What is the best old Volvo to buy?

Volvo has produced a wide range of safe and reliable cars over the years, and they are releasing even more sophisticated models nowadays. However, there’s something about a solidly-built old Volvo that can’t be beat.

The best old Volvo to buy depends on the buyers’ needs and how well the car is maintained. There are many good old Volvos out there, but not all will match what you need it for. Here is a list of good old Volvo to buy based on performance, price, and reliability.

The benefit of buying an older Volvo model is that they are much cheaper than new models, yet they still make excellent rides, and you can rely on most of them not to fail you. However, before buying, you should consider why you need it, its performance, reliability ratings, and most especially, your budget. 

Here are some good older models to choose from.

Volvo 700/900 turbo series (1985–1995 version)

When you talk of exceptional performance, you can’t help but mention the 700 and 900 series. Their performance was excellent, thanks to the four-cylinder turbocharged inter-cooled engine they utilized, delivering up to 162hp and torque of 195 ft-lb.

Early models had 9mm rods, biodegradable wire straps, together with LH2.2 fuel injection. However, in 1989, Volvo upgraded these models to use 13mm rods, a better wire that doesn’t spoil in cars, and LH2.4 fuel injection.

The 700/900 series runs on 7Psi, but can take up to 15psi if boosted manually. The manual transmissions and the M46 4-electronic drive overdrives on some models were weak, so they couldn’t handle much pressure. The AW71 auto transmission, however, is strong and can take any road pressure or extra power.

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To make the AW71 perform better, you can just add an accumulator mod. This will make the transmission steadier and more effortless to shift. For suspension, you may not see parts in the market that supports these cars, but you can still achieve tight handling with a set of shocks and big sway benches.

Lastly, the exterior isn’t too appealing, and you won’t get all the modern interior features found in recent cars. But if you’re concerned about performance and price, you may want to get a Volvo 700/900 Series, as the price ranges from as low as $500 up to $4500.

Volvo 850 T5 (1994 –1998 version)

The 850 T5 is classy, performs incredibly, and is quite comfortable too. It utilized a five-cylinder, 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. With an upgraded 19T turbocharger, a d088 intercooler, refined intercooler piping, and aftermarket exhaust with a tune, you can transform this car into a higher-performing machine.

The Volvo 850 T5 had a special rear suspension called the delta link, which gives good rear cornering. This suspension, however, can sometimes prove difficult while cornering from the rear due to wear or tear. If you experience this, get this part replaced.

The 850 T5 isn’t too hard to find and it is budget-friendly. However, the most recent model you can find will be the 1998 version because the S70 and V70 later replaced the 850 in 1998. Most components were the same, except for a few tweaks made to the exterior and interior redesign. You can find these models around $1200 to $4500

Volvo S60 T5 (2006–2009 version)

With a stylish exterior and sophisticated interior, the Volvo S60 T5 offers incredible performance. It utilizes the most-wanted white block engine with an 81mm bore. This makes the engine rarely experience block cracks–one notable problem familiar with the S60 with R-design. 

The T5 engine doesn’t utilize an AWD mechanism or 4C suspension, making it lightweight, less complex, dependable, and cheap. Parts to make performance better are accessible in the market, so you can revamp the car to your taste. You will be able to find these models within the $3000–$6000 price range.

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Volvo C30 T5 (2008–2013 version)

Quite different from other Volvos is the C30 T5. It draws its design inspiration from the early Volvo P1800ES. It was built with Ford P1 components– the same components the Ford Focus and Mazda Speed 3 utilized. This makes aftermarket parts easily accessible. The availability of these components makes it easier to modify this car.

The C30 T5 has a five-cylinder turbocharged engine, FWD, and M66 6-speed transmission. Many changes were not made to the C30 and it came in two versions –1 and 2. What differentiates 1 and 2 is that version 2 looks sportier. Prices range from $3500 – $7500.

S80 and XC90 V8 (2005–2013 version)

The S80 sedan and XC90 SUV are sporty Volvos that utilize a powerful V8 engine, which newer Volvos don’t have. The powerful engine noise makes these cars an excellent pick. It revs sweetly and makes driving fun; just ensure the exhaust is not clogged.

The V8 engine can go a long way if properly maintained. The only issue associated with it is shaft failure, and this is because of people topping the engine with water. Engine repairs are costly, so they will need proper care.

For long distances, you can rely on both as they have comfortable, spacious seats. However, if you are particular about style and performance, the S80 is a good pick. If you need a gorgeous, spacious car for a family ride, the XC90 is your catch. These cars sell around $3000 –$7000.

Things to note

It’s difficult to choose the “best” Volvo because what seems the best to you might seem awful to another person. It all boils down to what you’re looking for in a car. You can’t find it all in one car.

If you need a car with beauty, space and performance, check out the Volvo XC90. Are you only concerned with performance? Look at the 700/900 series. What about cars you can revamp? Check out the C30 series.

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What should one look for when buying old Volvos?

Some old cars came out sound from the factory. But if the previous owners did not adequately maintain the vehicle, it could seem like the problem is from that model. Maintenance is vital. That is why it’s advisable to buy an old Volvo that’s only had one previous owner who took good care of it.

Check out the mileage covered. If previous owners maintained the car, how long will parts last before they require servicing? Accessibility of parts and repair professionals is also essential. Above all, get all records about the car. You never want to buy a stolen car.

Which old Volvos should I avoid?

While the XC60 is a fantastic car, some versions are terrible. Avoid the XC60 from 2010, 2015, and 2019. The 2010 version is associated with engine and fuel pump issues, the 2015 model is known for engine leakage, and the 2019 model has had wheel problems. The 2002 and 2008 XC90 are also notable for transmission problems.

Are there any problem-free old Volvos?

All Volvos, like every car out there, have issues. No car is ever made perfectly. But some models have more prevailing issues than others. So, before even talking about maintenance, check to see what problems are common with that model. Pick models close to your car needs with minor manufacturing problems.

Who sells old Volvos?

You can buy old Volvos from Volvo dealers and tier-two sellers. However, most dealers like going for the big gains they can get selling new cars rather than old ones. So, they move old cars to tier-two sellers.

Osuagwu Solomon

When I am not writing about cars, I’m in a mechanic garage troubleshooting and fixing cars. I started writing automotive articles to provide accurate information to car owners and fellow mechanics.

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