The Volvo GL was a stroke of genius for Volvo. Adding a little luxury and exclusivity to its tough-as-nails 240 series gave you the option of a luxury Volvo without the hassle of the 264GLE’s troublesome PRV V6 engine. It was so well received that it lasted all the way through the Eighties, while the 264GLE was gone by ’83. It was nice enough for my Dad. He bought a new one in 1984.
The 264GL replaced the 164E for 1976. In addition to the new nose, instrument panel and suspension upgrades, the 3.0 straight six of the 164 was replaced with the B28 2.8 liter ‘PRV’ V6. PRV stood for Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, who created the engine in a joint venture. The problem was that this new engine was not the most powerful or robust, and sales never really took off. By 1980 it was producing 130 hp and 153 lb ft of torque.
Volvo decided that they would combine the engine of the 240 and features of the 264 to create a new model, the GL. Introduced in 1980, the GL’s exterior was the same as the 264GLE, complete with the extra chrome trim, grille and exterior paint choices. Inside, velour replaced the DL’s cloth, and there was more color coordination of the door panels, hardware and carpet.
Air conditioning was standard, as well as a manual-crank sunroof. Bright trim rings and hubcaps were substituted for the 264GLE’s turbine-spoke alloy wheels. You could even get a 40-channel CB with your AM/FM stereo. Hey, the 70’s had just ended, give Volvo a break!
As with the DL, the 240GL had a 2.1L inline four cylinder engine that produced 107 hp at 5,250 rpm and 114 lb ft of torque. In a road test of the GL, David E. Davis of Car and Driver had much to say:
“(The Volvo GL) is a genuinely amusing car to drive. It’s alert, responsive, and stable. The handling, braking and roadholding that go with that luxury are first-class, and although the ride is European, it would not offend a Pontiac driver. (The 2.1L four) is an infinitely lovable engine…that just seems to beg for abuse”
In 1982, a GL station wagon was added, and the GLE’s turbine spoke alloys were made standard. A six cylinder diesel had become available in 1981 as a standalone model, but for 1982 it was optional on DLs and GLs. Available in both sedan and wagon form, it featured a 2.4L inline six that produced 78hp at 4800 rpm. The 264GLE, simply called ‘GLE’ starting in ’81, was in its last year, replaced in 1983 by the new 760GLE.
Starting in 1983, the 240GL was the nicest 240 you could get. When I was born, my dad had a ’79 Bonneville, but in 1981 or ’82, he got a new 240DL two-door in maroon with tan cloth. My brother was born in late 1983, and at about the same time I remember Mom telling me that Dad was ordering a new car. The car was a silver over tan ’84 GL sedan, shown above when nearly new. Yes, I liked having my picture taken with our cars when I was a kid.
My mom still had her ’77 245DL, but Dad’s new car was much fancier. The leather interior was really nice, and it had power windows instead of windup windows, which I thought a big deal at the time. I really liked those wheels too, but I bet they were a pain in the neck to keep clean!
The manual sunroof was also a lot of fun. I remember playing with it a lot in the driveway. You pushed a button built in to the chrome handle, which unlocked it, then you just spun it until it was open. I believe it also had a tilt open feature – from the closed position, you pressed the button and spun the lever the opposite direction. Simple, and no power assists to break.
The Volvo 240 was arguably the world’s most practical car at the time. These cars were very space efficient, with ample head and leg room for passengers. The trunk was a perfect box shape (like the rest of the car) with 13.9 cubic feet of space.
The wagons were even more practical, with 41.1 cubic feet of space in the cargo area – and that was with the rear seat up. Need more room? No problem, just load up those trunks or traveling shells onto the available roof rack.
Volvo’s reputation was built on these cars. Not only were they practical, they were assembled and finished with extremely high quality. Instead of electrogalvanizing, used by many manufacturers at the time, Volvo used a hot bath process to galvanize every square inch of the bodyshell. It produced a protective layer of zinc that was three times thicker than possible by using electrogalvanizing.
Front fenders were made of Zinchrometal and used plastic liners in the wheel wells to boot. Door latches had built in drains, all exterior trim was made of stainless steel, and the exhaust system was aluminized. These cars were built to last, and Volvo wasn’t shy about advertising the fact. Their brochures in the ’80s spelled out all of these features, and more.
