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Inexpensive vintage Volvo 940/960: the last elk


Little money, but still fancy a classic car? No problem - because there are bargain sledges. This time: The Volvo 940/960, the family taxi with a gigantic station wagon and a mini turning circle.

General information about the model

Many enthusiasts consider Volvo's 940/960 series - presented in autumn 1990 - to be the last real Volvo.

The vehicles in the upper middle class were not only larger than the 850, which was introduced almost at the same time. It was also the new front-wheel drive model from the Swedish manufacturer, while the 940 and 960 still rolled off the production line with classic rear-wheel drive.

This was virtually indispensable for many customers in the Scandinavian home market, where many people own holiday homes in the country, often with jetties.

Before the winter, which was often harsh at the time, the boats had to be hauled ashore with the trailer.

"In front-wheel drive cars, however, the wheels spin on the steep bank," says Walter Wolf from the Volvo Club Germany.

All-wheel drive was quickly added to the front-wheel drive Volvo 850.

Horse owners and other leisure enthusiasts swore by the rear-wheel drive of the large 940/960.

The trailer load of the Volvo is over two tons.

In addition, there is a large amount of space in the car, especially in its gigantic station wagon version.

The family taxi sold significantly more often than the limousine in Germany.

Volvo's 900 series was a further development of the 700 and the legendary 200, which had sold over 2.7 million times.

The 900 was drawn a little rounder.

But there are still enough rough edges to stand out as a classic Volvo.

One drawback: Despite the enormous loading area of ​​the station wagon, the payload of 480 kilograms is quite low, while the 200 was still 600 kilograms.

With five occupants and a lot of luggage, a 940/960 can quickly become overloaded.

In terms of safety, the car continued Volvo's tradition.

The SIPS side impact protection system introduced in the 850 was also standard in the 900 from 1992.

The belts are automatically tightened by a tensioner in the event of an accident.

The Swedes also stepped up in terms of comfort equipment: the rear bench seat could now be folded down asymmetrically, which was not possible with the Volvo 200.

A disadvantage of the 940 models with four-cylinder is the rigid rear axle, which is clearly noticeable on the one and a half ton truck on uneven road surfaces.

The 960 sedans with six cylinders, on the other hand, were given an elaborate multi-link axle.

As far as the engines are concerned, a four-cylinder doesn't have to be a bad choice if you can live with the rough running.

The 2.0i is a bit sluggish with its 112 hp, but the 2.3i offers sufficient performance with 131 hp.

For many fans, the best engine is the 2.3-liter turbo with 165 hp, which already delights with good torque from below.

The top unit in the 960, a smooth-running three-liter in-line six-cylinder with 24 valves, has 204 hp.

"But it was only available with a four-speed automatic, which squeezes a lot of the extra power," says expert Walter Wolf.

In terms of performance, the 2.3i Turbo and 3.0i 24V would therefore be closer to each other than the pure performance data suggest.

If you ordered a simple 940, you had to wind down the windows.

Electric windows at the front, sunroof or an electric antenna cost extra.

The popular trailer hitch - fixed or detachable - was also optional.

Other extras became standard in later years.

Classic special models are particularly popular.

At a total price of 49,000 marks for the station wagon, this included airbags at the front, air conditioning, velor seats with partial leather, aluminum rims and level control in model year 1997.

Those who ordered the winter package received an automatic locking differential and an outside temperature display.

The leisure package included a trunk mat, floor net, side mesh pocket and a cool box on the loading area.

The luxury package included cruise control, automatic air conditioning, rear electric windows, remote-controlled central locking, leather seats and a leather steering wheel.

In 1996, the 960 model was renamed and upgraded to the S90 (sedan) and V90 (station wagon); technically the vehicles are the same.

With the end of production in 1998, the era of rear-wheel drive ended at Volvo.

Why that of all people?

If a lot of space and a high level of safety are important to you, you can hardly ignore an old Volvo.

With normal care, very high mileage is the rule.

Walter Wolf has unwound over 400,000 kilometers with his station wagon 2.3i - "and he still has the first turbo in it," says the 68-year-old.

Connoisseurs know that from this mileage onwards, some parts of the 940/960 can break, for example the heater fan motor.

Then it is better to use a Volvo with 550,000 kilometers on the speedometer, where a lot of the complex work has already been done.

The interior is dignified, with leather and wood applications creating a living room atmosphere.

In terms of workmanship, the 900 Volvo is in no way inferior to a BMW 5 E34 or Mercedes W124.

There is also a great all-round view.

The windows are big and the body lines are not blurry like many SUVs.

A parking aid would therefore appear absurd to 940/960 drivers.

In general, Volvo's "last fortress" ("Oldtimer Market") surprises with agility in tight city traffic.

The turning circle is a tiny 9.8 meters.

"That is on a small car level," says Walter Wolf.


There is a wide range of cars, including first-hand cars in many colors.

Even the special version of the hearse has survived.

In general, 940 station wagons with manual transmission predominate, while the 960 candidates have automatic.

Late and well-motorized classic special models that have practically all the other extras on board as standard, apart from the sunroof and electric seats, are popular with enthusiasts.

Spare parts supply

There are plenty of wearing parts, and Volvo and parts specialists like Skandix also have a lot in stock for the body and interior.

There is a supply gap in the five-speed gearbox.

To renew the coupling, you need special centering equipment, which some wholesalers lend at workshops for a fee.

A special tool is also required to lock the crankshaft when changing the timing belt; the operation itself is simple.

Plastic and interior parts are sometimes only available in used condition.

30 years ago, car manufacturers increasingly used more modern, environmentally friendly plastics that become brittle much more quickly (example: air filter box).

Spare part prices (exemplary)

  • Fender new, unpainted: approx. 180 euros

  • New turbocharger: approx. 700 euros

  • Toothed belt replacement: from 300 euros for the turbo, from 1200 euros for the six-cylinder and 16V

  • Set of front brake discs: approx. 100 euros

Weak points

The speedometer sometimes acknowledges its service, often this is due to a defective circuit board.

Then the cruise control also fails, but the car continues to drive normally.

Broken speedometers can be removed and sent to specialist companies for repair (costs: approx. 200 euros).

Corrosion is practically no issue with the 940/960 thanks to good rust prevention, unless battery acid leaks and eats into the frame.

Door boards that crease after decades of exposure to the sun are visually unattractive.

Tail lights fade with age.

These should be replaced with original taillights, even if they are more expensive.

In the case of copies from the accessories, the seals often leak quickly, so that water runs into the body.

If the rear wiper no longer works, the axle is probably rusted up.

You can buy it new or you can dismantle and refurbish the part.

Well greased, the wiper works like new.


From 1000 euros there are ready-to-drive, but usually quite rocked-down copies.

Volvo 940/960 in good condition cost between 3000 and 5000 euros.

For well-equipped vehicles with a turbo or six-cylinder, enthusiasts also pay more, but prices over 10,000 euros are rare.

Icon: The mirror

Source: spiegel

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