Sunday, May 4, 2008


Kids, this is a 1995 Volvo 850 T5-R. It has four doors and many airbags. It is a front-wheel drive family car with a spacious trunk, and it gets about 28 mpg on the highway.
It also has a 240-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter 5-cylinder engine. It has fewer miles and is in much nicer shape than the much despised 1995 Camaro I currently drive, which has a loud but gutless 3.4-liter V6 that only made 160 hp and has never heard the word torque, along with two ridiculously long doors and no interior space. I trust that, by now, it is clear what must be done. The T5-R is located one hour south of me.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to feed me a line that will convince my wife that this is the perfect family car for us. She reads this page regularly, so extreme caution is advised. Good luck to us all.


Anonymous said...

It's a Volvo.

They're filed out of a single piece of steel by hunky guys named Lars and Bjorn in lovely Sweden. They're built to withstand Swedish winters, their crash safety ratings are comparable to Armored Personnel Carriers, and they'll last forever with rudimentary maintenance.

Ambulance Driver said...

Best car I ever owned was a 1984 Volvo 240 DL. Bought it in 1993 for $1500 from a friend whose Dad owned a rental car franchise.

It was a rental car with 100k miles on the odometer, but it ran like a top, got 30 miles to the gallon, blew cold air and was built like a tank. I hit a deer right between the headlights (for me and the deer) at 50 mph in it.

I shot the wounded doe in the head, threw her carcass in the truck, duct-taped the still-working headlights that were still dangling by their wires to the bumper, and drove it home.

$200 worth of plastic grill parts and trim, and it was back in business and you'd have never known it was wrecked.

I put 150k miles on it in 3 years, and sold it to another friend for what I paid for it, and it was still getting 30 mpg, with nary a squeak, rattle or shimmy.

Let's be clear about one thing: I am utter Death on any sort of wheeled conveyance. I do not maintain them, I do not fix them, I do not clean them, and I have two speeds - zero and 80 mph. I have driven more than 10k miles on an oil and filter change more times than I can count, and that was before synthetic, longer-wearing oil.

All that is to say is that if a Volvo can survive being driven by me, you cannot tear one up, even if you tried.

Buy the Volvo. It's so far removed from the POS that you drive now, even at the same age, that it's not fair to the Volvo to refer to them both as cars.

Mikael said...

Yeah volvos are built to last, at least the old three digit ones(any volvo with other designations are peugeots in disguise, unfortunately). You can also tell the real old ones by the boxy look.

I second everything munchkinwrangler said, and they got some amazing torque, after all, they're designed to be able to go uphill on snow and ice. A common bumpersticker for volvos here is "I (heart) my tractor".

My mom told me about some people from a car magazine doing a review on a land rover 4x4, and they tried to cross where a shallow stream that went across the road, and got stuck. While trying to get their vehicle loose, two little old ladies went by in an old volvo 240 without a hitch.

I've also heard someone stresstest an old volvo engine... they put it on blocks and put a cinderblock on the accellerator, it just kept going and going and going... so they emptied the out the oil and put sand in there instead and tried again, it took 20 minutes of running on max with sand instead of oil before the engine gave out.

Don said...

You are true and loving friends, and I truly love you. Thank you. When I am ruler of this place and the old order is in ashes, the three of you will be on The List and you will come to no harm.

The rest of you need to get to work.

Anonymous said...

When I was a yound sprout learning to drive, my dad thought a fitting car would be a 1974 Volvo 242. Built like a tank that i couldn't destroy, and wouldn't destroy me if I managed to do something stupid. An Indiana winter was no match for that car. He gave it to me when it had 240k miles under it. it had well over 300k when we retired it. Why did we retire it? The frame was rusting out. I miss that car.

Anonymous said...

I have a '98 Volvo V70 (that's the wagon); It's solid, tons of room inside, the Volvo inline 5 is damn near immortal and pretty torquey to boot.

Anonymous said...

if the neverending drumbeat of unbeatable Volvo safety records (largely true, yes) won't do it, and the fact of Volvos being made and quite able to handle winters that'd freeze IL solid, or the fact that Swedish roads don't get deer collisions --- they get MOOSE collisions, and the Volvo's built to be wrecked by one of THOSE, not by a whitetail --- then likely nothing will convince her.

front wheel drive, by the way? i remember when Volvos were all rear wheel drive, without exceptions. i am old.