And how could I not mention Volvo’s safety cage design? Hollow steel A, B and C pillars were encircled on the tops and bottoms by yet more steel reinforcement, and tough tubular steel bars were built into all doors for side crash protection.
Volvo was probably one of the few manufacturers that featured wrecked 240s in their advertising – they were justifiably proud of all the safety built into their vehicles. In crash testing the 240, what you would see was the car totally deformed up to the windshield, with the rest of the car undamaged. The doors would open and close as normal, and oftentimes the windshield would not even be cracked.
I still see 240s on a regular basis, but not too many are of the pre-1986 variety, and even fewer are the tony GL model. I was checking out my friendly Volvo dealer on Sunday, and did a double take when I spotted this super nice GL around back. It was just like Dad’s except for the metallic brown/burgundy color. It was clearly in for service, as there was plastic on the front seat. I have never seen it around town – it is clearly babied and regularly garaged. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an original owner car.
As for Dad’s GL, I have many memories of driving down to the marina with him in the summer, windows down, sunroof open, to go putter around on the boat. It was a cool car, but by 1988 he was ready for a new one, and it was traded in on an ’88 740 Turbo. My Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Ron actually drove in from Champaign and bought the GL from Lundahl Motors, and they had it well into the mid 1990s. Since Champaign-Urbana is a big college town, I would not be surprised if some student is still driving it around today.
When I was getting ready to graduate from law school in the mid 80s, my roommate Dave had a huge thing for Volvos. More than once, he and I would find ourselves at the Volvo dealer on a Sunday, just walking around and looking.
One weekday afternoon, we had time to kill and he asked if I wanted to go test drive a new Volvo with him. We ended up in a GL just like this one, right down to the color. It was my first drive in a Volvo. I remember being impressed by what an honest car it was. It seemed pretty small to me, but then I was driving a 77 New Yorker.
Dave eventually got his Volvo, but only after quite a few years. And he loved it. I will confess that this is one of the few cars of the 80s that I would really like to own. A wagon with a stick shift has some appeal for me to this day. With that crank steel sunroof.
I grew up with a volvo. My dad still drives the 122s Amazon, he purchased it new in 1963. Now, my daughter can drive one, though she complain about the heavy steering. I am sold on the brand ! I live in Malaysia and the price of cars here is a bit too high and a volvo when new is very expensive. I am in the midst of restoring a 1986 volvo 245GL. I am thinking of changing the headlights to the American Spec dual lights per side headlamps, rather than the normal one large headlight assembly. Can anybody help me in sourcing those lights? Thanks in advance
Interesting, I had no idea this model ever existed. You learn something new everyday.
In Sweden, the trim levels for the 240 were the basic DL, the slightly better GL, the luxury GLE, and the sporty GLT and Turbo models. Basically three price levels, with the GLE/GLT in the same price range. It seems the 264 GLE was more or less the same as the 244 GLE, but I always thought there were some differences in trim. And the US-specific GL is not the same as the Swedish GL, but the 244 GLE with another name. I guess to avoid confusion. 🙂
To confuse matters more there never were a four-cylinder 260 series, but there was a six-cylinder 240 series. The 240 GLT was also sold as the GLT-6 with the V6 and manual four speed/overdrive combo. Also, the diesel 240 was a six-cylinder, a straight six bought in from VW.
I loved these cars as well. Only quibble with your article is the comment on the GL being the ‘nicest’ Volvo for 1983. I think the 240 Turbo models were the nicest, certainly from a performance and handling perspective. I bought my father-in-law’s silver ’82 Turbo 4-door from him in the late ’80’s – fantastic car, with the electric overdrive, blue velour seats (best car seats I ever sat in, to this day) and yes, the manual sunroof…. That car moved out well and was a great handler, and looked awesome.
I just saw an extremely nice example the other day at a local market, in black on black. I thought, as I always seem to do lately, that it would make a great CC!
There was a guy on my dog-walking route that had two or three of these, or perhaps very late model DL’s. But since my dog got too old to walk that far, I haven’t noticed if they’re still around. While I was very impressed with a new S60 that we had for a few weeks while our car was being repaired, I can’t help but think it’s too bad no one really makes a car like this anymore – unpretentious, solid, with (what I imagine), a more satisfying driving experience than a Camcord. “Honest” was a good word, JPC.
