pin/395894623465805318/

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      It was funny how they could make statements like that, and then turn their back on them. First they said that a live axle was good enough, and then introduced cars with IRS. They then said that rear-wheel-drive was good enough, then released the 850, with FWD.

      • 0 avatar

        AMC in 1963 “The only race we care about is the Human Race”
        AMC in 1968 “look at our cool Javelin and AMX race cars!”

        Subaru said AWD was so important all their cars have it standard and then make the BRZ sports car.

        Chevy with Aluminum trucks, or whatever they’re doing.

        It happens all the time, only matters if it sells cars today!

  • avatar
    Nukester99

    I had a 1986 light metallic blue with a stick. I LOVED that car. I bought a V70 to replace it and it had no soul. I would buy another 245 in a heart beat if I could find one in good condition.

  • avatar
    vvk

    My favorite car ever. These are tremendously good cars. I drove one of these, a 1988 with a stick, to Alaska and back. Wonderful car!

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    That looks salvageable. Sadly, it will not be.

  • avatar
    ernest

    300,000 miles isn’t “high miles” for these cars. I’ve seen a few with well over 500,000 that still are in daily service. (Portland seems to be the capital of older Swedish Bricks and Mercedes W123’s).

    My wife had a ’87 240GL Wagon. To this day, one of her favorite cars.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      College roomie had a 740? sedan with close to 700,000kms on it and I always called him crazy for using it to commute back to his home town almost every weekend which was over 2 hours each way. Car never skipped a beat and he drove it for years afterwards too.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      300k is only less than 1/3rd of a Irv Gordon 1800ES.

      This one still looks salvageable or convert it to a Volvo Camino.

    • 0 avatar
      BrickDad

      What is amazing is that the odometer kept working. I have a 91 240 that has indicated 187K miles for the last 10 years. My 92 945T stopped counting at 291K. The most remarkable thing about these cars is that they can sit for over a year and then fire up immediately when cranked.

      • 0 avatar
        ClayT

        Yeah, the odometer gears are made of atmosphere soluble plastic in those.

        Aftermarket gears are available, and not too difficult to replace. I tried taking a gear out of a junkyard speedo to use in mine, but it crumbled to dust soon as I touched it.

        The ’83 I bought in ’95 had 190k on it. Odometer gave up soon after I bought it. Drove it 15 years and another (est) 200k.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    My first car was an 84′ (I believe, might have been 82′) GLT turbo wagon. Very clean with the cool OEM Volvo 5 spoke rims. (I wish I payed closer attention to details back then), but I had the car for something less than 2 years and lost her after being rear ended by an Olds 98 at high speed. That Olds 98 no longer resembled an automobile and I drove my 240 home that day after the wrecker pulled our cars apart, replaced the taillights and continued to drive it for a few months.

    It may just be nostalgia, but I have fantastic memories of that car. It was high mileage, about a decade old by the time I got my hands on it, but was loaded, leather. Previous owner put a high end Alpine stereo in it. The car was a manual transmission, 4 speed technically, but had what was essentially a 5th gear in the form of an overdrive button on top of the shift lever. Push clutch in, press button and you are in 5th. Slept off many a high school party in the cavernous cargo hold that was just longer than 6 feet and layed completely flat. Cargo hold had secret compartments for hiding my underage alcohol habit.

    RWD, pretty quick for the day. Wish I had it back, I credit that car for what developed into my enthusiasm for automobiles from then on.

    • 0 avatar
      WestoverAndOver

      Gamper: I had an ’83 GLT sedan, white exterior with blue velour interior, crank sunroof, same killer 5 spoke OEM wheels, and that same 4 speed manual transmission with bizarre pushbutton overdrive. That is “the one that got away” in my automotive catalogue. I bought it in ’94 and sold it in ’97. Also, I slept a few off in it myself and wished it had been a wagon on those nights.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        *sigh*

        There was nothing bizarre about the overdrive. You were just born in a different time and place. The ones used on Volvos were very common on millions of British cars in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s (look up de Normanville overdrive) and almost as many were put on American cars in the 50s and 60s, just without the button (look up Borg Warner overdrive).

        • 0 avatar
          WestoverAndOver

          So you think it is perfectly normal that Volvo still used that setup in 1983? Also, where and when was I born?

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          @Jim: It may have been common at some point, but I have never driven a car with anything like it before or since. Sort of a neat feature. Keep in mind that was my first car and it was already 10 years old, so a bit of a throwback perhaps.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Throwback… that’s just the right word for it.

