Oakley Wheelwright is a serial shitbox buyer and the current owner of Miles, CT’s now-legendary 400,000+ mile Skoda Octavia
Welcome, reader, to the latest chapter of Oakley Buys Another Volvo: Volume 6. I had been very well behaved, abstaining even when various cars tempted me each day. Until that is, I got wind of two Volvos becoming available, an S60 and an XC70, both high mileage but meticulously maintained by renowned specialists. I knew I was in trouble. I headed up for a closer look, half hoping I’d find something to put me off. I did not. They were both superb. Now I just had to endure the anxious wait for the auction to begin.
The lots passed in front of me at a snail’s pace, edging closer to number 100, the XC70. Finally, the time came. A few new faces appeared in the hall, evidently gathering to try to snatch my (I was already referring to it as ‘mine’ by this stage) Volvo out from under me. The bidding started low, £500, but climbed rapidly to £1,100. I tried to play it cool, nodding my head at the auctioneer like he was a friend of a friend at the bar. I waited, expecting a retaliation, but none came. Once, twice and the hammer fell with a crack, my Volvo was, in fact, mine.
A little while later and there I was, keys in hand and ready to drive the XC70 for the first time. Would it be a heap, would it even start? Familiar worries to all of us afflicted by this addiction. Mercifully, but not surprisingly, my concerns quickly vanished. The engine started at the first turn of the key, it was home time.
The morning came, and the cold light of day revealed what I had bought. A big, glorious hunk of Swedish delight. The XC70 is a handsome machine, exuding a sense of rugged dependability and adventure. If Ray Mears was a car, I’m pretty sure he’d be an XC70 - especially in the Cedar green paint, perfect for the distinguished woodsman.
Inside, however, it’s rather more luxurious than your average woodland shelter. Swap those willow branches and string for acres of plush, heated leather. Need a power socket for blowing up the camping mattress? The Volvo has 3. There are cupholders for every occasion too, something I’m sorely lacking in all my cars.
The XC70 has long appealed to me, featuring everything I love about Volvo estates but with an extra sprinkling of go-anywhere hardiness. From behind the wheel, there’s a sensation of calmness. The D5 diesel engine is punchy, but how the big Swede delivers the goods is so sure-footed that it doesn’t feel fast. It’s delightfully laid back.
In a back to back comparison with my parents’ V70 (see my last article) the ride also shines. The additional ride height, damping and chunky tyres all come together in a harmony of comfort. I’m sure the V70 will corner flatter, but that’s irrelevant. Outright speed isn’t the name of the game here. Piloting the XC70, I adopt a milder driving technique. The thing I find most surprising is that I enjoy the drive just as much as when I’m blasting along in my Citroen Saxo VTR, for instance, it’s something of a revelation.
Of course, there are a few things requiring my attention. The heated seat on the passenger side is tepid at best. The steering wheels controls don’t seem to be functioning, and the only working parking sensor is currently the towbar. That’s about it. Not bad for 250k miles, another example of how vital regular maintenance is. Thankfully, mine even came with a fresh 12 months MOT for peace of mind. It looks like new discs and pads were a very recent job too. Everything is backed up by 17 stamps in the book and an extensive file of receipts, right back to the original bill of sale. I love rooting through a good history folder.
So it’s mechanically healthy, the bodywork is good, and the interior hardly shows a crease. Will that stop me from spending hours detailing every inch? Certainly not. You don’t know a car until you’ve cleaned it. The only downside is that every little scratch and scrape will become glaringly obvious.
It would appear that after all this time and all these Volvos I’ve finally struck green gold with my dream specification. Not much more remains to be done; other than driving it. I have plans to renovate our trailer, definitely inspired by CT video man Alex Kersten and his addictive DIY stories. I’ve already made arrangements to do some furniture moving this weekend too, standard Sunday duties for the discerning Volvo driver.
I read a Swedish proverb once; Allvar och “gamman trives garna samman” which means seriousness and pleasure should thrive together. For me, that sums up my Volvo and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.