5k: The PO’s Money: 1992 Volvo 240 Turbo 5-spd

We here at DT love to repeat our unofficial mantra: There is no better money spent on a car…than the previous owner’s. It rings true in so many situations, whether you are looking for a project that is half-finished with all the expensive work done, a package deal of car plus parts because the seller does not want to spend time hawking all the little stuff, or especially in the case of a finished car that will never be worth as much as the previous owner has spent on it. This last one is the best case scenario – finding a car built by a brand fanatic or detail freak who was never intending to sell, but has to part with their creation for one reason or another. With that in mind let’s take a look at this customized 1992 Volvo 240, which has been fully rebuilt, professionally painted, given a late-model turbo engine and 5-spd manual swap and much more. Find it here on the Turbobricks.com classifieds forum listed for $6000 in Sykesville, MD.

It’s tough to tell if this car is actually still for sale or not, but we will assume that it is. It was originally posted back in January of 2012 but the classified ad thread recently became active again and the seller doesn’t say it’s not for sale. This was built by a Volvo mechanic and as such should have all the little issues worked out and just be a nice, enjoyable driver with a distinct look and decent performance to match.

This car was picked up by the seller as a run-of-the-mill used 240 sedan, and was actually free according to his cardomain.com page. Just because the donor chassis cost $0 does not mean, however, that far more money than could ever be recouped was spent to get it where it is today. The seller states that $4k was spent on the paint job alone, which is frankly a decent deal for a high quality full body respray. The color is Sonic Blue, a late-model Volvo OE hue.

With the “E-Code” Euro headlamps and painted bumper cover (normally they are bare blackish-gray plastic) the front end of this 244 has a decidedly upmarket look to it. Using your 240 to bash into your friends’ cars at low speed, while fun – would not be advised with this one – leave that for the $500 beater DD 240. Original grooves in the bumpers were filled with fiberglass, and unwanted lower body trim was removed and holes filled. The seller states that 50 hours were spent on paint prep alone. Time is money and this is big money the next owner will not have to spend.

Attention to detail extends to the engine bay, which was also painted body color during the respray from maroon to Sonic Blue. Most Volvo 240s are cheap used cars and when the color is changed, the owner and/or painter won’t bother to spray every visible surface under the hood, in the trunk, doorjams, and so on. This car has major mechanical upgrades to go along with the cosmetic, like the B230FT turbocharged 2.3L engine from a later 940. Stock, this would have put out about 165 hp but they can easily be tweaked past the 200 hp mark with minor fueling and boost modifications. This one has been cranked up to 14 psi with what is likely the stock turbo. Apart from the missing air filter in the above image, it all looks factory under the hood which is a huge plus for reliability and smog-ability (if your state requires certification for engine swaps).

Only a few photos of the interior are posted but from what we can see it looks great. Black vinyl with salt n’ pepper gray cloth is a classic Volvo upholstery scheme and it appears to be quite serviceable in this car. The dash looks fairly bereft of the usual cracks but it also appear the door map pockets have been removed but these are minor points. Sure you could find a beater 240 and spend some coin on junkyard parts or custom upholstery, but with this car that is another expense saved. The transmission is a 5-spd M47 Volvo unit which replaced the earlier 4-spd M46 with add-on overdrive. The M47 is simpler, lighter and newer and should be fine unless the next owner goes crazy with torque output or high-rpm clutch dumps. 

Suspension has been upgraded with ipd’s go-to parts such as an adjustable panhard rod in the rear for axle centering adjustment, lowering springs, Bilstein HD shock absorbers and larger anti-roll bars front & rear. This won’t be the fastest or most extreme 240 at a Volvo meet but it will probably be the nicest, cleanest and most modern looking. Brakes have been upgraded to Brembos from a 2005 Volvo S60R so stopping will not be an issue, especially with the stock ABS system still in place. However it’s not clear which wheels are on the car now…pictures show both later Volvo 5-spokes and also a set of BBS-style gold multi spokers.

Even with its square-shouldered stout Swedish design roots dating back to the late ’60s, this modernized 240 does not look out of place parked next to a V70R wagon and a VW R32, both wearing similar shades of blue and 17″ or larger silver painted wheels. The 240 may not be a ‘bahn-stormer like the E34 M5s we analyzed earlier, but with upgraded turbo running gear and a full rebuild, repaint and upgrades, it should be great fun and reliable to boot. Try if you might but replicating this car for under $6k seems nigh on impossible, unless all the parts are donated freebies and you have a mechanic and painter on hand as slave labor.

Find a higher-value Volvo for our viewing pleasure? Email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com