What's wrong with Volvo (the Redux)

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Jamie, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    My diatribe got a little long, but dang did I get some VERY good
    information from everyone. There is so much f'ing knowledge here that
    it got me thinking.

    I own an 87 740 GLE. That's all I really know hands-on about Volvo
    firsthand. I know from reading a lot about 200's and also I hear a lot
    of complaints from newer Volvo owners.

    That being said, I'd like to see if we can apply some of the talent
    here in a constructive way. I'd love to bash Ford/Volvo all day long,
    but my drive tells me there is a time for bashing (to identify a
    problem) and a time for having the "can-do" attitude.

    So, let's play pretend. Pretend Ford/Volvo really had a human being who
    really wanted to hear how Volvo owners think they can better the
    product. God I wish this wasn't pretend.

    To keep it simple, let's break Volvo down into 4 major parts: Chassis,
    Engine/Drivetrain, Accident avoidance( electronic stability control,
    all wheel drive, etc.) and Electronics.

    By breaking it down into parts, we can evaluate the parts and determine
    how to "rebuild" the car. What's good and can stay, what's bad?

    1- Chassis: Is today's Volvo as accident worthy as its predecessor?
    There are many models. But, would you feel as comfortable being
    involved in an accident in today's Volvo as you would in your older
    model? Airbags aside -- simple construction here.

    2- Engine/Drivetrain: I know this is broad, but do the mechanics of the
    engine and tranny lead you to believe it can go the 200,000 + miles?

    3- Accident avoidance: Has technology improved the safety of Volvo, or
    has it been a case of failed experimentation?

    4- Electronics: 80's Volvo had faulty engine wiring harnesses, and
    granted things were simpler. Are electronics in today's Volvo just a
    bug-ridden nightmare? Are they like Windows 95 - needing to evolve into
    something better? Are they worthy?

    Bonus question: If you could substitute another automaker's product
    into one or more areas of your Volvo - what would you use and where?

    Anyone want to attempt to rebuild Volvo?
    Jamie, Aug 3, 2006
  2. I have had most every model of Volvo from the 122 to the XC70.
    It is much safer to have an accident in a newer Volvo but that means the
    Volvo will sustain more damage. That is the nature of the animal.
    Each model had it's problems. I had a 240 that had a soft cam. I had
    another 240 that had transmission problems after 120K miles. I also had
    an 850 that had transmission problems after 120K miles. I would never
    want to give up my 850 or V70 to go back to one of the 240s. The FWD
    models are much better built and have low emissions by design, not by
    The handling of the FWD Volvos is much more precise than the RWD Volvos.
    The RWD Volvos were fun to drive, but the body lean was out of control.
    I was lucky and never got one of the buggy Volvos. I also haven't heard
    of those problems showing up on the FWD models.
    I have driven many other makes of vehicle and haven't found anything I
    would want. My idea of a perfect car is one with geartronic and no
    leather and no sunroof. My 1800E was the most fun to drive, but the 850
    comes close and is a much better vehicle. The 1800E had severe rust
    problems and was always having fuel leaks.

    I do have a pet peeve:

    I wish the cruise in my '95 850 was as good as the cruise in the '93 850
    or '01 XC70.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 3, 2006
  3. Jamie

    dh Guest

    I'd like them to bring back the 240. Especially the wagon. We had two
    wagons and thought they were almost the perfect car. Rugged, simple, light,
    decent fuel economy, easy to repair. They hold 5 passengers and a big stack
    of stuff. We traveled as a family of 6, two car seats and luggage with the
    third seat option. Our oldest child, stuffed in the optional third seat in
    the rear, probably wasn't as comfortable as he would have liked. :). It
    had an astonishing turning radius (unbelievably easy to park) and great
    capability on snow (thank you, limited-slip differential).

    They were lacking in reliability. Although the tranny and engine seemed
    bulletproof, the electrical parts should have been studied and improved over
    time but I think Volvo coasted a bit. Luckily, they were easy to repair
    (simple and plenty of room under the hood). Putting extra electrical bits in
    them as options (like electric windows) was not a plus.

    Volvo should bring back the 240 wagon. 180 -190 inches long, and keep it
    narrow and a little tall, just like the old one. The weight was perfect at
    3100lbs. Put in a well-designed, rugged, 4-banger (you'll probably have to
    go to VVT, do it right, buy the engines and transmissions from Toyota, if
    you have to) and 5-speed (manual or auto) and keep the features to a
    minimum. Build the perfect basic car. Improving the fuel economy a bit
    would be nice; aim for 30+ mpg on the highway. Rake the windshield just a
    bit more, make the front and sides a bit more slippery, curve those formerly
    flat side windows and make them more flush. Skip the rain gutters, too, I
    guess, but add a decent roof-rack system, perhaps a hideaway mounting system
    like on the '96 to '00 Toyota Rav4s would be good, no drag when the roof
    rack is taken off. Pay some attention to the under-car aerodynamics. One
    muffler would be enough, thanks. Add some tie-downs and cargo-net/cage
    things in the wayback. Volvo could bring back the crazy third-seat option,
    too. One ton tow capability.

