The ad for today’s Nice Price or No Dice Volvo says it’s in great shape but needs one little fix. That “little fix” has something to do with a pretty big part — the transmission. Let’s see if this 960 is worth its asking to put the fix in.
We all know that British cars and weekend wrenching go together like mushy peas and salty crisps. Yesterday’s 1968 Austin America may have been named for its intended export market, but it was wholly British, through and through. Adding to that its advanced age, few you would expect it to serve daily diver duty or to run the Cannonball. At a $10,500 asking, it could serve as a nice weekender or Cars and Coffee participant. That was the general opinion expressed in the comments and in the 51 percent squeaker of a Nice Price win the car enjoyed.
Britain is separated from Sweden by both the North Sea and a whole bunch of Norwegians. But despite that separation, the two nations have enjoyed a long history of automotive interplay. As an example, the now moribund Swedish car company, SAAB once sourced an engine design from the British carmaker, Triumph. Volvo, Sweden’s sole remaining major automaker, initially contracted the construction of their P1800 sports car to Jensen at its West Bromwich, England factory. Quality issues on the Jensen-built cars caused Volvo to take P1800 production in-house after just a single year’s production run.
Volvo has always enjoyed a reputation for building solid and sensible cars, even when they were somewhat frivolous cars such as the P1800. In concept, today’s 1992 Volvo 960 Estate is one of those solid sensible cars. Like those P1800s cobbled together by Jensen, however, it has a bit of an issue.
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Before getting to that, let’s consider the rest of the car. The seller calls the 168,241 miles on the car low for its age, which, if you were to don your inner Lebowski, would probably warrant the reply “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
The car looks pretty good for its age and those miles. On the outside, the black paint looks completely serviceable, while the interior seems to have good leather, solid plastics, and the clever and desirable third row that disappears into the floor like magic.
The ad claims multiple owners over the course of the Volvo’s life, but that all those owners have been within the same family. It says that somewhere along the way, that family affair was interrupted. That resulted in a 10-year hiatus during which time the 960 was stored indoors but apparently not moved all the much. The seller says that afterward they “Over spent over $5,000 on restoration” to bring the car up to snuff. That typo in the ad could be construed as accurate by some.
Additional questions arise from the car wearing Washington plates while being advertised in New Orleans. Then there’s this sentence: “Put 100,000 miles on it in the last 4 years, keeping up with repairs and regular maintenance.” That implies that the car had piled on 68,000 miles over the course of its first 25 years — admittedly, with that 10-year benching — and then amassed 100K in just the last 4 years. That’s what I call catching up for lost time. The car has a clean title and seemingly made those miles under daily driver duty.
Power comes from Volvo’s 2922 cc DOHC inline six. The B6304 was part of Volvo’s modular engine family, co-developed with Porsche and providing 189 horsepower in its U.S. form. Here that’s mated to an Aisin AW30-43 four-speed automatic and, according to the ad, that’s where this Volvo’s problem lies.
The seller says that the car will not upshift properly and has diagnosed the root of that problem as being a bad speed sensor on the transmission. They claim to have sourced a shop that will rebuild the gearbox for $2,000, but apparently don’t want to make that sort of financial investment at this time. That’s kind of a röd flagga since the speed sensor — a magnetic Hall Effect sensor — sits outside of the gearbox and can be purchased from any number of parts houses for under $100. If that’s really the car’s only issue, then it’s a pretty quick and relatively easy fix.
The question is whether or not you can trust that the car can be made whole with just that one little part. More importantly, is it worth $3,000 to take such a gamble?
What do you think, is this “one-fix” Volvo worth that $3,000 price tag as it’s represented in the ad? Or, does that price not bode well for what this car will really cost in the short term?
New Orleans, Louisiana, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to VelvetElvis for the hookup!
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