Vintage R&T Review: 1976 Volvo 265DL – “The World’s First Mass-Produced $10,000 Station Wagon”

(first posted 6/22/2018)       It’s easy to forget that Mercedes wasn’t yet building station wagons in 1976. That long overdue body style would arrive a few years later, so in 1976, when Volvo built their first six cylinder wagon,  and priced it at $9900 (as tested), it was a big deal, as the ten grand barrier was rather huge at the time. Of course, that was then; that’s $44,000 in today’s money, and nobody thinks twice about paying that for a Ford F-Series or a Volvo wagon, or so many other cars in that price bracket.

The 265 was something of a let-down, and as best as I can tell, it didn’t sell very well either. The 164 looked decidedly more distinctive and prestigious, with its longer and completely different front end. The only was to tell a 260 series from a 24o series was the slightly different front end. It was now just a 240 series with the PRV 90 degree V6, which tends to be maligned more than it deserves, but was also never a soul-stirring engine. It might as well have been built by Buick.

But with its fuel injection, it started and ran cleanly, not a given in those times. And performance was considered decent, although 13.5 seconds from 0-60 was nothing to get excited about. The old 164 did that in 9.5 seconds, and that car was praised for its lusty big inline six.

The 245 wagon was of course a perennial favorite, as it did the job adequately enough with its four cylinder engine and substantially lower cost. And it was probably every bit as fast or faster than the Mercedes 300TD wagon when it finally arrived in 1979. And it made the 265 look like a steal: the 300TD was priced at a breathtaking $23,900 (that’s either a ’79 or ’80 price).  And it had no problem finding plenty of buyers. These upscale wagons were the equivalent of today’s Cayenne and such.