VOLVO 240 and 260 Series 1974-1993
GUIDE TO BUYING
The 240 Series:
The Volvo 240 made its debut in 1974 and was really the first of Volvo’s ‘modern’ cars. To say it was “All New” is not true for it owed much to its predecessor the 140, from the front bulkhead back it was in fact almost identical to the 140 it replaced. However changes forward of the bulkhead were substantial and warranted the new name.
Most obvious was the new grille which was backward slanting and resembled the shape of the Volvo ESV ‘Safety Car”. Across the grille was the traditional Volvo slash and badge.
There were a number of mechanical changes, which included the fitment of MacPherson Struts to the front suspension, rack and pinion steering and wheel diameter was dropped to 14” with larger section 185 tyres.
For the first year of production, but not available in the UK, the power unit was the B20E pushrod engine as used in the 140E Injection model and developed for the 1800E/ES. This was replaced in 1975 with the ‘New’ 2.1 Litre (2137cc) B21, a belt driven overhead camshaft unit, which was the fore-runner of the engines used in the later 240, 740 and ultimately the 940 series cars, being a natural progression including an increase in capacity to 2.3 Litre over the years from those early 240 models.
An electrically operated Overdrive which operated on fourth was available from 1975.
The 240 Series was available, as 2-door or 4-door Saloons or a 5-door Estate and were known respectively as the 242, 244 and 245 with standard ‘DL’ and up-grade ‘GL’ versions. Later a sports model was produced the ‘GLT’ and in some markets a ‘GT’ was available. A number of RHD 242GT’s have been imported into the UK from Australia where they were very popular. A LHD 242GT was owned by the late Mike Lawrence of Cumbers Garage in Brixham, Devon but on his death was sold to new owner in Holland.
The 260 Series:
Also introduced in 1975 was the 260 Series. This had a V6 Power unit built by a Peugeot-Renault-Volvo under a joint venture “The Euro-Engine”. The V6 engine was all aluminium, with ninety-degree cylinders, chain driven overhead camshafts driving rocker shafts to each bank of cylinders.
The Volvo 262 Coupe:
New for 1977 was the Volvo 262C (Coupe) – designed in Italy by the styling studio of Bertone, it was to be Volvos flagship of grandeur and elegance. Priced in the same market as the BMW 5 Series. It was in essence a roof chopped 2-door 260 and this was the critic’s biggest complaint – lack of headroom – the height being lowered by 3½ inches. The seats were however lowered by 1.2 inches but couldn’t make up the difference. Volvo confessed to the low head height but stated that “the Coupe was not designed to suit everyone”. In addition to the lowered roof the C –pillar was widened, the windows reshaped and the front windscreen sloped to a greater angle.
The interior was finished in soft ‘furniture grade’ Italian Leather and real elm veneer on the doors. Steering wheel and armrests were covered in plastic. Full instruments came from the standard 200 Series.
Paintwork was available in three colours – Silver with black vinyl roof, Metallic Light Blue and Metallic Gold with no vinyl roof. Silver is the most common colour and I have never seen a Gold car in the UK, at least 3 Blue Metallic cars are known to have existed in the UK.
The powertrain, suspension and most of the lower body panels are from the ordinary 260 Series Cars. Manual or Automatic gearboxes were available but Manuals are very rare. Power Steering, Air Conditioning and other refinements were all standard.
The 240 Series:
The 240 is still held in high regard by many people, being a popular car for motorsport in Europe (Winner of the European Touring Car Championship), and a favorite with many for a first classic car, the price being well within most peoples reach.
The 240 Estate Car, known as the 245, has always been a very popular car because of its enormous load capacity. Today, good early examples are hard to find, as most have been so well used for what they were intended, that they are beyond restoration and have been scrapped. The 240 Torlanda being the last Limited Edition model, which is now very collectable
The 242, a 2 Door Saloon version, was primarily made for the foreign markets, and only available here as a special order. There are a number of 242GT’s in this country.
