Gustav

The 1992 Volvo 240GL

This page is dedicated to the 1992 Volvo 240GL Jamie and I purchased on March 1st, 2022. It had good bones, but it needed some maintenance (well…. okay, a lot of maintenance) to get it reliable and roadworthy. This page will be dedicated to the renaissance of this beautiful and iconic automobile.

Since Volvo made these cars (practically unchanged) for close to 20 years, there are still a good number of them on the road. In recent years, a younger crowd has taken to snatching up these once “soccer Mom cars” to modify. Given their unkillable engines, they’re a good candidate for modifications. I prefer to leave mine as “stock” as I can. Their value is increasing exponentially, especially the wagon version (commonly referred to as the “245”). In fact, well-known classic car insurer Hagerty named the Volvo 240 wagon to its “Bull Market List” for 2022, noting a higher than average rise in value for what was once a very common and mocked family car.

This area of my website will be used to document “Gustav’s” journey from barely drive-able, to “looker”. If you’re a Volvo enthusiast, I hope you’ll enjoy this journey. If you’re a Virginia-based Volvo owner and would like to join the Coastal Virginia Chapter of the Volvo Club of America, check us out here.

Quick Details

Purchased: March 1, 2022

Place of Purchase: Lexton Cars (just outside of Washington, DC)

Ad Photo: See below

Mileage: 241,000

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Here’s a photo on the day we purchased it. Very oxidized. Very shaky in terms of how it drove and handled. Steering was definitely wonky, although it started right up and went into gear without issue. Had a newer radio (with Bluetooth), so that told me the car had been driven and used relatively recently (or I hoped so, anyway). I assumed the amount of work necessary to bring the car back was more than the previous owner wanted to invest, so it was sold. I understand that.

“Gustav” was really rough. So rough, we decided to have him transported to Tidewater, as I didn’t want to be navigating (and sitting) on I-95 in a car I didn’t know or trust.

In doing my homework prior to the purchase, I discovered several local service centers that focused on older Volvos. In fact, I found more than a couple, but upon calling them, I discovered 1992 was a bit too early for some. In the end, two providers rose to the top. European Motors, Inc (Newport News, VA) and Alcon Automotive (Chesapeake, VA).

The initial work was done by European Motors. When the car was dropped off, I asked the mechanic (it’s a father/son shop tucked away in beautiful Newport News) to create a “must do” punch list and a “should be done soon” punch list. He called me back two days later and asked that I drop in so he could go over the car completely with me and review the punch lists. The car was on a lift, and we walked from back to front, and then down into the engine. In the end, I ok’d both lists to be done immediately. The more I could get done while it was there, the less I would have to do later. Some of the highlights include:

  • Timing belt
  • Water pump
  • Engine mounts
  • New headlights
  • other related bushings

When I picked up the car, it was astounding how much improved it was. However, the steering still felt soft and unsure. Not a comforting feeling, no matter how well the car was running.

Onto Alcon Automotive. Randy Bullock is the owner and is a one-man operation. Located in the heart of the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake, Randy has a resume that includes almost exclusive Volvo repairs dating back to before this car was even built. His expertise in the 240 model is exhaustive. Very unassuming, but very capable. He also owns a 240 wagon that would be “at home” in a Volvo showroom today. It is immaculate and every element has been touched, repaired, replaced and improved. It is stunning.

After Randy’s first round with the car, “Gustav” really began to come alive. Steering fixed, air conditioning brought back into service, and a multitude of other smaller “to do” items. Time to get it cleaned up a bit.

I knew care to the outer shell of this car had not been a focus for the previous owner. Granted, it wasn’t dirty or showing signs of excessive peeling clearcoat. But, it was very, very dull. I believe the seller from whom I got the car had his detailer do a normal wash and vaccuum, which made the car look less “junked”.

Using my skills from our days of owning older fiberglass boats, I drug out my professional Makita buffer, some 3M compound and began my work. I followed this up with a good claybar’ing, polishing and waxing. “Gustav” was not only getting mechanically sound, but he was beginning to look not so ’92.

From this….
….. to this
Even time to get the engine bay looking a little nicer.