13 November 2014

Our Cars: Stefan Lombard’s 1984 Volvo 242 DL

Stefan Lombard isn’t the typical car guy. While like many classic car enthusiasts he fell in love with automobiles at an early age, he admits “my dad wasn’t a car guy and none of my neighbors were either, so I never really knew that people worked on their own cars, which is weird to vocalize. I’m not mechanically inclined as a result.” Nevertheless, Stefan’s fascination with automobiles has never waned. He still owns all the Hot Wheels cars, Tyco electric racing sets and years of Sports Car Illustrated magazine that he collected as a kid, and his vast car knowledge and writing talent led him to a career in auto journalism — and thankfully, to Hagerty Classic Cars. He purchased his 1984 Volvo 242 DL about a month ago.

Name: Stefan Lombard

Position at Hagerty: Managing Editor, Hagerty Classic Cars magazine

Years at Hagerty: 3

Vehicle: 1984 Volvo 242 DL

Background: I was raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. My dad was a professor and my mom stayed at home, and in the summers, we’d go to Utah and Colorado and Arizona for a month or two to camp and explore. It’s the greatest thing my parents ever did for my sister and me.

I’ve always loved cars. My earliest toys were cars… (but) as much as I love them, I didn’t get my first car until I was 23.

In graduate school in Portland, I discovered a car magazine published locally (Sports Car Market), so I volunteered there, which led to my first job, which really was a dream come true — to get paid to write about cars.

I’ve lived in Portland with my wife for 12 years, and we have two wonderful, crazy little girls, ages 5 and 3. I spend most of my Saturday and Sunday mornings watching as much soccer as I can.

Why did you choose a 1984 Volvo 242 DL? Because I’m not very mechanically inclined, I wanted a car that was reliable, dependable and simple enough that I could learn with it. My very first car was a 1980 Volvo 242 DL, which my uncle gave to me with 257,000 miles on it. I have so many great memories of that car. I’ve also had two 245 wagons since. When I started looking for a car to play with, I cast a wide net (RX-7s, SVO Mustangs, Rabbit GTIs, Miatas, BMW 2002s), but really it was an easy choice once I thought about it. The 240 series Volvos aren’t sexy and they aren’t fast — they aren’t even particularly “classic” — but they go forever, can be made into competent handlers, and parts and community support for them in Portland are amazing. I can also cart my kids around in it, which they love, because “it doesn’t sound like Mommy’s car.” Plus 1984 was the last year of the two-door 240 series. It’s Scotia Blue, which is lovely in person.

Repairs and Modifications: I’m the third owner and the car shows 222,000 miles, though it certainly doesn’t look it. It’s incredibly clean top to bottom. The previous owner had it for four years and rebuilt the wiring harness, installed a mild street performance cam and free-flow exhaust, replaced the entire suspension with a much more aggressive fully adjustable set-up, plus a bunch more little stuff that add up to a “boy racer” that’s ready to be enjoyed. It’s currently a bit too low for my liking, and the 14-inch wheels/tires need to go, but I found a cheap set of 15-inch Virgo alloys (a classic Volvo Turbo wheel) that I’m reconditioning and hope to have done by the fall.

Eventually I’d like to address some small paint issues and replace the grille and hood with those from a pre-1980 model (known as the “flat hood”).

Hobby activities: None yet, but there are a few Volvo-specific events here in the spring, and I’ll be there.

Interesting Car Stories: When that first Volvo of mine died, it did so in spectacular fashion. It had 290,000 miles at the time and ran well but had started to experience an intermittent electrical issue. I’d been keeping it at my wife’s house in Ohio and decided to take it out one day. At about 45 mph, the hood flew open and slammed against the windshield. Frantically, I moved off the road, and when I came to a stop, the car died and stayed dead. The hood was bent, the windshield was cracked and the only thing to do was to retrieve all my personal belongings and call the wrecker.

Favorite Drive: Highway 37, from Libby, Mont., to Eureka, Mont. It follows the eastern shore of Lake Koocanusa and is 70 miles of long straights, fast sweeping turns and enough tight corners to keep things interesting — with hardly any traffic. Sadly, I’ve only ever done it in a minivan. But if I can do it at 80 mph in an Odyssey…

Best and Worst Moments: Buying this car was an achievement, because I’ve been talking about getting a “fun” car for decades. Literally. And look how boring it is! But it has three pedals and it’s mine.

