Someone Else's Problem: 1989 Volvo 740GL Estate - Another clunker, Swedish style!


Forum Addict
Aug 6, 2008
Glasgow, Scotland
Three Triumphs and a Volvo estate
Oops, I did it again.



As nice as the Acclaim is it does feature some very Japanese design quirks which I'm not a fan off. Particularly a crashy ride on rough road surfaces (which is all road surfaces in the UK) and a buzzy engine at motorway speeds (3,500rpm in top at 70mph). It is also fairly useless for transporting anything large. The Dolomite also suffers from poor gearing (3,500rpm at about 60mph) and is equally rubbish at moving stuff.

I'd been talking about sourcing an estate of some description that was more suited to doing long trips at low rpms and I happen to know a few people locally who highly rated the Volvo 700/900 series cars... Then one of them messaged me, an example had just turned up in a metal recycling place down the road and the owners thought it was too decent to break for parts... £300.

Well, I agreed to buy it even before I'd seen it in person just based on a few pictures... The mate who had initially messaged me give me a lift over (in his own 740) to see the car that afternoon after work, I insured and taxed it on my phone and drove it home. Job jobbed.


So. It's a 1989 Volvo 740GL estate with the 2.0 4-pot and a 3 speed autobox with overdrive which has done about 178,000 miles. The previous owner had the car since around 1993 or so and was a police officer prior to retiring. He'd kept the car well serviced and in decent fettle but recently decided he'd gotten too old to keep on top of the repairs himself so decided to give it up. His final bit of work was to strip the entire lower dash, centre console and carpets out in search of a water leak... The boot was full of boxes of spare parts. The service book is fully stamped. He's kept the receipts for everything he's bought for it since about 2003.

Naturally having bought a car that's only been doing about 500 miles a year for the last decade I decided the best course of action would be to put the interior back together and do a 400 odd mile roadtrip up to see my parents...

Another mate and I rebuilt the interior first. Although all the sounddeadening etc went in the bin because it was rotten and if the car was still leaking water I didn't want it acting as a giant sponge against the floorpan.




I then cleaned the outside and polished off all the staining for it being sat for long periods of time without much use and it started to look not bad...




It had an issue where it was idling at 1500rpm in Park but then idling so low in Drive it'd stall out. This was traced to a microswitch that tells the ECU the throttle is being used, essentially telling the fuel injection whether the car is idling or not. This wasn't being engaged so the car never thought it was at idle. Adjusting this and idle speed saw that issue sorted.

Then, the day before I was due to go away on holiday it did this:


I was sure it'd just shat it's gearbox but it turned out it was a PAS pipe on the high pressure side of the system that had corroded away. It must have popped right at the end of my street as it was coming out at a crazy rate. I pulled the belt off the pump and have been running without it... The pump never ran dry so it should be fine once a new pipe is fitted.

Then I went on holiday.


It was pretty much faultless. Only issue being a slight misfire and the fact it only managed about 20mpg... Once home it then decided that sometimes it just wouldn't engage it's starter motor. The solenoid clicks and that's it, repeated use gets it to work but it's a bit of a gamble. I've tried cleaning the electrical contacts and whacking the motor with an plumbers wrench to no avail so that'll need further investigation.

The fuel gauge also doesn't function (seemingly a very common fault) and the odometer is also broken (also very common due to the infamous "cog of cheese" that drives it).

It also needs some welding to the rear of the sills on both sides and the tyres are all a decade old, but other than that it's pretty damn sweet! I'll give it a light service and check-up over this coming week and then do the welding and tyres before the MOT is due in November. Worst case scenario it'll break for double what I paid for it...
Well bought! Looks like a lot of Volvo for the money. Hope it'll do hauler work well.
Incredibly good value and a smart looking car really with that chin spoiler. White seems to suit its fridge-like shape too. What did you use on the mirrors? It worked incredibly well, if it isn't permanent though I can recommend GTechniq C4.
It looks really good for a £300! I like the the colour combo, I think blue interior with white body looks quintessentially 80s without looking over the top, and it works for a Volvo estate.

