Hey folks, I recently bought a Volvo V70 as a new daily. I wanted to make a proper post/review and finally got around to it. Here goes:

Illustration for article titled Finally a post about my new Volvo V70 + Mini Oppo review
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Intro

So, as some might remember I sold my Twingo. I did that because it was a pain to register and pass inspection, since the whole underside is rusty beyond any reasonable investment. To repair it would cost more than the car is worth, and/or months of my own hard work with minimum tools, space and skills. I will save that bodywork learning experience for something else in the future. The good news is that I did in fact manage to register it for the next year, and it was sold (pretty much immediately) and will not get crushed - it still has adventures with a happy new owner who saw the potential it has left.

So that brings me to the Volvo. I was at the bottom end of financial abilities, which didn’t leave me with a lot of choice of interesting, Jalop-worthy cars. Keep in mind that I live in Croatia, where seeing any interesting or even slightly modified cars is rare. When I see a car with different wheels, my neck snaps to see it, because even something like that happens like maybe once a week. When I was in the States, every 5th car had some sort of mod on it. Just a different culture I guess - mostly due to the lower financial standard here. A cool exhaust or new wheels is almost a luxury.

Anyways, I was hoping to find a Volvo 245 for cheap but that proved impossible. There are only a couple of them for sale, and all are either rusted out completely, or very expensive. Then I switched to looking for an 850 but stumbled upon this. This one was freshly registered and inspected and I haggled it down to around 8.000 kuna / 1.050 EUR / 1.140 USD. That’s cheap for a car like this here - when I see the prices of these things stateside I want to cry. Anyways I wanted something to use more for longer trips and adventures, rather than in-town runabouts. This new way I would use a car was part of my new lifestyle changes, next to a better diet and exercise. I am restoring a bicycle for in-town stuff, I might post about it sometimes.

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Illustration for article titled Finally a post about my new Volvo V70 + Mini Oppo review

Basic info:

  • 1998 Volvo V70
  • NA 146hp 5 cylinder
  • Manual
  • Runs on LNG. I would never be able to keep feeding it otherwise.
  • Non-stock wheels, 15inch.
  • 500.000 km (310.000 mi)
  • Sadly no rear-facing seats.
  • Has a tow-hook.

Bad:

The LNG conversion is half-assed, so the car tends to stutter. I can’t isolate the problem - it happens usually when giving it gas. Sometimes happens when it’s cold, sometimes happens when it’s all warmed up, after an hour or two of driving. Sometimes it’s fine. But I know the problem is the LNG because when I switch it to regular fuel it runs perfectly smooth.
Oh, and the conversion isn’t registered and inspected. So for inspection I’ll have to completely remove it from the car. And if I get pulled over, I have to pretend that the bonnet can’t open. Because if a cop sees the LNG system I’m in trouble.

It’s huge. I know it’s not for US standards, I mean it’s half a meter shorter than a Crown Vic. But here… Jeez this takes some adjusting. Even more so after the Twong. Parking it was a bitch at first, until I figured out that I forgot about the massive overhangs. Now I adjusted to thinking about where the wheels are, rather than where the corners of the cars are, and I can park/maneuver with less trouble.

It has half a million km on the clock, which is a lot (although these cars can take much more). The age and mileage shows mostly through broken, teared and ripped trim pieces and a pretty scruffy exterior. The hood is completely matte, no clear coat is left. But hey, all of these tiny nicks are just potentially fun one-day projects. Except for the dash rattle, jeeez man that annoys me a lot, and supposedly takes 4-5 hours to fix. I’ll get around to it sometime.

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Illustration for article titled Finally a post about my new Volvo V70 + Mini Oppo review

Good:

This is a completely different driving experience from the Twangi. It’s an aircraft carrier. Forget about ‘Yeah I’ll just leave it here for 2 minutes to use the ATM’. Because I can’t fit in all of my regular 2-minute town-center improvised parking spots. You sit in a supremely comfortable, heated lounge chair with dual-zone climate control and leather stuff around you. The steering wheel is freshly re-upholstered and it’s a joy just to touch it. The seats are a bit worn out but still very ergonomically well thought-out. That’s another huge point for the Volvo, especially after the Twingo. I loved that little thing but the ergonomics were absolute dogshit, from the seating position to where the shifter was, to how the steering wheel was tilted. You can adjust every single thing in the Volvo. This is a cruiser. I drove a Crown Vic in New York the same way, I just feel like I’m back there.

Mechanically, it’s in very good shape. No rust whatsoever and the whole underside/engine is completely dry. I need to do a belt change and service for peace of mind, change one wheel bearing and replace the rubber boot-things on some suspension bits. And that’s it! A drivable, reliable car. The LNG problems can be a long-term thing to check out. If I decide to keep the car for a long time, I might invest into having the fuel system re-fitted and registered properly.

The sound system is fantastic. Deep bass, clear highs, no crackling or static, and some adjustability from the factory head-unit. I can turn it up a lot without distorting the audio or damaging the speakers. I have an Alpine unit I might put in to see if it improves even more.

It’s huge. That is also a plus for the amount of stuff it can haul. I can lie down in it comfortably with just the back seats folded. I can’t wait to take it camping sometime.

The handling is pretty good, it grips more than you’d expect, but you can feel the weight, it’s not a canyon carver. The ride is very supple and comfy, you can somehow feel the body taking the bumps while leaving your butt intact.

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Illustration for article titled Finally a post about my new Volvo V70 + Mini Oppo review

Future mods, of course:

  • Higher flow muffler and tip, to make the 5 cylinder sound more raspy, it has enough bass as it is. It has a tiny leak somewhere in the middle of the car, which I won’t get rid of because at full throttle it sounds fucking fantastic. It evokes a Lambo V10, or even Group B quattros (minus the BOV chirps).
  • Fixing the interior bits, switches and covers that have broken off or are rattling.
  • Cosmetic exterior stuff, like adding a lip, changing the wheels, adding a trunk spoiler and bumper from the R model. I might go the overlanding route and add a roof basket, some spotlights and stuff, headlight grill guards… We’ll see.
  • I’ll leave the engine and suspension as-is for now, and bring it to Stage 0 - have it fixed, refreshed and reliable. For now it feels strong and fast, even though it might not be.
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Illustration for article titled Finally a post about my new Volvo V70 + Mini Oppo review

Outro

Thank you guys for giving me tips and sharing experiences about these cars. I was worried I wouldn’t get attached to it like I did to the Twango, but now I’m worried that I’ll get too attached. If that happens, at least it will outlive me and it’s a solid and reasonable investment and a good long-term car.
And I mean it’s a Volvo. It just feels right. I am a graphic designer, after all, so I think it’s ‘on-brand’ for me. I’m really happy with it.




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