When the story begins “I was only 15 at the time so of course i wasn’t legal to drive, but i drove anyways” you know it’s not going to end well. From car-accidents.com comes the story of an out-of-control 1989 240, flipping, rolling and sliding on its roof. As usual, the driver lived to see another day.
This isn’t the tightest spot I’ve gotten into, but at least I had my camera. Shot from my apartment. The rear spare on the jeep made it feel even smaller.
I’m continually amazed at the tight spots I can fit this car in. A few factors contribute to the 32′ turning radius:
• RWD cars can turn sharper because the power is independent from the steering. That’s one reason a Nissan Maxima, for example, has a 40′ turning radius.
• The 240 is narrow. 67″ vs. Subaru Outback’s 72″, not to mention the Cadillac Escalade’s 79″.
• The huge rear overhang above a short wheelbase. The 240 pivots sharper since the proportion of the wheelbase to the overall length is shorter than most cars. Compare 104/190 with the Mini Clubman at 100/155.
This may not mean much to suburban bricksters with driveways and parking slots at the local strip mall, but living in the city it saves my ass again and again. The streets are narrow and parking is scarce, so I’m always prowling for a spot. Once I find one there’s no room for error; there’s usually a line of 2-3 cars behind you, revving their engines and hovering over their horn. Sure, I occasionally pinball back and forth from bumper to bumper, but that’s why matt black rubber bumpers were made. I’m so glad I don’t have a fiberglass, body color non-bumper like most cars have these days.
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
In their Question of the Day “What Car Makes you Feel Safe?” Jalopnik shows the love for the 240:
For an almost 25-year-old wagon it’s quite nimble and we feel maneuverability is just as important as anything else because you’re best advantage in a possible crash is avoiding it.
The pickings haven’t been too bad at the Pick-n-Pull I frequent on the east coast. I’ve managed to find mint tail lamps, a clean grill and the holy grail of 240 parts; intact door pockets. Most of the junked 240s I see are over 20 years old, so I hope we still have a few more years of parts to pick.
Jalopnik has a theory for the proliferation of junked bricks on the west coast:
Berkeley and its nearby East Bay cities… have long been inhabited by legions of folks who swear the Volvo 200 series was the Best Car Ever Made… that is, until the Prius arrived. Once a bulletproof hybrid Toyota enters the stable, paying Sven the Volvo Mechanic $1,800 every six months to fix a car that gets 18 MPG no longer seems like the bargain it once was… and thus begins the long tow-truck ride to the junkyards of Oakland and Hayward.
Thus begins their tragic photo essay of 240s decaying in the California sun.
I created an interactive how-to for changing the brake pads and rotors on a Volvo 240. Below is the step-by-step instructions. Consult a manual for more detail. I can’t be held responsible if you screw up and plow into your local 7-11 while stopping by for a 44oz Super Big Gulp of Cherry Coke.