Need input - looking to buy a Volvo

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Aaron and Aimee Ness, Sep 12, 2004.

  1. I'm looking to buy my first Volvo, on the recommendation of my parts guy.
    I'm historically an older VW/BMW guy, but he has owned six 240s over the
    years, and his wife is driving a 740 Turbo. With the third-row seat
    available in the wagons, the Volvo would suit my current needs as well.

    I'm on a budget, and I'm trying to stay in the $3-4k range. My parts guy
    recommends the '88-89 740 Turbo wagon if I can find one. I think a 240
    would be easier to come by (the Lafayette, IN area is nearly devoid of cars
    that are of interest to me - everyone either drives brand new cars or older
    junk like '80-90s Cavaliers and stuff, but there are a few Volvos around).

    If I buy a 240, will I really wish I had a 740? How much nicer is a 740
    than a 240?

    If I buy a 740 NA, will I really wish I had a turbo?

    I understand the jump seats are common are they? I would be
    putting my boys (3 1/2 and 5 1/2) back there, and my new baby in the second
    seat. Are they reasonable for daily use? Are they actually designed to fit
    kids, so I could nix the belt-positioning booster seats? I know there has
    been discussion on the Brickboard about hte third row seats' safety, but
    driving is not a safe activity, and they're probably safer there than in my
    Pathfinder. Someone else will always be on the road in something capable of
    hurting anyone, regardless of their seating position or orientation.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    '88 MR2 NA
    '92 Pathfinder
    '70 Beetle project
    Aaron and Aimee Ness, Sep 12, 2004
  2. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    James Sweet Guest

    Depends what you're looking for, 240's and 740's feel distinctly different,
    240 has a bit more of a basic no frills solid feel, a bit tighter, the 740
    feels more luxurious. Mechanically both are very similar, 240's interior is
    simpler and easier to work on, 740's blower motor is much easier to replace,
    AC is much better, it's a tossup really, just depends which you like better.

    The turbos are much more powerful and tend to come with more options and a
    sportier ride and look. If you have one you may find it hard to go back,
    though the N/A 4 cyl's are impressively powerful for what they are.
    James Sweet, Sep 12, 2004
  3. The 740 and 240 are basically the same size and the same power plant.
    The sheet metal and furnishings are different. On a used Volvo, a turbo
    is a risk. It is the only part of the car that will probably need
    maintenance. Without turbos they are much more reliable. My only bad
    experience in those years was an '84 240 that had a soft cam. After the
    cam shaft was replaced early on, the car was just fine.

    Regarding the 3rd row seat. You may find one at a junk yard. It was not
    a very common accessory.
    Stephen M. Henning, Sep 12, 2004
  4. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    don hodgdon Guest

    If you can, look for a California car. The 740 turbo wagons are plentiful
    out here and it is very easy to find a good clean example. There is a
    beautiful gold '91 down the street that looks like it just rolled out of the
    showroom and the guy only wants $4K for it. I picked off my '89 turbo sedan
    for $1500. The paint isn't pretty, but that's to be expected on a car with
    over 270,000 miles. In the three years I have owned the car I have had a
    tranny mount and a heater hose fail. The rest has been regular or
    preventative maintainence.

    I love my 242 turbo, but it is an older car, requiring a bit more
    maintainence, and not all that comfortable as a daily commuter car. I'm
    building it up to be the ultimate sleeper/rice-eater ;-)

    After owning turbo cars for 3 years now, I don't think I could go back. They
    are fast enough to get me in trouble, get reasonably good mileage and
    insurance is suprisingly inexpensive.

    Good luck on your search,
    don hodgdon, Sep 12, 2004
  5. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    Alex Zepeda Guest

    By and large the 700s are an improvement over the 200s. Two exceptions
    come to mind: the brakes and the interior. The 700/900s are built with
    the cheapest possible interior bits. It's complete crap. The brakes are
    debatable, but I prefer the four piston calipers of the 240s. Having ABS
    on my car doesn't help with the pedal feel either. The 700s/900s use one
    or two piston floating calipers depending on the car.
    If you're looking for something really utilitarian, the 240 is the way to
    go. The seats are what really make the 700s worthwhile for me. Altho
    you'll find plenty of people who find the headrest in the 700s extremely
    If you are okay with driving a Beetle or Pathfinder around, you probably
    won't feel a pressing need for a turbo. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    For reference I paid $2000 for my wagon (and I'm in California where car
    prices are really inflated). Mostly complete service records, non working
    A/C, needed motor and transmission mounts, dome light, driver's window
    regulator. I went ahead and finally threw in new tires, strut rod
    bushings, and Bilstein shocks in the back.
    AFAIK they're not designed as a replacement for a booster seat or what
    have you. I would consider putting the baby in the front seat, and the
    two older children in the rear seat.

