Hey, look; it’s a first-year 850. And it’s eligible for those collector licence plates on it because that first year was three decades ago, and 30 is more than 25.
The paint’s a bit chalky, as is the black plastic trim, but the rain was busily hiding that. Besides, the chalkiness (this car is much too young for patina, no matter how many decades ago 1993 was) really added finishing touches to the brick look.
This is how I picked the car as a ’93: the full-height single-H4-bulb Valeo headlamps. Starting in ’94, Volvo phased in a shorter Hella headlamp, seen here on a ’95, with separate low and high beam bulbs and a fill plate below to take up the space. Makes the car look squinty and bodged.
Ahhh, much better. These early lamps make the car look as was intended. And they contain a weird front-to-back structure of some kind on the floor of the reflector:
It’s that tan thing you can see here through the lens. There’s a similar structure in the technically identical ’94-up Saab 900/9-3 headlamp. I’ve been meaning for a few decades to take one apart and figure out just what it is; haven’t got around to it. The headlamp wipers might work or not, but at least they’re parked properly; as these cars aged, the wipers tended to get stuck in a random position.
I think GLT means this car has the turbocharged engine. The amber turn signal lenses are another ’93-’94 tell, and I like them better; the ’95-up cars had clear lenses with amber bulbs. I’m not so keen on that white strip somebody added across the licence plate cove. There might’ve been a ‘decor panel’ available for these, like this 240 item…
…but I’m not so hot on those, either; if y’want the car to look like a Dodge Spirit, just go get a Dodge Spirit. This car would look fine as-was, with just body paint there in the cove.
I like boxes on wheels. They don’t make them any more.
Heyyyyy, that looks like a larger-than-stock tailpipe! Quick, somebody ring the BC Collector Licence Plate Criterion Enforcement Brigade!
They’d probably also have words to say about prising off the silly VOLVO callouts—we can still see traces—and replacing them with these ’97-up turn signal repeaters; year-correct ones would have amber lenses (okeh, now I’m done babbling about the lights).
But the period-correct window decals are a nice touch.
At least in the US, all
‘93 850 GLTs were powered by Volvo’s naturally aspirated 5-cylinder.
Oh! Alright, then.
The side repeater lights use a very small orange plug in bulb rather than a orange lense, my C5 has the same and one of them failed at last inspection.
I like these Volvos, especially the wagons with the high-mounted taillamps… I also pegged it as a 1993 by those headlights – but I can’t remember ever spotting one in person even here in LA.
Another idiosyncrasy is that ALL 1993’s regardless of equipment were GLTs, the feature car is probably a bog-standard model as it has hubcaps.
I had one of those Apple stickers. on my ’95 Camry wagon, managed to find a NOS set of them on ebay some years ago.
“…, the feature car is probably a bog-standard model as it has hubcaps”
Not necessarily. At least in Europe, standard hubcabs looked different. The hubcaps on this car were originarily designed for late 940 models. MY 1996 an later (not existing on the US-market, right ?).
May be the owner got them from the Volvo spare part bin for winter duty – to take care of the alloys. I Think, the car has got “winter wheels”.
On the other hand, you may be right that we see an absolute base model. But for me, it’s not the hub caps, but that red colour (#601, “Indiana red, as Volvo called it in my corner of the world) that screams CHEEEEP !
Inverse to BC, Nevada rewards owners of old cars that are modified.
A vehicle that is 20 years old and modified can qualify for a “Classic Rod” plate.
But if the vehicle is unmodified, the owner must wait until it is 25 years old to qualify for a “Classic Vehicle” plate.
And the word “modified” isn’t really defined anywhere within the statutes. I could make a valid case for my ’02 Silverado being “modified” because I installed a cross-bed tool box, for example.
Once again, CC reminds me of a car I drove once but had forgotten all about. An 850, 5 cylinder non-turbo, right hand drive and manual transmission. In Scotland … it belonged to a colleague who handed me the keys and said, here try it out, after we left a lunch stop in a busy part of Edinburgh. Not my first time driving on the “wrong” side, but far more intimidating when it was a friend’s nice car and not a rental covered by my employer’s insurance. I remember a lot about the oncoming traffic, including a big refuse truck, and the parked cars that seemed fractions of an inch away on the left, but nothing about the driving experience itself.
