COAL: #15 1998 Volvo C70 Coupe – Let’s Drive By Wire

After selling my S90 to a friend, I already knew what I was going to get. Something a little more fun, and sporty, but of course still a Volvo. I already had a C70 convertible which I sold to my grandparents, but I wanted a hardtop this time. The coupes are not that easy to find, as Volvo did not make that many of them simply due to demand. I started my search on Craigslist, of course, but when that came up empty, I turned to Ebay just to see what was out there. I stumbled on a 1998 C70 in Dallas that was being offered for sale by an individual who had a few C70’s. I contacted him, and we started talking about it right away. He was up front and honest about the problems it had, but nothing too major. He said it needed some tires, possibly a new radiator as he noticed it weeping around the bottom, new brakes, and the sunroof did not work.

I felt pretty confident that I could replace and live with some of these things. So I called up a friend of mine from junior high, and asked if he wanted to spend a weekend in Dallas, my treat. Of course he agreed, and we took his Saab 9-3 down to Dallas. When I got to the car, again it was as described, and thankfully there were not any surprises. Looking back at this I kind of felt a bit rushed. The seller wanted to meet at his bank so that he could take the cash directly to them after. The only issue was it was right in the middle of the worst construction zone ever. I was only able to take the car on a small test drive, and the deal was quickly done. Once I got in the car and traveled down the road with my friend not far behind, all of the sudden the car just cut out. No warning, nothing, just died. I got it over to the side of the road, and immediately called the seller. He was nearby and agreed to come see what was wrong. As he pulled up, he said “I know what the matter is”, and he went over to the car popped the trunk and tightened the battery cables. Just like that the car fired right up and was fine. He had replaced the fancy stereo unit the car had back to the stock unit as part of the deal. He just forgot to tighten the cables all the way.

As my friend and I drove it around Dallas, I quickly discovered that I hated this car. It was not at all what I thought it would be like. I am not sure what I thought it would feel like owning one, but this one wasn’t it. I contemplated contacting the seller before we left Dallas to tell him I was not in love with the car and to see if he would take it back. I went back on that idea as I wanted to stand by my word when I said “deal”. I thought oh well I bought it right I will sell it, so the next day we got up, and made the trek back to Arkansas.

The car performed flawlessly, and without a hiccup. As a plus the gas mileage was not bad either. By the time I had gotten home I didn’t realize how bad the tires really were, as the belts were showing on the back ones. I really dodged a bullet there, another lesson that went in my book. The 1998 C70 was the last Volvo to have a wire driven throttle. This made the pedal feel very heavy, and a bit more responsive. It took some time getting used to, that is for sure. The 5 cylinder turbo is one of the funnest motors that Volvo have put in a car. They are reliable, and peppy, and usually take a beating without any complaint. The only downfall with this generation C70 is the dash. For some reason they rattle like no other. It is a very common issue, and most people just look past this, but I cannot stand a car to rattle or squeak.

As I prepared to list the car for sale, and get new tires and brakes put on it, I got a text from David as we normally talk through the week. He asked me what car I was onto now, and I told him that I just got a C70 coupe. He shot a text back right away and wanted more info and pictures. I sent him what I had, and he said “if you sell it please let me know, we have always wanted one”. Right then, I knew I wouldn’t have to look far for a buyer! I told David that I would sell him the car for what I had in it with travel, tires, and brakes. He agreed right away. I was upfront about everything the previous seller told me, and some small things I had noticed. I did not want to ruin a friendship over a lousy car.

David came up the following weekend to get the car, and he and his wife Denise were very excited. They had always wanted a C70 coupe as they liked the sleek lines of them. They gave me the money, and off they went in their new car. David kept this car for many years driving it regularly. He did a lot of work to it as well. He completely re-did the dash to stop the squeaking. Come to find out someone had put spray foam in every crevice of the dash in hopes it would stop. David replaced all the mounts for the dash and the squeaking went away. He also did the timing belt, and some AC work later when it was needed.

The car is still close to David, as a friend since high school needed a car for his 16 year old son, and David sold it to him as he thought it would make a great first car. The car lives on still to this day, and has well over 200,000 miles on it. As far as I know it is not given them any major trouble, and it is still enjoyed. I am not too sure what I thought it would feel like to own one, but that was the last C70 that I have ever touched. I have seen some really good deals over the years on them, but I quickly think back to this one, and move on. My next car was a safer bet, and ended up playing out well for me. I will talk about that next week.