Portland Police Spec: 1985 Volvo 240 Turbo

The era of Volvo selling police-spec 240 Turbos to municipalities is a special one to me, as it seems like a bygone era that isn’t coming back. Around the same time, Porsche was outfitting European police departments with 911s and here in the states, it wasn’t unusual to see Fox Body notchback Mustangs and Camaro Z28s patrolling local interstates. This Volvo did undercover duty for the Portland, OR police department and is said to be a great driver. Find it here on craigslist with a $2,950 asking price.

The seller tells a great story about confirming the Volvo’s identity as a former police car: “Previous owner tried to have a second key made using the VIN and they told him that the city had destroyed the key codes for the five police cars they ordered so he had to bring in the original.” Apparently, the Portland PD didn’t want anyone else joy-riding in these turbocharged and intercooled 240s, at least not without going through the effort of producing the original key. First thing I would do is swap out those sealed-beams for the pretty Euro-spec headlights.

The 240 police package featured “….water cooled turbocharger, plastic floors (instead of carpet), a brighter 2-bulb (switch is on the steering column), trunk popper button on the center console, and special seat stitching,” notes the seller. It would be smart to take close-ups of these details, as that’s what sells the car, but we have to make do with some lousy interior photos that barely show the floor and seat stitching. What we can see appears to show a cabin in good condition and apparently not destroyed by informants and criminals.

The listing breaks down a significant list of recent maintenance items, ranging from reupholstering the interior to correct police fabric spec, to a complete engine harness replacement, as well as pain-in-the-neck jobs like a heater core replacement. The full list easily exceeds the amount the seller is asking for the car, which isn’t surprising considering the rarity factor likely drives Volvo enthusiasts to want to save special cars like this 240 Turbo. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Andria for the find.


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  1. Chebby Staff

    Of course this would be a Portland police car.

    Like 6
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Really like these old bricks! Unfortunately
    for me, the availability of parts here in
    Polk County Florida is a real breaker. Oh
    I’d gladly pay the asking price if I knew
    that I could get the things I might need
    down the line to keep it running. If it
    doesn’t have Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler
    on the hood, you might as well forget
    about even finding service techs to
    repair it to spec. Don’t see many of these around here as many of them were taken
    to the U-Pull-It when something minor
    broke. Would make a good safe car for
    Mom and the girls if it weren’t for these
    issues. It would make a great car for me
    to make a portrait of though! When’s the
    last time you’ve seen one?

    • Kevin Harper

      Really, I work on obscure Italian cars from the 50’s and I can get parts. It is called the internet and just about anything for this car can be delivered to your door in just a couple of days. I use to live in Melbourne FL, which isn’t far from Polk and Polk County is far from being in the hinterlands. I’m sure there are plenty of mechanics that can work on something as simple as this Volvo.

      Like 5
    • The_Driver

      Anything needed to keep running an old Brick, is found a few keystrokes away from a laptop.

      PS: I grew up in Pasco County (Odessa), there used to be a Volvo/Mercedes dismantler on Linebaugh, between Anderson Rd and Dale Mabry Hwy. Before the internet, that was the place to keep the old 740 Turbo I brought from my parents.

  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This seems like a very reasonable price. I would have thought it would be double given the amount of maintenance work done. Makes me wonder if there’s something hiding in this one.

    • Superdessucke

      Double??? You obviously don’t know the Volvo market, LOL! This is all the money for this car, assuming it’s a real police package.

      I agree the photos are poor and you can’t 100% tell but I don’t know why you would put floor mats down on a rubber floor. I would definitely want to get it professionally inspected and make sure it’s what they say it is before shelling out this much money for one of these.

  4. Tom Justice

    I have replaced about a dozen heater cores on these type cars and it is not a pain in the neck but in another part of the anatomy. These were great cars in the day, my boss was THE VOLVO guy in our neck of the woods so we saw a bunch.

  5. wuzjeepnowsaab

    For those wondering why you would replace a complete wiring harness…it has nothing to do with fire. In 1985-early 86, both Volvo and Saab used a “new fangled” biodegradable soy based wire insulation for their electrics. What they didn’t account for was the degrading would start while the car was still in service, and soon. So it’s not unusual to see both of these Swedes of this vintage in yards or for sale with exposed copper.

    That plus the heater core replacement makes this a great buy. Everything else is icing on the cake.

    Like 2
  6. Gay Car Nut

    No way! A Volvo police car?! I’ve always loved police cars, but I’d never seen a Volvo 240 police car. I hope there are enough pics in the ad. The more pics the better. I’ll be incensed if there aren’t.

  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    There was a time back in the late 70’s early 80’s when the Aspen CO police used Saab 900 sedans as police vehicles.

  8. Chris_A.

    Jamestown NY had these, along with a Swedish diplomatic counsel. The PD Volvos were both two and four door 240 Turbos. In addition to the water cooled turbos, they also had inter-coolers. They didn’t last long due to heavy salt and idling for long periods of time in the western NY winters. I had the 4 door 240 Turbo with Pirelli P7’s. Wonderful car, but turbo repairs got expensive with no turbo water cooling. This price seems right and you also get the good handling package. Can’t tell if it has the auto or the 4 spd w/OD.

    Like 1
  9. Steve Varholy

    Falls Church, Virginia had Volvo patrol cars in the 1980’s. At the time, they had a procurement law that had a preference for businesses in the city limits. At the time there was only one car dealer in the city limits: a Volvo dealer.

  10. Doug

    A recent episode of ” Wheeler Dealers” featured a later 850 Turbo refurbish. Apparently, Ant Anstead was once a police officer in the UK, and their department used the 850 Turbos to chase down the baddies.

  11. Orion

    I live in the same town as the car and I may check it out soon. I have family who work for the city of Portland and I am trying to pull strings to find the records of the five cars. As I friend told me truly the ultimate oxymoron of police cars for Portland. If I do end up with it I will try to spec it to the original police package and maybe shine it up and take it to some car shows. Most of my favorite cars are either rally cars, German sports cars(60s-80s), and cockroachs of the automobile world(W123 and such). If not oh well I am quite young and so hopefully if not me someone as passionate or more.

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