            @Westover- you sound like where and when you were born these things were uncommon.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        @ West: Yeah, great car. I have a feeling though if you got we were able to drive it again, the novelty would wear pretty quick and may realize we are much better served by our current rides. Still, was a sweet ride for a 16 year old.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’m kinda surprised that someone hasn’t rescued this one. It’s a prime candidate for the Paul Newman/David Letterman treatment (a Windsor 5.0 swap).

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      A modular V8 such as Ford used in numerous Crown Vic taxis would give a nice power bump and still run forever. And I bet it would be lighter than the tractor motor that originally powered it.

      Truth be told that original motor would probably last even longer, though, but we’re talking glacial time at this point. I still see lots of these in Chicago where winter should have finished them off long ago.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    Nice cars for LS swaps, even the wagons only weighed 3000lbs

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Mea Culpa. During their heyday, I derided these vehicles as ‘spartan, bland and teachers cars’.

    In retrospect, their advocates were right and I was wrong. While I purchased and drove vehicles like domestic PLC’s and full size vans and a 1st generation Explorer, these soldiered on and provided yeoman service.

    Whoever owned this vehicle truly deserves our respect for the care they took of it. The upholstery looks almost new. The paint still appears to be in decent shape. The carpet has no rips or tears or salt stains. The headliner is still in place.

    These are the types of vehicles that I most enjoy seeing in Murilee’s posts. Loyal, faithful, unsung ‘family haulers’.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I wonder what finally croaked on this car? The general condition and evidence of maintenance suggest it must have been something big in order for the owner to give up on it.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Agreed. This car was a labor of love no doubt, and like 30 fetch I really do wonder what could have happened that the owner walked away? With that much heart put into the car, I can’t imagine even a transmission going out would dissuade such a committed owner.

      I bet you that red paint would REALLY pop after a bit of orbital polishing.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m guessing the owner either died or had to go to assited-living and the family just dumped it for the easiest cash possible over dealing with CL wierdos.

        It probably made it to the boneyard under its own power.

        It’s what happened with my grandfather’s Ford LTD.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Save the hood brackets, I might need em!

    For me these will always be the last good Volvos, the 7-9 series suffered from cheaper interiors and the 850 was simply rushed and under done, eventually morphing into the worse S70.

    I hope this ine gets picked over, the tailights and many other bits are in decent shape still.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    TTAC,
    Your smoking, sputtering, corroded, crab-walking jalopy of a website belongs in the wrecker yard next to this Volvo. Except the Volvo is more modern, more reliable, and more predictable.

    Multiple login attempts, endless page loading “Connecting to api.finance.yahoo.com”, http://www.ttac.com no longer works, etc.

    To the Crusher!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I feel bad for the owner, something made this car die and unless the driver did as well, he or she has the sad task of replacing something they do not make anymore. Do you buy another one or would that be cheating on this one??? I doubt they will just buy something new and say it is better in every way.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    These cars are the epitome of car culture putting total junk up on a pedestal.

    I had to suffer with one (a 91 model) growing up. The A/C was weak, the cabin electronics would overheat, it was scary in the winter, and most of all it broke down on a weekly basis with everything from faulty wiring to a bad transmission.

    On the side, the neighbor’s Caravan that often came to our rescue was a significantly nicer (and more reliable) vehicle in every regard.

  • avatar
    gtem

    These were absolutely everywhere in Ithaca when I was going to high school 2004-2007. Popular hand-me downs and they lent themselves well to going to music festivals, camping, mountain bike hauling, etc. They could go down a rutted forest access road and not worry about getting damaged or disabled. A local indie shop always had a lot full of them, including a used cars for sale area. With some snow tires they got around Ithaca’s hilly just fine for the most part. They have thinned out substantially since I last lived there unfortunately. Time marches on, no matter how overbuilt they might be.

    I really like them, I just wish they were more common with manual transmissions. A durable and repairable old thing (note, not necessarily “reliable” in a Toyota sense).

  • avatar
    bunkie

    The 240 was really just a revision of the 140 series which arrived in 1968.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    These were great cars. I had a friend whose parents had one of these–rough riding but built like a tank. Agree these were the last of the really good Volvos.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    It’s hip to be square.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Funny thing about comparing these with the Fox body Mustangs, both cars’ suspensions were designed the same way and had all the same features, for better or for worse- MacPherson struts on the front with sway bar, live rear axle with a sway bar and Panhard rod (among other things this cuts down on wheel hop, something the Volvo was in no danger of doing, but it also helps in the snow). Fairly sophisticated although not state of the art in the early 1980s, but does the job quite well under almost all conditions (especially if you invest in Blistein shock absorbers instead of cheap ones). A lot of contemporary RWD cars didn’t have all of those bits and pieces in their suspensions.

