Volvo 140/160/240 and 260 buying guide
They’re not the curviest classics ever made but these Swedes are among the safest – and they’re also fabulously affordable. Here's how to bag a solid Volvo 140/160 or 240/260
How much to pay
• Project £250-700 • Good £1000-2200 • Concours £2500-4000
Running costs ★★★★
DIY Friendly ★★★★
If you’re looking for a stylish classic that majors on performance and pin-sharp handling, Volvo’s 140/160 and 240/260 Series won’t do much for you. However, if you want a family-friendly classic that's safe, strong, spacious and comfortable then look no further – whether in 140/160 or 240/260 form, Volvo's sturdy weather beater ticks all the boxes.
After the groundbreaking Amazon took the nation by storm, the 140 Series was disappointingly boxy and led to Volvo gaining an unfair reputation for conservatism that few rivals could match. Yet, beneath those understated lines lay a car far stronger and safer than rivals, with standard dual-circuit disc brakes all round, a laminated windscreen, crumple zones, rear seatbelt mountings, side impact bars and a collapsible steering column. It would take years for fellow marques to catch up.
When the time came to replace the 140 and 160 Series, Volvo opted for more of the same, with the 240 and 260 Series; cars that represented little more than a facelift. However, where the 140 had wishbone suspension and a steering box, the 240 featured MacPherson struts with rack-and-pinion steering, making it Volvo’s first car with these features. They improve the dynamics no end, but these are still cars for cruising rather than embracing the sheer joy of driving. You can't fit a couch or a fridge in a Ferrari, but you certainly can in a Volvo!
Your AutoClassics Volvo 140, 160, 240 and 260 inspection checklist
Three basic engine families were fitted. All 140s and 240s got Volvo’s own engine in B18 (1.8-litre) or B20 (2.0-litre) forms. The B20 unit was also fitted to entry-level 240s in some markets, though not the UK, which got only the 2.1-litre B21 unit.
While the earlier engine featured chain-driven overhead valves and a cast-iron cylinder head and block, the B21 has a belt-driven overhead camshaft and an alloy head. The 3.0-litre B30 unit in the 164 was effectively a six-cylinder B20. However, the 260 got an all-new engine, the PRV 2.7-litre V6 developed with Peugeot and Renault.
Volvo engines last at least 200,000 miles between rebuilds, but get noisy and run erratically when the camshafts wear after around 100,000 miles; replacement is easy. The fibre timing gear also wear – replacing with steel is a good idea.
Engine life is increased by fitting the correct Volvo oil filter, with a non-return valve to prevent top end oil starvation, which leads to rocker shaft wear. This is given away by a clattery top end. Replacement is easy though.
Erratic running suggests the carburettors are out of balance. If things are really bad the diaphragm has probably split. More serious is the spectre of worn cylinder bores or tired piston rings. Remove the oil filler cap and put your hand over the filler neck with the engine running. If you can feel gases pulsing past it’s time for a rebuild.
The B27 PRV 2.7-litre V6 in the 260 also tends to suffer from a worn camshaft after 100,000 miles, while overheating is common. More compact than the straight-six in the 164, the PRV engine can be rebuilt but most owners instead fit a 2.8-litre B28 unit from the 760 as they’re more reliable and easier to source.
1972 VOLVO 1800ES SPORTS WAGON
Volvo’s reputation was built on the backs of its stout, reliable and robust automobiles. It was the distinctly American-inspired PV444/544 that helped the company establish its foothold in the North American marketplace. In the early days of selling cars in the US, Volvo customers were a very small but loyal group of eccentrics who knew their cars to be something special. Enthusiastic drivers sFor Sale | 12 May 2018 | 2310 Chaffee Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146$ 36,500
1988 Volvo 780 Bertone
1988 Volvo 780 Bertone. Extensive documentation includes the original – owner’s manual, maintenance record book, a Volvo On Call roadside assistance booklet and membership card, factory alarm key card, warranty information booklet, dealer directory, maintenance service chart, oil quality information, stereo equalizer operating instructions and stereo owner’s manual. There are copies of 780 BFor Sale | 16 Apr 2018 | 2340 Cassens Dr. St. Louis MO 63026$ 10,900
1973 VOLVO P1800ES
LAST YEAR P1800 VOLVO, GREAT CONDITION, ORIGINAL 2.0L MOTOR, NICE EXAMPLE. A good Volvo is for the lover of different kind of distinction, and this 1973 P1800 ES proves it best. With the individual style, factory-correct standout color, original engine, and an overall unique personality, this is a real attention-getter that you`ll discover is also a great driving classic. Volvo people know the sigFor Sale | 19 Apr 2018 | 6000 Reliance Drive, La Vergne, TN 37086$ 24,995
VOLVO AMAZON 121 1968
