Today Autoweek posts a comparison of the Volvo 240 and the Nissan Cube. The author begins by saying “Much has been made of the demise of the market for the truly awful car.” I assume he is conflating the awful with the unusual, but I don’t really think they’re the same thing. While the 240 may have been unusual, saying that it’s awful is just plain wrong, and puts our beloved bricks in league with the Pontiac Aztec. Does he really want to go there?
The article outlines an imagined competition between the 240 and the Cube, brought together by their boxy shape. “Experience has shown that if you ask the average 3-year-old to draw a car, he or she will come up with something remarkably similar to either the Brick or the Cube.” Ultimately the Volvo wins out by virtue of its longevity and unassuming style.
The lifespan of a 240 is essentially unlimited. With cylinder bores lined in a mixture of titanium, Kevlar and diamond dust, a Volvo B23 engine with 200,000 grand on it probably equates to Nissan 1.8-liter with 19,000 miles on it. Show me a Cube with a million miles on the clock and we’ll talk, but I suspect that if that ever happens, you’ll be holding a séance to let me know.
Brick-a-Brack DIY Maintenance
I’ve been using the app “Car Minder Plus” for the past year and a half to document my gas mileage and repairs. It allows me to enter a garage of different cars and keep track of maintenance and service. Since I don’t have a fuel gauge it helps me keep track of how many miles I’ve gone since the last fill up, then shows my overall fuel mileage over 3 months, one year and lifetime.
This charts MPG over the course of 18 months. Note the dip after AMM broke.
Whenever I have a problem with the car I document it in the app so I have dates and mileage of when the problem occurred. I can also enter the expected time and mileage between services so they will come to my attention later and show me how dreadfully behind I am on my maintenance schedule.
My mileage is low enough that it's the date intervals that trigger the red light, not always mileage. Each of these items and their intervals can be set by the user.
These screen shots document the problem I had with my air mass meter. In the first you can see my mileage dive from over 20 mpg to below 15 mpg after I stalled in flood waters last August. I was pumping out unburned fuel for months before the problem was diagnosed and fixed. I was sure to document it all for future reference.
The "Repairs" area allows you to document anything and everything that happens to your ride.
Each repair item records date, mileage and your notes.
A bonus for “Car Minder Plus” is that you can email all your records from you iPod or iPhone. They come in a PDF file that you can print and hand to a mechanic if need be. Overall a useful app, I just have to be careful not to get my iPod Touch covered in motor oil and PB Blaster.
Riding my bike into the studio this Sunday morning I noticed a BMW M3 slouching at the curb. What I thought was a flat tire turned out to be no tires at all. Looks like someone pulled the rims from all 4 paws, leaving the beemer teetering on a block of wood, a cubic rock and one poor rotor. The lug nuts sat conveniently next to each empty wheel well.
Flaf has a sweet set of sketches of sedans, sport coupes and subcompacts in his Flickr stream. Can you find the Volvo?
Here’s a previous post of a 245, and a new image of a p1800.
Earlier this month Jalopnik took reader suggestions for the “Top Slow Cars to Drive Fast“. Our beloved bricks came in 5th. Quote from a Jalopnik reader:
You haven’t lived until you’ve gotten one of these sideways, steering by looking out the side windows as you listen to the rev limiter have an epileptic seizure and the only thing you can smell is tire smoke as your mind reels at the insanity of it all… At 14mph.
Jalopnik this week asked for suggestions for the “Top Car for College” and the Volvo 240 wagon won top honors, beating out the Buick Roadmaster Estate and Ford Crown Vic. From the editors:
You can move entire apartments in this thing, when it breaks down it’s usually capable of being fixed by someone with limited repair skills, and they’re fun at low speeds. And if you have to sleep in a car, it’s one of the most comfortable.
Wired’s Autopia came to the same conclusion last year, but they included 700 and 900 series as well.
I’m in the middle of launching a new blog about drawing and won’t be posting much on this site right now. My car is running great and luckily the only issues I have is with the pigeons in the neighborhood sitting on telephone wires above my car. I’m planning an interactive toy based on my car called “The Black Brick Experience” and hope to launch in the fall.
I post t-shirts as “Stripped Nuts” on Zazzle. I’m always drawing and post my images, like the truck above, on Flickr and I recently updated my portfolio at jayboucher.com.
This Ghost Volvo 240 was posted on “Scratch Made Cars” back in 2004 as a work in progress. Johannes Saar has more complete auto renders on his own site, including a sweet Dodge Challenger.
I’m working on an interactive version of the 240 engine compartment and have been combining photos to warp the perspective. I want to show the front of the car while also looking into the engine compartment from above. I collaged this together and am now looking to work on a model in Sketchup with the ultimate goal of animating this in Flash. I’m sure I’ll be able to find models for the chassis but don’t know availability of a b230f render in 3D. I’ll have to check the googles.
Is this a kit that’s available?