Zzzzzzzzzzz….huh what, is there a car in this story? 😉
I kid, I kid. I know they’re good cars, but in Maine in the 80s these things must have come free with every LL Bean purchase. Pretty sure they outnumbered pine cones.
Wait – are you and Jeff Zekas the same guy? 🙂
Yes? No? Help me out JP! 🙂
hey, i only complain when i see disposable garbage bird cars called “classics”!
“(The 2.1L four) is an infinitely lovable engine…that just seems to beg for abuse”
I’ve found this to be true of almost all Volvo engines.
To me, Volvos seemed to be built to the same level of quality as most German cars of the time. At an Oldsmobile price point to boot!.
It was pretty rare to find a rusty one in my area at any point in my lifetime. The few you found in the junkyards were either seriously totalled or Police Tows that nobody snatched up at auction, yet looked as if they’d drive right out under their own power.
Where could I get the rims on the burgundy-brown, black, and tan 240’s? I would LOOOVE them.
Those are the Corona wheels. I think they from 79-87 but only in 14″ so they may not clear some years front brakes.
I didn’t write it up in my auto-biography, but I briefly owned a white GLE with tan leather and the alloy wheels. I bought it because the five-year lease on my company-car ’85 300E was up, and my neighbors offered this cream-puff Volvo to me for 5k. I drove it for a week or so, and really liked it, although it obviously was not quite in the same league as the W124. If it had been a stick-shift, I might have liked it even more.
I decided to make a low-ball offer to the leasing company for the Mercedes, and they accepted it, so my neighbors offered to take it back, and sold it to another neighbor. It would have made a great keeper; I’d probably still have it today.
I bought one of those new in 1984 and it’s hard to believe you’re talking about the same car. Never have I owned anything with more problems than that car had during the warranty period.
Transmission, brakes, paint, springs coming through the seat, doors that wouldn’t open, trunk leaks, smog parts, electrics – you name it and that car went in to the shop for it at least once.
Limped it in to a Toyota dealer at 2 weeks past the warranty (it needed another $1500 worth of “Lambda Sond” something or other) and never bought another European car.
Volvos were sort of a test bed for Bosch and this can never work out well since Bosch is not exactly a company that gets it right the first time. The first fuel injected Volvos had the first version of K-Jetronic, which although a good system, had many bugs in the early editions. The worst problem was poor cold start performance, which is kind of a big issue with Canuckistani winters. I remember having a neigbour who had no end of trouble with his 245DL wagon in regards to this issue. The real problem was mechanics were not familiar with how to fix it, which is in reality easier than a carb, and owners running their cars out of gas and frying the fuel pump. Many were converted back to carbs.
The Lambda-Sond system was the first closed-loop three-way catalytic converter system. All emission control systems today are in some way a copy of it. This is a complicated system and the reliability of components like O2 sensors (or anything made by Bosch) in those days is not like now. Volvo saw this as a way of getting much better performance (which it did) but when you are first at anything, there is going to be a price in reliability.
We are seeing a similar situation with dual clutch gear boxes and direct injection these days. I wouldn’t touch either with a ten foot Lithuanian for the next five years.
You do realize you are the exception right?
I am the exception to what, Micheal? I absolutely love Volvos of this era, I have spent loads of hours driving them and think there was nothing, I mean nada, better, with the possible exception of the W126, which was even more high maintenance. The only real problem with the Lamda equipped Volvos was mechanics not trained to deal with them.
The Volvo GL had the best seats of any car I have ever experienced and the best shifting manual I have ever rowed, and the overdrive was brilliant. The engine and transmission was so good that they were one of the few cars of this class where I would take a manual over an automatic any day. The GT with the B23 is even better, I have yet to drive a car I liked more.
Tom, your automotive childhood sounds familiar! My parents went from a Custom Cruiser wagon (diesel!) to a pair of Vovlos: A 240 turbo wagon (automatic) and a 760 GLE diesel (stick-shift). Lovely cars when running, but as my dad was fond of saying, there never was a day when everything on both cars was working.
Can anyone tell me how the A/C control works? Why is it a knob instead of an on/off switch? And what does the red zone mean?
That’s a good question, and since the AC stopped working on my ’82 242 a while back, I can’t remember exactly, but I think the idea was that you cranked it up to the red first to get max AC and cool the car down. Then dial it back as you hit the comfort zone.
