Alright readers, the time has come to share my favorite car that I have ever owned. Everyone has one I am sure, just like everyone has a car that they wish they would have never sold. Well, this car falls into both categories. At this point in my life I was down to one car, a 2016 Toyota 4Runner. As you were probably thinking all along, the one car thing won’t last long with me, you would be correct. I started to get that “itch” again for a second car. I had narrowed my sights on a Volvo S80 V8 and another car.
Like most of my car searches, I went to the usual car listing sites, and did not find anything that really caught my eye. I knew I wanted at least a 2009 S80 with the V8 because of some flaws from earlier designs. That really only narrowed my search down to a 2 year model because they ceased putting the V8 in the S80 in 2010 (some XC90’s went until 2011, but they are rare). I happened to jump onto Autotrader to find this nice example in Austin, Texas. I started talking with the owner, and he informed me that he bought it from the original owner back in California. The owner then got a new job in Texas, and brought the car with him. He was getting rid of it to fulfill his dream of buying a Nissan 280. As we continued to talk, I realized this was no regular V8 S80. Yes I knew this had the executive package, which included sovereign hide leather, cooled seats, massaging driver seat, and a slew of other little things. No, this car had the very rare rear refrigerator in the back. With that you also get etched S80 glasses that sit in the rear center console, along with a bottle opener. The rear refrigerator sat between the two rear seats, and protruded slightly into the trunk space. On top of this, it also came equipped with lane departure warning, navigation, adaptive cruise control, and active bending headlights. I don’t think there was an option this car didn’t have for 2010.
I went back and forth with the seller for a long time. He was asking a lot for the car which I think scared off a lot of potential buyers. I have noticed that some Volvo models don’t always fit into the KBB, NADA, or Black Book values and this car was one of them. People who look at this car like any other average Volvo compare the price to what others sold for, and do not consider the rarity of it. Yes I know it’s a Volvo, and car buying guides can be correct, but just like with any car there are enthusiasts like me who would pay up for a unique car. Finally, after weeks of negotiation we came to an agreement, and I went down the following weekend to pick it up.
When I saw the car for the first time, I was blown away. Not one scratch on the car with 77,000 miles on it. The color was astounding, and it sounded mean. It was a black sapphire metallic, which gave it an almost purple tint in the sun. The car drove amazingly and the V8 was incredible. I quickly loaded the car up on my trailer before the seller realized I stole the car from him. On the way home I got behind salt trucks in Dallas, which covered my new car in liquid salt. I was just glad they did not put down crystal salt because it might have chipped my paint! When I got the car home, all I could do is sit and stare at it; I was in love with it.
This particular model was Volvo’s answer to the S class or A8, though I am not sure it could really compete. By adding things like the soft leather, massage air cooled seats, an analog clock, real wood trim, and a refrigerator, it gave the appeal of luxury without the price tag that an S class had. I believe this car was somewhere over $60-65k back in 2010, which was quite a number considering we were recovering from a depression. You could get the executive package without the V8, but why bother? The V8 is more fun.
Now, you might remember this particular engine from my XC90 that had one. It is in fact the same transverse mounted V8 produced by Yamaha. The only difference is the S80 weighs less than the XC90, so the pickup is much faster. I know what you are thinking: it’s just a V8 in a Volvo, you obviously haven’t driven many fast cars. You would be correct, however I have been behind the wheel of quite a few fast cars, but the S80 has instant pickup, and the comfortability that some performance cars lack. I think it’s just a car you have to drive to understand. There were also some better things with this V8 that made it a little less scary to own. The dreaded alternator repair had been fixed by then because Volvo added cooling ducts so it would not burn up. Also, with the S80 being so much lighter, the AWD system was not strained like the XC90 was. Other than that, it was basically the same drivetrain as my XC90. As mentioned above, it was full of nice features that made driving it a true pleasure. The air powered seat massage was nice after a long day at work.
I never had any issues with this car during my ownership. I actually never had to do one single thing to it beside change the oil. Granted I did not own it but for about 6 months, but in my terms, that is long. In the end I had decided to look for a car that was a little more practical for my needs. There were several occasions that the car bottomed out because it was so low. I could barely make it over speed bumps without it dragging. Looking back, I was so stupid, because I had a 4Runner to take, on the off chance I wanted to haul something or go off roading. It took a bit to find the right buyer for the car. I had several offers on it that were right at KBB value, but I decided that it was worth more.
After a while I found a buyer who lived in Little Rock, and wanted to meet me in Ozark to do the deal. I agreed, as it was about halfway for both of us. I remember being so nervous driving down there with my then-girlfriend following me. When we got to the well populated gas station, we waited for about 30 minutes for him to show. When the buyer showed up, he hopped out of the back seat followed by a plume of smoke that, let’s just say, was not from a cigarette. I was put off right then, because I did not want the new owner smoking in this car, as I felt it deserved better, but then again, he had cash. He turned out to be a really nice guy on the test drive. He agreed to the asking price, and goes back to his car. He is stumbling in a bag for something, and this whole time I am backing up toward my girlfriend’s car thinking he might pull a gun. Instead he whips around with over $12,000 in 20’s all in a Walmart bag, and says “where do you want to count this?” I stood there for a second, and got back in the Volvo to start the long process of counting. Luckily, I was a bank teller all through college, and it taught me how to quickly count money.
On the way back, my girlfriend and I were not sure what to think of the whole selling experience. Looking back, it’s funny because of the whole money thing, but one thing just sticks in my head. I remember how excited this guy, who was close to my age, was to get this car. He kept thanking me during the buying process, and after, for selling him the car. He and his girlfriend loved it. That makes me feel at peace with selling it, but I still should have never let it go. I doubt I will ever find another one, but you know what they say, hindsight is always 20/20.