The early 245 Estates, the 242, and Special Edition 240 Saloon’s called ‘The Thor’ and the Silver Jubilee are the rarest of the 240 Series, with the Estate and Limited Edition models in good condition demanding the most money, especially if manual. The ‘GLT’ is the sports model with performance engine, up-rated suspension and alloy wheels as standard and is available in both Saloon and Estate versions, auto or manual/overdrive gearbox – These are a most sort after model.
High mileage is not a problem with the 240, the Volvo B21, B23 and B230 engines will all cover 200,000 miles without problems, providing they have been regularly maintained.
The 260 Series:
The 260 Series on the other hand is not well supported by buyers, with the exception of the 262C, the major problem being the V6 Euro-Engine, which suffers with camshaft problems and not being like other Volvo engines – Long lived. Interestingly the Volvo produced V6 Euro-Engine was also used in the famous Delorean Sports Car as Volvo were the only company who had their engine approved for sale in the USA – Engines in the Delorean interestingly do not seem to suffer like those in Volvos but perhaps that is only due to the mileage’s vehicles have covered and work done.
Buyers of these vehicles should steer clear of engines with timing chain etc rattles. Repair is very costly involving removal of at least one cylinder head in order to remove the camshaft. Parts too are very expensive always take this into account when negotiating a price. Engines are not long lived 100,000 miles being a common life, of even well looked after V6 B27 and B28’s before Camshaft etc work is required. The B28 being the later development is in fact a better engine but still suffers from camshaft and valve gear problems.
Rarest and most valuable of the 260 Series is the 262 Coupe with manual gearbox being the most sort after. Colour-wise the metallic Blue and Metallic Gold are the rarest. I have never seen a R.H.D. or L.H.D. Gold Coupe in the UK. I know of three blue cars in the UK only.
The first cars to be imported into the UK arrived in 1975 nearly twelve months after the 240 made its debut, the cars care in three variations that were identified by a simple numbering system. The first number – the model, second number – the number of cylinders in the engine and thirdly – the number of doors and finally any special features. Models were the 244/264 – a 4-door saloon, 242 – a 2-door saloon, 262C – a 2-door Coupe and the 245/265 – a five-door estate e.g. 245 which denotes the vehicle is a 200 series, four cylinder engine and a 5-door estate.
The early 240’s in good condition are today much sort after but parts, particularly trim are becoming difficult to find in new or excellent second-hand condition. If you decide to buy an early 200 Series to restore make sure you examine it carefully before you take it on. Front wings for early cars are still available.
All 200 series vehicles are collectable but the 245 and 242, in good condition, usually command a higher price than the 244 saloon. The injection and ‘GLT’ models both estate and saloon are well prized and overdrive, when fitted to manual gearbox models, is also very desirable. Limited Edition models – The ‘Thor’, ‘Silver Jubilee’ (Silver 240 built in 1977 to celebrate Volvos Silver Jubilee 1927-1977) and the ‘Torslanda’ Estate (last 200 Series produced) are also much in demand but build quality of the Thor and Silver Jubilee has meant that few have survived. Early 200’s had round headlights, followed by a square unit in 1979, these models are now extremely rare. Good examples of the Volvo 262 Coupe’s are still very much sought but be beware of RUST!!!
200 SERIES BODY PROBLEM AREAS:
Rust is not a major problem with most of the 200 series. The cars are well rust proofed from new. The underside of the car being heavily undersealed and if checked regularly should provide excellent protection against rust. However like many cars of the time. The Underseal becomes hard, cracks and allows moisture to venture between the steel and the seal, thus allowing corrosion to take place. So pay particular attention across the whole of the underside and particularly in the wheelarches. What looks solid may not be!!!!
However this is not true of the 262, built in Italy which, particularly if a Silver car with vinyl roof, can be an absolute rust bucket! We will therefore look at the additional problems of this model later.
