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Cousin’s Folly: 1980 Volvo 242 GT

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Last year, on one of my many junyard expeditions, I found an old Volvo 240 that had the super desirable GT grill in place of the standard issue nosepiece. In the case of this 1980 Volvo 242 GT here on eBay, it has all of the other goodies attached to this limited production model. The seller claims his cousin bought it about seven years ago and it’s been sitting in his garage ever since. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find! 

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Here’s the aforementioned grill. Believe it or not, the various special trim bits associated with the GT package fetch a fair amount of money. The front spoiler, alloy wheels, single-round headlights, specially-trimmed sport interior and smaller GT steering wheel all round out a package that was Volvo’s first foray into building a sport-oriented model. Despite the power remaining unchanged between the GT and the ordinary 200-series Volvo with the B21F motor in front, the 242 did benefit from several suspension upgrades.

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Bigger sway bars, gas-pressurized shocks and four-wheel disc brakes rounded out the handling improvements made to the GT, along with some flashy body stripes that maintained the theme of orange streaks between the inside and outside. The seller here has addressed some of the maintenance items his cousin ignored for close to a decade, including new motor mounts, plugs and wires, replacement headlights and reupholstered front seats (I knew they looked too good for the age). The body looks nice and straight, and the interior has been kept as the factory intended.

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These 242GT’s fall into an odd segment in Volvo history: they are rare, only made for three years and desirable for that reason alone. But the turbocharged model that came after it was a better car in almost every way, and you could certainly make the tweaks needed to have it appear like a hotted-up 240 Turbo with the performance capabilities to match. This car has been repainted once and some rust is already bubbling up, so while this 242GT is a solid driver, it’s not perfect – but does the $4,000 starting bid reflect this?


  1. kenneth

    All 240 models had 4 wheel discbrakes. Gt possibly came whith vented at front. Volvo started whith 4 wheel discbrakes on all 140 models . First year for 140 were -67. Greetings from Sweden

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  2. Dan10

    This is a 36 year old non-luxury, non-sports car with rust issues. $2000 tops. Part out and sell the GT items and replace with standard issue and drive it as a beater or as a first car to a teenager.

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  3. Jake

    It’s worth noting that those circular headlights in the square openings only existed for a year or two. Regular 240s featuring that set up are quite rare as well.

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    • Jeff Staff

      Agreed. I know of a few hiding out there in the wilderness, but junkyard owners always want a mint for headlights and grill components. ;-)

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  4. Jubjub

    I found one of the flat hood Turbo grilles junkyarding many years ago. If I could find weird stuff like that with any regularity I could do pretty well for my self.

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  5. Chris A.

    The 4 mag wheels are probably pushing $2K if they are in good shape and not all banged up. I had an early GT Turbo 4 door stick and it was a great car. I had trouble with the turbo as the early ones didn’t have water cooled bearings or a coast down oiling system. Great handling and safe road car. Miss it, but not the salt damage repair costs.

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  6. Don

    What are the rust issues?

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