    I the end you should drive em and decide which one you like. I miss my
    Alex Zepeda, Sep 12, 2004
  6. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    James Sweet Guest

    I would argue that the interior on a 740 was an improvement over the 240,
    yeah it's more complex and harder to take apart and put together, but it's
    much more luxurious and the plastic parts seem to hold up a lot better. I
    rarely see broken plastics in a 740, but in a 240 those stupid door pockets
    and parking brake covers are *always* broken on the older cars. The C pillar
    covers tend to be quite brittle as well and often snap when removing. One
    real downside of the 700's though is the headliner, when (not if) it starts
    to sag it's a real project to redo, much worse on a sedan.
    James Sweet, Sep 12, 2004
  7. you may want to look at the eBay used 940t & 960 wagons...they are not
    too much $ and not a bad duy for the $$..basic cars w/nice
    features...not too complicated...and can be made to
    you want to throw some
    $$ at them......i guess i would look at 1993-1997's.....or, what ever
    the last year of the 960 wagons were...good luck!!! you wont be sorry
    (imho)...i am an x bmw driver....both the volvos and bmw's are nice there own areas...
    ~^ beancounter ~^, Sep 12, 2004
  8. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    Rob Guenther Guest

    The 900 series has a cheap interior??? I know the 700 series did, some trim
    was falling off our 89 740 by the time we sold it in 1993. But our 960 still
    has leather that looks great, velvet headliner and pillar trim (I've never
    seen a trimmed pillar even in the new ones... they are usually plastic on
    most cars) that is in mint shape, the plastic is durable and good looking -
    not a single crack in any of the plastic pieces, the switches all seem
    pretty serious duty pieces.... The only thing that was junk was the original
    radio.... Considering we never asked much more from it then AM most of the
    time FM some of the time, and tape deck on long trips it wasn't really that
    reliable... But that's all fixed now.

    The interior in our 93 960 looks far superior to many 2004 cars out on the
    market.... The only problem with the trim is one corner of the wood paneling
    is loose, but it's being held in by the other corners... And it squeaks a
    bit over bad roads.
    Rob Guenther, Sep 12, 2004
  9. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    Aleric Guest


    I am also a BMW (&Volvo) guy.

    Other than the good advice posted here on the various models to look for in
    your price range (I'm partial to the 900 series), if it were me, I would
    try to find a year/model that has the newer R134a refrigerant in the A/C
    system. Much cheaper to deal with if the A/C system goes out (which is
    likely on a car of the vintage you are talking about). I don't know when
    Volvo switched over to R134a from R12. BMW switched with the 1993 model

    It's not something people normally think about when shopping for a used
    car, but it should be on the list of things to consider.

    '95 Volvo 944t
    '92 BMW 325iC [with an R12 A/C system :-( ]
    Aleric, Sep 16, 2004
  10. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    The Boss Guest

    It may be worth mentioning that (here in UK, at least) the "third row"
    seats were available as an add-on from Volvo to fit to existing 5-seat
    cars. EBay UK usually has plenty for sale. The kits were different for
    the different (240/740) models of car.
    The Boss, Sep 16, 2004
  11. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    James Sweet Guest

    That's not really much of a concern, the 700/900 series AC system is easily
    converted and works well with R134a, shouldn't cost more than a few hundred
    bucks to have it ressurected and converted assuming the compressor,
    evaporator and condenser are in functional condition.
    James Sweet, Sep 17, 2004
  12. Aaron and Aimee Ness

    James Sweet Guest

    They were available everywhere, they're really only suitable for children
    though, I think the weight limit is 75lbs/person. They also take up the
    entire rear storage compartment and require holes to be cut in the headliner
    and rear floor board. I'm not sure why people want them so much, my mom's
    245 had one that I rode in when I was little, it was cramped on legroom and
    made me seasick to ride facing backwards, much better to get a van or
    something if you need to move that many people on a regular basis.
    James Sweet, Sep 17, 2004
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