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Two Owners, Always Garaged: 1978 Volvo 245 DL Wagon

For people who live above the snow belt, choosing a vehicle means making concessions to the weather.  Not only does your vehicle have to be well constructed and rustproofed with wild abandon, but the car also has to be sure on its feet in hazardous conditions.  Who better to design such a car than the Swedes?  If you are looking for an indestructible wagon with a Swedish flair, then take a gander at this 1978 Volvo 245 DL wagon for sale on Craigslist in Goffstown, New Hampshire.  While the condition of this wagon is already shocking when you consider it has been on the road for 45 years, the mileage is even more shocking.  Can you believe this well-tended Volvo has 180,000 original miles?  Is this New England transportation staple worth the $8,000 asking price?  Thanks to Mitchell G. for the tip!

As an automobile manufacturer, Volvo tends to fly under the radar.  While Americans tend to flock to more conventional domestic and imported cars, those in the know have been buying Volvos for a long time.  Why?  First off, Volvos are built to be quite safe.  Second, Sweden is a country that knows a thing or two about moving around in the snow.  The average Swede probably doesn’t even feel the instinctual need to run out and get the fixings for French toast when snow is in the forecast. They just go on about their day and maybe eat a little more surströmming  at dinner.

As for being under the radar, it may surprise you that there have been 2.8 million 200 Series Volvos built in a production run that lasted from 1974 until 1993.  While they are anything but flashy, these boxy Volvos are regarded worldwide as incredibly safe and durable.  Most were powered by Volvo’s “Red Block” four-cylinder engine and backed up by either a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission.  This engine had a reputation for having sufficient low-end grunt to power these cars through snow drifts and get acceptable fuel economy while doing so.  Early cars made do with a 2.0-liter version, but displacement slowly rose as production wore on.

Later cars could be fitted with inline six-cylinder engines and even a V-6 towards the end of the production run.  Overdrive for the automatic and an additional gear for the manual transmission were also added farther down the line.  As for body styles, customers could check the box for two doors, four doors, and wagons, and there was even a limited production version with styling by Bertone.  It was interestingly styled, to say the least…

The wagon you see here is one of the later 240 Series cars produced in 1978.  Its model designation is 245 DL, and in remarkable shape for its age and mileage.  The seller tells us that the car has only enjoyed two owners.  We are also informed that both of these owners were adults.  That assumes that all of us past 18 years of age don’t still drive like teenagers.  Both of those owners have obsessive about pampering the car.  It is described as a vehicle that has always been garaged and well cared for.  We are also assured that it has been properly serviced throughout its life.

There are some trim issues here and there to be dealt with by the next owner.  The front door panels are missing some pieces and parts, and the front bumper and the surrounding material seem to need some attention as well.  One good thing is that the car is advertised as being rust-free.  How they managed that after decades of New England winters is amazing in itself.  Perhaps the car never left the garage when the white stuff was falling.

While there has been a healthy uptick of interest lately in 200 Series Volvos, the price on this one may end up being an issue.  The good news is that the car will likely last another 40 years if given the same level of care.  These Volvos are tough, and they are worth the cost of admission.

Have you owned a Volvo 200 Series car?  What was the experience like?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. alphasud Member

    When I lived in Texas my dad bought a 1978 Volvo 265GL. We later moved to PA and even with snow tires you could count on a phone call from mom either stuck in the snow or having slid off the road. That might have been the driving factor for this car to still look good after all these years in New Hampshire where they receive more snow than where we lived. In addition to winter driving challenges the PRV engine was plagued with problems and the nearest Volvo dealer was more than a hour away. That came to an end in 1981 when dad bought mom an Audi 5000 that did much better I winter weather but as far as reliability that was a wash as the Audi had its share of issues. I owned a 83 GLT wagon and I had no issues with winter driving with the manual transmission and 4 Blizzaks. I think dad was using snow tires on the rear which created a handling issue that made the car a handful for mom.
    This car has an unusual color combination with the red interior. One thing for sure is the whitewall tires have to go.

