1974 Volvo 142: Compelling Tarp Find


Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

There’s something about this Volvo 142 that keeps drawing me back to it (I’ve looked at the ad four separate times now just this morning). Perhaps it’s the solidity of Volvo construction versus my usual British tin? Maybe it’s the period ATS wheels (at least that’s what I think they are) and the great color and stripe? Or the spectacular seats? Whatever the reason, I keep returning to the ad here on eBay and wondering how far I am from Richmond, Texas (1,194 miles). The opening bid is $2,600 and there’s no reserve. Which is just that much more appealing. Oooh, boy!


I couldn’t wait to show you these seats! The seller tells us there are only 55,000 miles on this Volvo, and since the odometer has triple digits, it might actually be true! Look at the Volvo floor mats and that great blue carpeting! There’s a dash cover to get rid of those cracks for sale here for only $54.95. Darn it, I’m convincing myself! I already know those seats are comfortable, and the manual transmission (doesn’t look like it has that great overdrive, though)


I know the seller says it has some rust spots, but there can’t be much of it. There’s some good information about the 140, where it can rust and even what you need to install an overdrive unit in this page from the UK Volvo owners club that talks about the spare tire well and rear valence as typical rust spots. Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of either of those locations.


Doesn’t that interior look inviting? The paint looks like a good buffing could bring it back to snuff, and looks great with that bright interior. Hey, Josh & Jesse, you two like Volvos, right? Barn Finds project material? You might have your buyer in this writer when you’re done…


Here’s the clincher for me. No, it doesn’t run at the moment, but lookee there! That’s an air conditioning compressor on the right, and when the car was taken off the road it was working recently enough that the belt was still on. Wow! Sure, it looks like there are some items missing under here, but parts are readily available and there are all kinds of enthusiasts ready to help you with advice and expertise. Let me know which one of you buys this one, and Josh & Jesse, if it’s you two I might have to plan a trip to Idaho!

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  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    I love it Jamie! Volvos of this vintage were well built and make great daily drivers. We will keep an eye on it and if bidding doesn’t get too crazy, we might jump in.

  2. RayT Member

    It’s tempting! I would guess its not-running state might be caused — at least in part — by what appear to be missing fuel injectors….

    Even if it needs some work and a good cleaning, this looks like a worthwhile buy. My ex-wife had an earlier 144S (twin SUs) that run like the proverbial top until it was deprived of oil (“What’s that red light on the dashboard?” she said), and even then it took me only a few days and not much money to rebuild the engine.

    Ever since, I’ve had a yen to get a 142 and try some of the IPD trick bits on it. These were beautifully built and unbreakable.

    • charlie

      Unbreakable? This one definitely looks broken.

      • Dave Wright

        Scruffy and dirty has no relation to being broken. I have seen lots of polished and clean cars very “broken” I love buying a dirty car cheep and polishing it up.

    • angliagt


      Don’t worry about the Red light –
      it goes out eventually.

  3. Howard A Member

    If these cars didn’t convert most people to Volvo’s, the 240 sealed the deal. This does not have O/D, as it was a small lever on the right side of the steering wheel, in front of the wiper stalk. I have a friend that had a 1800 with fuel injection. It was one of the 1st F.I. cars I drove. I must say, it performed flawlessly. While we can’t argue the 6 digit speedo, I doubt highly this car has 55K miles ( what else is new) Inoperative speedo for MANY miles, but who cares. Volvo’s aren’t afraid of miles. Ask Irv Gordon. ( 3 million mile 1800) Great find. Like I say, years ago, parts prices were astronomical for Volvo’s, and many were junked.

  4. Bill

    great find! The 140’s are cool looking cars. In fact I like all the late 60’s early ’70’s ones. I had a 164 of the same vintage. Rock solid and a pleasure to drive. I’d love to daily this one…. maybe put the earlier bumpers on it though…

  5. Ken

    Gave a ’68 model 144 a serious beating for several years in the ’70s and It kept coming back for more, the engine still survives in an inboard boat. Bulletproof cars!

  6. Dave Wright

    Fuel injector B20, the best built. The carbureted ones are good but the fuel injected versions are a full cut above. I terrorized a nearly new 1968 142 until a guy Tboned me on my 21st birthday……tremendous cars. We bought repaired and resold many in the 80’s. made a little money and never had a come back. Once fixed, they were great. These little 5 bearing iron engines are some of the best ever built.

  7. Dylan Morgan

    A very good looking car. Stylish with nice clean lines and reliable.Love it.

