Oakley Wheelwright is a serial shitbox buyer and the current owner of Miles, CT’s now-legendary 400,000+ mile Skoda Octavia
There are innumerable ways to spend a thousand pounds. You could treat yourself to a new OLED TV, or maybe finally sort that leaky patch on the roof. Either of these would make a fine choice, but both are ultimately wrong, for I have found the ultimate manner in which to spend £1,000. A bold statement, yes, but let me elaborate and by the time I’m done you may agree.
In a moment of weakness one evening, I booted up Facebook marketplace. Scrolling through the automotive jumble sale, I stumbled across a rather striking green Volvo V70. The description was succinct, but it presented itself as an honest car, sold by straightforward folk. I wasted no time in sending the requisite, “Is this still available?” Before I could say ‘not another Volvo’ (we have many in the family), I was chatting with the seller.
The exchange was progressing nicely until a rogue user jumped in and offered her over the asking price. A tense few moments passed while she wrestled with her morals, but thankfully she chose the righteous pass of “first come, first served”. Collection date duly arranged, now all I had to do was sweet-talk my other half Beth into driving me there at 7am. Luckily, she agreed.
We awoke to a thick blanket of snow covering the streets. Undeterred, I cleared her Toyota iQ of snow, the least I could do, and we set forth. Thankfully, not in vain.
Pulling up to a driveway exclusively filled by Volvos filled me with optimism, and meeting the charming vendors merely served to boost it. They were obviously a family who appreciated the merits of the big swedes. Small talk duly dispensed with, it was time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
It was clear that the car had been very well cared for throughout its life. The exterior and interior alike were in fantastic condition. Even the underside looked like it regularly saw the business end of a pressure washer. The wheels were shod with four new Bridgestone tyres, which proved themselves more than capable of handling the snow and ice.
With the test drive over with, I spent a little time perusing the history folder while basking in the warmth of that Volvo staple, the heated seat. This particular Volvo had led a colourful life. The original owner was a military officer with a penchant for Swedish estates. He ordered it through a specialist European broker while he was stationed in Thailand. Delivery was made in the Netherlands, where he subsequently flew in to meet it, before driving it home to blighty. So dearly did he love his V70 that in 2013 he commissioned Volvo to fit a brand new D5 inline-five diesel engine, costing over £6500 according to the paperwork.
The effects of time and subsequent old age meant that sadly, this Volvo aficionado decided to surrender his driving license a few years ago. The Volvo, known affectionately as David, was sold to his next-door neighbours. In due course, they upgraded to an XC40 and, this is where I enter proceedings. The paperwork completed, I headed out and steered David away from the street he had resided on for 20 years.
The history file certainly passes muster, but what about this particular model justifies me saying it’s the ultimate use of a thousand pounds? First thing’s first, Volvo seats reign supreme in the world of cheap cars. Jumping into the cockpit on a freezing morning and letting the heated seats defrost your derriere never gets old. Considering the interior has seen over 150k miles, it’s aged remarkably well. In particular, the black leather seats look far younger than their years. It also goes without saying that if you need to carry your family, plus a luggage allowance Ryanair can only dream of, the V70 can handle it all.
The famous D5 engine offers effortless performance. Working up through the gears, cruising speed is achieved with very little fuss or pantomime. The only thing missing is a sixth gear. I still average 54mpg on my commute, so it doesn’t hurt fuel economy too much, at least.
Negotiating a twisting country road is effortless. The steering feel isn’t the most communicative, but the ride is well-damped and controlled. It’s more than happy to carry a decent speed through a series of bends. The mission statement here is to whisk you to your destination in style, comfort and, of course, safety.
So far, I’ve been busy backing up my claims, but I’m yet to address the elephant in the room. I’ve bought yet another Volvo. So, what to do with this one? I knew it would make for a perfect daily to commute in, but I’m reluctant to steal that duty from Miles the Skoda. Another option would be to sell it for a profit, but that felt like a foolhardy move. My first move was to pop round to my parents and show off the latest purchase. We headed out for a spin, and by the time we turned onto the driveway, my dad had asked to buy it - the fastest sale in my short ‘wheeler dealer’ career.
So can a 20-year-old Volvo estate really be the best use of your hard-earned cash? If you’re looking for a superbly capable all-rounder, then yes - nothing comes close for the money.