Bangernomics: Should you save a Volvo V70?

Sam Mace

Introduced in 1996, the V70 lays claim as only the second front-wheel-drive Volvo estate. Like being the fourth man on the Moon, or winning bronze in the Olympics, itʼs an accolade – albeit a slightly naff one. This is probably why the relatively bland model has mostly been ignored by fans and collectors of modern classics. At least, so it would seem...



This is no bad thing, though. The majority of nicely specced 850s that havenʼt been destroyed after years of workhorse duties are now escaping banger-pricing territory. Decent survivors from the performance T5 and R ranges can now fetch anywhere from £3000 to £5000. Even cooking versions in good order are hard to find under a grand – and when they do come on the market, theyʼre often snapped up within days.



But the V70, still lurking under the radar, is a genuine bargain – and an all-out modern classic. Last year, a mere £420 put one on my driveway. Yes, for the RRP of a mid-range smartphone, you can buy an MOTʼd, leather-lined, classy Swedish load-lugger.



See also...


* Bangernomics: Can you live with a cheap Range Rover P38?


* Bangernomics: Metro diesel – the greatest budget supermini ever!


* Great classic Volvos for sale on AutoClassics!



I will admit, I did have my worries when I viewed it. It was obvious the car hadnʼt been loved by the past couple of owners. Or maybe the past three. Or four. Or five... All the signs pointed to a life of hauling around kids and tools, with no time for much else.



The carpet was covered with what looked like oil stains (hopefully nothing more sinister), some of the interior trim seemed to have been on the wrong end of a few temper tantrums and the first time I laid down the seats, I found a desiccated cucumber…





Things got better on the outside, but only marginally. The front bumper had all the hallmarks of being attacked with a potato peeler, and the bonnet looked like it was cleaned with a scouring pad. Shoring up my concerns was a history file thinner than my girlfriendʼs patience after she’d been dragged for an hour to view a tired estate car in Thetford when I had promised her a night of romance.



But I was convinced our V70 still had life in it. Even though the mileage was fairly high at 168,000, everything apart from the air-conditioning worked and the car was free of any worrying faults (apart from the two tyres that were as old as the car itself). I took the risk, and bought it.



After a five-quid mini valet, the Volvo looked smart enough for me not to hang my head in shame every time I got out of it in public. Maybe itʼs because it wears dents and dings like war wounds, in the same way an old Land Rover or Mercedes does?





The phase-one V70, in my opinion, was the last properly styled Volvo, and it still has a whiff of old-money charm to it (or perhaps that was the cucumber), with that unsmiling face still commanding respect on the road today. People tend to let it out at junctions and give you room when manoeuvring. Or maybe they see the dents and want to stay clear of the firing line. Iʼm going with respect…



It would be easy for me to romanticise and get over-attached to this car. It was bought only to help me move around tools and garden waste when we took on an allotment, but Iʼve reluctantly grown rather fond of my leathery brick. The car equivalent of a lame old Labrador with cataracts, that everyone tells you should really be put down, the V70 has earned its place on my driveway in a very short time.



Take the time that The Beast From The East arrived, which our embattled V70 took in its stride. Despite the weather looking fit only for snowmobiles and penguins, the Volvo got me to work without incident while far newer – and far more expensive – cars floundered by the side of the road.





Those big, squishy, heated seats and the face-roasting heater did a fine job of insulating me from all the wintery nonsense outside, and it was hard to think of anything else this side of a Range Rover that Iʼd rather be in. The cheap, stop-gap Volvo fought – and won – the worse kind of weather England can get, but not without a price.



The odometer now reads 176,000, and the Volvo has felt every last one of them. The steering wheel shakes so much above 30mph that it feels like the car is actively trying to wrench your hands off, while a rear-wheel bearing is starting to die. Meanwhile, the front suspension now makes an ominous moaning sound on full lock.



With the MoT set to expire soon, it makes the most bangernomic sense to send the Volvo over the magic bridge that converts worthless cars into money. But giving this old tank the death sentence is tugging on my heart strings a little bit...





All credit for the ‘Bangernomics’ term goes to journalists Steve Cropley and James Ruppert