  8. grant

    These motors have been used in boats for a while, with some modifications for marine use of course. My favorite boat I’ve ever had had a Volvo-Penta 130 with twin Solex’s. Simple pushrod design made it absolutely dead reliable. It would run 15-20 miles offshore at 3000 rpm and never hiccup. With these motors, mileage is almost a secondary concern. Hope you get it, Jamie.

  9. Dave Wright

    I really like the orange one on eBay right now…….that may be a better buy depending on where the bids all go.

  10. Steve

    I bought a 74 142 manual just like this in 77 and drove it all through college, gave it to my sister who drove it all through college. I consider it my first good car. I love the feel of it on the road, reliable, thrifty to run. I owned it for 9 years and sold it for $1400 less than I paid for it

    Luckily or not I have two project cars ahead of this one so I’ll have to pass.

  11. Chebby

    Love the colors, this will look so much better cleaned and polished that I wonder why the seller didn’t bother. Bought from the original owner just to list on eBay as is?

  12. Bernie H.

    Boy, I must have had some bad luck when I bought my 1968 Volvo 144 new in Germany. The windshield leaked around the top and rusted the roof, the SU’s couldnt be tuned by the dealer, it ran ok, but idled poorly, and hard starting hot or cold. Lost a piston at 74K, rebuilt the engine, and had another piston failing at 104K. I sold it to a used car dealer in Ann Arbor, MI. in 1976 just to get rid of it. This car had better than normal care, just a lemon. Every other
    car I’ve owned goes 200K or more.

  13. angliagt

    I had a 1970 142 given to me,as he was moving,
    & didn’t want it to go to the wrecking yard.I looked it over,&
    cleaned up the interior,but stopped there,as I didn’t want to get
    involved in another restoration project.Lots of extra parts were
    One of the very few cars that I actually made money on!
    I prefer the early ones,with the smaller bumpers,& nicer interior,
    but wouldn’t pass ion a later one,if I was looking for one.

  14. Oddimotive Cason

    No one has mentioned Bosch K-Jet mehanical fuel injection in this conversation, which I find odd. The 1974 142 was unique, in that it was the only 140 series car so equipped. The earlier 142E used D-Jet electronic FI and is the preferred setup.

    This car is clearly missing its fuel distributor, injectors and most fuel lines. It could be pieced together; but I’d recommend just switching to carbs. This should be a non-smog car in most places; so hopefully that’s not an issue.

    I had a yellow one very much like this that I bought and got running, but this is almost better, as no time will be wasted on K-Jet if another route is chosen. With the right intake, one might also be able to use the D-Jet parts and something like Megasquirt to get a highly tuneable little beast…

  15. Andrew S. Mace

    FWIW, I think all 1974 Volvos in the US had the K-Jetronic; I know our 145 did! Odd to have that paired with points distributor, but that’s what Volvo did.

    I’m over Volvos at this point in my life (although I’d consider my ’67 144 if it had survived). I might — in an alternate universe — consider this car IF it were Swedish-built. Our 145 was Belgian-assembled, which seemed to doom the supposedly sturdy, galvanized sheet metal to early dissolution (our ’84 240GL and my ’76 Saab 99 were also Belgian cars and dissolved like Alka-Seltzer tablets in our admittedly harsh Northeast winter climate)!

    • Oddimotive Cason

      Yep – all of the ’74 140s had K-Jet, but the 164E had D-Jet, I’m pretty sure. As the 1800ES was dead by then, those were all of the ’74 Volvos.

      It’s an interesting thing to keep running when complete, but, IMHO, not worth rebuilding if not all parts are present.

  16. Peter K

    What this car is perfect for is making it a Mustang, Camaro, or Barracuda killer. Plenty of space in the engine bay to put in your choice of rate motor. Ford 302, Chevy 350. Imagine, showing up at the line and smoking the ff the light……

  17. Wayne Thomas

    Just needs a 4.4L B8444S engine swap.

  18. steve m

    I love it…..I wish it were in the cards right now for a new project, too bad im so busy 🙁

  19. Wayne

    I had a 144S That I drove across Nevada at 115 MPH behind a NHP officer. Used up almost all of the oil as it id not have O/drive. You have to change over to rack and pinion steering to install a V8. (clearance issues with steering box and the steering linkage) Where a small block Ford will bolt in a 2 series car using a rear sump pan. (Even changed the fender badge from 265 to 285! Even the transmission cross member has the holes in the body at the right place. (Been there, done that and had a ball blowing away later model turbo Vovlos and BMWs.

  20. Aaron

    This one has some pretty rare options (wheels, upholstery, and graphics) that would seem to make it way more desirable as a stock or near-stock preservation project rather than some sort of restomod. There are plenty of plain-jane basket cases out there for that kind of thing. Just one Volvo nut’s opinion.


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