As a kid I liked the 544 and the Amazon , even though I rarely saw them. When the 144 came out I hated it instantly ( the light front overhang and heavy rear overhang just looked so wrong) and the 240 was the same car with a front end that was probably even uglier. To this day I wouldn’t touch a Volvo – I see no merit in them. ( although the 1800ES worked out quite well ). The only clever thing they’ve done in 40 years was to race wagons in the British Saloon Car Championship.
Ive just got home from a 640km drive in a Volvo slightly bigger than this with 480hp and 12 speed I shift a very sofisticated piece of machinery beautiful to drive smooth quiet and comfortable and best of all they pay me to cruise all night in it.
i’m surprised that i can’t fine a photo of my mom’s ’83 240gl in silver almost identical to tom’s. that car was a workhorse for about a decade in our family. the seats were the greatest. the only thing she didn’t like about it was that the ashtray was situated so that you were guaranteed to get ashes in the cassette deck. obviously, the swede’s don’t smoke in their volvos. she bought two more volvos after the gl but she never liked them as much as the first.
A friend of mine in high school had a ’79 264GL (this was in ’85-’86 or so). Don’t know how the PRV fared over the years, but I remember the interior as being very comfortable. I also remember that sunroof!
Thanks for this great article Tom. Love those old Volvos.
I grew up with these cars; my parents were Volvo fanatics but eventually abandoned rear wheel drive European cars for a diesel Jeep Liberty and a gas Grand Cherokee. While we lived in Wisconsin at the time – out in Oregon, my aunt & uncle had an ’80 245DL wagon and an ’83 244GL sedan (still drive a ’98 S70 GLT they bought new), and another uncle had a succession of a ’74 144, ’80 244DL (which was really nice but totaled in an unfortunate rollover crash in winter), and an ’84 244 Turbo with intercooler and 4-speed manual with overdrive.
As far as cold start performance goes, we never had a problem getting our ’76 245DL wagon or ’81 242DL sedan running in Wisconsin winters down to 35 F below zero, and both of those were Bosch injected cars. The carbureted Jeeps that my parents owned at the same time – ’74 J10 and ’78 Wagoneer – definitely got iffy as far as starting goes once it dropped under zero degrees F.
It was the 1974 model that had the cold start problem; it was fixed by 1976.
As always Tom, I loved the article. I’m so pleased I’m not the only one who grew up idolising Volvos (a beautiful 164E and not so great 264GLE). The PRV engine really wasn’t great compared with the 164E’s straight six. I know they said PRV stood for Peugeot-Renault-Volvo, but I can’t help but wonder if it really stood for ‘Pretty Rotten Value’…
Love the colour (and the wheels) of the feature car you found!
Pretty Rotten Value- ha! that’s great. I have to think three companies pooling their resources to create a masterpiece- and the result… this boat anchor? It went on to live in other ruggedly reliable cars like the Renault Espace and 25 aka Eagle Premier, Delorean, and…. oh the Peugeot 604.
It took Volvo until the late 80s to finally get this engine to be as reliable and no more so than an early GM 2.8 v6, at which point I bet they wondered why they bothered.
With the 900 series, Volvo finally went back to their roots. They realised that what they did with the 164 was right on, and decided to build a modular engine- an in line five/six cylinder known as the white block, which was almost as good as the red blocks. The six cylinder 960/ v90 in-line six was butter smooth, fast, and light enough not to affect the handling and steering like the cast iron 164 did.
I also agree that the 240 is nearly as good as a Mercedes, but not quite on some levels. I went straight from a w124 and w126 into my 240. It definately felt like a step down in terms of trim quality and refinement, but the bolts were just as robust, and the simplicity was welcome- solid axle, timing belt that doesn’t destroy the engine when it breaks and can be changed in 40 minutes on the side of the road and using the best quality suppliers for parts, not the cheapest (except for engine looms and a few other notorious bugboos). Oh- and the area that Volvo beats Mercedes hands down is on the manual gearbox. The Mercedes manual has a foot operated parking brake, which makes hill starts challenging, and the shift quality is hideous- imagine a Plymouth Reliant’s gearchange and then make it balkier. If your Volvo’s shifting is poor, its probably either a little plastic bushing or the hole where the master cylinder goes through the clutch pedal has ovalled and isn’t engaging fully.
