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Rob Mar­shall’s Volvo 460.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents - Rob Mar­shall Spe­cial Con­trib­u­tor

The blos­som­ing in­ter­est in modern clas­sics might lead you to think that any car from the 1980s and early 1990s that is ei­ther high-per­for­mance, range-top­ping, rare or all of the above, has be­come unattain­able for any­body look­ing for in­ter­est­ing and in­ex­pen­sive trans­port. Un­for­tu­nately, sky­rock­et­ing prices are edg­ing out bud­get-ori­ented buy­ers of mod­els that were, not that long ago, scrap­yard fod­der. Yet, it is just about pos­si­ble to un­earth a car des­tined for obliv­ion be­fore any­body else has no­ticed.

The story of how G392 VYO came into my life started by stum­bling across an ebay ad­vert for a black Volvo 460 Turbo in 2011. I did not bid on the car, but an­other jour­nal­ist ended up bag­ging it. I met him by chance at the won­der­fully-unglam­orous 2015 Fes­ti­val of the Unex­cep­tional which I at­tended with my 440 hatch­back and found my­self ex­press­ing an in­ter­est in buy­ing the 460 sa­loon. Fast-for­ward to Jan­uary 2017, the phone rang: was I in­ter­ested in tak­ing on the car?

A new mort­gage and im­mi­nent house move saw me vot­ing with my head and de­clin­ing the of­fer, un­less the owner could wait un­til the sum­mer. Sure enough, once the weather was bet­ter and I had moved into my new abode (which came com­plete with a leaky roof, damp and var­i­ous other mal­adies to suck up any spare time that I thought that I had), the mo­bile rang again and I found my­self agree­ing a £550 pur­chase price, in­clud­ing a wealth of spare parts lo­cated in the boot, plus de­liv­ery.

A wise fool?

For that sum, a newer and road­wor­thy car would have been within bud­get. I con­soled my­self that, as many 400-se­ries Turbo Volvos are har­vested for their high-per­for­mance Re­nault-based or­gans by 5 and Clio up­graders, I could re­coup most of my in­vest­ment by break­ing the car. Fur­ther­more, a look on the in­ter­est­ing (but ad­mit­tedly not en­tirely ac­cu­rate) How Many Left web­site re­vealed that Se­ries One 460 Turbo sur­vival rested with four ex­am­ples, none of which was road­wor­thy, and mine ap­peared to be the only one with man­ual trans­mis­sion. This in­for­ma­tion could be

a use­ful sell­ing point if I had to dis­pose of the car com­plete in an at­tempt to get my money back. Also, the rare Volvo­branded Momo steer­ing wheel and 15-inch al­loys, plus the com­plete spare leather in­te­rior, would raise some ex­tra ack­ers if sold sep­a­rately.

De­spite be­ing very dusty on ar­rival, the car was as de­scribed and in rel­a­tively good con­di­tion. Yet, any ve­hi­cle that has been dry-stored for five years is go­ing to need at­ten­tion and ex­pen­di­ture over and above a ba­sic ser­vice. While I could have ad­dressed the last MOT fail­ure is­sues by re­plac­ing the ex­haust, ad­just­ing the hand­brake and re­new­ing a torn drive­shaft gaiter, it would be fool­ish not to give the al­most 30-year-old Volvo a more vig­or­ous once-over.

Where to stop?

With an old car like this, it is too easy to get car­ried away. I was aware that I could not be­come em­broiled in the time and cost im­pli­ca­tions of a full restora­tion, which would in­clude be­ing sad­dled with a half-dis­man­tled, im­mo­bile car for sev­eral years. What­ever work re­quired had to be car­ried out quickly, safely, cost­ef­fec­tively (which does not mean tak­ing the cheap­est op­tion) and with as lit­tle ex­ter­nal as­sis­tance as pos­si­ble.