    Like 3
  2. Aussie Dave Aussie Dave Member

    I’ve owned 2 Volvo’s. My first and my first car was a 145DL, permanently had a matrees in the back.
    I T-boned a falcon, not my fault, and I walked away from it, the front of the 145 was level with the windscreen.
    Aussie 145’s had a 1.9L carby 4, and it had a BW35 auto.
    When my wife got pregnant, we needed a family car, she had a MK1 GT cortina 2 door, and I had an RX2 coupe.
    I traded the RX2 in on a 244DL. Aussie spec, slant 4, 2.1L mechanical injection. 4 speed manual (stick) She would smoke the tyres in all 4 gears. And the only car ive owned that would redline in top gear. But sadly I T-boned a falcon again. The wife said that’s the end of us owning Volvo’s.
    My dream Volvo is a 262C (google it) rare as rocking horse………..
    BTW, all Volvo six cylinders in aus were V6’s. Series 1 and 2.
    Oh and she’s not wife any more, lol

    Like 0
  3. A Person

    Thanks for the write up on this Volvo. As with Volvos, reliability isn’t usually an issue. This engine is originally fuel injected controlled with an onboard computer, The engine electronics are typically reliable and not usually an issue. Electrically, these cars are not bad – except the annoyingly handy but temperamental burnt bulb light on the dash usually just needs bulbs replaced in pairs to keep the system balanced but cleaning any corrosion can do wonders as well. These are comfortable cars on the road – even handling but no race cars. When winter comes – I’ve owned multiple Volvos in snowy country. Blizzaks and go and you can take your grandmother anywhere…. Including ice-racing on a frozen Wisconsin lake (not everybody goes ice fishing). I believe this engine has pushrod design and therefore making sure the valves are adjusted correctly about once a year is important to longevity. Slightly tappety noise is good – overly quiet is not. Auto gearboxes are stout, as long as there’s no really heavy trailers in its history and services have been done. Overall, for a Volvo 240 series at 180k miles – it’s still young. Key to these is maintenance. It’s great that this was stored indoors. However the “Achilles heel” with Volvos are their interiors. They need to be treated very gently to last well. You must be extremely careful with the parts / surfaces – otherwise they break and fabrics wear badly. What’s worse is when somebody retrofits parts that were never meant to be there. Unfortunately, it seems that this example has had less than careful treatment and some modifications. I believe the front seats are original – but not to this car – because to my knowledge unless it was custom ordered the wagons only came with vinyl seats as the standard issue. Fabric seats in the wagons was only offered later on. What triggered my attention is that the back seat has been redone in what looks like upholstery from a mid-80’s Chrysler/Dodge Omni palette of fabrics. I makes me wonder if pets or children or careless hauling or simple age of vinyl was the cause of a redo. The missing door handle and hole in the front passenger door also gives me pause. They make me wonder if the door panels might have been taken (with the front seats) from a donor Volvo 244 (sedan). I can only guess somebody tried to retrofit a stereo in this car that never had speakers in those door locations (originally if the car had an optional radio at the bottom of the centre console – door speakers would be mounted down low toward the front of the door). Volvo moved the door speakers up in later models. Additionally, outside it looks like somebody lifted the car on the rocker panel seam by the damage done to it in the picture. They must not have a mechanic that realises that you need to use the jack points on the car to lift it – probably when they put those hideous white-walls on it. Overall, it’s a nice car, but not $8000 worth…. And needs careful inspection to determine what this Volvo’s real condition is. Good luck.

    Like 0
    • Robt

      Overhead cam, yes interior is original, including door speaker location, and 240 series interiors are not so precious.
      Not seeing rocker damage noted.

      Nice car. Over priced in my estimation, but somebody grabbed it quick. Guess the price was right.

      Like 0
  4. Robt

    This one didn’t last long. Ad is already deleted.
    I had 3 of these Volvo wagons in the past. I’d probably still be driving one if I hadn’t found and stepped up to a w124 mercedes wagon about 18 or so years ago. Now with my third w124 wagon, but that’s another story.
    These 200 series Volvo wagons were the best car going for me back in the day, especially with a stick over an automatic. Easy to work on, easy to maintain/fix, easy to drive. And rear wheel drive, most important for me. I used mine for work, family and sport, what with the stick shift to keep the motor in its power band.
    This one has a lot of potential being rust free. Looks like it was well worth the asking price. But sadly an automatic.

