SOTW: Volvo C70 T5 Coupe


With PHers Garlick and Riggers both on holidays, Shed this week eschews the predictability of a German barge or Japanese crudbox, and instead returns to the gentlemanly realm of the coachbuilt sporting grand-tourer.

We're not talking Bentleys or Aston Martins at Shed money, of course, but the oft-overlooked Volvo C70 T5. Hand-built without a robot in sight by a joint venture between TWR and Volvo in the Swedish town of Uddevalla, and revealed in its swoopy, and definitely 'un-boxy' finery to rapt appreciation at the Paris motor show in 1996, the car marked the start of Volvo's styling renaissance under Brit designer Peter Horbury.

The C70 may have looked the part and gone like stink with its 850 T5 underpinnings, but a chassis that failed to inspire magazine road testers meant it never quite lived up to the promise of its styling - although it was a highly regarded motorway mile-muncher, as the 209k odometer on this example will attest.


Such was the interest in this new semi-sporting machine that I got to run one as a freebie for a while in my days as a newshound on Autocar magazine. Not only that, but Volvo paid for me to fly to Uddevalla and drive it home to Blighty from the factory. So I saw for myself how the body in white was put together in the traditional manner, and I very quickly got accustomed to the luxurious comfort of its cosseting interior on the long motorway drive home.

God knows how much that car cost then, but you can have this one for a meagre £550, MoT'd until May next year, and requiring (it's claimed) only minor fettling to return it to its former glories.

One of those 'minor fettles' may be a dodgy Electronic Throttle Module, a known issue with 1999 cars and once a particularly pricey fix. Nowadays swapping in a later ETM from a scrapper is probably the way forward. Folk on the Volvo specialist forums should know all about it, although our vendor suggests the unit's already been replaced and just needing a clean...


An illuminated engine light is also highlighted, but penurious PHer RustyC knows all about driving old Volvos with the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. Rusty is so blasé, he hasn't even bothered taking any fuses out...

As for the rest - well what do you expect for £500? Sheesh!

The advert goes like this:

Please read the vehicle description carefully - I'm being as accurate as I can in terms of vehicle condition and am simply looking for a quick and realistic sale for a vehicle that no longer suits my needs or that I have time to work on.

I have owned this C70 T5 now for over seven years. During that time it has been a cracking car and I have now clocked up over 200K miles in it. These are your usual motorway miles and have been met with regular oil changes and servicing. The service history is not all stamped - after 140K or so I simply kept on top of oil / filter changes. The car has had one former owner only before me.

I have now bought a diesel estate so the Volvo has to go. Listed below are my honest comments around the car - it's listed as spares / repair but it is way, way too good to be scrapped. Nevertheless, this is what any potential buyer should consider before clicking the button to buy:


ETM light is on / off / on / off - the ETM was replaced some years ago and I suspect a clean would sort - the car is not "hunting" in idle and the ETM goes off for days / weeks at a time and then comes on again

Engine warning light is on - code was read some time ago and I'm told it's on 02 sensor - this causes the engine to be a little lumpy when cold and then at the correct temperature you get a tiny misfire - car was still very driveable with this fault and would handle drives from London to home with ease

One of the above has prevented the cruise control from working
The engine shows the coolant warning light - this is 100% a coolant sensor fault and came on after I replaced the expansion tank that was weeping slightly (sensor is an easy replacement) - the car absolutely does not overheat and gets to normal running temperature quickly and correctly

Rear parking brakes need sorting - handbrake ineffective and rear parking brakes start to make a noise when car a few miles into a run

Driver's seat has usual bolster damage caused with age

Aircon could do with a regas and the CD multiplayer (3 CD) is playing up
I think that's about it! The body work has usual age related / parking marks / prangs on it (nothing too dire), the bonnet has a light keying mark on it and the alloys could do with a refurb. All electrics work (aerial / windows) and the car still looks cracking when it's cleaned and polished - it's not at the moment!

The car has had a new power steering rack, recent discs / pads and in all honesty I have probably made it sound far worse than its potential! The work required to get this car back to 100% is easily acheiveable if you know your way around a car. I have neither the time nor inclination to sort, have bought a replacement car that better suits my needs so am happy to let it go for a bargain price.

The car would break for around £200 even as a complete basket case and it's not!
Car still has a cracking engine, gearbox and the turbo pulls strongly. The car is 100% accident free and has always been warmed up / down correctly.
The first £550 gets the car - MOT till May 2012 and V5 is in my possession. No tax and with the rear parking brakes inefective you drive away at your risk.
Usual stuff - you are pressing "buy it now" to buy it and not view it after pressing to negotiate on the price.

Car located in Wigan area if you want to view and £100 paypal deposit within 24 hours of sale with the remainder cash on collection please.

Thanks for looking.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (104) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mgmrw 24 Oct 2011

    will261058 said:
    Good looking car but its probably on its last legs, good buy if it lasts till mot due then scrap it.
    'fraid it's a case of GIGO.

    Put in a bit of home-spannering and the odd £100 part, and that thing will outlive the use of petrol as our main fuel.

    No different to the 170K+ miles one we had, or the 15year old BMW that I use as a DD.

    If left to it's own, it'd have crumbled.... But some suspension bushes, a service and a break caliper and away we go.

  • will261058 23 Oct 2011

    Good looking car but its probably on its last legs, good buy if it lasts till mot due then scrap it.

  • ChrisP T5 23 Oct 2011

    Gents (Teaboy..!) - as with all cars theres Goodun's and Badun's... caveat emptor etc. I've got two V70 estates (a 2.4t & a T5) , both of which I've had no problems with, both were sourced from good ol' ebay, one privately one from a garage/trade seller, V & R reg resp, both FSH, 160k, 120k - £1350 & £1450 resp... as the phrase goes you get what you pay for, at least look for some sh, an MOT..check the forums for common faults (PCV, ETM, eng top mount etc) - but as has been said- suprisingly easy to fix, not hugely expensive to get done by a specialist either.

    On the really good side - spesh with estates..all people see is a big 'wardrobe carrying, old skool, 'nackered Volvo'...opinions re-formed at traffic lights...ahem.....rolleyes

    Edited by ChrisP T5 on Sunday 23 October 11:27

  • The Tea Boy 23 Oct 2011

    George7 said:
    I've always fancied one of these. A bit scared of the reliability though.
    And so you should be!!!!

    I decided to sell my 1989 mk1 mx5 to buy a c70 t5 in may this year, when i brought the car was well chuffed until the problems started...
    In 4 months of ownership i had to replace...
    Air con compressor
    2 x wheel bearings,
    2 x top mounts,
    exhaust blow,
    main engine anchor
    starter motor

    and the grand total for this lot over the course of 4 months was circa £1500 on a car i paid £2k for frown

    now it is sat on my drive being slowly broken (so if anyone needs any parts contact me) and i have now returned to an mx5 smile but im £3.5k down frown

    dont get me wrong when the t5 worked it was greatt for A roads, had a sat nav indicated (private road) 154mph. Other downside was over 3000miles i averged 17mpg!!! redface



    Matt

  • Stedman 23 Oct 2011

    morgrp said:
    George7 said:
    I've always fancied one of these. A bit scared of the reliability though.
    Why? They are superbly reliable if you treat them right - not mega bucks to fix either - remember it is basically a Volvo 850 underneath - which I personally think is the best car Volvo has ever made
    Pah. You don't have much to worry about to be honest.

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