Once the Volvo had been un­loaded from the de­liv­ery truck, I was re­lieved that the en­gine started in­stantly and ap­peared to be in good or­der, aside from a nasty misfire, mi­nor coolant/oil leaks and a per­ma­nently-lit bat­tery warn­ing lamp.

The most ob­vi­ous is­sues were the elec­tric tilt/slide sun­roof be­ing stuck open (now reme­died) and that the aged tyres were both hard­ened and cracked. De­spite be­ing dusty, the cloth in­te­rior looked tidy, aside from a deep gash in the driver’s door­card and some mi­nor trim dam­age.

Body­wise, sev­eral rust scabs and dents af­flicted the lower por­tions of the driver’s side doors, with one of them ma­tur­ing into a hole af­ter be­ing prod­ded with a screw­driver. Both front wings bore dents and rust, but two pairs of used re­place­ments came with the car. The fact that both rear sill plas­tic cover sec­tions fell off and re­vealed very lit­tle solid me­tal be­neath them leads me to sus­pect that more cor­ro­sion awaits dis­cov­ery. For­tu­nately, aside from sev­eral small holes in the boot floor cor­ners, cor­roded rear seat­belt mount­ings and a crusty in­ner whee­larch, the un­der­side ap­peared to be in good con­di­tion, with most of the un­der­seal in­tact. The sub­frame wore some sur­face rust but a wire-brush re­vealed it not to be se­ri­ous.

The most wor­ry­ing is­sue rests with the sus­pen­sion and brakes. The rear damp­ing, par­tic­u­larly, is vir­tu­ally in­ef­fec­tive. More se­ri­ously, the bump stops that act as as­sis­ters to limit rear spring move­ment have al­most dis­ap­peared. The front wish­bones are not only cor­roded but their bushes are also split, which makes me won­der how any driver could have kept the Volvo sta­ble at any speed. While I can­not per­form a road-test, ma­noeu­vring the 460 on the drive causes the front sus­pen­sion to creak and groan, mim­ick­ing the warped struc­ture of an an­cient galleon.

Al­though I have set £1000 aside to get the car safe and pre­sentable again, a cer­tain amount of in­ge­nu­ity will be re­quired, es­pe­cially as the pre­vi­ous owner re­ported that ob­tain­ing 460 parts proved harder than those for his mid-1960’s Volvo Ama­zon. The next stage is to tackle the me­chan­i­cals, prior to body­work and try­ing to im­prove the cos­met­ics.

This crusty power steer­ing cooler will have to be re­moved to re­place the ra­di­a­tor. New ones are un­avail­able – thank­fully, this one cleaned up af­ter be­ing soaked in Bilt Ham­ber Deox C rust re­mover, prior to be­ing painted in Rust­buster Epoxy Mas­tic.

The sun­roof had re­mained open for at least three years – a gaffer­taped bin liner pro­tected the in­te­rior from rain on the jour­ney from Manch­ester to Worces­ter­shire. A new switch – a lucky main dealer clear­ance find – fixed the prob­lem.

Crum­bling me­tal be­neath the plas­tic cov­ers re­veals that all is not well in the sill depart­ment.

A bodged ac­cel­er­a­tor ca­ble pre­vents full throt­tle. Thank­fully, a new old-stock item came with the car.

The body­work came up fairly well af­ter a clean and pol­ish. The 1080kg 460 Turbo’s per­for­mance slots be­tween that of a VW Golf/ Jetta MKII GTI 8v and GTI 16v.

The in­side matches the rest of the car – rel­a­tively un­mo­lested but in need of at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially the driver’s door­card (see in­set pic). The 78,000 miles is backed up by a sub­stan­tial ser­vice his­tory.

The 460 joins Rob’s 440 and 480 Volvos. He has set a gen­er­ous bud­get to re­pair it, but would he be bet­ter off throw­ing the cash onto the fire?

The 460 was sup­plied with plenty of spares. The haul in­cludes the orig­i­nal al­loys, ac­ces­sory mats and a re­place­ment leather in­te­rior.

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