COAL: 1987 Volvo 740 GLE – Ole Blue

(Connor Kleck’s COAL Series picks up again from where it left off here)     It was 2013, I was graduating high school and headed to college, and I was on the hunt for my first older Volvo. I had my ’08 XC90, but there’s something about an old Volvo. I loved the way that they looked- boxy, but cool right?

During this time I had also started a local Volvo chapter through Volvo Club of America. I managed to rally 20 loyal Volvo owners in my area and name us as an official chapter of VCOA. We called ourselves The Ozark Rollers and are still active today. Through this club I was able to meet many interesting people, one of which owned a Volvo junk yard near me. I visited his place a few times and noticed this blue 740 GLE (appearing to be complete) toward the end of a row. After talking to him, I discovered that the rear main seal leaked so badly that the driver just sold it to him for scrap. My lucky day.

I was able to talk him into selling me the car for $500 and he was nice enough to help me get the car road worthy. Having no mechanical experience in my young life, I mainly watched and learned as he worked his Volvo magic. The rear main seal was first, then tires, brakes were fine, and a quick recharge of the AC. The gas of course had gone bad, so after draining it and putting fresh gas in, it fired right up. To my surprise the Volvo acted like the few years it sat were nothing at all. This thing didn’t miss a beat.


As you can see, the car was a baby blue (simply called “light blue” by Volvo). Originally the interior was a blue velour that had just faded to a strange shade of olive green. The seats were still in good shape thankfully, but all Volvos of this era that had velour faded in some shape or form. The headliner was sagging in the rear, which I fixed with some pins. Power windows, crank sunroof, AC, and all gauges just worked like it was new. I recall it had about 250,000 miles on it but it could have passed for less.

I drove the car an hour home without incident. I used it to drive around town just for fun. I loved it. The car had been in an accident earlier in its life and repaired, as you can see by the different color rear quarter panel. The paint wasn’t really faded anywhere else, but it did have some hail damage on it. In the trunk of the car was a massive binder full of service records. The car had been serviced by my friend who helped me bring it back to life, so he knew the car very well.

The summer of 2013 was a particular scorcher. And that’s saying something for Arkansas. I had taken the car to run an errand and as I was about home the car died. I coasted over to a side street and panicked a little bit. I sat there waiting for a few minutes and, low and behold, after a few tries it fired right back up and I drove ole blue home. I now look back and think that it might have vapor locked on me. Regardless, it never happened again and that was the only thing that ever remotely went wrong with it.

Speaking of mechanical, the car was equipped with an in-line 4 cylinder engine and a 4 speed auto transmission. There was the option to get a turbo 4 cylinder or even a 6 cylinder diesel or turbo diesel back then. Even though this was the simple 4 cylinder, it seemed to do the job just fine. The transmission shifted like a big Cadillac and it really floated down the road as well.

The 700 series was introduced in 1982 to replace the 264. The 760 was the first of the 700 series and was very luxurious and also highly successful. Volvo, seeing that the 760 was a hit, decided to come out with an entry level 700 series and introduced the 740. This car was meant for the people who wanted just a bit more than a 240 but could not quite afford the 760. You could get leather in the 740, but most of the time I see them in velour. Back then there was not a whole lot that you could add onto the car as they came pretty standard. I do know that a sunroof was an option, as well as alloy wheels. Good ole blue had both of these options.

In the end, I did not keep the car for very long. The Volvo nut in me told me it was time to move on and explore other cars out there. Through the Volvo club I had met a guy that was selling another older Volvo (read about this gem in next week’s post). This may or may not have had something to do with the selling of the 740. I posted it up for sale and unfortunately at this time the older Volvos just weren’t as popular as they are these days. What I mean by that is, older Volvos have somewhat gained interest with the younger “hipster” crowd over the years. I didn’t have it listed for much since it needed some love cosmetically. Within a few weeks I had a buyer who was local. He also knew the history about the car because he knew the previous owner. I think we agreed on $650 for the car, and he drove it away along with his other 740. A few years later, I got a call from the next owner asking me a few questions that I was happy to answer. Turns out, the person I sold the car to sold it to a friend, and they used it for many years as a first car for their kids.

The 740 in short was a fine car. Today they have a big following by owners, and they often drive them forever. In all honesty I don’t think I would buy another 740 though. The drive was kind of boring and lacked spunk. Don’t get me wrong, the car was reliable and solid, just lacked excitement. I was glad to see it go to a good home and even more pleased to see it was still serving a good purpose many years later.