They say you should never judge a book by its cover, and this week's sub-£1,500 Shed tempter is a perfect case in point. Skimming through the pics on the PH Classifieds, you could very easily miss the grey Volvo S60, many already have. It's been on sale here for a fortnight at least, and was only bumped out last week by the very rare appearance of an MOT'd BMW E30 Touring (which is also still for sale, incidentally).
Only when we delve a little deeper into this week's ad do we see that our S60 is actually a low-mileage T5. Interesting. If, back in the early 2000s, you were bored with the usual 3 Series/C-Class choices, the S60 T5 delivered BMW 330 and Merc 320 levels of performance with a unique and not-unattractive style of its own, an equally solid build, and a lot more comfort. Dig deeper still and we find that ours is the manual-gearboxed T5, complete with cool spaceball shifter. And then, tucked away in the text, we discover that it has been remapped.
This is now getting very interesting indeed, because even in standard trim these gen-one (2000-2008) T5s were dishing up 247hp from their B5234T3 2.3-litre straight-five intercooled turbo motors. That went up to 256hp in the gen-two cars, but our shed's Rica remap - which we're assuming is a stage 1 - leapfrogs it up to a claimed 310hp, with a 100Nm torque lift to 430Nm (317lb ft) at 2,900rpm. With under 1,500kg to shift, the standard 2003 T5 knocked off the 0-62mph in 6.8sec, so it's not difficult to imagine that time coming down to something beginning with a five.
What about running costs? Well, you're looking at £325 a year tax, but even with 300+ horsepower you'd be perfectly within your rights to expect low-30s fuel consumption in moderate use, although with the boot in hard that would quickly decrease to the teens.
If the low-tread tyres and knackered wiper blades that were mentioned as advisories on the last test in November have been replaced by now, the only MOT note left to be addressed would be a worn bush on the offside front suspension arm. You'd want to give the suspension a good look over anyway, as S60s are quite hard on their up-and-downy parts. The wishbone bushes are famously soft and the front top mounts are known to fail. Once again, however, there is good news in this department as our shed has already had replacement dampers and Eibach springs fitted, albeit at an unknown point in history.
What is known is that the belt and pump were both done 30,000 miles ago. Depending on how much you trust serpentine belts, or maybe more accurately the pulleys that keep them taut, there should be at least another 30k in the current componentry before you need to think about doing this work again. Volvo quotes much longer intervals, as you'd expect, but it would be a shame to risk spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar. If the tensioner fails and the belt flies off this particular vessel, it's goodnight Vienna and hello Davy Jones's locker. The belt change isn't a hard job once you've moved two or three other bits out of the way.
If there are no nasty skeletons in the cupboard - ETM (Electronic Throttle Modules) and MAF sensors can both get coked up, oil can leak from the engine at either the rear main oil seal or the turbo drain tube, and Volvo engine mounts are not the most durable - it looks like this is being somewhat undersold. It just boils down to whether you like the look of it, and how it's going to go on the road.
Style is a matter of taste but Shed rather likes the S60's 'sucked-in-S80' wheel-at-each-corner look. There's not a lot of room in the back, but the boot is huge and the seats are fabulous. This car doesn't have a light-coloured interior, which is definitely a plus because the cars that do have them suffer terribly from screen reflections. How does it go? Well, surely it's all about the five-pot warble with these, and nothing else much matters, so why not have a gange at this vid of a T5 with a "brutal dual side exhaust." If you are of a more conservative nature here's a video of a standard car that you could show to your mum and that will tell you a lot about the T5's good points - of which there are many.
With just four previous owners and very minor advisories on last November's MOT, it's hard to see this low-mile Volvo as anything other than a super-comfy Q-car bargain at £1,195. Hell, refurbed Nebula BBS alloys go for well over £200 a pop on eBay, and the remap would cost you another £400 or so if you had to do it yourself - which you don't. Lovely jubbly.