Beyond that, it’s hard to pick a best and worst. I love shooting photos of cars, so any time I get to be at events with a camera (or even my iPhone) is the best. I love finding the shot — a particular car’s angles and curves or the way an owner proudly stands with a car — and capturing that.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a “worst” moment in the hobby. That’s why I love it so much.

18 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Breanne Traverse City November 20, 2014 at 13:19
    She's a beaut, Stefan!
  • 2
    tom traverse city mi November 20, 2014 at 14:41
    i bought a 76 242 4 speed to get thru school and it never failed me for 4 yrs on a 50 mile commute--i sat it for 10 yrs outside because it needed brakes, exhaust and such--too expensive, but i decide to donate it to the local auto shop at the community college, i put a battery it shot some starting fluid in the breather and it immediately started and ran just like before then drove it to the college-i ask a volvo dealer why it was named 242 and he said that was becasue it had 2 doors, the 244 had 4 doors and the 245 was the wagon with 5 doors---i asked, then why didnt the 240 have no doors
  • 3
    Michael Yount United States November 20, 2014 at 16:19
    Nice to have another 242 fan amongst us. Mine's an '82 with about 205,000 miles -- about the last 65k of that powered by a 5.0L Ford.
  • 4
    Sarki Metro NY November 20, 2014 at 18:59
    Love those old Volvos. Built like a tank. Bricks live on forever.
  • 5
    Michael Yount Charlotte, NC November 20, 2014 at 19:15
    Nice to see another 242 on the streets! Mine's an '82 242 with about 205,000 miles - the last 65k powered by a Ford 5.0L. And the Volvos roll on..
  • 6
    Colin Christie churchill on. November 20, 2014 at 21:07
    Stefan, I enjoyed your article re my favorite cars, I have always had a volvo as my daily driver for the last 41 years. I have had mainly station wagons even my volvo sportscar was a station wagon the 1973 P1800 ES sort of. The V70 I have now is great, in the summer for towing a heavy trailer who need's a truck when you have a volvo. In the winter it is fantastic the worst wheather it will always get me where I'am going where most other cars can't make it give me a volvo any day!
  • 7
    Herb West Bloomfield November 20, 2014 at 11:41
    Love Volvo's and currently have three, 1965 Pv-544, 1973 1800ES and a Cross Country. That one eats the snow! I just parted with my 240 wagon and really enjoyed that car with almost 500,000 miles on it. I bought my first 144 in 1973 and drove that for 19 years! It's a car for life for sure!
  • 8
    David Schrumpf St Louis MO November 20, 2014 at 12:35
    Hope you have better luck with your 242DL than I had with mine. I bought a 1975 new that year. The car had 7,500 mile service intervals, but the vehicle never completed the service intervals without me having to take the car in earlier. Driving the car down the highway without any notice the car would just die and not restart without letting it sit for 15-20 minutes. The dealer never discovered the problem and I sold it at 32,000 miles. Loved the car for its handling and comfort. 1975 was nearly the first year Volvo used Bosch CIS injection and that could have been the culprit.
  • 9
    Michael Brosilow Chicago November 21, 2014 at 13:14
    I've had a half dozen 240's through the years. The standout was a '79 245 4 speed with overdrive. My daily driver is a '91(galvanized steel) with 250,000 miles. Simple reliable & tough as they come. I never thought I'd see one on the Hagerty site. I'm here because you guys insure my vintage MB 280SL. I h
  • 10
    Jay Milstead Huntington WV. November 21, 2014 at 14:20
    In 78 or 79 I talked a friend of mine into buying a 242GT after that he moved and I lost touch with him. Recently though I was able to find Charlie and was amazed when he sent me a picture of him in the same 242GT. I was glad to find it was every bit the car I thought it would be for him.
  • 11
    Rob Bareiss New London, CT November 21, 2014 at 20:04