Interesting CC effect. I also spotted a ‘93 850 like this one in Clearwater yesterday.
Test drove one when it was new. One vivid impression: Very quick acting and hot heated driver seat.
Does this not have one of those Euro-centric dim 194 bulb parking light deals? Maybe that’s what the structure is. I can’t believe Dan wouldn’t know that if it is, so I’m probably not right.
The tailpipe looks the size of one from a turbo. My guess is either an incorrect aftermarket replacement, or the aftermarket collapsed the non-turbo and turbo factory outlet sizes into one to save on production costs.
No, it’s got American-type lamps providing the front position (“parking”), side marker, and turn signal functions with one 2-filament bulb in the corner lamp there. The rest-of-world 850s had a different corner lamp with two reflectors and two bulbs: a single-filament amber bulb providing the turn signal, and a dual-filament clear bulb providing the front position and daytime running light functions.
Also, the mystery structure in the headlamp is in the wrong place for a position light such as you describe. The Saab 900/9-3 headlamps had position lights and the mystery structure.
Also-also, the position lights you have in mind never used a (25-lumen) 194 bulb, though one could be put in place of the intended (50-lumen) W5W.
According to NCSteve, there were no turbo ’93 850 GLTs (at least not in the US), so I guess sometimes a big tailpipe is just a big tailpipe.
” The rest-of-world 850s had a different corner lamp with two reflectors and two bulbs: a single-filament amber bulb providing the turn signal, and a dual-filament clear bulb providing the front position and daytime running light functions.”
Objection! On non-US models, Volvo had dismissed the daytime running light function in the corner lamps from MY 1990 on. Starting with MY 1990, the daytime runnig light was nothing more than the usual headlamp low beam. From there on, the clear part of the corner light lenses served as parking light and were equipped with 5W single filament bulbs. Even the 240 series and the 700 series were affected.
Consistently, “world market” 850s (starting in MY 1991) never got a dual filament with day time runnig light function in the corner lights. These just were a clear lensed two bay cluster with a yellow 21W bulb downside (turnsignal) and the “white” 5W bulb upside (parking light). Both single filament.
Oh, oops, thank you; I had the 240s in mind and missed the year cutoff.
Back in 1996, I went to my first Michigan State Police vehicle evaluation testing held each year in Lansing. It was quite fun. I’m not sure about the year before, but in 1996 Volvo entered their 850 GLT Turbo for evaluation. It was a long shot for Volvo, but they were attempting to break into (pun intended) the police car market in the US. Apparently, they were used more widely in other countries already. Anyhow, Volvo had the cars there to test (sedan and wagon) as well as several fully decked out in police gear/lights and all. They were allowing the police officers to do “test drives” of those cars and I was able to take a couple runs with them. Talk about fun with that turbo! I truly enjoyed those cars and from then on really loved this (boxy) 850’s. I never got one nor did our police department ever use them, but here I am many years now working at a Volvo store. What comes around…………………………….
I imagine the unanimous reaction was “Great handling and brakes, fine power, great seats, but this car and its parts cost way too much; thanks for coming”.
That was spot on. We all loved putting them through their paces, but deep down I think Volvo knew they were looking at a no way situation. Just the budgets for counties and municipalities would not have justified the higher prices for the Volvo vs. the government bids on the Crown Vics and Caprice and/or Lumina/Impala. And then you have the upkeep and parts costs factors as well. Let’s just say in my 10 years in that world, I’ve never seen one single in police us within the US.
CHP had S70s (the successor model badge, but same body) for a while, mostly around the central I-5 corridor I believe. There were also a few 850 or V70 Turbo wagons running as high speed vehicles around the Grapevine in the mid 90s as I recall when I was driving that bit semi-regularly…
More than just a rebadge, that, and not in a good way. There were failures and shortcomings—really dumb ones—in the S/V70 that just weren’t seen in the 850.
Okay, a major facelift but not a different platform as opposed to say the 2000 S60 that replaced this part of the lineup or the 240 that preceded it.