    The list of things it should NOT have is long. No low-profile tires! No
    8-way speaker system! No CD changer under the seat; the stereo is limited
    to whatever fits in a slot in the dash! No in-window antenna! No
    integrated nav system! No electric windows! No automatic or electronic
    climate controls! No fade-in/fade-out lighting! No power seat (but keep the
    manual lumbar adjustment)! No power mirrors (although the interior handles
    that wiggled the outside mirrors were great, bring those back)! OK, OK, the
    heated seats were nice... but they're expendable, too! Nothing automatic,
    everything that can be turned on or off or adjusted up or down should be
    directly adjustable. Keep the computers to a minimum.

    15 inch wheels (vs the old 14s) would probably be an improvement. Make sure
    that the defroster vents will push HOT air onto the windshield near the
    base, to help keep ice clear in bad conditions. Cruise control is probably
    a necessity. Fog/driving lamps would be helpful. Do bring back the rear
    "fog lamps" feature. There probably shouldn't be any options at all. Build
    it just one way and get it right. The customer can choose the color.
    That's it.

    I don't know whether or not it should have a turbo option for those that do
    need more power but many of us could live without it. Come to think of it,
    the current Toyota 2.4L I-4 VVTi engine would probably be powerful enough,
    with its 156 or so hp. I think the old turbo 240s, which were fast enough,
    only had 168hp, anyway. 156hp is certainly more than I'm used to (the
    non-turbos we had provided just 114hp). A new 5-speed auto would also be
    one more gear than we're used to. If it saves money, Volvo could skip the
    provision for a manual transmission. Actually, if Volvo used a new Toyota
    engine, which I'd expect to be more efficient than the old B230F, went to a
    5-speed with a fairly tall fifth gear (1800rpm at 55, maybe lower), did
    refine the body aerodynamics a bit and kept the weight to 3100lbs, I would
    think 30+mpg should be achievable and I don't think 34mpg on the highwway
    would be too much of a stretch. We used to routinely get 28mpg on the
    highway at a pretty good clip and ours had a pretty draggy roof rack. A
    diesel might be a possibility, too.

    Target price of $20K. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I'd probably be willing
    to pay more.
    dh, Aug 4, 2006
  4. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    I like this way of thinking. It would be cool if Volvo release a
    retro-240. Keep the basic wagon style, with a little modern sculpting.
    Give it the "go" it needs with out all the fancy show.


    Ford is having much success with the neo-retro Mustang. Do it with a
    Volvo? Sure!
    Jamie, Aug 4, 2006
  5. Jamie

    John Horner Guest

    Never going to happen. Volvo intentionally ditched the safe and
    practical market the 240 served in pursuit of the fashionable and
    trendy. We will never see the likes of the old Volvo again.

    Maybe a Chinese or Indian company will pick up on the idea and build
    such a thing!

    John Horner, Aug 4, 2006
  6. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Well, it sure would be nice if they would bring back the 240 and market
    it like the Toyota Scion, or Focus. Give it the bare bones to keep the
    price low, with Volvo style and safety.
    Jamie, Aug 4, 2006
  7. They can't because the 240 wouldn't pass side impact tests. That was
    the main challenge in designing the 850 was to add maximum side impact
    protection with minimum additional door thickness. They were still
    selling 240s in Mexico for a while because they didn't care.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 4, 2006
  8. Jamie

    DH Guest

    That's what I was told in '94, although the 900 series was one of the

    When I say "bring back the 240," of course I don't necessarily mean the
    original car, warts and all. It's the concept. Basic, no-frills, reliable,
    rugged, simple. Update it as necessary and treat it like the old VW beetle;
    plan to keep it unchanged except for engineering improvements, for a good
    long time. You'll notice I didn't ask for the B230F to be brought back into
    production. As good as that engine was, I think we'd all be happier with a
    more contemporary motor, especially if it could wring more power out of it
    for it's weight and size and more miles out of a gallon of gas.

    And if it looked very similar to the original, it might entice the original
    purchasers back, too.
    DH, Aug 4, 2006
  9. This would require the development of an entirely new vehicle. No
    company is likely to go to that expense to satisfy a few retro-grouches
    who want old Volvos. ;-)

    (The 242 GT is one of my favourite cars.)

    Espressopithecus (Java Man), Aug 4, 2006
  10. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Guys, here is where I think Ford might (I can't believe I am saying
    this), be able to lend a hand with Volvo. (sigh).

