Classic Volvo 240 review: safety in all road cars

Classic Volvo 240 Review

Volvo 200-series was the most startling adherent of the move towards providing good passive safety in all road cars when it was launched in 1974. With many solid examples left, it makes a sound everyday classic.

It was a heavily revised update of the 100-series and was available in four-cylinder 244/245 form, and six-cylinder V6 264/265 form, powered by an engine jointly-developed with Peugeot and Renault. The range lasted until 1993, known as Volvo 240.

Volvo 240


Engine 2127cc/4-cyl/OHC

Power [email protected]

Torque 114lb [email protected]

Top speed 98mph

0-60mph 13.6sec

Economy 25mpg

Gearbox 5-speed manual



The biggest rot spot on these is the windscreen surround. Anything here is bad news, as it’s a screen out job to repair. Fortunately the screens aren’t bonded, but they’re prone to delamination. Wheelarches, damper mountings, wings and sills go, and if they’ve had screen surround issues check the floors. They’ll leak, and water inevitably pools here.


Rattles on 240 startup are normal, but these engines are sensitive to frequent oil changes. Head gaskets can go, so check the oil and water for signs of contamination.
Gearboxes tend not to give trouble, so check for smooth action and be wary of transmission noise in autos and manuals alike. Fuel injected cars can be consigned to spares/repair-status because of undiagnosed starting issues. Check the injection pump relay – it’s in the boot – they often fail, and it’s a cheap fix. The early B27 PRV power unit as used in the 264/265 suffered from blocked oil channels, solved in later models. Newer B28 and B280 sixes have distribution tensioner issues, can drink oil and lose power, suffer ignition and injection problems. A good PRV is a great engine and they are out here, but for long-term peace of mind and lower running costs, we recommend the 240s.


Little goes wrong here, save the usual wear of old car parts. Check the bounce and rebound of all four dampers, as well as testing them for leaks. These cars were fairly softly sprung when new, but that’s no excuse for excessive bouncing. The brakes are good in old Volvos; an emergency stop test should see the car pull up straight very quickly. Issues are likely to be confined to the usual disc/pad/drum/shoe wear.


Volvo 240

Interiors are fairly hard-wearing in Volvo 240s, though it’s rare to find a car with door pockets intact.

Beware any issues with the upholstery of cloth-trimmed cars; it’s not easy to source replacement seats to a set specification, but the leather ones are easier to retrim to a matching standard. It’s fortunate that most survivors seem to be the plush GLT and GLE variants, which means you’re dealing with leather trim, though there’s a healthy smattering of GL and DL cloth-spec models too.


Again there’s little here to worry prospective buyers. The biggest issue you’re likely to find is problems with tailgate wiring on the estates. Rear wiper, heated rear window, central locking and numberplate wiring is routed through the hinge area, and the constant movement can cause the loom to fray and break over time. Repairs aren’t complicated – just fiddly! Some owners have reported fusebox issues. It lives in the front passenger footwell, and fuses can become brittle and corrode over time if exposed to damp conditions. Check them all – especially, where fitted, the fuse for the fuel injection system.


Why should you buy one? Because you’ve always wanted a car that looks like a car – a box for the engine, one for the passengers and one for the luggage. You like Volvo’s reputation for solidity, and want a family sized classic suitable for everyday use. If you want an estate, you want a car that will be big enough for any load, and one that will be reliable enough to withstand any torture, choose Volvo 240