Volvo 240 — Volvo 850/S70 — Volvo S60 Something like that…
Jim: I didn’t know that. Of course, I was policing near the Chicago area when I was a cop, so didn’t see much of what was on the West coast. Now that I’m living in Southern Cali, I see many black and whites, but I don’t think Volvo even offers a police package any more. By chance, do you have any pics of those CHP Volvo’s? That would be cool.
The small town of Falls Church, VA (sandwiched between Arlington and Fairfax counties in the DC suburbs) used Volvo 240 police cars in the 80s. Coincidentally, the Don Beyer Volvo dealership was located within city limits.
I was too busy missing the 240 to fully appreciate these.
I can dig it. I think a lot of people felt similarly. There was a lot to mourn about the end of the 240. I doubt if the 850 had anywhere near as tight a turn circle as the RWD Volvos, which could almost spin about their own vertical axis. But it takes a seriously hardcore Tufortista to deny that car’s shortcomings and outmodes. Some of them could probably have been alleviated or eliminated; a thorough cabin redesign might’ve improved space-efficiency and ergonomics and user interface and made the interior a more pleasant, less confining place to be, and catered for more than just one airbag. Newer engines and transmissions might’ve been nice, though they’d’ve had to tread carefully there. And it could’ve been grand if 240s had been sold for even just one year with a trouble-free fusebox, or power windows that went up or down faster than ‘probably sometime today’.
But even without any of that, it is still a pity it had to go out of production.
Having owned a later version of the 850 (a V70), I can absolutely affirm that it does not have the turning radius of a 240. My 245 with manual steering has the steering radius of a bicycle….although you will grow Popeye biceps if you insist on proving that point on a regular basis.
And apparently folks in the aftermarket community have finally managed to produce a 240-series fuse box that once installed is reasonably trouble-free. I’m saving up for one of those. Just as I am also saving for a heater control valve (from the same producer) that will allow me to drive in summer without either blasting heat or having to hose clamp off the heater hoses at the firewall.
Hey, neat; I didn’t know you can (finally) get a fuse panel to accept ATO/ATC flat-blade fuses. That’d be a highly worthy upgrade. I’m seeing it for $130 from one source, $143 from another. Which heater control valve do you have your eye on? The ’92-’93 heater valve finally did away with that brass-and-copper Ranco “Thermo-Pill” valve—very similar to the ’60-’62 Valiant-Lancer valve, and in that application they didn’t work much better than in the Volvos. Volvo put out a kit to install the late-type valve in place of the early type, and it looks quite affordable.
Interestingly, I didn’t experience all that much trouble with the fuses on my long-term 1980 240 2-door. I do recall the brake light and rear defroster fuses giving out on occasion, but not much else.
I did have to replace the heater control valve once in the mid-late 80s. I couldn’t figure out at first why I had either no heat (when the temp. slide was on full cold) and full heat (when the slide was moved ever so slightly toward hot).
Those stupid “Ceramic” or “European” fuses are a really crummy design: the fusible strip runs along the outside of the fuse body, and has tiny little pointy ends which make for tiny little contact area with low-tension leaf spring fuse holders. Lots of opportunity for corrosion. The fuse body was ceramic in the olden days when this type of fuse was first designed, and at least that stayed completely rock-hard no matter what. Buss/Bussman marketed a vastly improved version of this fuse, coded GBC: glass tubular fuses with noncorroding pointy metal end caps, basically an adapted version of an ordinary glass fuse. Much better, but then Bussman joined Littelfuse and the others in developing full-blown MBA disease, and some dillweed MBA who considered it beneath them to know anything about what the company made —tangerines, oil filters, fuses, screwdrivers, doesn’t matter; it’s product—discontinued those and replaced them in the product range with the same ‘offshore’ (euphemistic way to say the name of a particular country) fuses everyone else sells. They’re no longer made of ceramic, but of thermoplastic. Which might almost be okeh if it were the actual material specified, but when one sources PFRs in Offshore, that tends not to be the case. Because the factory manager’s brother-in-law gave him a great deal on a material that looks just like the specified stuff, and as far as MBA Dillweed is concerned, y’don’t actually have to have quality, all you have to have is a certificate of quality control process. They’re for old cars, nobody cares; if someone complains, send them we-value-your-input form response № 7 and a couple packs of the same junk they wrote in complaining about.