    Like 6
    • chrlsful

      “…third w124 wagon, but that’s another story…”
      go back one gen (123)

      Like 1
      • Robt

        123’s are good. But for me the 124 wagons are the goods. Especially with a plug & play 3.6 AMG gas motor under the hood. That motor, from a mid 90’s C-36 sedan, came to me powering the 2nd wagon. Then I had it swapped into current, 3rd, wagon when the 2nd wagon rotted out.
        Always rear drive wagons though, volvo’s or mercs.

        Like 1
  5. Rallye Member

    I wonder when it was repainted? Did it have some rust then?
    The panel under the grille and headlamps wasn’t.

    Like 1
  6. Poppy

    Beautiful example for its age. 245 = 200 series, 4 cylinder, 5 doors. I just can’t say enough about these great cars. The utilitarian styling and tough-as-nails mechanicals make them a no-nonsense choice for the pragmatic and easily triggered. I’ve never owned one, but one day hope to own a fleet of these 100+ hp powerhouses, as few wagons are built anymore, and these often rust badly in the northeast. The 1800s get all the attention, but these are REALLY the special ones.

    Like 0
  7. John in Ballard

    We’ve had five Volvos in our family, four wagons and one two door. They have been reliable and long lasting with moderate care. Certainly their styling is “conservative” but a Volvo is a Volvo and not looking like anything else. My current ‘82 DL Wagon is known in the family as “Good Dog” and has over 400,000 miles on the clock. It has been the driver training car for three kids, touring car for the family, and is in daily service today. Find a good one, maintain it well, and you won’t be disappointed.

    Like 2
  8. SaabGirl900

    Actually, the inline 6 (B30) engine was retired with the 164 in 1975. Volvo was supposed to end the 164 in 1974, but they couldn’t certify the PRV engine (which was a V6) in time for launch in 1975 here in the US. Hence, the 164 was kept on in the US and Japan through the end of the 1975 model year. The 264/265 came out in 1976.

    We have a 164 (my brother’s car, but I take care of her) that we resurrected over the past 2 years. The mechanical heavy lifting is done, now we have some bodywork to do. The car is Carribean Red, but she has some dings and dents that need to be taken care of before there are holes and patches of metallurgical psoriasis.

    Driving the 164 is a lot like driving my late 1974 Plymouth Scamp. You can see all four corners of the car from the driver’s seat, the steering (recirculating ball) is kind of vague and, when you step on the gas, there’s a lot of sound and fury, but not a lot of fast forward movement. However, once you get the car to 55-60 MPH, she’s a very comfortable cruiser, just like my slant six Scamp.

    If I had room in the barn, I’d take this wagon in a heartbeat.

    Like 2
  9. Christopher Gentry

    You described the performance spot on , I owned 2 245s a 78 and 84 both 4 speed. Used to say a kid on a bike could beat it from a standing stop , but she would cruise over 6 figures all day once it got there. These were DARN good cars

    Like 2
    • John Morrissey

      Ignore the styling “Flair” and this is an exceptional value. You can’t find anything that dependable for under $10,000

      Like 1
  10. JLT

    My in-laws had several Volvos including one exactly like this one. I owned 3 Volvos later. An 1999X-70 FWD wagon an 2002 C70 FWD convertible and a 2006 XC-70 AWD wagon. All 3 of them had OHC Turbo I-5’s. The C-70 convertible was faster than my 63 SS Impala 327. I didn’t usually think of Volvos as fast cars but that DOC I-5 turbo was HOT!!

    Like 0
  11. Robert

    Lived in Canada and had a 1985 Turbo sedan. Looked and was utilitarian, but would sure embarrass a lot of so called sports cars. Transmission, 4 speed with overdrive, wasn’t the fastest shifting but worked fine if you just ignored the clutch once you were rolling. Always regretted selling it but was to far from a dealer at the end.

    Like 0
  12. Chris Eakin

    I’ve read that a Ford 5.0 is an easy fit, so if I had the money to find a solid Volvo wagon and give it a heart transplant, that’s what I would do.

    Like 0
  13. Ike Onick

    “Two owners: Always garaged”

    I hope they got out for some fresh air once and a while

    Like 0
  14. Christopher Gentry

    Hahaha. The carbon monoxide is a bear

    Like 1
  15. Nick 8778

    No Volvo, anywhere in the world, should EVER be fitted with whitewall tires. Not by nobody, not no how! NEVER! (Just sayin’…. ;-)

    Like 1

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