Volvo Amazon 121 1968 in very beautiful condition. Originally Holland Volvo Amazon, new delivered on the 4th of march 1968. For 9 years the car belonged to a real enthusiast who kept a log of all the tours he made. The paint has the original colour Pärlvit/Pearl White (79) in combination with a black interior. The car is in a very beautiful original and technically in great condition. This VolvoFor Sale | 16 Apr 2018 | Kleiweg 1 5145NA Waalwijk, The Netherlands, Industry No. 1302€ 15,950
VOLVO P1800S 1963
Volvo P1800S 1963 restored. Highlights. • Restored in our workshop. • Original color graphite gray. • Red leather interior. • Overdrive. • 1778cc 4 cylinder B18 engine. • Original Dutch car. • Rare Cow Horn Model. This Volvo P1800S was new delivered in the Netherlands and is a rare sought after early model with its “cow-horn” bumpers. This Volvo has been extensively restored inFor Sale | 19 Apr 2018 | Kleiweg 1 5145NA Waalwijk, The Netherlands, Industry No. 1302€ 69,950
VOLVO P1800 S COUPE 1968
Volvo P1800 S coupe 1968 restored. Highlights. • Original Dark Green colour. • Popular S version. • B18 engine. • Overdrive. • Original radio. This marvellous Volvo P 1800 S was delivered in 1968 in the original Dark Green (94) colour. The Volvo is equipped with the 1780 CC, 4 cyl, B18 engine, perfect driving together with the manual gearbox with overdrive. The car also has a black leathFor Sale | 12 May 2018 | Kleiweg 1 5145NA Waalwijk, The Netherlands, Industry No. 1302€ 42,950
1973 Volvo 1800ES
1973 Volvo 1800ES. This 1973 Volvo 1800ES is available in orange with black interior. It comes equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, OEM radio and with solid wheels. An excellent original west coast car with lots of potential that could use some light restoration. For $5,950 If you have any additional questions Please call 310-975-0272 or email with any questions! We also welcome all internFor Sale | 12 May 2018 | Beverly Hills Car Club. 4576 1/2 Worth St. Los Angeles, CA 90063$ 5,950
This Volvo is prepared for long tours. The Volvo includes a tripmaster, carter protection and a heavier engine. The original and conserved engine is still there and will come with the car, this engine did only 26,000 km. The previous owner owned the car from 2007 to 2017. He made a trip with the original engine to China. He thought that the car had a shortage of engine power in the mountains andFor Sale | 16 May 2018 | Koppenhoefstraat 14 5283 VK Boxtel€ 36,900
Volvo P1800 ES
Lowered price from €24.950 -> €22.950 (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) The project of a Volvo sportscar was started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had been a disaster, with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Pettersson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the VFor Sale | 20 Apr 2018 | Oldtimerfarm Bvba - Steenweg op Deinze 51 C - 9880 Aalter - Belgium€ 22,950
VOLVO 262C BERTONE 1978
Volvo 262C Bertone 1978 130.000 original kms. The Volvo 262C was designed by master designer Bertone and was provided with a lot of luxury such as, airsuspension on the rear axle and powerwindows. This 262C was originally delivered in Holland in 1978 and only 1 family has owned this car since then. Since 1978 this car has driven 130.000 kms. The beautiful silvergrey paint is in very good conditionFor Sale | 28 Apr 2018 | Kleiweg 1 5145NA Waalwijk, The Netherlands, Industry No. 1302€ 19,950
The rear oil seal on the gearbox often leaks, potentially wrecking the transmission. Tougher seals are available. It's worth fitting overdrive; an 1800E unit is ideal. The propshaft will need to be shortened but all of the necessary mounting points are already in place.
Early 140 gearboxes tend to suffer from failed synchromesh on second and fourth after about 150,000 miles.
The transmission will just keep going, so you can put up with it rather than replace the gearbox entirely. Clutches are tough, but if the pedal seems ridiculously heavy the cable has stretched and is about to snap; replacements are readily available and replacement is straightforward.
Suspension and brakes
All of these Volvos came with a servo-assisted dual-circuit braking systems with discs front and rear. It’s a conventionally engineered set-up that gives few problems, although the rear calipers can seize if the car is left unused for a while.
Volvo used the same basic bodyshell throughout production of the 140/160 and 240/260. However, while the 140 got one shell, the 164 was stretched ahead of the A-pillars to accommodate the straight-six engine. Thanks to effective rustproofing and the use of thick steel, the bodyshells last well – but rust-free cars are rare.
The 200 is better protected than the 100, but the construction of all models is the same so they all have the same corrosion hot spots. Home in on the sills, wheelarches and door bottoms; along with all seams and apertures, such as those for the badges and indicators plus the front and rear screens. Also scrutinise the double-skinned rear shock absorber top mounts.
On the 140 and 160 corrosion can separate the bonnet hinges from the inner wings. Rust is also common in the battery tray and the joint between the front panel and wings.
