1986 Volvo 240: Hobbyist Hauler


When Jesse sold his 1972 Volvo 145E rally wagon, I was a bit sad to see it go. Wagons are a fine way to enjoy classic ownership and add some versatility to your vehicle rotation in the process. That’s one disappointing aspect of both of my projects: lack of use beyond just driving them! Now, I don’t mind this predicament, but it would be nice if they could be used to help out with household tasks or other utilitarian duties. Hopefully, the bigger trunk on the 535is will be able to help out on occasion, but there’s also a modern reincarnation of Jesse’s 145E here on craigslist in San Diego and it’s a very clean 1986 Volvo 240 wagon with a manual for $2950.

240cI have fond memories of the 240, a classic Volvo by any stretch of the imagination. My grandmother had strong aspirations of owning a Volvo, and some time in her 70s, she finally bought one. It was a steel gray wagon with the plane-jane hubcaps and a factory roof rack. I even remember the interior, which was a black vinyl with the OEM Volvo rubber floor mats. We took many journeys in that car, visiting nature parks and historic sites all around the lower Hudson Valley. To say this 240 brings back warm memories is an understatement, and that’s another great feature of wagons: pile your friends and loved ones in and go on an adventure!

Of course, an adventure is only fun if you get to where you’re going more than half the time. 240aFortunately, the 200-Series of Volvo wagons and sedans are among some of the most dependable vintage vehicles money can buy. Since it began production in 1974 and didn’t end until 1993, you can bet parts sourcing won’t be a problem either. I saw two fairly mint 240 sedans with perfect interiors and plenty of good bits left to give in a local junkyard this weekend, and the Volvo enthusiast community is one of the best out there. If you’re looking for a quick hit-list of trouble spots, Volvo specialist IPD has developed a great rundown of typical failure points. You might even want to stick around and grab some sway bars while you’re there!

240dThis particular example looks sharp on the Turbo-style Virgo wheels and has the added benefit of being a manual transmission. I’m not saying the 240 with an automatic is slow, but the 5-speed certainly will make it feel livelier. Frankly, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of wagons and trucks with three pedals purely for the experience of driving a big, boxy car as aggressively as you might a GTI – not saying you should, but you’ll likely never go fast enough to do any damage. This particular example appears unmolested with some clearcoat fading its biggest cosmetic sin, and the seller has recently performed a timing belt service and updated the brakes on all four corners. Is there really anything else to do to a 240 besides change the oil? Let us know if you’d take on this wagon project in the comments below.


  1. Jesse Mortensen

    Why do you do this to me Jeff? I’m already missing my 145 and it’s not even gone yet! In fact, I was just thinking yesterday that I should replace it with a 240. Air conditioning and power steering would be nice…

  2. Jeff Lavery

    Oh, come on! Go get it! Great color, too, since most of them are silver or white.

  3. jim s

    yes this would do if everything works. a nice very safe old car, and it has overdrive. i had mine with a diesel and should have kept it. if your credit line is hight this might do, Ebay # 191534389250.

  4. rjc

    I like these wagons, good looking and practical.
    the five speed would make it fun.
    good find.Jeff

  5. Jeff Lavery

    Thanks guys. I hope Jesse finds a way to bring this one home! Maybe he can sell the 122 for some quick spending money…

  6. Cameron Bater UK

    I’ve had two of these in my life since a young age, both were GLT models, as I understand it GLT stood for “Grand Luxe Tourer” and both had the biggest engines which I think was a 2.3 L from which you could get fairly good econemy, my fathers used to do 30MPG when we were going on holiday with the caravan in tow and we used to use it even when we went to the Great Dorset Steam Fair ( http://www.gdsf.co.uk ) and it only became bogged down one year and that was the year that the rain was torrential and, to be honest even the tractors were having trouble.
    His was an early version with the chrome accesories (like bootlid handle, tailgate hinges and door handles, it had the “Export (Blue Tinted) electric door mirrors, M46 and OD gearbox and even though it was produced in the years before we switched over to unleaded petrol it happily continued on with the unleaded stuff as the head was built so well, he used to say that it could burn anything, even mud. Even though I doubt that I still think it would burn any flamable liquid and be happy as a proverbeal Larry.
    The first accident I had in a car was in that 240 – we called him Borris, we wrote off a Toyota Carina (the car that T-Boned us) and took the driver of that Carina to his destination in time for his meeting, I wasn’t driving, I was in the back in my baby seat at the time, alot of good times were had in Borris, unfortunatly he failed his next MOT due to a bannanaed chassis where the Carina hit us and the cost to put him right was far in excess of what he was worth so he was SORN for nearly a decade and a couple of weeks ago we finally finashed parting him and sold the rusted remains to a banger racer.
    Its like the feeling when you see one of those Marsh Mummies though, at some point this was clearly a person but now they’re not quite a person dispite the fact they look sort of like one.

  7. Cameron Bater UK

    It’s only a DL, the value is in the GLT models. Top of the line “Grand Luxe Torturers”

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