Car of the Week: Volvo 740

Volvo - Car of the Week: Volvo 740 - Readers' Reviews

Shout out to Cameron Lancaster for this weeks’ car, the Volvo 740 Turbo. Adverts are from Google images, pics from my friends Volvo’s (They have 12). Production began in 1984 and ended in 1992.

The Volvo 740 was introduced in 1984 with the intent to modernize Volvo, to save them from boring. Just look at their advertising, comparing a sedan to a Porsche 944 is insane. What suprised me the most though is the sedans’ size, the wheelbase is only 109.1 inches. For reference my 2000 Camaro has a 101.1 inch wheelbase, guess i expected a barge reminiscent to a Cadillac Brougham of the period.

The “4” in the midst of the Volvo name used to denote a four-cylinder engine, but in the 80’s it just meant cheaper equipment as the four-cylinder was used across their range. For 1985, an intercooled version of the two-litre turbo engine (B200ET) was introduced for markets such as Italy, where larger engines were heavily taxed. Compression was a low 8:7:1 compared to 9:8:1 for the B230F SOHC gas. This unit produces 160 hp at 5300 rpm and 187 ft/lb at 2900 rpm, fifteen horsepower more than the preceding non-intercooled B19ET variant, enough for a claimed 200 km/h (124 mph) top speed. For 1989, a sixteen-valve version of the larger B230 engine was introduced (B234), with nearly as much peak power as the turbo version. This was Volvo’s first multi-valve engine. In 1990, the 740 received a minor facelift with new, smaller, composite headlamps and 780-style tail lights. In 1991, both the 740 and the newly introduced 940 received an updated dashboard, similar in appearance to the ones found in the 760.

1985 740 Turbo Engine Bay
1985 740 Turbo Engine Bay

1990 marked a number of mechanical improvements to the 740 series. The B200 and B230 motors received larger 13 mm (0.5 in) connecting rods. The 740 Turbo switched from the Garrett T3-series turbocharger to the Mitsubishi TD04 series, a decrease in size and top end performance but reducing lag. The electronic fuel injection system was upgraded from Bosch LH-Jetronic 2.2 to 2.4 (in 1988 for naturally aspirated cars, in 1990 for turbocharged cars). The newer fuel system offers onboard diagnostics, which are accessible from the engine compartment and require no special equipment. For 1993, the final model year for the 740, the mechanical engine cooling fan was replaced with an electric fan.

Just a random pic of friends' Volvo
Just a random pic of friends' Volvo

The 740 had either a 4-speed auto, 4-speed manual, and i’ve seen a few with a 5-speed manual which might have been a swap from a 240. In 1987 a Water-Cooled inter-cooler was made standard to increase turbo longevity. And finally, an awesome excerpt from the 1987 Volvo Press-Pack, given when the slight refresh was revealed.

“Next in Volvo’s product lineup is the 740 Turbo. Available as either
a four-door sedan or as a wagon, this car has proved its point to enthusiasts
worldwide. While other manufacturers talk performance, Volvo delivers. Powered
by a 160 HP turbocharged, intercooled 2.3 liter, four-cylinder engine, the 740
can easily produce 0-60 times in the eight-second range. Michelin 195/60R15
radial tires, combined with a performance tuned suspension system and Volvo’s
famous four-wheel disc brakes, assure drivers that the 740 Turbo not only
goes. ..but turns, stops and rides like a state-of-the-art performance vehicle.”

“The 740 Turbo’s “cockpit” offers the driver and passengers both performance
and luxury. The leather trimmed velour seats offer excellent lateral
support, while maintaining their orthopedically adjustable features. A fully
instrumented dashboard and a small diameter steering wheel highlight the car’s
sporting flair and excitement. Unlike some performance sedans, there are no
compromises with the 740 Turbo.”

“Drivers will not have to accept a bone-jarring
ride in order to achieve competent handling. Nor will they have to sacrifice
any of the other Volvo strengths — quality, dependability or safety — in the
name of performance. The race-proven 740 Turbo is the epitome of uncompromising
all-around performance. Standard features include power assisted rack and pinion
steering, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo cassette, floor mats, and five-spoke
alloy wheels.”

But above all, they are reliable. I took my friends’ 1988 740 Wagon from Pottsville PA to Gatlinberg Tennessee last summer, it was just amazing. So smooth and supple, it is the perfect road trip car, even with over 400k miles on the stock engine.