    God bless the old 200's. They will never be what they were -- accept
    that fact. Now, here goes. I am sure that Ford/Volvo can build a
    shell (chassis), that looks like the 240, but modernized (just a bit)
    to bring it to date. They can put airbags and all that jazz. But
    underneath it all find a proven and tested engine and drivetrain.

    See where I am going. Look at the PT cruiser. The Mini, the T-bird and
    the mustang. Don't think too deep into the guts of the old 200, I am
    talking about a new car, wrapped up in what looks like the new,

    I hate to say disguise it as a 240, but that's basically what it would
    be. Something new and unique that looks like a newer version of the
    older 240 wagon and/or sedan.
    Jamie, Aug 5, 2006
  11. Jamie

    Duke W Guest

    Seen the new C30? Hmmmm....
    Duke W, Aug 5, 2006
  12. Jamie

    Sakari Ailus Guest

    It's required to pass certain tests so that a car can be sold, I
    suppose? Personally I don't care too much about test results. And
    why's that?

    According to the latest statistics (2004) here in Finland Volvo 240 is
    still one of the safest cars around. It places 6th or so from 164
    models measured as injures / 10 million km driven. Not new, even
    bigger cars fare better, with the notable exception of 1998 Opel
    Zafira (who could have guessed?), 1995 Saab 900, Volvo 940 (700 series
    included?) and 2000 Volvo S60. But *not* any of S40, V40 or even V70

    Of course how the people drive is affected by the car and vice versa.
    But as a whole airbags or anything else invented since 1974 doesn't
    seem to be helping much.

    The exact figures can be found here, from table 13 on page 104.
    "Rlask" is what you'll be looking at. That's in Finnish, of course.


    I suppose similar statistics have been made in other countries.
    Applicability abroad is of course limited, due to the winter
    conditions here, for example.
    Sakari Ailus, Aug 5, 2006
  13. Jamie

    dh Guest

    No, I haven't. By the 'C', I would guess coupe or convertible?

    dh, Aug 5, 2006
  14. Jamie

    hjsjms Guest

    Not apparent is what you expect to get from this thread - please
    explain. Comments inserted.

    I don't know how much knowlege about fucking there is on the Volvo
    forum, but I'm glad the very thought of it got you to thinking about

    Not much of a base of knowlege. I've owned Volvo's before and after
    that and currently own two of them. There is not a car around that
    will not break down or need repairs at some point. That's why all car
    dealers have repair departments.

    Please tell us why you would likle to bash Volvo all day long since
    your only experience is with a 20 year old car. BTW, I also owned a
    1987 GLE and loved it. Fine reliable car.

    Also, please tell us just exactly is a "can do attitude" and who
    exactly is supposed to have this presumably desirable attribute. (In
    my experience it is a phrase that first the military then an army of
    consultants wore out long ago)

    What makes you think that Volvo doesn't pay attention to "valid"
    customer complaints. Without a doubt the V70 wagon is a better produce
    than it's 240 counterpart of 25 years ago. So in my experience Volvo
    does listen.

    Without a doubt the newer cars are better.

    200,000 miles is a very low threshold for almost any car made today.
    All that is required is that the owner perform all maintenance as
    scheduled, change fluids ahead of schedule and fix problems as they
    One avoids accidents by driving in a safe manner and watching out for
    the idiots around you.

    Systems designed to provide driver and passenger safety don't allow one
    to avoid accidents - they minimize the damage of accidents in process.
    Vehicle control systems like ABS, STC, DSTC, etc., reduce the chances
    of a driver getting in trouble when driving beyond what common sense
    would dictate in a given condition. They all work for the most part.

    No. Quite reliable in my experience. What would make you think they
    I would probably substitute Toyota pricing.
    hjsjms, Aug 6, 2006
  15. You would guess wrong. It is a 2-door hatchback. It will be
    introduced on September 28.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 6, 2006
  16. Jamie

    Richard Cole Guest

    Richard Cole, Aug 6, 2006
  17. It is not strange. It is a fact.

    A coupe with a rear hatch is a 2-door hatchback or hatchback coupe.

    COUPE |ko?p|: a car with a fixed roof and two doors.

    HATCHBACK |?ha ch ?bak|: a car with a door across the full width at the
    back end that opens upward to provide easy access for loading.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 6, 2006
  18. Jamie wrote:
    Well, if you look at all of those carefully, you'll see that that
    they're all about surprising power and performance (the PT is bullshit
    but the cruiser it imitates wasn't). They were also (barely) affordable
    for some baby boomers, who are the main purchasers of the modern
    incarnations. "Safe'. 'durable' and 'value for money' didn't cut it back
    in the day, and it doesn't now either.
    Andrew McKenna, Aug 7, 2006
Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.