With its S40 T5 R-Design, Volvo adapted the company’s established sport-sedan recipe to a smaller package. Let’s see if the price on today’s Nice Price or No Dice ’10 edition is just as successful.
I was judging at the Dana Point Concours a couple of years back, and while there I struck up a conversation with a fellow automotive adjudicator about our own cars. He said he had sold off his last Ford Model A, which he complained had been tough to do as the bottom had dropped out of the market for those cars. I was kind of confused by this, as I figured everyone was like me and appreciated the old Fords and their ilk. He told me that, no, most of the people who appreciated that era’s cars were those who had grown up with them. Perhaps an old Model A was their first car. He then said that the market was now so weak because a lot of the enthusiasts in that generation had died off.
That really struck a chord with me, and it serves to somewhat explain why many of the comments on yesterday’s 1924 Cadillac V-63 Sedan were variations on “I have no point of reference on this” and “It’s not for me, but for someone else that seems to be a good deal.”
And a good deal it was too, with the car’s $18,000 asking price earning a generous 86 percent Nice Price win. Now let’s pour out a 40 for the generation of classic car buffs that has passed on, never to be seen again.
Speaking of never being seen, when was the last time you saw a Volvo S40 on the road? More to the point, even if you saw one, when was the last time you bothered to notice it?
The S40, along with its V40/50 estate sibling, has long been Volvo’s foreign exchange student of a car. The first generation, introduced in 1995, was a thinly rebranded version of the inaccurately named Mitsubishi Carisma. The follow-up, as represented by this 2010 S40 T5 R-Design (more on that long name in a minute), was far more Volvo, but still took its platform from the Ford global parts bin. The basics of those underoos were shared with the Mazda 3 and European Ford Focus. Here in the States, we got both the little Volvo and tMazda but in what can only be taken as a stinging insult, Ford deemed the platform to be too expensive for the U.S. Focus.
This S40 was once one of the most expensive editions of the small Volvo line. That’s by way of its T5 designation, R-Design upgrade package and Haldex-derived torque-splitting AWD system. Add to that a compact interpretation of the mid-aughts Volvo style, and in this car’s case, an engaging Getrag six-speed manual. Suddenly you realize that maybe ignoring these cars might have been the wrong move.
The T5 in the name signifies the turbocharged 2.5-liter B5254T7 that lives and breathes under the hood. That five-pot mill gives it up to the tune of 227 horsepower and a more remarkable 300 lb-ft of torque. In the standard S40 that much power through the front wheels alone would make any roadside tree an easy target. This car, however, has that Haldex AWD splitting the power between the front and rear axles as needed. That makes it a heck of a lot more surefooted and less likely that the steering wheel will give you rope burns at each hard launch.
The ad notes some updates to the engine as well. Those include a cold air intake, larger diameter turbo pipe and a cat-back exhaust. Aside from the exhaust, these all seem like mods that could be fairly easily and cheaply rolled back.
The car to which those have been bolted seems to be in perfectly serviceable shape. The Silver Metallic paint presents well in the ad’s pics, and while the Volvo’s grille has had all of its brightwork masked in black, that too could be easily rectified. All badging has been removed from the car, so few will be able to tell that it really is a special edition. Those in the know will be able to pick it out by the factory five-spoke wheels and subtle ground effects. Those are elements of the R-Design package, which also includes a subtly branded three-spoke steering wheel.
A peek inside shows a typically Swedish interior with two-tone white over black upholstery and lots of clean, linear surfaces. There is some whimsy in here, too. The emergency brake handle is a crazy pull-up half-loop affair, and ahead of that the center stack basically floats in the air, giving the cabin a roomier feel if not exactly function.
The interior does show a noticeable amount of wear for the car’s decade of use and 98,000 miles. The driver’s seat needs some serious cleaning, as it shows a substantial difference in color from the other seats. That’s the issue with white upholstery. There’s also a good bit of elbow wear on the center armrest, a result of the car being a manual transmission and the driver resting an arm there between each row of the oar.
The ad doesn’t say anything about the car’s mechanical condition so we’ll just have to assume that there are no ogres living under its bridges. The seller does compare this S40 to Subaru’s WRX and Mitsubishi’s EVO, indicating that it is fun to drive. The ad also notes that the car rolls on fresh rubber and that it comes with a clean title.
As we noted from the outset, the S40 is a car that many of us probably never even thought to give a moment of thought. This one, with the nice kit and R-Design upgrades, might just make you sit up and take notice. The big question, however, is how interested you would be when you start to consider the car’s $9,000 asking price.
That’s just what we’re going to do right now. What’s your take on this hot Volvo and that $9,000 price? Does that make this an S40 you’d pick out from a crowd? Or, does that price make it eminently forgettable?
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