COAL: #29 1971 Volvo 164 – A Regal Volvo

As I write this post I realized that I don’t have great pictures of this car. Sorry in advance.

If you know anything about me by now, it’s that I am always looking for Volvos. Even if I don’t have the cash to spend, I like to see what is out there. Well, this time in 2017 I happened to stumble on the 71 Volvo 164. This time I actually had some money to spend on a car, but didn’t really need a car. At this time, I had a 1971 Volvo 145, 1962 Volvo 1800, 1954 Volvo 444, 2008 Toyota 4Runner, and a 2017 Subaru Outback. Of course though, I got to talking to the seller of this car, and one thing led to another.

The Volvo was in California, and being sold as an original California car. I was a bit concerned about the car since the seller was not a Volvo person like I normally deal with. I reached out on a social media page to see if any Volvo guys were out that way, and would be willing to take a look at this car for me. As luck would have it, a nice guy reached out to me, and said that this car was only a few blocks from his house, and he would love to look at it for me. He came back with a clean report card on the car, and actually helped majorly in the buying process. I felt comfortable sending him the money so he could pay for the car, and he brought it back to his house for a few days until I could get it shipped here to Arkansas. I actually ended up meeting him at the 2017 Volvo national meet, it was a really cool experience.

I did not have a ton of information on the car as far as history goes. All I knew was it was painted not too long ago, and the owner I bought it from, had it several years. The color was actually called California white. I am not 100% on it, but I think this was a white that was made specifically for California. Volvo had another white that year, but I have only seen the California white on cars that were sold in California. As you can see the car also had some awful porta-walls on the tires that did not go well with the car. The bright red interior was a nice touch to offset the white exterior. I had not seen many at all in that color combination.

The 164 like all 164’s had a B30 6 cylinder engine, and like the last COAL, paired with twin carbs. Again, this was solidification that you could in fact order your 1971 Volvo with or without fuel injection that year. The transmission had just been rebuilt on this car about a year ago, so the automatic shifted nicely through the gears. The paint like I said had been done at some point in its life, but was looking a bit flat. The seller had told me that it had been repainted, but I could not really find any evidence of this, and it did not have a clear coat on it. Either the person who painted it was amazing, and did not do any over spray anywhere, or it was a really old paint job and possibly original paint. The interior was covered most of its life in generic seat covers, so the leather was flawless. It did have a few loose seams, but nothing big. You will notice that this 164 is a little different, because of the front bumper scoops down below the grille. This was like that until 1972 when they freshened up the interior and exterior the of the 164. This design is arguably the better looking design because of the thinner bumper and vent windows. I think it looks a lot cleaner than later models. The car looked really regal, almost like a big Mercedes or Rolls.

When I got the car home, I knew I had some work to do on it, the paint was flat, the white walls needed to come off, the stitching on the seat needed some work, and it had an awful rattle when idling. All of these things I knew of course because of my new Volvo friend in California. I could solve most everything, but the nasty rattle coming from the car. It was almost like the exhaust was rattling around because it was loose. I spent a lot of time under that car to figure out what the heck was wrong with it. I could come up with nothing, but I really needed some more space to work. So I called up my buddy David in Clinton, and told him I was coming down with the car to use his lift.

When I got the car down to Clinton the following weekend, we fired up the 164, and drove it around to see what that rattle was. David was at a loss, and so we threw it up on the lift to see if running it in the air would help us diagnose it. We still could not figure it out. We muted it a little when we tuned it up, and got the idle up on the car so it wouldn’t shake as badly. The weird thing is, when you got going the rattle would stop, or if you revved the engine. At idle, it would then start rattling again. I lived with it, now that we got it a bit more silent. I focused on the cosmetic issues. I got as far as pulling the white walls off, and cleaning up the paint. At this point, I was almost done with college, and had a bad accident on my way home that totaled out one of my future COALs.

So my ownership with this car ended very quickly. I only owned it about a year, and most of that time it was in Clinton so I never actually got to drive it really. I was so focused on getting it mechanically sound, and when I needed to sell it, I had not gotten to enjoy the car. David and I could never really figure out what the rattle was, and I never got around to fixing the loose seams. The car still looked better with a shine, and not white walls. It still fired right up after every turn of the key, and drove nicely for as far as I drove it.

I ended up throwing it up on Ebay, and as luck would have it a guy called me after a few days of it being listed, and offered me $5,000 for it. That was much more that what I had paid for the car even with shipping. I also had not spent any money on it, just my time, and I don’t see that as money because I love working on cars. I took the $5,000 offer, and it turns out the buyer was actually only an hour from David’s house so it worked out great. I threw in a parts car that I had so he could take all the parts he needed. As far as I know the guy still has the 164 near Little Rock. I had not seen any recent advertising for it, so unless he sold it without advertising it, I am going to assume he still has it. Looking back, I would have liked a bit more time with the car, but I really had no choice but to let it go. This 164 would be my last running 164 that I have bought. I think it finally did me in.