I didn’t expect to buy a Volvo wagon when I left the house yesterday morning.

Didn’t get robbed. In fact, I stopped at IKEA for lunch and some supplies and had enough time for a drive through the canyons.

First, the car! Well, it exists and the slug under the hood still spins and whooshes per the dash gauge, though the spongy brakes and narrow streets put the kibosh on any shenanigans.

It’s a ten-footer from the outside, but that’s to be expected. Straight & clean with even gaps on all sides - a pleasant surprise - but the rubber is pretty darn rough, but I expected it for a $2000 car.

Mechanically it works. The timing belt ought to be replaced, the engine needs a good seafoming, and the wiper motor needs replacing, but it runs and drives through all the gears. Clutch pedal could do with an adjustment, but it’s pretty good. Owner said it’s a fresh clutch and I have no reason to doubt him.

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So it goes...and that’s where things kind of hit a snag: I suspect the master cylinder is toast. There was an “oh shit!” moment when I pushed the pedal and the stately lady decided that we needed to get closer to the CRV in front before stopping. Owner says pads, but I don’t really hear any grinding and the rotors look meaty.

The interior is also pretty rough, having thirty years of wear & tear. The odometer works like a charm, but the speedometer’s a little jittery at low speeds. Not a deal breaker. The seatbelts are a little dry and reluctant to roll up, so I guess that is a bit troubling.

All in all, it’s a thirty year old car that requires about $600 (most of that’s new tires) in parts from my rough, back-of-the-napkin, “officer I swear I have never touched a beer” sober calculations. No stereo and the A/C is kind of crap.

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The only major show stoppers are the brakes, tires, and the fact that the guy throws on a new cat during smog checks instead of getting it figured out. The car still passes, so I don’t see it as anything bad.

I love it, but am I going down a dark road for a car that will see 99% gravel roads? Also, what’s a fair price? I’m thinking $1800 since California’s paying you $1500 to scrap it, so with parts & such it’s not that bad of a money sink.