Regarding the Bosch gubbins, these are generally reliable, and I would always choose a K-jetronic engine over a later one with the Renix (renault) system as used ’90s Chryslers. I believe that Renix crank sensors could be purchased in a value pack of 6. The main problem with the K-jet on aging Volvos is the wiring loom which cooks in the engine bay and causes all sorts of running issues that are misdiagnosed by mechanics who replace sensors and stuff.
Rust was also an issue on some Volvos- particularly in the ’81-84 years- the square headlamp era. I think it was due to bad steel, as the ’79-80 round 4-headlight (‘big square) in europe didn’t rot as bad, nor did the flush headlamp 85 and on.
Regarding the seats, I think they are more comfy than mercedes seats, but they do lead to some achiness over longer drives. I had a 2 hour each way commute that I did in both a w124 and the Volvo, and I always felt better getting out of the Mercedes. However, both are far removed from nearly every other car on the planet, with only Citroen winning the seat award outright on their CX and XM.
It should also be noted that the Volvo’s greatest party trick is that the bodyshell is identical regardless of whether it is an automatic, manual, DL or GLT. This means that if you have an otherwise immaculate DL, you can swap a leather or velour GLT interior in a matter of an afternoon, as all of the bolt holes line up. If you have an automatic but want a manual? No problem- just find a rotten manual from the same era- pre/post 85 and swap away- no holes to drill or cut, nothing to tap out, its the same amount of work as changing a rear crank seal. Even the pedal mounts have the holes drilled- Volvo kindly put all of these on a black firewall plate which can be swapped rather than directly into the bulkhead.
Furthermore, if you live where there isn’t emissions testing, and you don’t like electrickery, you can swap all of that injection stuff for a good old Stromberg or SU carburettor with an intake manifold from Canada or Europe.
In spite of early galvanising attempts, rust remains the main killer for otherwise well maintained Volvos, particularly in the rear wheelarches where the spare wheel trays meet the inner wheel well. Luckily, those crafty Scandinavians have found a solution-
Plastic liners like used on the front, which shield all of the rust traps.
When they were new, Volvos weren’t the greatest cars- they were competing with the Citroen CX, Rover SD1, BMW 5 series and many other more desirable and better looking cars. However, long after those have all gone to the scrapyard or are kept in hermetically sealed garages to prevent rust, Volvos are still working away.
Aside from the slant-4 engine, I think the Volvo 240 in DL trim is a worthy successor to the 63-76 Plymouth Valiant, albeit aimed at a higher market segment. Both were designed with longevity, (over)engineering and function ahead of gimmicks and faddish design. Both were good for at least 300K miles, although Volvo at least engineered the body to last as well as the engine. Neither were sexy, but in this world with all of those diseases, sexy will get you killed. Be safe, not sexy.
The early white block cars did have some horror stories (porous engine blocks, etc). I think they were more common with the six-cylinder cars than the five-cylinders.
The early PRV engines (B27/B28) were indeed better off left untouched, but that’s not a problem these days as you’re unlikely to find one still running. The second series, though, the B280F, got it right in the end. There were still oiling problems in the beginning (’85-’86) but the 1987 to 1990 (in Volvos at least) are quite solid and will happily go to or past 200K miles. There was *almost* a turbo version for the 780, but it had overheating problems in that particular engine bay and it got axed.
The whiteblock I6 was a better design overall, sure, but you’re also talking about something developed in the mid 70’s versus something developed in the late 80’s. If they had been able to put the second-gen even-fire B280 in the 760 from the start, the reputation might have been quite different.
In any case a 200-series should have a 4cyl. As with the example GL…
I always wondered why Volvo didn’t license a straight six design from Mercedes. MB dropped its DOHC M110 2.8 liter unit after 1985. It wasn’t the most efficient engine but it made 185 hp in EU-spec trim.
Mercedes does license out of date platforms and powertrains (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SsangYong_Chairman#Chairman_H_.281997-present.29). Who knows, maybe something could have worked out in an alternate history.
Not only were the seats great, but the seat belts and their tensioners were brilliant. The belts were soft and you didn’t get throttled by the shoulder straps like you would in so many 80s cars. It was that attention to those little details that made Volvos so great. Sadly everything after the 850s has left me cold.
