The other day we highlighted a Vauxhall Nova SR that wasn't going for a song. It was up for a stratospheric £17k, which, if nothing else, highlighted the craziness off the modern-classic car world right now. The good news, if you're still reeling from that kind of five-figure fatigue, is that it makes pretty much everything else you can find from the 1990s seem sensibly priced. Like this rather charming old Volvo 940 Estate, for instance, which is a snip at just under £5k. And let's face it, you're after something that still has a purpose in life beyond being old, a wagon of 940 proportions is still a mighty machine. Although, looking at the boot carpet, this example doesn't appear to have done too much 'heavy lifting' over the years.
It's hard to see what it hasn't got going for it, actually. For a start, it's the Celebration model. That means it is the last of the 900 series, which itself was the last of the vast Volvos incorporating rear-wheel drive. It also means it comes with a plethora of toys, and not just the usual baubles befitting high-end models of 90s - you know, leccy windows and mirrors, heated front seats and ABS - but real luxury appointments like air conditioning.
Moreover, don't forget 15-inch alloy wheels, body-colour bumpers, black roof rails and 'sports' grille that jazz it up in a please-don't-look-at-me kind of way that Volvos (and Mercedes-Benz) of the period managed to do so well. The technical term, I think, is understated elegance.
I've studied the numerous photographs and my appraisal of its condition is: well lush. The paintwork looks gleaming and the interior is 'as new' apart from, perhaps, the odd crease in the leather. But the velour sections, door cards, carpets and walnut veneers look bang on. By the way, those veneers: can anyone with a better knowledge of the breed than me confirm whether they came from a tree or a printer? I suspect the latter, but the appearance of slight beaching around the edges of the astray makes me unsure.
My effusiveness for this boxy, box-fresh Swede continues with a peek at the engine bay. The 2.3-litre light-pressure turbo looks to be in a spectacular state - the inlet manifold, alternator, master cylinder and receiver dryer showing a distinct lack of patination for 23-years' active service. I think it's fair to assume this 940 has been cherished by all three of its owners and, I dare say, lived a sheltered life in garages.
Funny really. I've always admired 700s and 900s in that peripheral sense: respected as oppose to desired. But I'd happily shell out the asking price for this one and use it gently as my run around. I even think have Talk on Corners by the Corrs on cassette somewhere (Oh yes, Sharon still raises the heartbeat, I see) that would fit perfectly in that original tape deck. That's the thing about cars and music. It's impossible not to end up down rabbit holes reminiscing.
SPECIFICATION | VOLVO 940 ESTATE 2.3 LPT CELEBRATION
Engine: 2,316cc, four cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 134
Torque (lb ft): 173
0-60mph: 10.4 sec
Top speed: 118mph
Year registered: 1998
Price new: £18,425
Yours for: £4,998
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