A model that has became a breathtaking icon for the Swedish company Volvo; the 240 Series helped Volvo reach the top of its game in the mid-1970s. A range of executive vehicles, the 200 series was produced from 1974 through 1993, with more than 2.8 million models sold worldwide. The 200 series replaced the 140 and the 140-based 164. The Volvo 700 series was introduced in 1982 and had a production period that overlapped. From 1975 through 1982 the Volvo 240 was Volvo's best-selling vehicle before it was replaced by the 300 series. The 240 continued in popularity with only the 260 displaced by the 700 series, which was marketed by Volvo besides the 240 for 10 more years. One year before the 240 was discontinued the 700 series was replaced. The Volvo 240 series was sold alongside the smaller Volvo 66. On May 14, 1993 production ended for the Volvo 240 series after almost two decades.
Introduced in the fall of 1974, the Volvo 240 and 260 series were available at first in six variations of the 240 Series; 242L, 242DL, 244DL, 244GL, 245L and 245DL, and two variations of the 260 Series; 264DL and 264GL. The impressive 240 Series was offered in sedan body style with either two or four doors and a station wagon. The 260 Series was offered as a coupe, four-door sedan or station wagon.
Looking very similar to the earlier 140 and 164 Series, the Volvo 200 shared the same body shell and almost the same rearward cowl. The 200 also used many of the design and feature elements in the Volvo VESC ESV in 1972, a prototype experiment in car safety. Large front and rear end crumple zones helped the driver and passengers in the event of a crash. The front suspension was MacPherson strut type, which gave more room to the engine bay, and the rear suspension was an updated version of the one fitted to the 140 Series. Rack-and-pinion steering helped to steer substantially, while the power steering fitted was standard to the 244GL, 264DL and 264GL. Some modifications were also made to the braking system, especially the master cylinder.
Most of the updates were made to the engine with the 1974 240 series keeping the B20A inline-four engine from the 140 Series, while the new B21A engine was offered as an option on the 240 DL models. A 2,127 cc, four-cylinder unit, the new B21 engine had a cast-iron block, a five-bearing crankshaft and a belt-driven overhead camshaft. Producing 97 PS for the B21A carburetor 242DL, 244DL and 245DL, this engine produced 123 PS for the B21E fuel-injected 244GL. In the US market all 240s were fuel injected and the carbureted B20 and B21 engines weren't available because of strict emission regulations.
The Douvrin engine was introduced in the 264 models as a brand-new V6 B27E engine developed by a joint venture between Renault, Volvo and Peugeot. This engine was simply dubbed the 'PRV engine'. With a displacement of 2,664 cc, the B27E engine had an aluminum alloy block and wet cylinder liners. The 264DL and 264GL produced 140 hp, and all models were available with a choice of a four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. The manual 244GL offered optional overdrive, while a five-speed manual gearbox was optional on the 264GL and 265GL.
The 265 DL estate wagon was offered in 1975, and was the first production Volvo estate powered via a six-cylinder engine. The 200 Series was undergoing some technical updates at this time and in included the B20A engine deleted from various markets, and remained in others until 1977. The B12A engine replaced the B20A and came with a new camshaft that upped the output from 93 to 100 PS. Outside of the U.S. the two-door 262 DL and GL sedans, the 264DL saloon (sedan) and the new 265DL estate (station wagon) with the new V6 B27A engine. With a lower output of 125 PS the engine was nearly identical to the fuel-inject V6 B27E except for its SU carburetor instead of fuel injection. Overdrive was now an available option in all manual models except the base-model 242L and 245L. The 3-speed automatic was optional within every model.
1975 models first launched in the US auto market came with the old pushrod B20F engine. The following year the new OHC B21F motor was introduced. In the 1976 260 series a fuel-injected variant of the V6, the B27F was introduced. The Canadian and US 200-series ranges were different from each other since the B21A carbureted engine wasn't offered in the US, but was the base engine in Canada from '77 through '84. From 1975 through 1976 the Canadian models were identical to US models, and beginning in 1985 the Canadian models received US model engines, in 49-state form. The only exception was the Turbo who only had California emission controls.
Almost every year minor updates were made to better the Volvo 240 line. One of these, a major update, was made in 1976 and included the introduction of the oxygen sensor, which Volvo called Lambda Sond and developed in conjunction with Bosch. The sensor added a feedback loop to the K-Jetronic fuel injection system already in use, which allowed fine-tuning of the air and fuel mixture, producing excellent emissions, drive ability and fuel economy.
Around a third of all 240 models were sold as station wagons, which delivered a spacious cargo space of 41 cubic feet. These wagons could be outfitted with a rear-facing foldable jump seat in the passenger area, which transformed the wagon into a seven-passenger vehicle. The jump seat came with three-point seatbelts and had a reinforced floor section that protected the passengers of the jump seat in event of a rear-end collision. The Volvo 200 and 700 series became a status symbol worldwide.