Rust does however appear in the following areas:
Front wings on all early 200 cars are prone to rust particularly around the headlight and sidelight. Look also along the top edge where the wing is bolted into position. Wings are still available new and can be replaced easily as they are bolted onto the main bodyshell. Later cars, after 1978 had under wing protectors fitted as standard, so rust is not such a problem on later cars.
Rust can appear in this panel in the area where the two panels join (Front Wing and Front Panel). In rusty cars this is often filled in with filler and no physical groove where the two panels join can be seen (See Fig: 1). Check also the condition of the bonnet slam panel around the lock.
Rust does appear in this chassis section. Check particularly the front sections behind the front valance.
Inner Front Wings:
Rust in this area is not common. Purchasers should check this area with care particularly around the bonnet hinge mountings. A repair panel is available but requires welding into position.
Look for rust in top corners under the bonnet.
Front Scuttle (area below front windscreen):
Rust appears at the two extreme ends of the panel between the windscreen and the front wing. Repair of this area can be expensive, as it requires both the windscreen and the front wings being removed.
Front and Rear Windscreen:
Rust can be found around both these areas. Pay particular attention to ANY rust, which appears to be coming from under the windscreen rubber. It is common to find large holes behind the seal due to corrosion when the windscreens are removed.
Look for rust in the front edge.
Generally 200 series doors are long lived, however rust does affect the lower section of the skin and frame. Look also for rust around lock mechanism. Doors from the 242 and 262C the 2 door car doors are particularly difficult to find second hand but the club is able to help locate any parts that a member may require.
Sills generally are good but rust is common in the rear portion where they meet the rear wing.
Check condition of both inner and outer wheel arches. Repair panels are available for the arch edge and are reasonably priced. Check also the inner wheel arch inside the boot. This is where the top of the rear shock absorber is mounted and rust can affect this area.
Rust is very common in the two wheel wells on either side of the boot floor. Repair panels are available.
Check edge of boot lid.
Rust in the lower portion is common. Good second hand tailgates are getting hard to find. Tailgates from 145 will fit.
Rear Axle Mounting Arms:
Rust can appear in the pressed arms used to mount the rear axle. Check condition, replacements could be expensive.
MacPherson Struts – Front Suspension:
Corrosion of the large cup, which holds the lower part of the coil spring, is common on earlier cars. This is caused by a build up of mud in the cup, which blocks the drain holes. Failure of the cup can be extremely dangerous resulting in the spring hitting the road wheel. Always check carefully the condition of the cups and regularly clean/paint -–repair sections are available.
ADDITIONAL RUST PROBLEMS – VOLVO 262 COUPE:
Built by Bertone in Italy the 262C very much suffers like many Italian cars of the time from rust. In general the lower section of the car suffers with identical problems as the rest of the 200 series, however the area above the door tops, the roof, pillars etc are ALL PRONE TO RUST!!!, particularly on the Silver cars with the vinyl roof. Paint finish under the vinyl was primer, which gives little protection. Check carefully for rust particularly in the pillar areas. Very expensive and difficult to repair, rust in this area allows water down into the box sections below. So check also door posts, rear floor and boot for corrosion. Gold and Blue painted cars do not have the vinyl roof so suffer less with corrosion.
The above is only a guide to rust problems in 200’s. Care should be taken to check all parts of the car but do remember that some of these cars old, the first cars coming here in 1975..
TO SUMMERISE – MAIN AREAS OF RUST:
Around Headlight and Side light - front wings
Front Panel where it joins wings.
Top on front wings
Bottom of Doors – Skin and frame
Sills – Rear portion.
Wheel arches, front and rear
Boot floor – Both spare wheel wells
Front edge of bonnet
Crossmember under radiator
Inner front wing
Rear Tailgates – Estate Models
Ends of front scuttle (Panel below front windscreen)
Rust can appear around windscreens
OTHER PROBLEM AREAS:
Interior hard to find in good second-hand condition, particularly front seats in cloth material – Most chrome or black trims no longer available new.