Good to see another article on these ol buses. Unfortunately we always has to make do with nasty European Ford and GM cars when I was a kid, I’d have loved a car as comfortable as a 240, esp a GLT. The best thing about Volvos? Those seats! They are better than your favourite armchair! Also, great vision- they’re very easy to manoeuvre for a large car. Small turning circle, nice big trunk, good ‘knees bent’, almost Italian driving position, which I favour, and all round excellent ergonomics.
I drove a well used 73 164 once upon a time. When it was running it was great, fast had great leather seats and what a heater! The ac unfortunately would make the coolant boil regularly and the tin worm was very aggresive. I lived in the Washington DC area at the time. I traded it in with the power steering dying in 1978 for a 1975 Buick Regal.
I am 16 an i just got my first car and it is a 1984 volvo 240 GL wagon and i love this thing the previous owner was really good to this car and there is not a major problem i can find. Besides a few dents and being pretty dirty. i swear this thing has so much room i am surprised at the 2.3L engine the thing makes me cry on hills but will never cry when i press the gas and it guarantees to get me to speed. My friends always want me to peel out and i try but that damn safe car says “i know you want to but i wont let you, I promised your mom to keep you safe” overall a great first car i believe and i hope to drive it for many years to come. And not bad price at $800
Thanks for a great article.
I bought an Australian 1980 264GLE with the B27A F/I 6cyl 2600cc engine 18 months ago because it was going for $1000 – 2 days before the registration expired. I guess the owner was desperate to get rid of a potential liability of no further value.
I had been, to this point, the usual cynical Volvo skeptic, and had employed all the usual insults and derogatory witticisms against the cars and all their drivers, hehehe. I’ve now done a total turn-around, even though my tank has cost me quite a few dollars in the interim. This includes a shattered water pump bearing at speed, which caused the fan to move forward and destroy the radiator. This was rather inconvenient as I was travelling from Perth to Albany on the south coast, with long empty spaces in-between towns – the towing fees alone were horrendous!
I am now in the process of renewing the engine mounts (Volvo originals: $250 ea; after-market: <$50), and with finger crossed don't anticipate much trouble in the near future.
I have been a professional driver (cars and heavy trucks) for over 40 years now, and after owning many private vehicles must admit that I love driving the tank more than any other. It's such a great feeling of understated luxury every time I leave the garage as I slowly (definitely NOT like my beloved Fords!) drive up the road to the Highway. This is one car I don't feel a need to push to the max from the start, as I like to slowly warm it up if I haven't the time to do so in the garage.
My mates gave me hell when I bought it, one was even prompted to say "Well, at least the boot's big enough for a walking frame!" Yet, they still respectfully regard it as a car apart from all the rest. I soon realised that to drive the car safely and efficiently it needs gentler handling and lottsa TLC – it's not the driver, it's the car.
Allow me to share a quote I pinched from a forum:
"Volvo means 'I Roll' in Latin, and the circle/arrow logo is the conventional map symbol for steel (which for a long time was Sweden's most famous industry). That circle/arrow symbol isn't arbitrary, it represents the shield and spear of Mars, also the alchemical symbol for iron."
I'm an Aries, with Sun and Moon in Mars, so maybe I've finally found true happiness at last?
great to hear all those stories about the remarkable 240’s, i’ve one so many volvo from the humble 244gl 240 glt 740 turbo 940 turbo 960 and the dreadful 850 but some how i always have a thing with the 244GL..those big bumper really are sexy…sold my 740 turbo and bought a nice 1979 244 GL with engine converted to B230FX engine with auto trans, wow its actually faster than my previous 240 GLT (n/a). the suspensions will never be the greatest but i love that feeling of secure n safe in it..i always love those seat coz u really sitting on it and actually r not falling while sitting! thanks to the engine who would think and old car can do 190km/h on hi way yeah classic body wit superb engine good enough to cruise 120km/h plus during heavy traffic jams the brute bumper will be saying ‘out of my way’ or ‘don’t u dare cut Que’ ..the a/c system is soo good its chilling inside .. cheap spare parts too well enough said it will last for a another 20 years maybe?
Great article. Made me want an ’84 VOLVO GL in well cared for condition. Sounds
better than most used cars; I prefer the term ‘alternate’ car. Perfect for transporting
four people, safely & comfortably, to Square Dance, and that trunk can store all those
huge petticoats the ladies wear. Really 300 K miles, maybe I can find one with 150 K?
