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One-Family Barn Find Survivor: 1972 Volvo 142E


Thanks to Charles H. for this great find! This is my favorite kind of find, a one-family, cherished from new car where it’s obvious the owner did whatever was necessary to keep the car in immaculate condition. Unfortunately the owner died a couple of years ago and his son is now selling the car. It’s located in Saint Clairsville, Ohio and is for sale here on craigslist for $6,500.


How Swede it is! it’s pretty obvious from this picture that the owner really loved this car. The “Overdrive” badge also indicates that the car has the lovely Laycock electrically-actuated overdrive, giving you more than the standard four speeds. I know on my Triumphs it can be actuated on either 2nd, 3rd or 4th (A-Type) or only 3rd and 4th (J-Type), but I don’t know which ones it can engage with on this Volvo–any Barn Finds readers know? While the tow hitch would normally concern me, these cars are tough and I doubt that this one was abused considering its condition.


You can see the shiny paint from this picture. The car was repainted in its original Ocean Green at some point. The close up pictures in the ad lead me to believe that all the emblems and trim were removed for the repaint rather than masked; an indication of a better quality job.


One thing I would like to see pictured that isn’t is the front seat upholstery, although if it looks like the immaculate rear seat fabric I’d be really happy! And look at the condition of that dash!


Under the hood we find the trusty B20 4-cylinder engine, good for many more miles than the 169,869 on the odometer now. The seller tells us that he starts it twice a week but has never felt comfortable driving it. Having inherited my father’s MGB when he died, I can understand how the memories might keep him from doing that. There’s two small issues; a broken side mirror and the latch for one of the front vent windows. If that’s all that’s wrong with this car, which is quite possible, I think it would be one delightful afternoon of two fixes and maintenance and you’d be off cruising in a great classic. While the advertised price is above the average retail value on some online guides, it’s below the high figures, and I think the provenance and records since new (even showroom brochures) would be worth it. Would you like to take this Volvo home?


  1. Avatar photo Mr. TKD

    You won’t see yourself coming and going every day. I like it.

    Like 1
  2. Avatar photo DJ

    I knew a boy who drove one exactly like this in school. It has sat outside now for 30 years and I doubt it’s worth scrap price now.

    Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this car! It’s just off Interstate 70 near the Ohio/WV border. Had I not just relocated from Ohio to Tampa 3 months ago, I would be driving this back to Columbus right now.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Jk

    Volvo used D (Early amazons /p1800) and J overdrives which only worked in the 4th gear.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo z1rider

    Re the hitch: I wouldn’t be surprised if all if ever towed was a Sunfish sailboat.

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Mark S

    What a great car this example is, my brother in law had one of these his was a 4 door, he drove it for years that thing would not die but the tin worm did eventually win out and he ended up selling it. Talk about a well made car. Nice find Charles.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Chris A.

    Oh, this is swede all right! Classic Volvo color and a two door with overdrive. The overdrive really makes these a great cruiser as the od gives you great mileage, together with a big drop in noise level. But what really caught my eye is the steering wheel with a horn rim that you can actuate with your thumb. Great find.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo jim s

    the overdrive in my diesel 245 worked in 3 and 4 only. i used to see these in SSCA ITB. this one looks great but i would still do a PI. if it is all there the car could make a great safe driver. try for a million miles! great find

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Great car. Cemented Volvo as a trusted name in the US. I had a ’78 244 that was a very nice car, although, it had O/D, and I don’t remember being able to get 3rd over. Maybe. I don’t think my MGB would either. Wasn’t there something on the top of the transmission, that when you hit 4th, it would go into o/d? Relay maybe? Anyway, these cars are very pricey to repair, but I feel, one of the best cars ever made.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Richard V

      There’s an isolation switch that allows the OD to be energized in 4th gear only. I bypassed the switch in my Triumph TR3 so I would essentially have 8 forward gears, kinda silly but cool to a college kid. Warning: If you ever chose to do this do not attempt to engage the OD in reverse!

      Like 0
  10. Avatar photo RoughDiamond

    The boat it towed is shown from the back in one of the pics. Nothing that could hurt the running gear really.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo DRV

    Richard V is right.
    I am guessing it is a garage find not barn, but who cares.
    This “green” is fantastic.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Alex P

    What a beautiful car. Gotta love your Volvo!

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo john S

    I had a 144s mated to a B18.
    The OD was useless as the B18 was too pokey except downhill.
    A mate had a 123GT which had the B20 and OD where it worked read well on the highway.
    I believe the P1800 box and OD was the same unit.
    I remember it only as a fourth gear OD.

    This is one nice car.

    Like 0

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