Good luck with it!
Anyone else see the irony of a license plate that says "940"? :p

You really can't go wrong with an old Gyllenhammar.
Anyone else see the irony of a license plate that says "940"? :p

You really can't go wrong with an old Gyllenhammar.
Also SRT, so you know it's fast. :p
I am quite taken with the old barge, although it makes the Acclaim feel like a racecar by comparison. :ROFLMAO:

I use boiled linseed oil on the plastics in very small quantities. Mostly as it's dirt cheap and as you only need to rub the smallest amount into the plastic every couple of months a bottle lasts ages.
If you use too much it never really dries and gets dust stuck to it.

The 940 plate is a delightful irony. If it was a facelift car it'd be even closer!
That's a swell transport box, Cap. Congrats on further enabling the illness.

I use boiled linseed oil on the plastics in very small quantities. Mostly as it's cheap and as you only need to rub the smallest amount into the plastic every couple of months a bottle lasts ages.

Scotsman confirmed ?
Scotsman confirmed ?
Worse, a Yorkshireman living in Scotland...

Mild faffery has ensued. The car has barely been used in the last couple of years, I probably did more miles taking it up north then it'd done in the last 12 months.

These wipers, for example, were subpar.



Shiny new, ooooh, aaaaah, etc.



(Yes, I did notice the rear wiper wasn't clicked into place properly.)

This weatherstripping was re-secured before it made a bid for complete escape:

DSC_6692 (Copy).jpg


I suspect it may well be past it's best... Under the trim also shows the car has had a blow-over at some point.


I also tried to get the passenger side window working to no avail, I think the switch is dead.


Mmmmm, tasty mould.


Plugs seem to indicate fairly healthy running.


Dizzy cap and rotor arm were serviceable.



The roofbars were also removed to improve the already amazing aerodynamics.


I've acquired two tyres in slightly the wrong size as the rears are perished to hell and back. (No date tyres best tyres).


The car is currently wearing 195/65/15s all around, as it should. I've acquired two 185/60/15s for free - These will go on the front wheels and the two decent tyres already on the car will go on the back. This is mostly so the lower profile tyres are on the front so as to not bring the very saggy arse end of the car even lower...

I also found some issues with the brakes.



Sticking piston on the driver's side causing excess wear on the inner pad. Meanwhile on the passenger side...



Ah yes, that'll be the recently appeared horrendous grinding noise under breaking.

A friend of mine has kindly offered to rebuild the front calipers this weekend so the car is currently with him and I have his Swedish estate on loan.


It's rather a different beast...

Other than that there isn't much to report with the Volvo, I've not done masses of miles in it due to the brakes and tyres. With those and a bit of welding to be carried out it should pass it's MOT in November with any luck. Then it'll be fiddling with the K-Jet to get more than 20mpg out of the thing...
Aaaaaaaaaaaand, it's dead Jim.

DSC_6962 (Copy).jpg

Went to go and sort the rust issues, jacked it up on the rear axle intending on dropping it on ramps and the jack got a bit wobbly. Stuck some axle stands under the jacking points to reposition the jack and the N/S jacking point just crumbled into the sill, the O/S would have done the same had we not jacked it back up...

DSC_6956 (Copy).jpg

DSC_6960 (Copy).jpg

Aye, no.

I like the thing but it's a £300 car and that's going to need some serious work in awkward places to get it strong again. The underside has a half inch of underseal on it + many previous patch repairs along the chassis and I'm not going digging into that shit...

I'm already balls deep in the Doloshite resto and the Acclaim is also on fleet and is rarer and more valuable, time/resources are at a premium and the old 740 has drawn the short straw. It'll most likely be headed to a specialist breakers down in the borders. A shame, but it really is rough underneath and I had £300 worth of use out of it hauling stuff around in my brief ownership.

I reckon I'll have another, but a 2.3 facelift, and I'll view it first. Maybe even pay real money for it...




Is this the shortest ownership of an FG vehicle in recorded history?
It was a surprisingly short duration of ownership. I'd sort of assumed that even worst case scenario I'd be able to nurse it through one more MOT with a tickle from the MIG but those sills will be a big job in a shit location + any other rust that could be hiding.

It's been going to the same MOT tester for the last 25 odd years and I suspect he's been going easy on it as the PO was an older guy who was hardly using it any more...
Ah yes, the one that was already raided for parts on the camp site of I recall correctly. :D
I remember was like watching a wildlife documentary but instead of a cow it was an E30 being tken apart by piranas.
Oh yeah, I think this was sold far quicker than how it went with my Xsara.