5k Flash, Grand Luxe Touring: 1981 Volvo 240 GLT Wagon

As an alternative to the Chevy LT1 V8 swapped Volvo 745 wagon featured earlier today, take a look at this classic 1981 240 GLT wagon. No – it does not have a V8 swap – but it would be a perfect start to such a project. This is what we’d want to use as a base chassis: a clean, presentable California car in a rare shade of green to make it stand out, albeit slighly, from the sea of other 240 wagons still prowling the streets in the Golden State. Being an ’81 model it has the biodegradable graham cracker based electrical wiring insulation, and the esoteric Bosch K-Jetronic continuous injection system – all of which we wouldn’t lose any sleep over removing. Find it here on craigslist in Orange County, CA for $2800 or best offer.

This particular shade of green has to be one of the rarest colors for a 240, at least as far as this editor has seen in 30 years of living in Volvo-rich California. With the GLT trim level this one looks like a faster Turbo model, with the 15 inch Virgo alloy wheels and blacked-out trim and bumpers.

Sadly for the original purchaser (but fine for our purposes), this car does not have the turbocharged B21FT but is instead fitted with the base 2.1 liter B21F naturally aspirated 8-valve Redblock engine. Both versions were fueled by Bosch’s finest K-Jetronic kontinuierliche Einspritzung continuous mechanical fuel injection system, which married a constant stream of fuel regulated by a mechanical “flapper” fuel distributor with loads of add-on electronics like the λ Lambda Sond oxygen sensor feedback system and a separate ECU controlling idle speed. This whole mess can actually still function fine if it was maintained well, but  performance tuning is not nearly as straightforward as it would be with a modern engine swap to an EFI-equipped V8 or turbocharged inline 4. Heck, why not a Nissan VQ35 V6 while we’re bench racing?

With serious power you’ll be hauling ass as well as cargo, and the rear cargo compartment of a 240 wagon is capacious place for booty indeed. Without the optional rear-facing kids’ jumpseat, there’s a handy hidden storage container with a carpeted plywood lid. This seller is kind enough to show off that feature in the pictures. The interior looks clean and well cared for – no burning man rituals have been performed in here.

The bodywork looks straight and unmolested, and the paint likely is original as well. Not many 32 year old European cars can look this good for less than $3k. No need for body work means more time to spend on the V8 swap!

After installing the torque monster of your choice, we’d suggest just a bit of lowering with an ipd springs and anti-sway bars, new HD shocks, and a moderate window tint to finish off the look and improve handling. Remove that roof rack, wax this baby, and drive your true sleeper with a smile on your face and an appetite for scaring the squares.

Side note: if you’re near Austin, Texas and want a slightly older, 240 wagon project car in a mintier shade of green, check out this one we just found on ebay.

Find a greener 240? Email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com