The final 200 produced was called the 'Polar Italia', a blue station wagon built to Italian specification and is currently displayed at the Volvo World Museum.
To celebrate Volvo's 60th Anniversary the 240 DL Jubileum was launched in 1987. Based on the 240 DL series, the Jubileum was available in both saloon and estate form.
Though its image wasn't exactly 'sporting', the Volvo 240 proved itself quite a worthy competitor in touring car racing during the 1980s. Volvo took the 240 Turbo and created an evolved version with a bigger turbocharger and other performance enhancements in 1983. All of these models were exported to the United States and most were stripped of their racing equipment and sold as standard road cars. These modifications eventually led Volvo into issues with the FIA, the sport's governing body, which questioned whether the necessary 500 cars had been actually built. Today there are still questions regarding how many special-edition cars were produced and where they ended up.
The Volvo 240T weighed around 2,348 pounds in Group A racing form and proved a successful competitor with its turbocharged 2.1-liter engine that produced 350 bhp (261 kW; 355 PS). The T240T was a large car riding on skinny tires and it lacked the agility its competitors were known for, but it still was fast in a straight line. It proved very reliable on faster circuits like Monza, Hockenheim, and Bathurst. Rather then run the cars directly Volvo chose to instead engage the services of established teams that prepared and managed them.
The most successful of these managed teams was the Eggenberger Motorsport team. Swedish team Sportpromotion won the EG Trophy race at the Zolder circuit in the 1984 European Touring Car Championship and followed that with second in the 500 km del Mugello. The following year Volvo signed Swiss engine pro Reudi Eggenberger to run its works team. The 1985 ETCC was won outright by Eggenberger Motorsport with team drivers Gianfranco Brancatelli and Thomas Lindström.
In 1986 Eggenberger moved to race Ford Sierra's and Volvo contracted Belgian-based team RAS Sport to be its works team in the ETCC. Defending champion Lindström was joined by ex-Formula One and Grand Prix motorcycle racer Johnny Cecotto along with Ulf Granberg and Anders Olofsson. In 1986 the team was exceptionally competitive and achieved wins at Hockenheim, Anderstorp, Brno, Österreichring and Zolder. The wins at Anderstorp and the Österreichring were unfortunately taken away from the team due to illegal duel. Lindström was unable to defend his title due to these disqualifications.
The Volvo 240T was ran around the world with quite a bit of success. The Magum team in Sweden sold a 240T to New Zealander Mark Petch, who claimed to run the only privateer Volvo 240T outside of Europe. In January of 1985 drivers Robbie Grancevic and Michel Delcourt won the Wellington 500 street race in New Zealand after starting from the rear of the grid since the car didn't arrive in time to qualify. In the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship Francevic went on to finish 5th, taking wins at Symmons Plains and Oran Park. The 1986 Wellington 500 was won by Thomas Lindström who joined Francevic and brought the latest engine and suspension upgrades for the car from Europe.
In 1986 the Petch team became the 'Volvo Dealer Team' which expanded to two cars with the second for John Bowe who had driven the Volvo with Francevic at the 1985 Bathurst 1000. The 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship was won by Francevic, which gave Volvo their first, and only, Australian Touring Car Championship win. This win also gave the 240T the distinction of being the first turbo-powered car to win the championship since its inception in 1960. In 1985 and 1986 the car also won the Guia Race in Macau.
At the close of the 1986 season Volvo chose to withdraw from the sport, mostly because of the controversy over its adherence to the FIA's homologation rules. Other reasons for the withdrawal also included the 240T achieving its goals. It wasn't until the advent of Super Touring racing in the early 1990s that Volvo returned to the racing circuit with the 850 model.
In other branches of Motorsport the 240 also enjoyed a bit of success. Since Volvo had pulled out of rallying in the early 1970's the 240 Turbo saw some action as a Group A rally car in the mid- 1980s. Unfortunately without works backing the 240, the vehicle was met with limited success. Until 1996 the normally aspirated version stayed eligible for international competition and until this day it remains a popular clubman's rally car in Scandinavia.
The establishment of the Volvo Original Cup (or VOC) has boosted the popularity of this sport in a championship for amateur rally drivers using Volvo 240s, 740s and 940s. Only very limited modifications are allowed to the cars due to cost restraints, though the series attracted a large number of competitors because of its low cost and Volvo's rear-drive handling and reliability.
Today the 240 has become a popular option in folk race competitions due to its cheap and robust build. It is quite popular in the UK for banger racing because of its strength. At 2.0-litre + banger meetings the Volvo 240 is now a common choice alongside Jaguars and Ford Granada's.
By Jessica Donaldson