My 1990 Volvo 740GL sedan

After ten dynamic years working as a field representative for VCNA (Volvo Cars North America), during which time a company car was a business necessity, in 2006 I was transferred back to headquarters. Part of the initial discussion with my new management team centered around transportation, and I was assured that engineers in Product Engineering such as myself would have a Volvo test car as a component of performing their job.

That lasted about six months. The mid-aughts were a tough time for Volvo: our owners, the Ford Motor Company, paid little attention to us, money was tight, Volvo’s sales had nosedived, and cutbacks were sought everywhere. Around this same time, my mother was considering new wheels for herself. Her 1990 Volvo 740 was in great shape, but she thought that one final new car would be a nice treat. She visited Volvo of Princeton, the dealer which had been regularly servicing her 740, and bought a brand new 2006 S60 sedan. (She surprised us all by picking a bright red one, and yes, it was her final car.)

We didn’t even request a trade appraisal; instead, needing wheels once my company car was yanked, I bought the 740 from my mom and turned it into my daily driver. At that time it had around 190,000 miles and was in impeccable shape for its age, as my mother garaged it every night. Despite frequent dealer servicing, there were a few mechanical needs to which I attended. Cosmetically, the dark grey bumpers had faded to something approaching white. I bought SEM bumper paint, removed both bumpers from the car to avoid overspray, and repainted them. I was quite pleased with the result. I also found a nice set of Volvo alloys on Craigslist, and used the factory steelies for winter tires.

I drove it for about two years, and when I spotted an ad on a bulletin board in Rockleigh for a 2003 non-turbo V70 with a stick shift, I grabbed that and sold mom’s old 740.

Recently, while rummaging through some digital files, I came across the photos I had taken for the ad for the 1990. I had not seen these pics in a while, I was struck by how clean the car was. It had 210,000 miles on it when I sold it, yet had original paint which still gleamed. The ad I wrote noted that the only defects were a sagging headliner, an inoperative power antenna, and a non-functioning digital radio readout. I asked for, and got, $3,000 for the car.

Not too many 700-series Volvos from this era have survived. I see more 240s for sale on the popular classic car websites than I see 740s. However, the website sold an ’87 740 GLE wagon with 293,000 miles on it earlier this month for $6,052. Perhaps I should have held onto my 740 a little longer!







All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.






6 thoughts on “My 1990 Volvo 740GL sedan

  1. A very well preserved example from the origami era of car design. The time when Volvo’s designers wanted to evolve from the “brick” to the concrete block! I like these cars with their expansive greenhouse and great visibility for the driver. I had a number of these as company cars with the whole range of powerplants from the basic 4 cyl to the turbo diesel 6 cyl to the turbo 4, the last being by far the most enjoyable. My dad bought one new in 1985 and sold it 15-16 years later with over 200k miles still with the original clutch. The only thing they didn’t do better than their predecessors was handle in the snow,


  2. Rich,   Thank you for sharing the memories of your mother’s 1990 740GL sedan.  A lot of thoughts resonated with me as I read the article.  Your comment that your mother wanted to buy a “final car” reminded me of my thoughts when I purchased my last “new” Volvo in December of 2016.  Ted Kadala was helpful in allowing me to purchase for my wife Ima a Volvo corporate car that was about to be turned in with 12,000 miles: a crystal white metallic 2016 XC90 T8 Inscription Plug-In Hybrid.  We purchased it at Volvo of Westport on 12/28/21, the same dealership where we purchased our first Volvo, a red 1996 850 GLT Wagon (5-speed manual, non-turbo) that my youngest daughter Caroline (21 and a senior at William & Mary) drives today.  Ironically, she is scheduled to be filmed in a Volvo ad (“Volvo Woman Drivers”) on Dec. 4 with that Volvo as the “Start”.  When we purchased the 2016 XC90 T8 I was 59 and I typically hold onto Volvos for over 20 years (I still have every Volvo I have ever purchased, with the exception of one that was totaled – my fleet totals 4 Volvos).  As I stood at the dealership, I figured if I held onto this Volvo for 20 years, I would  be close to 80.  I doubted I would still be able to drive, so I thought, this may well me my “last Volvo”.   When your Mom chose red for her S60, I thought of my wife.  Her favorite car color is red, which is why our first Volvo, the 850 wagon that Caroline drives is red.  Also, when you described how you saw a 2003 V70 with a stick available, you immediately purchased it.  I would have done the same.  I have two identical  1996 850 GLT wagons (one red and one silver), both of which are sticks.  The red one has 430,000 miles and the silver 365,000 miles.  I sometimes dump money into them to keep them going which doesn’t make sense, but I am afraid that when I am finally forced to retire them, I will not be able to find another Volvo wagon with a stick.  I can’t seem to be able to part with them.  Though that may happen naturally.  Caroline who graduates from W&M in May of next year, wants to take the red 850 with her when she leaves campus.  She plans on settling down in Richmond, VA for a few years.  My next oldest daughter Laura, is in the process of purchasing a condo in Washington, D.C. where her job is based (she works for the State Dept,  so she will be taking the white 1999 V70 AWD XC WAGON (220,000 miles).  I think once the girls drive off with the Volvos, I will never see them again.  Which may be a good thing.   I also liked the pictures of the 740GL you took.  In one of the pictures, I could see a garden hose rolled up on the grass.  I assume the house in the back is yours, and you had just washed the 740GL before you took the pictures.  I try to wash the Volvos on a regular basis in the driveway of my house.  I find it cathartic to do.  I confess, if I knew your mother’s 740GL was for sale in 2006, I would have placed a bid for it.  I wonder if it is still on the road?  I bet it is.    Anyway Rich, it is Sunday afternoon and I have to get back to work.  I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences with your mother’s 740GL.  I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your family.  Stay safe and well.       Hugh


    • Hugh! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and delightful insights. I loved reading about all the Volvos in your life. It’s especially great to know that your daughters continue the family tradition by keeping these cars on the road. You have good eyes by spotting that garden hose! Indeed, I had just washed the car, and the photos I posted were taken specifically for the ad I ran. It’s great that we can share stories about our cars like this. Thanks again for all your contributions to my blog! Best, Richard


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