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Swedish Survivor: 1971 Volvo 145 S Wagon

When it comes to cars that could be defined as strong or possibly even bullet-proof, then cars like this 1971 Volvo 145S undoubtedly would meet that criteria. In spite of the fact that the 1-Series Volvo has now been out of production for 45-years, the 142 and 144 still compete with some success in rally and rallycross competition in Scandinavia. This great old 145S wagon would be just as strong and reliable and would be a great entry-level vehicle for someone searching for something just a bit different in the way of a classic wagon. Located in Loveland, Colorado, it is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the opening bid at $3,000, but surprisingly, there hasn’t been any action on the car at the time of writing.

The first thing that I notice with the Volvo is that it does appear to be nice and solid. There are no obvious signs of rust, which I don’t find to be particularly surprising. While the Amazon could suffer a bit in this area, the 1-Series was a very different proposition and was not terribly rust-prone. The car is nice and straight, and while the paint looks a bit tired, it would be interesting to see how well it revived with a decent cutting compound and a good polish. One of the great features of the 145 is the narrowness of all of the window pillars and the large glass area. This makes the car feel light and airy, but due to some clever engineering, the narrow pillars don’t compromise vehicle strength in any way.

The interior of this Volvo is quite a highlight. The vinyl on the driver’s seat is a bit stretched, but the rest of the interior trim looks to be in very good condition. The dash is complete and free of any cracks, while the carpet and headliner also look to be quite good. One area that is a bit of a surprise is the rear cargo area. On any wagon, this is an area that can be quite prone to damage and wear. On this Volvo, it looks to be in great order.

For the uninitiated, the first drive of any healthy 4-cylinder Volvo can be something of a revelation. For engines of modest capacity and seemingly modest power outputs, they really do acquit themselves quite well. The engine in this Volvo is the 2.0-liter B20b 4-cylinder engine, which is fitted with dual carburetors and is backed by a 3-speed automatic transmission. The owner claims that the Volvo has covered 73,700 genuine miles and that it has been his daily driver until recently. There are a couple of small items that will need attending to before the car is returned to regular use. These include fitting a new temperature gauge sender, finding out why the dash lights don’t work, and repairing a small hole in the top of the fuel tank. At the bottom of this story, you will find a YouTube clip that shows the car starting and running, and it does sound really clean and strong.

For someone looking for outright performance, the Volvo 145S is not going to be the car for them. However, for someone looking for a family wagon that will carry 5-people, and is happy to cruise all day on the highway at 70mph in a degree of comfort, then this car might be just the ticket. This Volvo looks like a solid example that won’t need much work before it really shines again. It’s also a car that should start a few coversations at you next Coffee and Cars.


  1. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    These are the cars that turned the tide for Volvo. The 140 series was much improved over the old fashioned 122, and they sold a bunch. It was perfect timing, as older hippies, still true to their roots, but had gotten a good job, and they all drove Volvo 140’s. Naturally, I’m a bit skeptical about the mileage, the engine looks a bit rough for 70g’s, and when numbers on a odometer don’t line up like the 9’s, it could mean it was turned back at some time. Still, these are such nice cars, it shouldn’t deter anyone from buying this. The automatic is a Borg-Warner unit, and a stout transmission, used in many foreign cars. I’d love to have it, and it’s not that far away,,,hmm, think they’d trade for a square body Jimmy?

    Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Stevieg

    Nice old wagon!
    Growing up, I lived in a tight knit mostly Italian American community. My maternal grandparents lived next door to my parents & I. These houses are all duplexes, with one family stacked on top of another. My grandparents upstairs neighbors & best friends had the sedan version of this car. Same colors, I think it was a stick shift. I have no one to show this to. My grandparents have been gone a long time, along with the husband half of these neighbors. The wife is well into her 90’s & doesn’t recognize her kids. I would love to have this though. I agree that it would be a conversation starter, and a very versatile one at that!

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo Coventrycat

    Wish it was closer. Great looking design whether a wagon or sedan.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo On and On Member

    Great cars, owned a few back when. Solid and dependable transportation, 25mpg on the road. Good heaters and comfy seats. Only had one automatic and preferred the 4 speed with overdrive.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo ccrvtt

    I knew I guy whose parents were both doctors so they bought him one of these for his college car at Cornell. As it happened, he rolled the car. Fortunately no one was injured. All 4 doors and the tailgate still opened so he drove it for another 3-4 years after that.

    BTW he also became a doctor, went into public health. Volvos have good karma.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo skorzeny

    LS swap. And a Tremec.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Eric

    I owned this 145 before the current and previous owner. Miles are accurate. I got the whole history from the guy I bought it from. I sold it because of the sluggish automatic transmission, ultimately finding a 4-speed replacement in the same year. This car was actually on Barn Finds a few years back if you are able to do the search. Not a show car but a good driver with only a few needs. Attached is a photo from when I had it.

    Like 9
  8. Avatar photo RJ

    Getting rid of the POS BW 35 is a piece of cake. The body was built to be configured for either trans – all holes, weld-nuts, etc are in place. I did my ’71 142E in a week-end.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo the one

    Needy. Needs exhaust manifold work, etc.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Alabee

    I have three hubcaps I would like to move on to a needy Volvo. Mine is long gone sadly.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Bruce

    Given my years working on 12 cylinder cars from Italy and England these are a joy to maintain. This is the car for those that really do not like cars. What does it do but it job to get you there safely and with minimum of fuss. It was designed to do just that and it has been successful from day one. I have not owned one but friends in college and later have often put over 300K of miles on them. One friend who put over 800K on his had the interior redone ever 400K and rebuilt the engine at 500K. It did not really need it but he wanted to be safe as it was his daily driver for over 20 years. Given that he was a tall slender 6’5″ and owned an imported car shop says a lot as well. The trash truck from hell that narrowed the car about a foot and the insurance company that told him it was worth nothing were what finally did the car in. For what it was worth the color was the green of Eric’s photo above. Could have been a twin, and at 800K look just as good.

    These cars and the Diesel Mercedes of the same period are truly majestic in how long they can run with minimum care. Fix what needs fixing. Then fix what might need fixing and enjoy the next 200K of miles in safety. Just know every Honda and Toyota out there will out run you but then they will fold up like a paper plate if you have to hit one. Truly there is still a balance in life. PLEASE INSERT EVIL LAUGH HERE.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo cobrajetter

    What is the criteria for the “S” designation compared to the “E” designation? I had a 145S that was manual transmission, and this one is automatic.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Eric

      The “E” referred to a fuel injected engine.

      Like 1
  13. Avatar photo RJ

    “S” in the North American market denoted dual SU carbs, while the “E” was for fuel injection. I’m not sure if Europe still had a single carb option or not.

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Michael van der Putten

    M I own 4 right now, 68 wagon, 2 69 142 and a 71 wagon and I drive a87 240 every day, so I guess I love them, One of the previous posts said a lot about them and its true, simple, do it all with style cars. The 140 cars I think are the rarest of all the models and I,m surprised how little attention they get, I wouldn,t sell any of mine for that money………….just super cars and were way ahead of the north american car market………in many ways.

    Like 1

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