2k: It’s Always Sunny In A Volvo: 1986 Volvo 245 DL Wagon
There are a couple of things I look for in sub $3k drivers — the first is low miles (75k miles for a 29 year old car is great), next is working AC/heater (these are not important for the Mediterranean climate of my local SoCal region, but important when selling the car to others), original paint (cheap respray = no), and a giant sunflower painted on the door (because life is too short to drive something boring). Find this 1986 Volvo 245 DL Wagon here on eBay currently bidding for $2,100 with a few minutes to go.
If you are in the market for a simple 7-passenger people hauler with a slushbox, the Volvo 245 is a great place to start. The boxy wagon version is a great combination of simple mechanical reliability, cavernous storage space, roof rack, and basic acceleration. You will find some wiring issues as the original harness degrades into a filthy mess, and it won’t be thrilling to drive under most conditions, but if you’ve got an iced over lake/parking lot/rink it will do some nice fish tailing.
See a better blue plate people hauler for cheap? firstname.lastname@example.org
~ Took a substantial jump in those closing minutes — from $2100 to $3703. It was the sunflower that did it.
You must live in a different So Cal from me!
No A/C, no heater, no dice.
Yeah, sitting in midsummer traffic on the 210 without AC is guaranteed to sweat a few pounds off you, might want to consider some Febreze for the upholstery when you get where you're going.
I've survived a fair bit of time in Sacramento and the Central Valley without AC, though some years back when our still-under-warranty Q45 blew an AC hose while on vacation in Palm Desert in early September I drove it straight back up 111 to the dealer and informed the service writer we weren't going anywhere until they coughed up a loaner, in the end they had to rent us a Buick LeSabre which was an utter joke of a car, ponderous FWD thing with zero-grip tires and a big floaty plastic dash that bounced up and down over lane dots.
When you live in the South Bay or Westside/Santa Monica area, A/C is optional for the majority of the year.
Sorry but I guess we do live in different So Cals!
I've lived all over San Diego county and am amazed at the differences that 20 miles can make. I've had cars w/out a/c downtown and never missed it. I've had cars with A/C in the East County and couldn't survive without it. (We have a remote starter which we used in MI for warming up the car, we use it here to cool it down on really hot days.) I remember riding motorcycles that there would frequently be a 20-deg F difference in 20 miles riding from East/West. There were distinct (doorways) of cool air that you would ride through that dropped the air temp about 5-degF that were absolutely distinct and totally predictable.
Fissure tube. I saw the image on the side and thought it was sunflower oil powered.
Or, a person could get something much faster that you can row yourself while still retaining the ability to haul 7 occupants. Plus save a $1,000, the a/c works and no bloody flower.
Oops. I mean, $400. Shrug. Talk the dude down.
It's one of the fragile wrong-wheel-drive kind.
Incorrect! On all counts. Let's be real here; nobody really buys a Volvo for its sporting qualities. So the FWD makes more sense than RWD. Granola crunchers don't understand oversteer, they need understeer to keep them out of trouble when they're in a rush to get to the organic farmer's market. And by fragile, you must mean the 850 and the Mark 2s. Of course, you're probably not talking with me, so why am I wasting my typedy-typedy.
On second thought, scratch all of that. You're right on every count. Never buy one; they're complete junk! Deathtraps sent from an evil Swedish corporation designed to kill us all.
Stick to your fancy-pants cars, my wealthy friend. They're perfect, will never ever cost you a dime and you can oversteer to your hearts' content knowing the hoi polloi know nothing about real cars.
Sporting qualities are inherent in RWD Volvos but they are down deep and shrouded by mushy springs, soft dampers, and comfy couch seats. Stiffen them up and you've got a budget RWD performance car that just happens to be built like a tractor. They are also not as heavy as people think. My mid-Malaise Era 242 with Titanic bumpers, AC, PS, sunroof, etc. weighed in at just over 2800 lb before I started lightening it up.
Let's look at some sporty 245s!
These are awesome, CFlo. I love them too but you're talking highly modified cars now. Just about any car can be made more exciting with plenty of $$$. The V70 T5 is my preference, with its' super simply accessed far superior power. The issue with excitement is also easily addressed with some help from experts like the folks at IPD.
I'm not knocking the older RWD Volvos. If that's your thing, great. Just don't talk about the Mark 1 FWD cars if you're unsure of what you're talking about. Take a moment and really find out before opening ze mouth and inserting ze foot.
So here's the question; can one of these 245 DL be boosted to or above 285 hp/290 torque? In the Mark 1 V70 T5, that means an hour or two with an ECU upgrade and a new exhaust for under $2K from IPD. Even more power is available via the Stage 3 kit featured in the video above but, personally, I'd rather be upgrading the suspension and brakes at that point.
It would be great if we could keep it apples to apples in the comparison. I'm sure that somebody could trade their lego collection for a monster V8 and a conversion kit that somehow magically installs in their 245 DL in 15 minutes, along with a killer suspension upgrade that was found dumpster diving….but what kind of performance could be bought through a similar source as IPD for the same money as the V70 upgrade I detailed above? Is it possible?
The later 240s were non-turbo from the factory, so performance gains are a bit more involved and DIY than with your V70 T5.
You can "+T" a naturally aspirated 240 with junkyard turbo bits from a 240, 740, or 940 Turbo. That is pretty straightforward. If you are starting with an '89+ 240 then you can swap ECUs with a 940T, modify the wiring harness a bit, install the hard parts (turbo, exhaust manifold, intercooler, oil drain, airbox, injectors) and away you go. If starting with an earlier 240, you can use LH2.2 from a 740 Turbo which is even simpler.
Boosting performance on a factory 240 Turbo is a bit more esoteric because of the Bosch K-Jetronic continuous (mechanical) injection system. Those parts can be swapped out for later EFI however, and away you go.
With junkyard parts and some shade-tree gumption it is completely possible to do all of this for <$2k. A stock-ish turbo redblock setup will get you up to just under 200hp fairly quickly. Up to the 300hp mark and you're looking at a larger turbo, injectors, and possibly camshaft. Smart / resourceful folks can indeed do this for under $2k as well but it's not as easy as surfing a catalog and clicking "buy now."
Hope that answers your question…
Thanks for the info and thoughts, CFlo. All of that begs the question; why not just start with a 740 turbo in the first place? Wouldn't that be a better starting point than the 245? Also, from you upgrade description, it sounds like it would take considerably more time than an hour or two. I think if a person is most interested in cheap, quick and easy power, then they're better off with a Mark 1. It would really depend on how much you'd want RWD (ignoring the AWD system available on the Mark 1) and that "old-school" look, which I totally get.
Absolute proof that Volvos are evil. Christine who?
Never realized that a Volvo made a good canvas until now.
Nice pull, K2. Longroof turbo Volvo beater par excellence.
+1! Easy to work on too and relatively cheap parts. Not that it will need it.