You don’t need to be a fanatic of the brand to acknowledge that today’s Nice Price or No Dice Volvo is a nicely equipped and seemingly well-preserved example of the company’s first midsize front-driver. Will its price, however, be just as easy to appreciate?
The hermit-like lifestyle many of us have imposed upon ourselves as part of the realities of the pandemic has led to the resurgence of certain formerly popular and generally solitary pastimes. If you have braved going to, say a Target or Walmart, you’ll most likely see that the craft and bicycle sections have been stripped bare as people rediscover the joys of scrapbooking and saddle wedgies.
I thought yesterday’s project 1993 Honda Del Sol might have elicited the same sort of hunker-down and hand-me-my-tools gumption among a number of you, but sadly I was mistaken. That car—bought at a salvage auction and then stripped of most of its more valuable goodies—was just too far gone to make even its $650 asking price palatable. In the end, it fell in an 87 percent No Dice loss.
OK, enough of the cars that have been put through the wringer and then have been rebuilt — or not. Today let’s look at what might be called a survivor.
This 1996 Volvo 850 GLT represents a watershed moment in Volvo’s history. While not the company’s first FWD car — an honor that would go to the eminently funky 480 series — it was Volvo’s first midsize model to feature this layout and would presage the marque’s move entirely to FWD and FWD-biased AWD. This is notable as the company had touted the benefits of RWD almost up until the point of the 850’s debut. All was forgiven, however, as the 850 and its successors were pretty good cars.
This ’96 GLT seems a fine example of the breed and is kitted with both a five-speed stick and a luscious brown velour interior. That makes it noteworthy since it seems most of these models came to America with automatics and dead cow strewn across their seating surfaces. The former took some of the fun out of the car, while the latter tends to go south.
Here we have a goes-with-everything white exterior. And yes, it’s OK to drive such a car after Labor Day. Aside from a slightly wonky rear bumper cap and some peppering on the nose, it all looks solid and serviceable, too. The 15-inch factory alloys, on the other hand, have seen better days and could stand refinishing or replacement if you’re totally OCD about such things.
The interior presents just as well as the exterior. The upholstery is clean, and it doesn’t seem to have suffered much over the years and the car’s modest 112,000 miles. The door cards do show some wear and tear, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. A factory AM/FM/cassette sits below the dual-zone climate control dials in the center stack, and if my experience is any guide, that radio has some burned-out bulbs behind the switches. Fun fact: replacement bulbs can be sourced from Honda!
Under the hood sits a 2.4-liter edition of Volvo’s five-cylinder four-valve engine. It should be noted that this is the base, non-turbo engine and hence offers up only 168 horsepower. Good thing it has that five-speed to make the most of those.
The proffering dealer notes in the ad that the car is loaded with power controls for the heated seats as well as power windows and locks. There’s not a lot more info given, although they do make the claim that the car is in “Nice condition inside and out, and drives good!” Yes, I wish that people would say “drives well” too.
The title is clean and a quick VIN search thankfully doesn’t bring up any nasty horror stories from the car’s past. The asking price is $3,950, and seeing the caliber of the cars surrounding the 850 in the dealer’s warehouse, one would guess that they wouldn’t be too averse to making a deal on this low-priced ride.
Would you be willing to make their job all the easier by plunking down that $3,950 straight away and calling it a day? Or, does this Volvo warrant a lower price and some hard bargaining to get it?
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