Unverified Ownership 1989 Volvo 740GLE Estate - It's time to haul... Stuff.


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Aug 6, 2008
Glasgow, Scotland
Three Triumphs and a Volvo estate

So, I bought another 740 wagon... Like my old one it's an 1989 F reg 740 estate in white. Unlike my old one it's a 2.3 with the ZF gearbox. It's also a GLE rather than a GL (check the alloy wheels and stainless hubcaps). I bought it on eBay for £700 unseen, because I vowed to never do that again.

124,000 on the clock, engine is sweet as a nut and freshly serviced, gearbox is smooth, it rides well, steers well and stops well. Tyres are a mix of part worns which are a million times better than the billion year old rubber on my old one.

The interior and headlining has been replaced with one from a spares car of unknown age, it's all pretty decent.

The body looks awful, it's been blown over in white from metallic grey, at least twice. It is, however, (mostly) dent and rust free (for an ancient UK car). Underneath it needs a bit of work to the driver's side front floor but the chassis, sills and inner arches are all grand

Electrics are comedy spec. Everything important works but using headlights or indicators activates the rear wiper and intermittent wipe is extra intermittent. The under car fuel pump also whines and I don't have the radio code although it does power on and the electric aerial (sooooo fanceh) goes up.

For £700 it's a bit of a steal, that's parts car money. 11 months MOT so no urgent rush to fuck about with it.





Of course there are negatives to this bargain basement shitbox. Nice 740s are £3k for a reason, and this was £700 for many...










It is cosmetically challenged to say the least... There is also some rust to sort out, namely the driver's floor/jacking point area. I suspect sitting for 16 years filling with water has caused the footwells to fill up with water and rot from the inside out...



My old one was rusty in the same area but the whole chassis leg was a mess of patches and the floor was a half inch of underseal and silicone sealant, so this is refreshingly honest in comparison... This one even has rear jacking points and inner sills, unlike my last one.
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This is nice. We could form a boxy and angular 80's wagons club.
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Welcome to the boxy wagon club.
Grand Luxe Executive!

I love how trim levels worked back then, pretty much across all makes and models.

"Luxe" aka L means you barely got opening doors. So why did they name it Luxe?
Maybe they felt more luxurious that way? As some form of self-deception?
Some places would do a super stripped out version for fleet sales with no trim, so perhaps it was just to prove it wasn't a company car...

Or maybe try and upsell you a nicer model to avoid the stigma of having an "L" badged example.

I believe BMW no longer offer badge delete on the base model, you have to go a trim up before you get to hide the fact you drive a white 118...
Badge wars were/are a crazy thing, I've only ever owned top model/badgeless models (and never really cared) so I've never felt badge envy but it really seems to affect some people.

I maybe didn't expect so much rust but it should make the story of the ownership interesting. :p
You've just bought your old Volvo back, haven't you?
You've just bought your old Volvo back, haven't you?

A-fucking-pparently so.


So. There was one suspect bit of metalwork on the car, under the driver's feet around the jacking point outrigger thing.


Nothing too extreme right? A bit peely around the chassis/floor seam, surface rust on the chassis rail from incorrect jacking, maybe a bit of floor pan needing chopped out. Floor and inner arch rot isn't uncommon on these things.



Ok, worse than expected. There are rust chunks about 3mm thick coming out from under seemingly intact undercoating... Hammer time.



Fuck my life.

So, the chassis leg was full of shit. Like leaves and plastic bags and snail shells and stuff. So it's filled up with garbage over it's 16 year lay up and the drain holes have blocked, water has collected at the lowest point and rotted it from the inside out. If you tap it with a screwdriver it still rings out like good metal, you really have to stab at it to get through the undercoating, but even the bits that won't hole are significantly thinned.


The floor rot is more of a mystery, the whole floor seems thin. Sandwiched between the strongest undercoating I've ever encountered and bitumen type sound deadening pads on the inside is a lot of crispy garbage. I'm guessing water has gotten in under the coating via the seams and just spread out rotting from the inside out?

Anyways, I threw a bit of a tantrum and vowed to sell everything and never buy cars ever again and take up something healthier like crack and a few hours later started formulating a basic repair plan.
The floor is big flat sheet with some strengthening ribs, the chassis rail is 3/4 box section, probably 1.2mm. Not exactly hard to make with the metal folder and bead roller.

Bollocks to it. The last one died because as well as far worse rust and loads of bodgery the engine was tired, gearbox was shite, brakes only worked on the front, the PAS was dead and the rear suspension was so saggy the mudflaps hit the ground on bumps. This one drives so nicely and has the better engine and gearbox combo, plus working everything (electrics notwithstanding). I reckon it's worth repairing properly and keeping long term.
Tetanus alert! :shock2:

Is there no good meeting point between a modest budget and a decent car in the UK?
Eeeeh, there is, but nothing old enough to have my interest.

Old Volvo estates are starting to command good money now, a good one is getting on for £2k+, so I'm still hovering around in the "dregs" area of the market and shopping for 30 year old cars that have all done 100k+ in a damp environment....
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*Crosses any old Volvo off potential list of cars to buy in the future*

If the rest of the car is worth it then at least you will know it's solid when it's complete. Seems like these suffer from similar body rot to Disco 1s, which also like to develop extra ventilation.
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Tetanus alert! :shock2:

Is there no good meeting point between a modest budget and a decent car in the UK?
Plus, you've seen his vehicle history. :D
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The only thing I hate more than spending real sums of money on a car is having a car that isn't fucking wretched...

Rust isn't entirely unexpected, it's originally from Wales, one of the wettest areas of the UK. It also sat in the Midlands for 16 years looking like this:



Moisture seeping up through cracked undercoating, probably where mud has been trapped around the jacking points, explains the odd isolated grot spots.

When my Dolly blew it's engine it was the middle of winter, it sat at the side of the road until mid June when I started messing about with it and there were plenty of areas under the car where collected mud was still wet. Shit just doesn't dry out.

Bit harsh to compare it to a Disco 1, you'd have had to sweep it up after parking one of those under a tree for a decade and a half. :ROFLMAO:
Bad electrics seem to go hand-in-hand with excessive tinworm, I suppose if the car rots away the earth path might be a little disrupted.
You should check again when it's dark, there's probably so much shortage that the whole car will faintly blink. :ROFLMAO: