This page will serve a couple of functions. Of all the cars I’ve owned before (sorry, Willy), I’ve had more Volvos than anything else. The reason I picked this particular Volvo up (an ’81 245 GLT not-turbo) is that around where I live, Southeast Oklahoma, you can drive 65 MPH on an undivided highway… just a double yellow line. Meaning you can really kill the shit out of yourself on the roads around here. I wanted to surround myself with something I can trust will give me a chance over things I can’t control like road-crazies.
My previous Volvos were both ’75s – first a 245 and then a 242 with parts from the wagon. I’ve always leaned towards wagons… they’re just more utilitarian to my needs, and those Swedes make a sweet one. 1975 was the first year of the 200 series and they made a lot of changes in 1976. I didn’t know this when I bought that 245 but I learned quickly, I had really wanted a Volvo at the time for their legendary ability to last for hundreds of thousands of miles. But like any used automotive pursuit, you need to start with good stock – and the ’75 200s are only for those that love them. I tried but eventually drove the 242 into the ground by blowing the rear main seal on the Mass Turnpike heading back to Belchertown. Out of the combined two I might have gotten 80k miles out of them.
The dogsled is actually the wagon I wanted when I was driving the ’75 254. I have a real fond memory of driving up to New Hampshire to meet some friends and go skiing. My friend Jeff was at the time, dating a girl named Heather and she drove her Mom’s ’81 245 GLT. Once we all met up, we used her Volvo to go out on the town and to the mountain the following day. I remember thinking at the time how plush it seemed compared to my ’75… how much better it rode – great power with four people in it, and great handling up and down the mountains.
Well, now I have one, and it has also been a handful. Granted I picked it up for $600 but it immediately needed $1000 worth of work to make it road worthy and it soon needed more… turns out certain year Volvo 200s (and some 700s too) had portions of their wiring harness (mostly the engine harness) made with a biodegradeable isulator on the wires. I say biodegradeable, but it’s likely a number of environmental factors of which heat is a large contributor that turn the harness slowly into a nest of raw strands of copper wire and insulation-dust.
Luckily, this can all be fixed… but it takes time, patience, and a good supply of parts. That is certainly one place where the ’81 is a blessing over the ’75. The single-year nature of the ’75 200s means they have a fair helping of unique-to-that-year parts. My ’81 shares parts with most of the rest of the 200 line although there are some peculiarities for the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection.