Volvo 240 History | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

The Jinx of the Volvo 240? Not quite.

Once again CNN Money’s Alex Taylor III writes an odd article based on a ridiculous premise that goes nowhere. While we previously heard him pontificate  about station wagons, this time Taylor III writes of what he calls the “Curse of the Volvo 240“.

After writing about how the 240 has achieved a cult-like status as the lovable loser of the auto world, he then documents the decline of the Swedish company after the model was discontinued. He gives a basic history lesson that includes the attempt to shape Volvo as a luxury brand, the buyout by Ford in 1999 and the current resting place within the stable of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Rather than examining how the 240 cemented the brand’s reputation for safety and reliability, creating a “halo effect” that helped lift the public’s perception of subsequent models, Taylor III writes of the “bad luck” the company endured as it moved away from boxy and homely to sleek and luxurious. He sees the decline in sales as the result of a “jinx”, rather than a series of poor decisions by management and an inability to provide consumers with cars that are affordable and smart.

By allowing branding focus groups to guide decision making, Volvo lost an opportunity to exploit the niche, devoted following their company had established. The resulting decline is sales wasn’t from some weird, supernatural phenomenon; it was from the experience of consumers and their ability to see that the magic was gone. Alex Taylor III has it exactly backwards.


Some Assembly Required

Here’s 20 minutes of video footage from inside the Volvo body shop in Torslanda, circa 1993. Thank you, Internet!

Second video after the jump.


Beater Review: The 240 Series

This column from Beater Review in 2007 contains my favorite description of the Volvo 240:

Ask any child to draw “a car,” and chances are you’ll get an uncanny representation of the Volvo 240.

The review is pretty good, as it covers the known issues of failing electrical parts (apparently made from eco-friendly bio-degradable materials) and the heater blower. Good comment below the article also.

On doing a Google search for “beater brick” to find the above image, I saw I have the dubious distinction of being in slots #1 and #2 for that term. Here’s hoping I can nail a three-peat with this post.

Image via Andrew on Flickr


Worst 240 Illustration

volvo-240-ill-That is one long, flat hood. And what is up with those tires? Chains? Or just bad reflections?

Click here for full ad.

Via Volvo Rider


Volvo 240 Wagon Specs

Volvo Wagon Specs, 1990-1993:

  • 2.3 liter / 141 cui fuel-injected four cylinder
  • 114 hp, 136 f/p torque
  • EPA – 20 mpg city / 25 mpg highway
  • 0-60mph – 10.1 seconds
  • Wheelbase, in. – 104.3
  • Overall Length, in. – 190.7
  • Overall Width, in. – 67.7
  • Overall Height, in. – 57.5
  • Curb Weight, lbs. – 3051
  • Cargo Volume, cu. ft. – 76.0
  • Seating Capacity – 7
  • Front Head Room, in. – 37.9
  • Max. Front Leg Room, in. – 40.1

Anti-Fordist Volvo Production in Kalmar


The video below offers a glimpse of the Volvo assembly line in Kalmar, Sweden in the early 1970s as it produces the 200 series model. It’s an educational video demonstrating new factory production techniques pioneered by Volvo and offers an amazing glimpse at how Volvo was trying to humanize the assembly line and improve worker’s satisfaction with their jobs.

IPD posted the video on their site, and I did a little research to find more info on this particular plant and the rational behind Volvo’s new assembly line.


Cutaway Illustration of a 244

Cool little painting from yesteryear.


The 240 in England

The Independent UK had a short overview of the 240 a few years ago:

The Volvo body design stood the test of time. The cars had thick door bars that linked into the overall structure rather than just “floating” in the door, waiting to hurt the occupants. The roof steel was so strong that car repairers used to use the roofs from wrecked Volvos to patch up the floors of other cars.

In the US, Volvo’s boast was that, for years, the fatality rate in its 240 models was the lowest of any car. Volvo’s safety reflected the work of engineer Nils Bohlin at the advanced Volvo Safety Centre. Bohlin invented the three-point safety belt and pioneered padded cabins.

Via Independent UK