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My Volvo

Updated on August 20, 2014

And Why You Should Buy One, Too

On second thought, Volvos aren't what they used to be, and I don't want you buying one of the good used ones. I want that one to be available when I need to replace my car!

I buy used Volvos from someone I trust, who gets them to sell only occasionally, unfortunately. In this lens, I will tell you WHY Volvo is my favorite car.

A Little History

Which Volvos? Read on...

Volvos are noted for their durability and safety. They have been one of the safest cars on the road, a car that protects its passengers. And you can put a few hundred thousand miles on an engine. Most cars are good for about 100,000 miles, maybe a little more. I have one Volvo that has nearly 400,000 miles on it, and the engine still runs like a top. And I have been notoriously poor about maintaining them with prompt oil changes and the like.

About 1994, all this changed, when Ford acquired Volvo. Argh! I can't stand Fords to begin with, so I couldn't imagine that they would help Volvos at all. Fords handle very poorly. They are unstable. Volvos, on the other hand, handle quite well. So I figured after 1994, you don't want a Volvo, and I have met a lot of folks who agree.

Well, I always hoped that eventually things would change for the better. Unfortunately, NOT SO. Ford sold Volvo to a CHINESE company. These days, the Chinese are notorious for selling a lot of substandard products. At this point, I have no hope for the car. Seriously. None. Sigh!

So if you want a REAL Volvo, you have to buy one which was made before 1994. And people aren't selling them. And eventually, they DO wear out. When I need a "new" car, and if I cannot find another used Volvo before 1994, I'm not sure what I will do. Walk, I suppose.

Here She Is!

She's not pretty. She needs a paint job and new upholstery. When I become rich, those things will come. The important thing is that she has over 175,000 miles on her odometer and still spins like a top.

I didn't really WANT a station wagon, though they do come in handy. I wanted something with a trunk I can hide stuff in. So I have various workarounds, but mostly I carry my expensive camera equipment with me everywhere, so it won't get stolen. Call me paranoid. I don't care. :)

When I first bought that car, the fellow I know who sold it to me called me and said, "I have a Volvo that is light green." He knows I don't want dark cars in this climate. So I went to see it. Does this look like light green to you? Didn't to me, either.

Prior to buying my car, we bought one for my husband. It's a 4 door 940, and it's quite nice, although adjusting it to fit my body has been a real chore. I don't know what they did to the seat design, but it forces me to bend my head forward. So I have to put a pad against the back. And the setting for my body is different from my husband's, and the car doesn't like it when I select my setting on the rare occasion when I drive it. So I rarely drive his car.

When the same person who sold us my car called us about my husband's car, he said, "I have a Volvo in dark gray." Again, he knew we didn't want a dark car to drive in the desert. We got down there, and saw that the car was black.

Fool me once and all that jazz. After he told me the car he sold me was light green, I said, I will never, ever trust your description of the color of a car ever again! We both laughed.

Perhaps the fact that the cars are dark is the reason they became available. I shouldn't look the gift horse in the mouth!

Beating Up on Her

I do a LOT of offroad driving. For one thing, my driveway is dirt, and it's about a quarter of a mile long. There are lots of rocks. I pick off the worst ones. Rain washes away dirt, leaving trenches and holes. And if that weren't enough...

I go places where no man has gone before, or ought to go.

This story will provide you some kind of idea. I was driving the dirt road into the Castle Rock Wilderness. This is located north of Yuma, and it's a gorgeous area. The road is well maintained up to the museum. The museum is a small frontier town that has been converted. After that, the road gets real dicey. I was driving just past the turnoff to the museum when a couple of people in an ATV stopped next to me and said, "You shouldn't drive back there. It's suitable for 4 wheel drive only." But I wasn't about to listen, because every additional distance I drove was yielding new views of gorgeous spring desert with mountains in the background. And I'm glad I did, but it was quite the adventure. After driving for awhile, I came across the second of two washes, and this one was deep. The road down to it was quite steep. So I eased my car carefully over it and made it. Drove a little further, and there was almost a sheer wall of dirt right in the middle of the road. It was hemmed in on two sides with steep hills. There was a side road that wasn't much better. Nobody was going directly up, and indeed, an ATV would be required for the side road. So I decided to turn around and leave. I should have backed up first. Big mistake! I didn't. I tried to turn around right there.

Understand, Volvos have a phenomenal turning radius for its time. But that didn't help. I got thoroughly stuck. Then I wondered if my cell phone would work and I would be able to reach AAA. It seemed to have signal, and while I was trying to call, someone came up with an ATV, saw the situation, and left in spite of my cries for help. Now what, I thought. I waited awhile, and pretty soon, several ATVs showed up. They helped me out of the dilemma.

Started back, and when I got to the deep wash, and tried to go up, I noticed that my back wheels (which have the power) were suspended in mid-air. The ATV people pushed me up and helped me out of this second dilemma. After that, they said things would be fine. Don't tell ME there is no such thing as guardian angels! :)

That second spot broke off my muffler. I was able to retrieve the tail pipe, but I never saw the muffler. If you go back there and find a muffler, it's mine. Please return it.

