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Volvo 140 / 160

Published: 24th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 1986cc/4-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): 90/4800
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): 120/3000
  • Top speed: 100mph
  • 0-60mph: 14.5sec
  • Fuel consumption: 24mpg
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual
  • Length: 15ft 3in (4.64m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 8in (1.73m)
  • Weight: 2712lb (1230kg)
  • Books: Volvo 140 & 160 Gold Portfolio 1966-1975. Brooklands, ISBN 1-85520-328-6; Volvo: safety with style by Richard Dredge. Haynes, ISBN 1-85960-964-3
  • Clubs:;
  • Websites: Volvo Enthusiasts’ Club. 01425 476 425,; Volvo Owners’ Club.
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If solidity is more important to you than style, Volvo’s 140 and 160-Series could be just the classic you’ve been looking for. Big, boxy and very safe, these were cars that featured dual-circuit brakes, side impact bars, threepoint seatbelts, a laminated windscreen plus a raft of other safety kit, years before most other car makers were doing the same thing. Whether you want a comfortable saloon in which to transport the family, or an ultra-capacious estate for lugging about the family and everything they own, the 140-Series is ideal. If you want rapid pace too, take a look at the 164 – if you can fi nd one.


What to look for?

Engines are long-lived, but can get noisy when the camshafts wear. Your patience will wear out before the camshaft does though, and replacement is easy. The fi bre timing gear also wears, and replacing with steel is a good idea although these aren’t as quiet. If the engine is running erratically it’s probably because the carburettors are out of balance. Be especially wary of Strombergs, which aren’t as easy to balance as the SUs. The rear oil seal on the gearbox leaks, and the transmission will be irreparably damaged if the oil level drops too far, although tougher seals are available. If the car needs a new gearbox (or even if it doesn’t) it’s worth fi tting an overdrive conversion; best option is an 1800E unit. Rot is now a problem on these cars, with inner wings, the bonnet hinge panel, sills and wheelarches especially vulnerable. The front wings bolt on, which means changing them is easy when they corrode, as they tend to. Four-cylinder cars received different wings after September 1972 – earlier cars can be modifi ed to fi t later cars, but doing things the other way round is tricky.


These cars are off the radar for most enthusiasts, keeping values low. As a result, you can buy a project car from just £50, while something up and running is just £250-£750. You’re better off spending nearer to £1000 though for something presentable; the best cars can change hands for around £4000, but such examples are rare.

Driving one

Although the 144 is no sports car, it’s far better to drive than it is to look at. There’s a feeling of solidity that’s very reassuring and excellent brakes (discs all round) pull you up from high speed without any fuss. Road and wind noise are reasonably well muted, although the bluff lines don’t help much here. Perhaps the most disappointing thing is the engine noise, which gets intrusive under acceleration. The seating position is very comfortable but the seats don’t support that well when you get enthusiastic behind the wheel. The gearshift is smooth and all the controls are light – the car might have a reputation for being heavy, but it’s certainly not particularly heavy to drive. The 164 is much the same as its smaller brother, but even better to drive. Much more power makes the car more accelerative, more relaxing and smoother. The power-assisted steering is a bit over-light when up to speed, but it’s really quite fun to pilot.


August 1966

The 144 supersedes the Amazon in 85bhp or 115bhp (S) 1780cc B18 forms.

March 1967

There’s now an automatic gearbox available.

September 1967

The 142 and 142S debut.

February 1968

The 145 and 145S estates appear in Sweden; they arrive in the UK in May.

August 1968

There’s now a 1986cc (B20) engine offered in the 140-Series and the six-cylinder 164 debuts in Sweden.

January 1969

The 164 is now offered in the UK.

August 1969

The 142 is discontinued and foglights replace the air intakes previously fi tted either side of the 164’s grille

August 1970

A facelift for the 144 and 145 brings a revised nose, extra standard kit, bigger wheels and overdrive is no longer an option. The 164 also gets a longer wheelbase.

November 1971

The 145E and 164E launch, with electronic fuel injection, then in December, the 145S is discontinued.

September 1972

The nose and tail of the 144, 145 and 164 are all revised.

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