    The Volvo’s suspension was designed to get around on anything from improved roads (dirt), windy roads in hill country, or freeways, all in good or bad weather.. The Mustang’s was meant to get around on paved roads of all kinds and still provide sharp handling in an affordable pocket rocket.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I had an ’80 DL sedan with the 4+OD manual trans. An absolute tank, but Volvo specialist mechanics are way pricey.
    Best memory- tooling around a rectangle-blocked suburban neighborhood with a couple of inches of snow on the pavement. That old Slovo had a crazy-far steering lock like a drift car, and I could fishtail out of a corner and hold the slide at about 45 degrees all the way down the block. At the next corner I would snap the car back the other way and hold the tail out the opposite side for the entire next block. Lather, rinse, repeat. It had no power whatsoever so this sort of fun could only happen in the snow, but wow was it fantastic fun.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I owned a couple of these back in the day. Each had a 2.0 engine with 4 speed manual. Very reliable, very warm and wonderful to drive on snow, but had mediocre acceleration, lousy fuel economy (by Euro standards, the 4-speed didn’t help), and of course rusted away like most 1980s cars.

    As the cars didn’t have any emissions equipment (we environmentalist Europeans didn’t need no stinkin’ catalytic converters until 1994), the engines were incredibly simple and easy to service, with very few vacuum lines and such. They were essentially slightly modernized 1950’s designs. The downside was that the motors needed a lot more attention than modern ones to keep them running nicely – breakers and SU variable venturi carbs were used up until the mid-1980s.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Speaking of the environmentalist Europeans…I remember when Italy banned leaded fuel. This would have been some time around Y2K. My friend scrapped his Alfa and got a road bike that cost like 4 times what the car had and rode it all over Southern Italy. I am amazed he lived through it.

  • avatar
    7402

    I had an ’85 that finally died due to a combination of road salt and salty beach sand. Only failure in the first 200k miles was the kick-down cable on the automatic transmission, which the transmission specialist told me was a unit sourced from Toyota.

    I replaced it with a ’91 740 Turbo wagon which was a much, much better car.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “… the transmission specialist told me was a unit sourced from Toyota.”

      They were, in a roundabout way. It was probably an Aisin-Warner unit, license- built in Japan and based on the old Borg-Warner 35 three speed automatic. There were lots and lots of derivatives of the BW35 from the 1960s through the 90s and they ended up in all kinds of different cars, typically attached to engines about 3.0L and smaller.

  • avatar
    Keith_93

    I owned two 240 sedans, an 84 & a 92. Loved ’em – they had that safe as houses feel about them.

    Good condition 240s (which of course are getting rarer) still command a price and have a loyal following.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Who’s gonna save it?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    they’re boxy but they’re good

  • avatar
    miketangolima

    I remember these cars had a white sticker “Assembled in Halifax” on a window, at least on the Canadian-sold cars, not sure if it was the same for US-bound Volvos.

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    Our family had the same car growing up. I think it was an 87 or 88 model year, they bought it not too long after my sister was born in March 1987. Ours was that same bright red, automatic but with tan vinyl seats and crank windows. Dad was always a cheapskate. Things I remember about that car.

    1. Mom getting it stuck in the parking lot dropping me off at daycare, pretty big snow storm for TN. That particular parking lot was kind of down in a hole, you had to drive up basically a 20 or 30% grade to get back to the road. I still drive by that building every time I see them.

    2. Getting sick and barfing all over the place while riding in that backwards facing 3rd row seat.

    3. It always being hot in the summer. Don’t know if it was all that glass area, burning your legs on that hot vinyl seat, burning your hand on the metal seat belt buckle, or if the A/C sucked. Probably all of the above.

    4. Them trading it in after 2-3 years because of some sort of electrical problem, maybe it was the fuel injection, I don’t know. I remember riding around in it with the dash torn apart and the gauge cluster missing. Car was a total lemon for them, it went back to the dealer 4 or 5 different times for the same problem according to my dad. They swore off Volvo for life because of that car.

  • avatar
    qwerty100

    I owned an ’83 240 sedan, and now own a ’94 940. Both are excellent cars, though despite love and nostalgia to the contrary, the 940 is the better of the two, with many improvements over the 240.

    The engine pictured is not the 5 cylinder, but the venerable B230 red block, which I suspect is fully capable of doubling its mileage with no rebuild.

    While not perfect, these cars represent a high water mark for quality and long term durability seldom or never seen today.

  • avatar

    I know this is an old post, but I had to share quick. I’m sitting here in our Volvo showroom and an older fellow just gave the thumbs up to his timing belt replaced for it’s 2nd scheduled time. It was due back on 210k and he’s up to 234k. Real world example, Volvo customers are amazing folks. This guy was just slacking in waiting an extra 2 years.


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