Friday, March 5, 2010

Favorite Rides

I’ve owned quite a few Volvos. I’ve driven at least one of almost every model over the last 45 years, and I recently had the chance to drive S60 and S40 loaner cars from my local dealer. They’re both terrific cars.

I like Volvo’s design philosophy. It puts function on the same level as form. And each new model has been a big improvement over the previous one.

Until recently, Volvos have been more stodgy than stylish, but there have been a few exceptions. The 1800 ES is still a head-turner. The 780 Bertone was a handsome car. The current S60 and S80 are as good looking as any sedans on the road today, and the C30 is a slick little sport coupe.

But favorite rides have little to do with beauty. They’re about emotion.

My hands-down favorite is my 1967 210 Duett. By today’s standards, it’s a primitive automobile. It doesn’t ride or handle nearly as well as today’s cars. It’s noisy to ride in, not particularly comfortable and has very little ventilation.

1967 210 Duett*

But it’s got heart. And it made people smile—particularly after I fitted it with oversized tires on bright orange wheels, a throaty exhaust and flowered curtains in the windows.

Like most Volvos, it was build to last. It had nearly 150,000 miles when I bought it, and I drove it for more than 150,000 more before retiring to my garage for restoration.

My second favorite was my 1984 242 Turbo coupe. Even by today’s standards, it was a performance car.

I still remember the warm spring day I got it. I signed all the papers, and the salesman handed me the keys. He asked me if I knew how everything worked. I replied I did, barely able to stifle my excitement.

As I drove out of the lot, I basked in the aroma of the tan leather upholstery. I opened the side windows and the sunroof to let out the hot air. The whine of the turbocharger was music. On the ride home, it was all I could do to keep my right foot from mashing the gas pedal into the carpet.

242 Turbo*

Once it was broken in, however, I had no hesitation. There were only a handful of production cars with better acceleration than the 242 Turbo in 1984.

The car was fast, safe and comfortable. It was also the only brand new Volvo I ever owned. I drove it for 275,000 miles before selling it. I now wish I kept it.

I never bought another new car after that. I like cars but have never cared about owning a new one.

I’d rather use the saved depreciation and interest on other things. Besides, I get real pleasure out of getting the maximum service out of a car. It’s passive recycling. And Volvos are well suited to recycling.

*Neither of these photos are my cars. The Duett belongs to an acquaintance from New Jersey and the 242 is a photo I found online. I lost the only good photos of my Duett and 242.

1 comment:

  1. I like this! People used to get a lot more emotionally attached to their cars than they do now... maybe because they had to work harder to have them! I think older cars are way cooler than the newer cars, even without all of the modern features! Thanks for visiting my blog, by the way! I will be back here soon!