COAL Update: A Time Capsule Discovered in the Volvo, Thanks to a Heater Core Replacement

New hobbies come and go. The Volvo rolls on.

New hobbies and jobs come and go. The Volvo continues.


Well over two years have passed since I posted about my Volvo 740 wagon. I got a new job and I moved to a different part of town. The new job was my first big office job with a large financial company. My writing had to be put to the sideline for a little bit. The new job with new responsibilities at a new residence made finding time to write very difficult.

But all during this time, the Volvo keeps rolling. Recently, I found something interesting, as a result of a repair.

A few months ago, I noticed green coolant slime dripping from the driver and passenger front foot air vent. The carpet in the front was moist and smelled of coolant. After 25 years of service the heater core had developed a leak.

I was nervous at first. I learned from research, replacing the heater core on a Volvo 740 is a time consuming and meticulous repair process. (as much as what it is on many other vehicles, I have learned.) But the fear was washed away when the ever loyal ‘Redblock’ online community prevailed. On one of the Volvo forums, I found a complete step by step user made instruction manual on how to remove the heater core. There was mention of every little bolt that was needed to be taken out and every interior piece that needed to be removed, pictures included.


What car has an easy to access heater core?

What car has an easy to access heater core?


I must take the time to give my thanks to the individual who created this instruction manual. The information provided was invaluable. I would have been lost in a sea of busted plastic without the manual. Whoever you are, you have my deepest thanks.


The heater core was time consuming and tedious, but straight forward thanks to a step by step guide found online.

The heater core was time consuming and tedious, but straight forward thanks to a step by step guide found online.


Luckily, no one in the family was using the truck, so I took the Volvo out of service for a week and started the surgery. For this whole process to go smoothly I needed to be disciplined in my organization, opposite of my natural behavior. I kept track of my progress by putting the removed bolts and fasteners in sandwich bags that I numbered and matched to each step spelled out in the forum provided manual.


I didnt think I would ever see it.

I didn’t think I would ever see it.


When I pulled up the carpet, the underneath was pretty gross. French fries of unknown age needed to be scraped off with a metal putty. Dirt, hair and old food crumbs were everywhere. The carpet was an open catcher’s mitt, a receptacle of anything to fall through the numerous crevices and gaps between that consist of an old Volvo interior and trap them forever. During my ownership I did an adequate job of keeping the carpet clean on the topside, but this was the first time these carpets were removed the and bare metal exposed.

Removing the driver and passenger lower air ducting, I found some surprising tidbits from the first owner of the Volvo. A passport photo, an old Italian coin, and an old french coin and what looks to be some type of luggage ticket. All of this history, buried deep and hidden, an unexpected time capsule hidden in a Volvo.  If you know more about these coins, please share in the comments.


I now have a picture of the original owner of the 740!

I now have a picture of the original owner of the 740!


At first glance, a few coins and a ID photo would not be any significant discovery in an old used car. What makes the find significant for me is this is now the first time I have seen the original owner of the 740. The coins must have slipped under the Volvo’s carpet during its first few years driving around Europe when the original owner was stationed in Germany.  So I have the full service history from when the car was new in 1991, and I now have a picture of the original owner.

Is there anything else to be discovered? A few years ago, I found a German ski pass between the rear seats. I have not removed the rear carpet so there is still potential for another narrow but deeply focused view in to the lives of the Volvo’s previous owners.


Italian Coin(?) back.

Italian Coin, Back.

Italian coin? Front.

Italian coin, Front.

My imagination can run rampant at times. I think of the owners before me, creating memories as the odometer rolls up, the years increase, somehow, guiding this vehicle inexplicably into my hands.


French coin? Front.

French coin, Front.

French coin? Back.

French coin, Back.


There are a lot of memories in this car.  With the Volvo, sometimes I feel as if I am not the owner but just a temporary curator. Keeping the wagon intact, filing away new memories as I drive it and doing my best to document the old ones I discover.