At Hagerty, we appreciate that people love cars, whether or not the wheels in question are unusual or rare. That's why we sponsor the Festival of the Unexceptional in the UK, and that’s why I was so excited to visit the Lane Motor Museum soon after the collection received its most recent addition: perhaps the most ordinary and mundane vehicle there, a yellow 1972 Volvo 142S two-door. The Lane museum's new curator, Robert Jones, graciously gave me a tour of the facility.
We've covered Nashville's Lane Museum before. It just may be the best collection in the world of unusual cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even aircraft. At the least, it’s the best offbeat collection that's open to the public—I don't want to disrespect my friend Myron Vernis' outstanding private collection of oddball vehicles. Lane Motor Museum is perhaps most famous for its Helicron propeller-driven car, but that's just one of a number of prop-propelled vehicles in the collection (which includes a bicycle with an air-screw). The propeller vehicles share space with about 150 vehicles on display, out of a total of approximately 500 vehicles in Jeff Lane's total collection.
For a car that is nearly 50 years old, the Volvo is in very nice condition. It’s not exactly concours-ready, but any Volvo enthusiast would be proud to drive it.
Back then, 140 series Volvos did not have six-figure odometers, so it's unclear whether the car has 92,000, 192,000, or even 292,000 miles. Volvo gave owners special badges at each 100,000-mile interval in those days, and the late Irv Gordon's P1800 wasn't the only Volvo of its era capable of racking up seven-digit numbers. For now, we’ll guess this 142S was well shy of 4 million miles—from the overall condition, I'd put my money on the 92,000-mile figure.
Though some overspray indicated a repaired fender, the car has its original bolt-on center-wheel hub caps; in general, this 142S looks like it's ready to put on another 100,000 miles. The woven upholstery Volvo used in the late 1960s and early 1970s is hardy enough to give Mercedes-Benz's MB-Tex competition for the title of most durable automotive upholstery ever used. The door stays still work and even the plastic that tops the dashboard isn't cracked (like on most vintage 140s), although it has warped just a bit from the sun.
I've owned three 140s, two 142Ss, and a high-performance 142E, so getting behind the thin-rimmed steering wheel and dropping my hand to the knob on the truck-length gear shifter was like greeting an old, familiar friend. Everything about the car—its big thumbwheel dials to control heat and defrost, the afterthought location of the radio in front of the passenger, even the smell—brought back memories from when I had more hair, fewer pounds, and one two-year-old daughter in a car seat in the back of a rusted red 142S.
The Lane Motor Museum is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday through Monday (adults $12, seniors $8, kids 5–17 $3, with free admission for small children and museum members). It's located at 702 Murfreesboro Pike, just 10 or 15 minutes from the Grand Ole Opry and other downtown Nashville tourist attractions. Highly recommended.