V.I.S.I.T. – The Snows of Kilimanjaro Edition

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For the record, these aren’t the snows of Kilimanjaro. These are merely the snows of Connecticut. Mount Kilimanjaro, on the other hand, barely even has ice anymore, due either to increased production of new iPads for Black Friday, or relentless, round the clock stamping of Justin Bieber DVDs half a world away. By the middle of the next decade, Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t expected to have any ice at all. Like the snows of Kilimanjaro, the rear-wheel drive Volvos are receding from New England’s roads, which made finding this 145S station wagon even cooler.  

If there was one series of station wagons that ruled New England’s not-particularly-treacherous roads since the 1960s, it was arguably the Volvo 145 and 245. Numerous appearances in film, such as the 1988 documentary Beetlejuice where Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis’ characters drive a yellow 245DL wagon in the fictional town of Winter River, Connecticut (actually filmed in East Corinth, VT, as Connecticut doesn’t have too many covered bridges) have cemented its place in the pantheon of all things New England. Even in Greater Volvoland, the 145s and 245s were ubiquitous even in staunch French and Italian car enclaves of Poozhoe Province and Alfaville.

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The Volvo cognoscenti among you will immediately recognize this wagon as a first facelift car from between 1971 and 1973, due to its plastic grille, lack of “raccoon mask” sidemarkers, and the position of the logo. The first versions of the 140, you may recall, had a metal grille and a somewhat cleaner look to the front fascia, tacked on DOT side markers notwithstanding.

In 1973 the 140 was facelifted again, receiving an updated plastic grille and raccoon side markers (that I think were the best fascia variant of the 140). And, of course, the 140 series cars morphed into the 240 series cars in 1975, which I am happy to report are still on our roads in significant numbers, making less appearances at local independent shops and the beds of tow trucks than Audis made just a decade ago.

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This example seemed well cared for, and just may have been wearing its original paint. the owner gets bonus points for retaining the original wheels and wheelcovers, and not upgrading to the 5-spoke 240 turbo wheels, which look great on any 240 it has to be said.

While the numbers of daily driver Volvo 145s and 245s certainly are receding, according to an unscientific survey of my memory from the past ten years, Volvo has essentially moved on from the concept of a rear wheel drive station wagon. I can’t say that I was particularly disappointed with this piece of news, as I have heard many a tale of peril at the wheel of a RWD car during a Nor’easter, and because AWD technology is no longer as special or unusual in a family passenger car as it was 20 years ago. But there is something to be said for the disappearance of station wagons that are challenging to drive in the winter, and ones that blend in with their antique surroundings as well as the Volvo 140 and 240 series.


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16 responses to “V.I.S.I.T. – The Snows of Kilimanjaro Edition”

  1. Scandinavian Flick Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick

    I'd say that I need one of these like I need a hole in the head… but I don't actually need a hole in the head. This, on the other hand…

    1. Alcology Avatar

      I have plenty of holes in my head already so sign me up too!

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    I had a '71 with new front and short stick for a couple of years. Best car I have owned! It was a highly thought-through engineering masterpiece (even though issues such as the rustprone back door weren't fixed by Volvo until 1990, then the 240-series of course). Living in Norway and mastering a lot of difficult conditions originating in ice and snow trying to make life hard, I have to say I consider that "RWD is hard in winter"-mantra a myth. Good tyres (!) and slightly more concentrated driving than portrayed in those car-crash-videos on youtube will make for a nice winter season.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Having spent several winters driving several RWD fleet vehicles, I'm half-prone to agreeing with you. With common sense and the right tires (or absolutely no power), it's entirely manageable, and a hell of a lot of fun. But FWD is way more docile when things start going wrong, mostly in just that just letting off the gas (a normal reaction) gives you more grip and steering, instead of potentially causing even more oversteer (like in a RWD car).

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        It's true, when trouble has arrived and the driver is skilled accident avoidance is easier with FWD. I have also had relatively weak cars, a 145 B20, a 242 B19 and a 245 B230FX (swooosh, it said). An empty RWD Hiace at work was handed to me several times because I "knew" RWD. Still, good tyres and a brain help a lot, and I'd never choose another car because of being afraid of RWD winters.

  3. wisc47 Avatar

    What a fantastic thing that is! I'd love to make something like that my daily. That color really suits it too. Personally I always thought that forrest/British racing green was the best car color ever.

  4. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    These were THE kid hauling wagon to have in the burbs, once upon a time. Showed you cared about your kids, you were economical, and you could afford to pay fifty percent more than a Country Squire would cost. Maybe only outshone by a very few Wagoneers. Nice cars. Folks tended to keep them forever, then pass them on their now-grown kids. Too bad they all grew up to become Land Rovers now.

  5. needthatcar Avatar

    I'm a wagon fan.
    I'm a Volvo owner.
    It was 6 degrees at my house this morning.
    This post suits me today.

  6. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    I've had one in baby blue, it was the D-Jetronic B20 GL version, it had every option available for the Dutch market. Roofrack, leather seats, green tinted glass and sunroof.
    Pictures or it didn't happen, I only have pictures of it stripped out in my shop to do some rust eliminating patching. (wheel arches and under the sides of the windshield are always bad, in salt spraying winter countries)
    <img src="http://sphotos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/394498_3568841389437_1930390397_n.jpg&quot; width="600">

  7. craigsu Avatar

    My '91 245 heartily endorses this post.
    My '99 Saab 9-3 SE, however, does not.

  8. topdeadcentre Avatar

    "tacked on DOT side markers"
    Well, to be fair, everything else on the outside of the car was a heavy, bolted-on chunk of over-engineering… the marker lights fight right in…

  9. coupeZ600 Avatar

    With studded-snows (and a little weight) absolutely unstoppable! The first time I drove it in the snow I was blown away….. This is a car designed to actually work in this stuff!
    <img src="http://i422.photobucket.com/albums/pp308/rexjenney/PC070854-1.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket"/>

    1. coupeZ600 Avatar

      And this is Arizona! I can only imagine what Sweden must look like….
      <img src="http://i422.photobucket.com/albums/pp308/rexjenney/P1210968.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket"/>

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      Great photos, but won't the guys with the blue lights stop you with that much snow on the roof?

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        They should, at least on higher speed roads. Just last week, I was dodging slabs of frozen snow that were peeling off cars and trucks on the interstate. Could be a big problem if one of them hits your car, and it's no fun to drive over the remains, either.

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          The powdery stuff that flies off for miles at a time gets old, too, when it cuts visibility to near-zero. At least on the interstate you can pass, though… we don't so much have interstates here.
          I always clean everything off of my car aside from perhaps a crust of difficult ice – in short, everything I can take off with just the brush. Don't want to ruin the already-iffy paint.