OTHER POINTS TO REMEMBER/CHECK:
ALWAYS check that the car is fitted with a Genuine Volvo Oil Filter, other makes can cause problems with engine lubrication if they do not have the non-return valve fitted in them. A Volvo B21/B23/B230 engine should cover over 200,000 miles without major rebuilding – B27/B28 about 100,000 if you are lucky. Always check the flame-trap on B21-B230 engines. If this gets blocked it can cause a build up of pressure in the sump etc resulting in oil loss from seals. The trap is inexpensive and readily available e.g. from Clubs Parts Suppliers.
240 Engine Timing Belts: These should be changed regularly, check Workshop Manual for intervals. Cars without Service History should have their belt changed immediately on purchase. Failure of the belt on the B21 engine usually does not damage the engine but almost always does on the B23 and B230.
The manual gearboxes, 4-speed and 5-speed, fitted to the 200 are robust, long lived, and should not cause any real problem. When driving cars fitted with overdrive it is best to ‘slip the clutch’ when engaging and dis-engaging overdrive. This helps to give a smooth operation and avoid damage to components. The use of the wrong oil can cause problems – Gear oil should never be used in gearboxes with overdrive. Oil is shared by the two units – checked and filled in the Gearbox. Check Workshop Manual for Oil Grades.
The Automatic Gearbox (Borg-Warner M-35) fitted to the 200 gives little trouble. However if the vehicle has stood for a long period it may be worth having the box fully checked and serviced before use.
The rear axle is again almost indestructible, however, loss of oil can cause premature failure. Check for oil leaks around the pinion bearing seal (where prop shaft bolts to axle). It is common on higher mileage cars to encounter differential whine, but this does not mean that the axle will not give further long service.
All 200 Series vehicles have disc brakes all round – the handbrake is operated by brakes shoes mounted in a drum in the centre of the rear discs. All are very reliable but Brake Calipers on rear are prone to seize particularly if vehicle is left for long period in damp conditions. Both ATE and Girling Brakes were used – check which your vehicle has before ordering any parts, as they are different. Brakes are twin circuit.
Engine Types Fitted:
B20E – 1986cc Bosch Jetronic Fuel Injection – Fitted to 200Series USA/Europe 1974.
B21 – 2.1 Litre Fitted to 240 from 1975
B23 – 2.3 Litre Fitted as option 240
B200 – 2 Litre Fitted to later 240 cars – Identified by distributor on back of cylinder head
B230 – 2.3 Litre Fitted to later 240 cars – “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “
B27 – 2.7 Litre Fitted to early 260 Models
B28 – 2.8 Litre Fitted to later 260 Models
BUYERS PRICE GUIDE VALUES:
Volvo 240’s and 260’s For Sale generally can generally be divided into five groups
For a car to use as a basis for a total restoration or spares
Running but require work:
Running but in need of some major work in near future e.g. Sill replacement
Cars generally in good condition:
Cars generally in good condition but may need minor work to improve appearance – good useable car with no major faults or corrosion.
The Best Cars:
The best cars – not concours but having only minor faults
Be prepared to pay more for an Estate, 242GT’s or limited edition plus GLT models
The Very Best Cars – Concours Winners & Rebuilt:
Cars, which have been fully restored or are Concours standard, depending on all round condition of the vehicle. Interior, chrome, originality, and low mileage will add to the price, as does documented history of the car, original bill of sale etc.
VOLVO ENTHUSIASTS CLUB TECHNICAL SERVICES:
The Volvo Enthusiasts Club provides Technical Information on the service etc for all 240/260 models and other Classic /Older Production Volvos.
Please Note: This Buyers Guide is produced and updated by Kevin Price and is the Copyright of the Volvo Enthusiasts Club. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior permission, in writing from:
Kevin Price, Volvo Enthusiasts Club, 127 Kidderminster Road, Wribbenhall, BEWDLEY, Worcestershire DY12 1JE.