And on top of that lousy choice-by-inertia of fuse type, Volvo put the fuse panel in an area prone to water leakage as the car ages. Car won’t start, or something electrical won’t work? Step № 0 is to take off the fuse panel cover and run your index finger down the column of fuses so each one rotates in its holders. Good odds that’ll (temporarily) fix the problem, or at least change the fault enough that you know you found the cause.
The ATO/ATC blade fuse is one of those instances of highly correct engineering. They just don’t cause problems. Pick ’em bigger (Maxi-fuse) or smaller (Mini-fuse) as y’wish, but this kind of fuse is very much the right way to do it.
Yeah, the Wagonmeister fuse panel and particularly his heater valve replacement come highly recommended. And they’re not that expensive for someone who really wants to make reliable these two 240 flaws. Maybe this summer….. 🙂
That Wagonmeister heater valve kit is grossly overpriced compared to the genuine Volvo update kit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I had a 1996 GLX (1 step down from the GLT, 1 step up from the base model) with a naturally aspirated 5 cylinder engine. Great family car and somehow invisible to the local constabulary when I felt like speeding and not modeling good driver behavior for the back seat occupants. Mine also had the headlamp washers, which seemed like a great idea. Why have they not been replicated in more recent models?
Headlamp wipers (specifically) were required in Sweden for a long batch of years. Two things happened in the early ’90s: there was a push to eliminate country-specific lighting requirements in Europe, and plastic headlamp lenses were first permitted, but wipers were disallowed for them on abrasion concerns. Lens-cleaning systems were required throughout Europe on headlamps with low beam light sources producing more than 2,000 lumens,* but if the lenses were plastic, it had to be a pressure-jet washing system without wipers. Volvo, who had got their fingers burnt on their first go at plastic headlamp lenses on ’86-up 240s and ’88-up 700s, went back to glass for a bunch of years, and so carried on using wipers on some cars.
Headlamp lens cleaners are not required at all in North America.
*a thoughtless, technically-faulty way of saying “HID headlamps have to have wipers”, which prompted industry to devise new types of HID bulbs producing exactly 2,000 lumens, thus dodging the requirement for lens cleaning and auto-levelling. This was avoidable regulatory malpractice.
Was there a separate switch for the headlight wipers, or did they operate whenever the windshield wipers were on? I’ve noticed it’s not uncommon to see those headlight wipers seemingly stuck at some random angle, and it’s always seemed odd to me that people would use them so much that they’d break. Aside from driving in snowy and salty conditions, I’ve never felt a need to wipe my headlights.
Oh, and the Apple Computer sticker – I remember a friend of mine had one of those on his ’91 Explorer. Not being a computer enthusiast, I couldn’t fathom why someone would put that on their car… to me it was like advertising that I liked Amana refrigerators or something. But I guess Apple fans were a loyal bunch back then…
I’m pretty sure they operated in tandem with the windshield washers. The probable failure mode is using the windshield washers while the headlamp wipers are jammed with ice, burning out the motor or stripping the drive gears.
Ah – makes sense. Thanks.
Yes Sir. You are right. That’s the way it is.
Bye the way: The modified, more narrowish lights came along with the turbo charged engines (at least here in Europe) during MY 1994. From MY 1995 on, all 850 got these lights – no matter which mill installed.
“GLT” badged cars had natural aspirated 20-valve engines. There were also natural aspirated 10-valve engines in some markets (not in the USA, right ?).
These cars were badged “GLE”.
One can see what an owner was trying to do with that white stripe, to tie the two pairs of backup light lenses into some sort of larger form. I’m not sure it was a successful effort, as it tends to call extra attention to the whole jumble back there.
My OCD is more concerned with the aftermarket(?) trunk lid edge protector strip (the whatchamacallit on there) being mounted off-center.
I’d just have thought “A red Volvo?” and shot it for the Cohort. Bright red’s not a colour I associate with the word Volvo.
I’d never have known it was a first year car. Fancy changing the lights after only one year! Especially when as you point out, the front of the car was designed for ones that size. Were the new ones better, or just cheaper?