I have a 1984 Volvo 240 GL that has a facory installed sunroof. Does any one know where I can get detailed information to reinstall the sunroof?
Great article. My family had one exactly like the brown/burgundy GL, same year, same interior. I would be interested on buying if it ever makes an appearance again. it was passed from my mother to my sister to me in high school. I had it in college until 97 when I could not afford the lambda sond repairs. I went all over south Florida junkyards looking for an air mass sensor, AMS 002x. It was removed from every 240 I found. I do miss im that car and hope to find one like it again, problems and all.
Nice writeup of a car that I still see every now and again in four-lamp form, and that is still all over the place in later composite-lamp form. Very easy to love and very hard to kill! Plus I have always liked the almost “turbine” design of the corona alloys.
We almost had one…went shopping for a new used car in ’94 and test drove an ’89 240DL wagon. Burgundy, tan interior. The interior did need a good cleaning (the family that owned it had two small children) but other than that I remember it being quite a solid car, and a very good deal at the price they wanted. I knew of Volvo reliability and safety to those seemed selling points as well, so my 13 year old self was a fan. Sadly, the price was more than Dad wanted to spend, plus he’s never been a big fan of wagons, so he passed on the car. Ended up with an ’86 Audi 5000, which was nicer-looking, many more features, and quite fun to drive–and nearly drove us bankrupt with repair bills. A bit of automotive karma for passing on the bank vault Volvo? Maybe it was.
If one could find a 240 turbo wagon with a manual and a sunroof, that would be my ultimate 200 series. Dark gray metallic please!
There was a wagon that would’ve fit your bill. Was being sold by RSI in Portland, Oregon. 1984 euro spec 245 Turbo. Graphite gray with black interior. M46 and sunroof.
Parents bought an ’84 245GL in May 1984 to replace a chrome yellow ’74 145E with. Blue metallic, black leather, autotragic. Owned it until 2000. I eventually swapped the B23F out for a lower mileage B23F longblock and changed it from the Aw70 autotragic to an M46 manual from a ’79 245DL that a buddy retired. We sold it for $3000 and replaced it with an ’87 744Ti sedan that my sister bought to replace the ’89 Cadillac that she’d been driving. My father then took over my mother’s ’85 245DL, while I was driving an ’81 242DL that I equipped with the B23E from a Canadian ’81 245GL.
With respect to it being the top level 240 series model, that didn’t happen until 1986. 1981-85 had the 240 Turbo. I own an ‘84.5 245 Turbo that I’m resurrecting.
The sunroof on the 700’s had the button, which allowed you to open the roof in a vent position. 240’s only had the folding crank, or could be retrofitted with a power sunroof kit – did score one of those for my old ’82 242Ti for $8.00 at the Tacoma, WA Pull-A-Part.
My father went on to have a couple more 1984 245GL’s. A graphite gray/tan leather example with the Aw70 that I converted to black interior and a silver/black leather M46 example. We still have that one, but it’s now a carcass. Unlike the other Volvos we’ve owned, except maybe for our first one, it has been possessed. Lots of issues due to previous owners who tried to kill it off before we got it. I finally retired it after the replacement head I installed a couple years ago developed a loud tapping noise that wouldn’t go away. Replaced it with a white ’92 245, which has been pretty reliable. That car does need some suspension work and an overdrive solenoid, since it’s currently stuck in 3-speed automatic mode.
Attached is a pic of the original 245GL taken in November 1996. My 245Ti is the same color, but with the trim blacked out, of course, and it wears 16″ Hydra alloys instead of the 25-spoke corona alloys shown in the pic.
And I recently got rid of the 245 Turbo. Now only have one Volvo, a 1982 242 Turbo in diplomat black.
I bought a 82′ 244 GLE european version, that means a stromberg 175cd carburetor instead of the jetronics fuel injection in the B21 engine and the short gears BW55 Automatic transmission. I have driven it daily since 2003 until now an let me tell that is a 100% reliable car. Its not fast and a gas lover because of the BW55 but very cheap to keep and enjoy. The feeling of safety is fantastic as the confort and solidity. Indeed a fantastic car. I enjoy having it in pristine original condition. I love my “brick” nicknamed “the sarcophagus” by my friends.