Get The Balance Right – 1989 Volvo 340 GL

Life, death, existence, the universe and the Hooniverse pretty much depend on a balance. Or that’s how I like to think about things. Everything balances itself out, or if not, one must consciously balance things out. So, for every V8 behemoth Cadillac monster-a-palooza I just have to post something that’s the complete polar opposite, or things will inevitably end out of kilter.

So, just like there’s a balancing steel plate under the Cadillac’s driver seat, there has to be a Volvo 300-series post to follow up the Cadillac post. And this 1989 340 GL will balance things out just fine.

And for being such a polar (yes, I’ll also continue the conceited choices of wording) opposite of the Cadillac, there’s something similar about the Volvo here.

If the Cadillac is the conveyance of choice of people of advanced age, so is the 300-series. Like the Saab 90 featured some time ago, if you happen to spot a clean-looking 340, 343, 345 or 360 about-town, chances are it’s being slowly driven by somebody that’s bought it new in the ’80s and is currently in their 80’s.

Check out that cloth upholstery, while checking out the Philips Car Systems security sticker (meaning that the radio cassette deck has a red blinking light) and the Dinitrol undercoat sticker (meaning that there are parts in the underbody that are not made of rust). There have to be flat caps that perfectly match the cloth on the seats.

There are a few angles – alright, most of them – where the 340 appears topply and gawky. It’s a narrow and tall rear-drive sedan, and the camber of the rear wheels often makes the car look like it stands a bit nerdily with its knees knocking. But for every bad angle I like to think the 300-series, at least in sedan guise, has a line or a kink or a curve that works. Here, see how there’s almost a Hofmeister kink on the rear window.

The ice blue hue also suits the 340 better than any other paint finish offered on it. I could see traces of partial resprays on the car, but those have been made reasonably well and do not really show up on photos.

Volvo drivers are a proud folk, too. Like Porsche purists towards the 914 and 924, there are cries of “It’s not a real Porsche Volvo” about the Dutch-designed 300-series, usually shouted by the 240-series or 740-series driving Volvisti. But I’ve always found those jabs tedious. So there is a 1.7-litre Renault piece de resistance under the hood. So the car was born in Born. I do not care. If a manufacturing plant plants a certain badge on a certain trunklid, the car is badged such then and there and it belongs in the family. And for those who could not get over the Renault bloodline (and subsequent headgasket issues), there were Volvo B20F engines available in the 360 model.

The titular balance is found on the side shot here. The 300-series was initially offered solely as a hatch, with a palm’s worth of trunklid. That made the rear look ungainliest of the sort, but the 4-door sedan’s full-sized trunk gives it a full-grown appearance.

How do you find this clean Volvo, one of the kind that never made it Stateside? To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been sold there for a short while, comparable to the Renault 18 or Alliance, prematurely destined to the scrapheap due to the pioneering Variomatic CVT transmission that earned the cars a patchy reputation even here.


Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen

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