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1970's & '80s Volvos



  • I think the fuel injected models are fine regarding emissions, at least for the era. Really any fuel injected car should pass emissions testing---that's nothing to brag about unless you have a car with carburetors. Some older Volvos used Stromberg vacuum-depression carburators, which really suck. The really old ones used a version of SU carburetor, which are can just dial 'em in as you take the smog test...the Strombergs are a nuisance to tune and they are gas hogs.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    When thinking about old Volvos we tend to think about the 240 Series, but there was a 760 for the '83 model year and the 740 was introduced for '84. The 760, a V6, was a lousy car, as I recall, mostly, but not exclusively, because of the engine. A friend bought one of the early ones, and it was quite unreliable. But what about the 740, which, in various trim and power iterations (naturally aspirated and turbo, manual and automatic) became Volvo's main offering by the late '80s? Does anyone here have experience with the 740 series?

    The 940, which was essentially an updated 740, came later, and wouldn't yet qualify for discussion in this Classics board.
  • My impression was that the 740s were just...okay...and that, like most early turbo cars, they tended to hand-grenade. I can only recall two friends who had them and both engines did go bad...they were maybe that co-incidence left a bad taste in my mouth about them.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    Thanks, Shifty. Technologically, the 740 is similar to the 240. They share the NA 114 hp 4 cylinder engine, and the solid axle rear suspension is similarly pretty basic. Even the dimensions are similar, leaving the styling and interior as the primary differentiaters. Or am I missing something? The 240 seems to have a better reputation for reliability than the 740, maybe because it had more time to be debugged.

    I kind of like the boxy look (although not to the exclusion of other styles), which is what attracts me to these old Volvos, late '70s-'84 Mercedes sedans, and the '82-'90 GM A and H bodies. My favorite Volvos, styling wise, are the 240 and 940.
  • I think the turbo is the main issue here. Otherwise, it would have the usual 240 bugaboos, which is the bio-degradable interior leathers and plastics, the exhaust systems falling off...all of which one can deal with.

    I think the Mercedes is a ten times better built car in that era...there is simply no comparison. But the Volvo might be easier to work on and cheaper to fix.

    I think one reason the 240s lasted so long was that they were very understressed---but once that turbo got in there, that changed the dynamic and I don't think the car was up to it.
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 4,005
    My mom had a 1990 Volvo 740 (non-turbo). I remember it not being very powerful. It had a ton of problems with the rear diff when it was new, and the standard "bulb out" indicator seldom worked correctly. It had a nicer interior than a 240, and the interior held up quite well for the five or so years she owned it.
  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    FWIW . . . here's a relatively recent shot of my 1970 Volvo 144S, 4-speed with many IPD parts. Still a daily driver after all of these years!

    I know it's been a long time since a post on this thread, so I thought I'd post this.

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,587
    Other than the IPD stuff, and it being a '69, that is exactly like the car my foks owned when I learned to drive (they had it from '68 to '79). I learned at the tail end of it's time with us.

    I still miss that car...

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    When they define tank, I think the Amazon-series (122S), and the 140-series qualify. Structurally, these cars are tanks, and built like it. Thankfully, the mechanicals (engine, suspension, etc.) are not quite stock on this 144S, and it runs very well. Plus, it's so simple to work on, compared to today's rolling computers, that I truly enjoy the work.

    My younger brother had a '69 144S, but with the B18 (1.8L) engine, and the B/W automatic - it was a real slug, but safe and reliable.
  • '69 was a transition year of sorts. The '70 is better I think. You have the short gearshift or the long one?
  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    Hi Shifty - The long (direct) one. Here's a shot of the dash - Volvo Competition Dept. gauge cluster, and Nardi leather steering wheel. The wheel's leather needs to be re-dyed black, as it's faded over the past 3+ decades.

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    Nice Volvo! How many miles has your car gone and, aside from the modifications you alluded to, is the engine original?
  • Nice front office, very clean and functional. I was just laughing to myself though looking at the fan knob on the far right, wondering how many times it's come off in your hand.

    I really like 140s, but I hated those biodegradable knobs and the exhaust systems always falling off.

    Did you get metal timing gears in there? I"m SURE you have an IPD camshaft--the B20 needs camshaft help.

    These ARE easy cars to work on. I can't think of anything that's really hard to tackle on them. Well I guess banging out those teensy-weensy U-Joints were a hassle. Could they have made them any smaller?
  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    Not too many . . . only 86,169 original miles on this one. Yes, the engine is original, but not stock, per se. It is the original B20B, but blueprinted, and balanced. The head has had quite a bit of flow work. Instead of the original "C grind" camshaft, it uses a D cam which is still very tractable on the street. It uses HS6 SU carbs with Grose fuel metering valves, instead of the OEM Stromberg CDSE's and uses a 122S aluminum intake manifold and Volvo Competition Dept. tubular headers. Both timing gears are steel - noisier than the steel/fibre combination of the OEM set-up, but much more reliable. And, I am presently changing out the D cam for one of IPD's torque grind cams. Shifty - yes, the original Volvo cams were very soft, and it wasn't unusual for the lobes to be wiped in very few miles.

    The clutch is a heavy duty Sachs clutch and pressure plate with a lightened IPD flywheel. The engine was kept reasonably close to stock, as the 122S used the D cam, but I got rid of the troublesome Strombergs, and the combined intake/exhaust of the original design. I had tried Weber DCOE's back in the '70s, but went back to the SU's. When properly set up, a good set of SU's are fine.

    The primary improvements are in the suspension area. The suspension uses shorter, and higher spring rates, IPD coil springs, larger front sway bar, a rear sway bar, and Bilstein competition dampers. Also, a custom IPD air dam is on the front, and driving lights on the front bumper. The wheels are 15" ATS from the '70s, and the tires 185/70VR15.

    Yes, the knobs do tend to come off in your hand, especially the fan knob. Soft knobs for crash safety - right!!
  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    Here are a couple of other pieces of my Swedish Iron, although from a different origin in Sweden - sorry Volvo owners! Top: 1985 SAAB 900 8-valve, 5-speed; Bottom: 1987 SAAB 900S 16-valve, Borg-Warner 3-speed Automatic (Ugh!) - now my college-age daughter's car).



    I guess I'm a Swedish Iron masochist at heart! However, I do have two much newer Asian cars to revert to when needed (when I'm not under the Swede's re-working something). As usual for the average car nut, too many cars, and not enough garage space!
  • Yes SUs are really good carburetors, much better than the hateful Strombergs and much more efficient and easy to live with than the Webers---which tend to over-fuel the engine and are really fussy to get right. SUs have only 3 moving parts!
This discussion has been closed.