“ In Volvo we Thrust ”

The original - and in many ways - the best.

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1991 VOLVO 460 GLE

Much as I love the 480, my appreciation of Volvo actually began in 2000, with the 460 GLE. My Volkswagen had spontaneously combusted on Christmas Eve 1999, and following much car rental ( I was only a learner at the time so no one would rent me anything decent ) I happened upon a lonesome 460. Funnily enough, the guys who were fixing me up with farmery cars to get me through at the time ( hey, better than walking! ) also had the Volvo sitting languishing in a corner of the forecourt. They needed it gone.

I thought “No hope”. Coming from a VW Vento 1.4 to a 1.7 Volvo seemed like lunacy as a learner, but to my surprise the insurance company did not hammer me. Oh no, it was actually 50 CHEAPER! Figure that one out! ( I couldn’t! ). I bought the car with a clear attitude: “If it blows up after 4 weeks, it owes me nothing”. After all, 400 was a month’s rental of 124k. Corollas with dodgy CV joints and Escorts that stank of cowdung.

Driving in and out of Dublin I noticed two things: an over - rich petrol smell from the engine bay ( which made me sort of nervous! ) and the temperature. The needle in the gauge would go up three quarters, and a little shy of the ‘red zone’ the fan would spring to life. I’ve since been reliably informed from many sources that they all do this.

As the weeks / months passed I got to like this car more and more. I think it’s my father’s fault really: he began saying that it looked “stately” and that it was a “fine cut of a car ... very classy”. I was still trying to be mean to the thing. This was the pooch that I fought myself not to want ( emotional attachment? - hmm ... I was still feeling angry over the Lada - I mean VW - and was directing this at the 460. Wrong I know! )

Soon I began doing silly things, like ordering the original Grey paint from Volvo, not to mention doing a ridiculously intense job on the hubcaps: they were the ‘saucer’ type and they’d been cracked left right and centre off kerbs. I spent about a month filling, sanding and painting them.

There was very little wrong with the cosmetic appearance: it simply needed some ‘tidying’. It passed on to my father in 2001 when I got the 440, then he got a 440 himself and I drove the 460 down to my place in Tipperary. You guessed it, to “get it out of the way”. The poor thing started off that way and now it’s ended up like that too. I know this isn’t rational, but it makes me sad!

It’s still down there, and God knows, it doesn’t get started nearly as much as it should. I have plans for that car, because it’s just too good to let rot. The thing is, every time it’s just a case of putting in some fresh petrol, and a fully charged battery. It starts every time, usually on the first go. But then again, Volvo’s are like that ....

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Copyright 2000 - 2009 Anthony Halpin. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

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