Pre-1972 estates have opening side windows for the load bay. The hinges are bonded onto the glass but the joint fails so the windows can fall out, and replacements are scarce. The front quarterlights suffer from the same problems.
Cloth, vinyl and leather were all used to trim the interiors of these cars. While the leather and cloth wear well, the vinyl disintegrates, especially if left in the sun. You might be able to track down some decent used trim, but don’t count on it – interior components are almost impossible to find.
- 1966: The 142 and 144 are launched in Sweden, to sell alongside the Amazon. All cars feature a B18 engine in standard (85bhp) or twin-carb S (115bhp) forms.
- 1967: The 144 S arrives in the UK a few months before the 142 and 142 S appear.
- 1968: The 145 and 145 S reach showrooms, and all cars get the B20 engine in standard (90bhp) or S (118bhp) forms.
- 1969: The 164 is introduced with a B30 engine and standard power steering.
- 1970: The DL supersedes the standard and S editions, while the fuel-injected GL arrives with leather trim. A facelift for the 144 and 145 brings a revised nose, extra standard kit, bigger wheels and overdrive is no longer an option. The 164 also gets a longer wheelbase.
- 1971: From October there are recessed door handles. The 145 GL and 164 E also debut.
- 1972: A new fascia is fitted, with circular instruments and a padded steering wheel.
- 1973: Deeper bumpers are fitted and the injection is now Bosch K-Jetronic (145 E and 164 E).
- 1974: The 144 and 145 are killed off along with the 164. Taking their place are the 240 and 260 Series.
- 1977: A facelift brings a new grille and redesigned seats.
- 1978: The 264 TE is introduced with a longer wheelbase and three rows of seats.
- 1979: The 262 coupé debuts; few are sold.
- 1983: The 240 DL gets a 2.0 engine, the GL gets a 2.2, the GLE and GLT are 2.3-litre estates and the 260 GLE is a V6 estate.
- 1989: A catalytic converter is now a no-cost option. GL and GLT estates get self-levelling rear suspension.
- 1993: The last 240 and 260 models are built.
The different models can be confusing, but it’s actually very straightforward. The first number denotes the model series, the second is the number of cylinders and the third is the number of doors. So a 142 is a 140 Series four-cylinder saloon with two doors; the 145 is an equivalent estate.
Similarly, the 265 is a second-generation car (260 Series) with a six-cylinder engine and five doors. If it’s an S model it has twin carbs while E means there’s fuel injection. There was also a 142GT in some markets, along with an ES, a 240 Turbo, a 242 and both 145 and 245 service vans plus a 240 diesel (with a VW engine).
There are more of the mainstream editions around than you might think, especially if you’re prepared to shop in Europe. There’s a massive following for the 140 in Holland, although prices tend to be high. For some models you’ll probably have to shop in mainland Europe; if you want a 262 for example, you’ll be doing well to find one in the UK.
It’s the estate variant that everyone wants, but there aren’t many good ones left as they were abused when they were new. The 260s are rare but unloved as they’re thirsty and unreliable. The 240 started a trend with Volvo for automatic transmissions, so manuals are relatively unusual. The cheapest model is the 244 DL; the 262 and 264 TE are the most valuable.
The most soughtafter 140 is a 144 S with overdrive. Of the 240s the 245 GLT is the holy grail, but they’re rare in good condition; you’re more likely to find a Torslanda. This was a high-spec 2.0-litre edition introduced in April 1992; most affordable of the bunch are the 245 and 244.
|145 S (B20)|
Picture courtesy of Volvo Media
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Volvo’s reputation was built on the backs of its stout, reliable and robust automobiles. It was the distinctly American-inspired PV444/544 that helped the company establish its foothold in the North American marketplace. In the early days of selling cars in the US, Volvo customers were a very small but loyal group of eccentrics who knew their cars to be something special. Enthusiastic drivers s
1988 Volvo 780 Bertone. Extensive documentation includes the original – owner’s manual, maintenance record book, a Volvo On Call roadside assistance booklet and membership card, factory alarm key card, warranty information booklet, dealer directory, maintenance service chart, oil quality information, stereo equalizer operating instructions and stereo owner’s manual. There are copies of 780 B
LAST YEAR P1800 VOLVO, GREAT CONDITION, ORIGINAL 2.0L MOTOR, NICE EXAMPLE. A good Volvo is for the lover of different kind of distinction, and this 1973 P1800 ES proves it best. With the individual style, factory-correct standout color, original engine, and an overall unique personality, this is a real attention-getter that you`ll discover is also a great driving classic. Volvo people know the sig
Volvo Amazon 121 1968 in very beautiful condition. Originally Holland Volvo Amazon, new delivered on the 4th of march 1968. For 9 years the car belonged to a real enthusiast who kept a log of all the tours he made. The paint has the original colour Pärlvit/Pearl White (79) in combination with a black interior. The car is in a very beautiful original and technically in great condition. This Volvo