The car made it out just fine!

In other words, I take my Volvo into some pretty dicey situations, and except for that occasion, I have gotten away with it. I am a little more cautious now, but not much!

So when you look at some of my lenses, please remember that SOME of the photographs are there because I have my Volvo to thank!

Castle Rock Wilderness

Here's where I was when I had that little adventure. Perhaps you can see why I didn't want to turn around and go home before that.

My Mechanic

I have a wonderful mechanic. I have known him for a couple of decades, well, three, I think. He runs a shop that only services Volvos, and he has some very good people working for him. Over the years, he has really treated us right. When we needed help because of a costly car repair, he has been generous. I think he sometimes works on my Volvo himself so he doesn't have to charge us for labor.

Over the years, we have become friends. He is also interested in birding and photography, and we often share pictures and tell each other stories.

He's the one who keeps selling us Volvos when we need them.

Interestingly, he is a staunch Christian, and he had an experience few can top. He actually caught rabies and survived. He was bitten by what I think was a family pet. The doctors anticipated symptoms and treated them early. But he credits prayer with his recovery. I imagine this experience has really mellowed him. There was even a write-up in the paper at the time.

They Just Don't Make Them Like They Used To

People have different reasons for selecting the cars they drive. In my opinion, most of the reasons are worse than useless, because they affect what is available on the market.

Lots of people buy cars to give them prestige. That's probably the WORST reason for buying a car. If you don't have self respect, you won't get it by buying a car. If it impresses your friends, you need some better friends.

To me, functionality is THE most important reason to buy a car.

Environmentalists have had a lot of influence, and as a result, there are a lot of flimsy cars on the road, because they're lightweight. These cars are dangerous and can get people killed. I won't go there.

What people forget when they are designing and buying cars is that a car that no longer functions is a huge drain on the environment. It has to be replaced, and this uses a lot of resources. It also generates "greenhouse gases" that some people use as an excuse to deprive people of rights, and various kinds of pollution, plus uses up raw materials. And then there is the carcass to deal with. Recycling old cars also uses precious resources. If you have a car that won't survive an accident, or that wears out too soon, you are harming the environment more than you would be if you simply got a sturdy car, had to buy gas a little more often, and maintained your car for years.

Don't replace your car every three years. It is a waste of money.

My Volvos have been involved in two accidents (neither of which was my fault). They survived just fine. In fact, one of them did considerable damage to the other car (which pulled out from between cars in front of me). It did a little damage to the structure, which I was able to get repaired, and I drove that car for quite awhile afterwards.

So if your reason for buying a car is something other than functionality, think seriously about your values.

What about you? Do you drive a Volvo? Would you?

Did my lens influence your thinking in any way? Tell me about it.

Would you drive a Volvo?

Funny Incident

I just wrote this Lens a few days ago. Today when I got out of my car at the post office, a woman walked up to me and said, "That's the safest car on the road." She said her daughter had an old Volvo and wanted to sell it and get a new one, and the woman talking to me told her daughter not to, because the new ones aren't any good.

Which reminds me of another incident that happened a couple of years ago. I was pulling out of a parking space, and a fellow pulled past me in a Volvo that looked almost identical to mine (except his paint job was in better condition) and he rolled down his window and said, "Nice car!" I laughed.

Getting Old and Cantankerous Together

My Volvo currently has a problem we can't seem to get to the bottom of. She doesn't like hot weather. If I spend too much time sitting at traffic lights, she insists on dying, and demanding a ten minute rest before she'll go again. I've had just about everything replaced, and this sure acts like a flooding problem. But I will just have to put up with it.

After all, she puts up with me. I take her into too many dicey situations. Revenge? Maybe.

But then, Volvos were designed in Sweden, and they never figured on my driving one in the desert!

Hey, if you were as old as my Volvo, you'd have a right to a few quirks, too.

Other than that, we get into scrapes now and then, and sometimes they make me marvel at how well designed the Volvo is. Case in point. Something broke that caused the gear shift lever to become detached from the transmission. I realized at that point, that I needed to drive down the mountain immediately, because if I stopped the car, I might not get her started again. And then I saw a waterfall I wanted a picture of, and forgot I couldn't shift into reverse. I tried to turn around, and ended up against the guard rail, and of course, I couldn't back up, so I sat there wondering what to do when along came a van with a few young men in it, and they had me put the shift lever into neutral, and they pushed me back until I was able to drive forward and continue down the mountain. I sure didn't expect them to be able to budge her, because she WAS in drive, after all, but they could. Who else would design a car so it acts like it's in neutral so it could be pushed backwards, when it's really in drive, so I could get out of the stupid situation I got into when I noticed I couldn't shift anymore?

Purple Star

Thank you to everyone who shared in the responsibility of awarding this Lens the Purple Star! I really appreciate it.

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