High-mileage old cars are proof of two things: Love conquers all, and they just don’t make them like they used to. When I spotted this incredibly high-mile Volvo 245DL for sale on my local Craigslist I had to know more about the sweat and tears that went into keeping this Volvo on the road. Luckily, its owner, a Detroit local and Ford engineer named Ivy, was willing to meet up and talk about her teal wagon, lovingly named Seamist.
A little about this vehicle: Volvo 240s aren’t a terribly rare vehicles. At least 2.8 million were built from 1975 and 1993, as Hagerty reports. It’s not rarity that makes these charming bricks so attractive to enthusiasts. It’s their straight-forward mechanical bona fides and blocky Radwood charm. You can open the hood and dive right into the super uncomplicated mechanics. No surprise they are known for their excessively long lives. As Ivy and her Seamist 245DL prove, you can keep these things running forever.
Ivy’s dad bought the vehicle for her mom in 2002 when it already had 250,000 miles on it. Her family is passionate about manual transmissions, and that was her mom’s one requirement for a vehicle. After a while, Ivy’s mom decided she’d rather have a truck, so the Volvo turned into her father’s daily driver.
“This has died, multiple times, only for my dad to resurrect it,” Ivy said. It was her father’s favorite car, and he stacked up the miles on daily long-haul commutes into Dallas from the surrounding suburbs. The odometer stopped working at 594,255 miles while her dad was still using it as a daily commuter, so we can safely assume this Volvo has had many, many more miles packed on since then.
“I wasn’t willing to give this up until I found a manual,” Ivy said, which she found recently with her current daily, an Infiniti G37.
Its Dallas bona fides mean one other thing: This Volvo has never seen a Detroit winter. It lacks the rust damage so common on cars in the North. While many of the moving parts may need to be replaced, the car is structurally sound.
But it’s not just a wrencher’s rust-free dream vehicle. It’s a car that carries loads of sentimental value for Ivy and her family. It’s the car Ivy’s dad taught her to drive manual on, it’s the car that shepherded her 21 (!) siblings around town. She moved to Michigan a few years ago to work her dream job at Ford, and after a while she wanted a quirky manual project car, so her dad gave her the beloved old Volvo. It’s obviously difficult for her to let it go.
“If I could throw money at it, it would be restored. I love the car — I just don’t have that kinda of money,” Ivy said. “Every time I drive it around everyone is like ‘wow that’s such an awesome car.’ It’s a centerpiece for conversation. You can open the garage and people just start to gather around.”
She’s just really getting her own independent life fired up. Throwing funds into a project car is just not in the cards at the moment. Still, someday in the future, she’d like to continue to get her hands dirty when space and funds allow. She has dreams of restoring an ’80s Ford F-150 in a few years. Also, despite already having an aerospace engineering degree, her current plan is to go back to school and become a mechanic so she can help people get their cars back on the road. It’s a worthy cause in a city as economically depressed and spread out as Detroit, where you absolutely need a car to get around.
This is all to say that car people are the best kind of people. While her $4,000 asking price might seem high for a car with so many miles, she’s already had several offers at that price. Her fellow car people can recognize a machine with plenty of love and miles left in it. With the right elbow grease and greenbacks, this gorgeous Volvo could see many more years of life on the road.