Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Volvo T5

Volvo T5 Published: 16th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Volvo T5
Volvo T5
Volvo T5
Volvo T5
Volvo T5
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

Volvo’s volcanic and tantalising T5 is a modern icon that’s far removed from the saintly P1800


1992 All new boxy-shaped Volvo saloon and estate launched badged the 850 featuring Porsche co-development including a 2.5 five-cylinder 20V engine, front wheel drive.

1993 High performance 2.3 T-5 introduced, in both body styles and choice of manual or automatic transmission. T stood for turbocharged and it lifted the performance from 170bhp to over 200bhp.

1994 An even more manic harder core T-5R joins range complete with 222bhp with a special ‘overboost’ facility to just under 240bhp, Porsche-aided chassis and interior, 17inch wheels, body kit and more. New 2.5-litre engine albeit only 10 valves, specifically made for torque and towing becomes optional elsewhere.

1996 Answering cries of more, the simply badged ’R’ option spelt a shade under 250bhp care of an improved turbo (that also displayed less lag). Sensibly, a limited slip differential was now installed and a heavier duty manual transmission was offered as well as an automatic.

1997 The 850 talisman gave way to new S (saloon) V (estate) titles plus now there was C for coupé as well as a convertible which could be had in T5 configuration. Apart from a major refresh the C70 and the Convertible benefited from development by TWR’ the company which brought motorsport success back to Jaguar and entered the 850 (estate!) in British Touring Car Championship racing!

Further range additions included a four-wheel drive estate option and a very good off-roading offshoot.

Just under 7000 T-5Rs were made worldwide, the largest takes being Germany (1,433); the UK having 440, almost half the Japanese quota.


You need to differentiate the mainstream models from the tempestuous T5s; the former being pleasant, mild mannered luxury transport that you expect from Volvo – the latter real wild childs with a gung-ho repartee that make a Sierra Cosworth seem almost tame. Raw driving appeal is an understatement with the front driving wheels fighting a losing battle with all that power and torque; even models equipped with limited slip diffs struggle.

All T5s are understated Q Cars which just adds to the fun although to the novice, used to modern driving aids such as traction control, can feel unruly and intimidating. By the way, the S70R sported a specially lowered suspension and a viscous coupling limited slip diff instead of AWD, which on the estates gives the Volvo a far more sure-footed feel. And they don’t ‘arf go with the five-cylinder engine giving off a characteristic thrum.

The 850 was the first car to have SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and as you’d expect is typically Volvo safe. The car is roomy although the estates aren’t as herculean or gargantuan as the 700/900 series.

Best models

From a classic standpoint, it has to be a T5 (all the better if it’s a T5R) and values are already reflecting this. Not that the lesser models aren’t worth a look as a ‘smoker’ daily driver – any estate will do you proud in this respect more so if you find a 4x4 or off-roading XC. If this is the case, then be broader minded to include the later S/V70 and the two-door offerings some could be had with an easier going 180bhp 2-litre turbo. There’s now strong interest in Japanese models as they’re right-hand drive.


Where as a mainstream 850 will be easy meat for £2000 or less, earliest T5s start at double this and top end examples bust five figures, values cemented if the Volvo comes in the now rare Cream Yellow (known as ’Gull Yellow’ in the owners’ club) although you can find decent alternatives for around £7500 – note that later R S/V and C70 R models command lesser residuals over the original T5s and so score on value rather than wow appeal. A point worth noting is that T-5Rs only came in yellow, black or green so anything else (no matter how good) is non standard.


Who needs a Cosworth or Integrale? These super Swedes offer similar thrills yet with more practicality and certainly a lot less cash. But even if you don’t want turbo performance the softer variants also have a lot to offer for the good life but without the Jerry and Margo image.

Top five faults


Look for signs of a hard life, particularly the estates and bear in mind that T5s have only become sought after quite recently, meaning low cost and similar quality repairs are common. Also ensure that the car has the correct T5 hardware as components may have been swapped with ordinary models to save money.


Biggest concern here has to be accident damage as T5s could be too unruly for some owners. Look for past repairs (again see that the correct spare parts have been fitted). As the design is over 25 years old rust could well have taken a hold although to be fair there’s no inherent danger spots and most body panels are 850 related.


Obviously the main worry is a hard life, lack of servicing and worn turbochargers. Look for undue smoking, both at hot idle and when under load – see that the oil looks clean and on a test drive see that the turbo is smooth. Oil leaks from the rear and oil cooler are not unknown. With the 2.5, check to see whether it’s a 10V or 20V engine.

Running gear

The front end had a tough time to handle all that T5 power and you can easily go through a set of tyres in 10,000 miles; are cheap low quality substitutes now fitted? Worn suspension bushes and damper will be common; estates feature self-levelling which may not be working. Worn brake discs are par for the course.

Owners’ club

The VOC has an enthusiastic group covering the 850, none more so than ‘Robert DIY’. Google it and you’ll find it a wealth of information and advice. The carmaker still has copious stacks of parts although certain trim and badges are scarce and you need to be watchful of non standard or plainer 850 bits being substituted.

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%