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Classic Car Cultist: Volvo 240

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On: Sat, May 28, 2011 at 12:16PM | By: Chris Salamone

Classic Car Cultist: Volvo 240

Many cars are popular because of their brawn, and some cars are popular because of their looks. The Volvo 240 has neither. And yet, since the 240’s inception and ultimate release into the North American market in 1975, the Volvo 240 has received an unusual following in the dark and mysterious underground of car enthusiasm. For example, while you might find a classic Sting Ray on the cover of every motoring magazine worldwide, you will also find articles, blogs, fan websites, videos, and accessories for Volvo 240s—all without the glitz and glamour of front-page notoriety.

The Volvo 240 was produced and sold from 1974—1993, coincidentally sharing its second decade with the 700 series. Trim levels were initially characterized by the number of cylinders corresponding to each engine. Also, on the outset, Volvo used letter codes to signify trim levels (L, DL, GL, GLE, GLT, GT, and Turbo). However, as the years went by Volvo found both systems too complicated and all models simply became the 240 and special trim letters were added and subtracted each year.

Body styles came in 4-door sedans from 1974 to 1993, 2-door sedans from 1975 to 1984, 5-door station wagons from 1975 to 1993, 3-door ambulances, and my personal favorite: the 3-door hearse. Volvo ran three families of engines in the 240 series over the years. Most 240s operated on a red block 2.1-L engine, some utilized V6s from the PRV family (derived from the Volvo, Peugeot and Renault partnership), and some found power in a diesel engine bought from Volkswagen.

Surprisingly, the Turbo engines cranked out significant power. As a result, the 240 Turbo became quite the racing circuit competitor during the 1980s. While the race-edition 2.1-L turbocharged engine produced more than 340 hp, the car also weighed about 2,425 lbs. That’s an incredible amount of power pulling very little weight!

As if power, strange looks, and racing success weren’t enough, the Volvo 240 has also made appearances in 626 films, including Striptease, Six Feet Under, and The 40 Year Old Virgin, and TV shows such as The West Wing and The Simpsons. Even more compelling, fan websites can be found at turbobricks.com, volvobertone.com, and volvoclub.org.uk, and there are loads of 240 clubs across the globe. Odds are, if you live amongst civilization then you can find a 240 club to join. While the 240 found much popularity in the United States, Sweden was to be, and remains, the 240's strongest supporter. During production, the 240 was used in the commercial setting for electric companies, plumbers, and as a service vehicle for ambulances, limos, hearses, and police cars.

There are so many trims and model types of the Volvo 200 series that true collectability based on scarcity might be difficult. The 240 is not a car that enthusiasts should collect with the anticipation to make a profit. However, the 240 has a massive following from hipsters to racers, to outdoorsmen, and to soccer moms. The 240 is a car to love and enjoy, remembered only in the dusty back pages of automotive history.

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