Anonymous said...

I got the hint with the e-mail you sent to my work account. I have to say you have been a trooper. I know the Camaro wasn't your choice of vehicles. It's slow and you no longer have a mullet which is necessary to drive it. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Volvo? What Click and Clack refer to
as the "sensible shoe" of
Sturdy, reliable, able to take
Swedish (and central Illinois)
winters, and safe for a growing
family. If there was someone in my
town who could work on 'em, I'd
probably be putting 200K miles on
one now.
Seriously consider't.
Anon, Don J.

Don said...

I got the hint with the e-mail you sent to my work account. I have to say you have been a trooper. I know the Camaro wasn't your choice of vehicles. It's slow and you no longer have a mullet which is necessary to drive it. I love you.

Does that mean yes or no?

Anonymous said...

Sounded like a "yes" to me. Hell, I've gone ahead before on far less.... :)

Anonymous said...

~no edit.....

Nice Ron White reference there, Marko.

Matt G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt G said...

I speak now not as a friend to Don, but as a police officer.

I have worked a few traffic accidents in my time. Some were minor fender benders that made me irritated to even have been called. Some were horrendous fataliies that took imagination realize that I was looking at an entire car.

I have NEVER worked a fatality in a Volvo.

While working the private security gig at Oaklawn and I-35E in Dallas many years ago (okay, maybe not so many-- it was the nineties), I personally observed a ditz in a Volvo sedan fail to come to a stop at a traffic light that had inconveniently turned red while she was doing more important things, like talking on the car phone. Well, actually, it did come to a stop-- it went from 45 mph to zero in about 4 feet, against the rear bumper of a Ford F-350 pickup. The pickup, with its large welded pipe steel bumper, didn't do that badly. The Volvo, sadly, lost one battle of physics (it was smaller, significantly lighter, and hadn't been outfitted with 200 lbs of testosterone-dripping steel for a rear bumper, by a redneck with an arc welder and a can of black Krylon). But it won another; when the Dallas PD cop directing traffic that saw the wreck ran up to the accident with me, he was sd shocked as I was to see the ditz open her door (an amazing feat-- the front end had been crushed into a very compact accordian), get out, and begin yelling at the bemused redneck. The DPD cop and I were amazed that she was even alive, more less able to get out of the car under her own steam and begin yammering. Anecdotal? Sure. But that'll sell a guy on Volvo's crush zones, passenger compartment cages, and airbags from the mid-'90s.

I stop cars all the time for equipment failures. Think those aren't important? Consider how unfortunate it would be to have your brake lights or running lights go out while driving home in a Verdin snowstorm at night, while Mr. Christmas Cheer is also trying to make it home, without getting busted for DWI. Reliable electrical systems are freakin' important. They also save money on future maintenance.

Which do you think your bored small town cop is going to pull over first? The frumpy old Volvo, or the tired old Camero? Trust me-- certis paribus, we'll pull over the Camero, first.

It won't be too many years before the boys are driving. I know, it's scarey, isn't it? You might give them the "old beater" of the Volvo, and feel a little better about watching them drive out in the world.

Plus, if you say it real fast, it kinda sounds like you're saying something dirty: "Honey, I'm gonna go for a ride downtown in th' Vulva."


Anonymous said...

Okay Guys I got the hint. A Volvo is an ugly tank that is less likely to get you pulled over. Which is a good thing because I have been pulled over three times in the Camaro.
The Wife

Anonymous said...

Matt G beat me to it. In a decade as a paramedic I have never worked a fatality in a Volvo. I'm pretty sure I've never even worked serious injuries in a Volvo. No joke. Fabulously safe vehicles, they are.

Jay G said...

Okay, over a week late, but it's a car nut thing, so...

Saw a wreck happen right in front of me back in the day walking down the beach.

A Volvo wagon PLOWED into a Chevy Citation, pushing it into a Nissan pick-up.

The Nissan made out okay - it bent the rear bumper down a bit, but was otherwise unscathed.

The Citation? It looked like an accordian, both fore- and aft. The hood was crumpled up a good 6 - 12 inches, and the nose demolished, with the radiator shattered. The back end did even worse, with the large rear window exploding and the bumper getting pushed halfway into the hatchback.

The Volvo that did the initial hit?

It had a cracked headlight bezel. I kid you not.

Anonymous said...