Back in the summer of 2011 I changed the bearing on my left, front wheel and made a note to myself that the process was easy, but messy. I figured I’d get around to the right bearing soon afterward. Well, I finally got around to doing the right wheel two years later.
The process is pretty straight forward. You can see a good step-by-step on the Brickboard so I’m not going to bother documenting it here. I will say this, however: be careful not to get any of that bearing grease on your brake pads and/or rotor. I thought I had done the job well but apparently I got a little glob onto the rotor. Once I got the wheel back on and started driving I noticed inconsistent braking and long stopping distances. I swapped in new pads and cleaned the rotor and that fixed the problem.
Everything is nice and tight now and I’m rolling smoothly. Maybe now I’ll finally get around to putting on my front shocks since it’s been over a year since I installed the rears!
What exactly does the Volvo 240 project, though? Does it mean I had middle class, safety conscious parents with liberal arts degrees? That I’m a vegan with a beard and tattoos and live in Brooklyn? Maybe it just means I’m a cheap bastard and like old, slow, heavy tank-like bricks that are built to last?
I suppose I’m lucky to have never had to deal with the mess that is current automotive dashboard design. While the 240s climate controls look like they fell out of a strip mall Radio Shack in 1982, at least you can use them by touch when your dash lights are blown. As touch screens take over the dashboard in many new cars, it seems there is rising frustration from drivers being forced to dive deep into menu structures just to adjust their heated seats.
The electronic dashboard interface — the controls for everything other than actually making the car go — was baffling. As I drove, I tried to figure out unfathomable symbols and notices, from “Brian’s iPhone,” which for some reason flashed on the dashboard screen whenever I tried in vain to regulate the air-conditioner, to an elaborately designed radio that resisted my efforts to change the channel.
So the guy who passed me on the 105 tapping his horn and waving to signal that my rear windshield wiper remained on, even though it was a sunny day, should know that hip-hop music also was blasting inside my car in maddening synchronization with the wipers that I couldn’t turn off.
The Sad Sack pictured here is enjoying the latest innovation from Apple: a “Digital Dash” that tracks his head and eye movements as he navigates to the closest liquor store. It’s part of a patent application for a giant touch-screen dashboard powered by iOS 7. While the screen will have physical ridges and indentations, it will essentially absorb all physical knobs and switches into its virtual maw. Apple realizes that tactility is important, so they create a cyber solution for a problem they created in the first place.
In a listicle entitled “So Uncool They’re Now Cool: Top 5 cars for Hipsters”, the online publication Digital Trends makes the amazing discovery that people who have no money enjoy the Volvo 240 because it lasts a long time:
Delightfully for hipsters, the Volvo 240 has also proven not only to be safe and fuel-efficient but also one of the most reliable cars ever built. Meaning, as it degrades on the inside and out, it can remain in tip-top running condition without any major financial investment. After all, a true hipster hasn’t any money anyhow.
In 1997 Newman commissioned Converse Engineering to shove a Ford 5.0 engine into a brand new Volvo 960 wagon. He then called Letterman and asked if he wanted one.
“Dave, I’m thinking of getting me a Volvo station wagon, and I’m gonna stuff a Ford 302 V8 engine into it. Do you want one?”
Letterman said yes, then Newman called back 2 weeks later:
“Dave, the cars are ready. We got two, on for me, one for you. I’ve got to ask you a question. Do you want a puffer?”
I’m thinking, well, is that like a special inflatable seat? And I said, “Well Paul, are you getting a puffer on yours?”
And Paul says, “Yeah, yeah, I’m getting a puffer on mine. It’s a supercharger. This thing will turn about 400 horsepower, so if you pop the clutch you’re gonna tear up the rear end. I tell ya, from 20 to a hundred you can chew anybody’s ass.”
Letterman seems to regard the car as more of a burden than a pleasure. Throughout the video he complains about it breaking down. He’d prefer to drive his Nissan Leaf.
I’ll never forget the sharp rapping on the window of my girlfriend’s car as we sat parked near a lake one summer night in 1988. The windows were so steamed up we couldn’t figure out what was going on. The blinding light of a police officer’s flashlight soon let us know we were busted. We scrambled back into our clothes and struggled to maneuver around the cramped interior of her two-door Mustang II. Yes, coupes are fun to drive but they can be a challenge when two people try doing something other than cruising.
I think film schools across the country have taught students that if you’re going to make a movie about a road trip then you have to cast a Volvo 240 in the lead role. Once again we have an indie film featuring a group of liberal 20 year olds riding in a classic brick.
The film Farah Goes Bang is the story of a group of women who travel around America campaigning for John Kerry. Like all good Democrats they do so from the comfort of the classic Swedish wagon. Many great shots in the film trailer below.