    Well there we go, you've just featured one of my favorite cars. Originally I was a VW nut, owning many Beetles and now a 70 Bus you insure. But after the VWs lived their long useful lives, I moved on to 240's. I'm able to justify it in my mechanical mind in that they share the same Bosch distributor cap. The later ones do- yours might have Chrysler ignition with the white cap. Anyway since 1998 I've owned an 86, 2 87's, 2 88's, an 89 and a 91. Those all moved on to other homes and we drive a 92 244 stick, an 89 244GL with a 940T engine swap, and a 90 745T. Coming up soon for Hagerty to insure is a 76 242 custom built convertible which is incredible looking, though no faster than stock. More show than go I guess. But they do go and I'll drive them till I can find no more. RWD for life!
  • 12
    Bob Hancock Bastrop, TX November 21, 2014 at 09:21
    I sure understand your enthusiasm for Volvo. I bought a 2 year old 240DL Station Wagon in '89 and drove it as my "company car", hauling heavy products in it. It never needed anything but normal maintenance and almost 300K miles and 10 years later, it was still running great when I sold it!
  • 13
    Murray L Bowden United States November 21, 2014 at 21:36
    I hope you enjoy your 242. Maybe you'll have the chance to go to IPD's garage sale car show this spring. I owned a 122 for almost 30 years before it was totaled. Now have a '72 1800ES and a '99 S70. I agree with you, the Portland area has great Volvo support people in it.
  • 14
    Ron buffalo NY November 21, 2014 at 09:46
    as a retired volvo master tech, I always loved workin on the 240 series cars. they are very rugged,the driveline was indestructable and easy to repair. the weak part of the car was they were rust prone, there are very few of them left in the buffalo area,Ive had about 7, 245 s over the last 25 years they are great cars. the reputation of the 240 built volvo into the car company it is today.
  • 15
    John Broughton Prescott Valley, AZ November 21, 2014 at 11:49
    Brings back memories. We bought a new 1984 240, four door, same blue color, from Volvo of Lisle (Lisle, IL) in 1984. After owning, and selling, a 1974 Volvo 164E, we had come to like Volvos. It served us well until my wife sold it when we moved to AZ in 2002. It had gotten rusty and it had a short life mechanically after that. My wife then inherited my 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo which she still drives and which still looks like new. It is the last Volvo I'd consider owning as I don't particularly care for the later model styles. I'm happy with my 2012 Honda Pilot and recently purchased fully restored 1957 Pontiac Chieftain. However, I thought the 240 series was one of the best Volvo ever made. They were reliable and easy to work on -- very well designed.
  • 16
    Geep Indianapolis February 18, 2015 at 13:03
    I think a Volvo is a fine first classic. Parts are readily available, they are easy to work on, and for those concerned with returns, prices are coming up on them. I can relate to the writers concerns with including his family in the enjoyment of the vehicle. I bought my first classic, a 1967 Volvo 122, with similar intentions. My daughter, less than 1year old at the time, now calls it "daddy old car." I was so nervous putting 2500mi on a car I've never driven. But the beast ticked away the miles with ease over the three days, adding to the car's already 400,000mi.
  • 17
    monty simon Canada February 28, 2015 at 01:08
    I also owned a 1984 244 Turbo; metalic brown. Bought it new and drove it 13 years with just Brakes, tune ups oil changes etc. Also 3 drivers side euro lights. in Canada they were $500.00 each time, but so what ; great car, Turbo was costly when it came to tickets. I still do not know what top speed was. I hated to trade it in but with so many miles? Dealer gave me 8,000.00 in trade.I wish I still had it.
  • 18
    Al Garcia Texas June 14, 2016 at 00:48
    I've had 2 Volvo 242 Turbos, the 1st one was black with silver cloth interior that I bought off the show room in Savannah GA from a very small dealer (Saab, Volvo, Alfa Romeo) in 1981 (1st year of the 242 Turbo) and I kept it 20 years and 195,000 miles. I missed it so in 2011 I was able to find a silver with black leather interior 1984 242 Turbo from the original owner (Bay area CA) with 194,000 miles. I'm slowly restoring it as funds allow and would love to have Hagerty insure it but wasn't able to secure a quote last time I tried a year or two ago. Probably because I drive it about 5,000 miles a year and try to drive it to work once a week so it is not a show only car. What good is it if you can't drive it regularly? Enjoyed your Volvo stories - these old red block Volvos seem to last forever with a little tender loving care.

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