That’s one serious exhaust pipe for what looks like a regular sedan.
The later headlamps were optically quite a bit more advanced and efficient (left hand giveth) and also quite a bit smaller (right hand taketh away).
European 850’s hit the market during summer 1991, so that early front wasn’t a “one-year” only curiosity like it seems judging from North American cars.
Those structures in the headlights are bubble levels. They let you easily aim the headlights when the car is on level ground. Unfortunately they turn yellow and cloudy with age. Saabs had a clear window on the top edge of the headlight glass where you could see the level. I imagine this Volvo has something similar.
Thanks for confirming the only guess I ever had about ’em. These headlamps were designed right in the VHAD era, so that makes perfect sense, though most VHADs were on top/outside the reflector ceiling for direct reading by opening the car’s hood, not on the reflector’s floor visible through a window up above.
VHAD = Vehicle Headlamp Aim Device: what came, in the American market, after the three pips on the lens face which formed a plane and interfaced with a headlamp aim indicator tool. That system, called “mechanical aim”, required that the lens move with the reflector, which affected aerodynamics and made it hard to commonise headlamp components between the US and the rest of the world. The nitwits in charge on the American regulatory island insisted optical aim (of the beam itself, rather than of the lamp in space) was technically not possible despite the entire rest of the world successfully doing it since shortly after the dawn of the electric headlamp, so devised this costly-to-do-well, problem-prone-when-done-poorly onboard “VHAD” system. Soon after, industry howled that the system was costly and problem-prone. After that came yet another in a long string of lamebrained US headlamp aim regulations.
Not that it matters; those who ever check and adjust headlamp aim on this continent are few, and those who do it close enough to correctly to be worthwhile are statistically nonexistent. We just don’t care here, and pedestrians die as a result.
That oxidized black plastic moulding is just killing me. If an auto parts store was nearby I would run over and buy a can of plastic rejuvenator and clean it up for them quickly. Then I would stand by and try to be as inconspicuous as possible watching to see if the owner notices the difference or not.
Last I checked, those 240 “decor” panels were actually still somewhat sought after, even though I too am not so hot on those.
And hey, I have that same Apple sticker on my 2008 car. Some things never go out of style.
Well, yeah, there is a kind of must collect them all! accessories drive amongst devotees of just about any past-model car.
Looks like Ebay is awash in vintage Apple Computer decals.
I’ve never actually noticed the headlight differences on these before. The tall ones look alot better.
In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s very first moderate overlap frontal tests in 1995, the Volvo 850 earned a Good rating and 3rd place among the 14 midsize cars that were tested. Somewhat surprisingly, the Chevy Lumina placed 1st and the Ford Taurus 2nd.
The Toyota Camry was in 4th place with an Acceptable rating, and 6 models earned Poor ratings, with the Nissan Maxima dead last.
BTW, while washing another 850 sedan used only in the 5 mph bumper tests, I noted that its roof was the flattest one (at least on sedans) that I’d ever encountered.
The Lumina did something better than it legally, minimally had to‽ Ow, my brain.
Yep, and GM was probably surprised as well!
I make it good odds they immediately fired whoever authorised whatever made that design work unnecessarily well and set about, at great cost, correcting back to centre (or whatever exact phrasing Bob Putz, I think it was, used in re what he considered the first Cruze’s excessively good quality).
Ha on Bobby Baby! Yes he was also responsible for taking out content like standard ABS on plebeian cars like the Cavalier to lower their base prices.
I never knew those Volvo emblems were covering up holes for turn signal repeaters (that they could’ve just as easily installed even though they weren’t *required*). Safety schmafety.
They also didn’t put side reflex reflectors or side marker lights on cars sold outside the North American regulatory island. To be completely fair about that, it costs more money to do side markers and side retroreflectors on a rest-of-world car (the devices providing those functions at all four corners have to be type-approved for those functions) than it costs to do repeaters in North America (just put ’em on the car). But still.
That makes me wonder whether there is any car (LHD/RHD aside) which is made to the same spec for all markets. Think I need quite a few litres of coffee before I take that any further… 🙂
Thank you; you’ve just given me a nudge toward a series of articles people ask me to write on here from time to time.