It was an adventure worthy of Top Gear... I awakened bright and early Saturday afternoon and drove to the bustling metropolis of Savannah, TN, to visit family and harass my old friend Bob.
Now, let me tell you about Bob... By training he's an Industrial Engineer, he does have a master's, and he works as a truck mechanic, because he likes the hours. He also has a serious Volvo addiction, to the tune of 17 or 18, at last count... (We don't even mention the Alfas or the Fiat Spider...)
Anyway, he's had me bird-dogging for a 90+ Volvo 240 for a friend of his, who is insistent on having a sedan that is not green. Don't ask why green is out of the question, it just was. So, when I got to his place, I pulled out the handy-dandy Potato X, pulled up Craigslist and finally found what seemed perfect, six hours away in Columbus, GA. Anyway, we called the friend, had her look at the ad, she liked the price and the car, so we called the seller. Nice-enough girl, still had the car, and she was even willing to sell it.
So, half an hour later, after I had run to Mom's, emptied the contents of my Mazda into my poor, unsuspecting Fiat, and then drove back to Bob's, we proceeded to load two wheels (because two of the tires had been slashed), an alternator (because she said it wouldn't run without jump leads attached), the goodie bag full of tools and wire, a couple of jacks and two thermoses full of coffee. The friend came over with the money for the car, and we were off at the bright and early hour of 1900 CDT. We tried to call her on the way, and she finally called back, about the time we got past Muscle Shoals, AL and let us know that she would be working until 0500 EDT. This was awful fine with us, so we took it easy, stopped and had a supper that couldn't be beat at the Cracker Barrel at I-65 exit 271 (Alabama) and enjoyed a fine drive on down US-280 from Birmingham to Columbus. I only wish I could've stopped in and seen a lovely redhead I know down in Auburn, but it was late, and I don't think she'd have appreciated seeing me that late.
We made it to Columbus around 0330 EDT, so we parked around the corner from the girl's place, since it was curbside parking, and caught about an hour's nap, before we got ready to make the deal. The car was exactly as described, a '93 240 Classic, so we handed over the money, cued the music and set to work changing the wheels and alt.
(Getting ready to do the alternator swap.)
Pulled the alternator, and the ground cable came out in about three pieces, so we fabricated a new one using the spool of wire in the bag, threw on the 100A alternator we carried with us, put in a quart of oil, a quart of ATF, and went off to the gas station.
Surveying the work:
And, at the gas station:
So, we set off for US-280, windows down, because the power window relay is shot, and we made it a massive 20 miles before we had to stop and add air to the left rear we brought along.
Last time one of these wore manufacturer plates was in the '90s...
And, we were off again, for another 10 or so miles, before we had to stop and pull the left front door panel to jump some power to the window motor, but we couldn't roll it up /all/ the way, because in typical Volvo 240 fashion, 3/4 of the outside door handles are broken, and the one working one isn't the driver's door...
Improv window switch...
We discovered, very quickly, that the 240 doesn't like running at high speeds with no overdrive (another typical 240 fault), and the work-out ball joints don't like rough pavement at all, so we made the executive decision to take US-231 north to US-278, and take 278 to Cullman, rather than I-65 from B'ham to Cullman.
(Rest stop on US-231)
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, except for when we stopped to calculate our fuel mileage. The Mazda averaged 41.2 mpg and the 240 averaged 23.6...
That is, until we got back into Tennessee, on TN-69... There's a stretch of road we call the "rabbit run" because it's a series of downhill switchbacks, followed by about three miles of up-down elevation changes... There were a couple of times I thought he was going to lose it in the 240 coming down the hill, because of how the car reacted to the rough pavement and off-camber corners, and it probably didn't help that I was on hour number 27, while he was on hour number 33, at that point.
We survived, though... Barely.
When we finally made it back, with Classic #696/1600, it was totally worth it. It was even more worth it to see his friend's face light up when she pulled up and saw /her/ 244. It doesn't hurt that she's only driven Volvo 240s, and one S70, since she was 16.
And, from the back. It's a good-looking car, IMHO.