25 Volvo 940

1994 VOLVO 940 SE

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - RICHARD GUNN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

I like trains. There, I’ve said it. Trou­ble is, it’s a lot eas­ier to park a 50bhp, 745kg Fiat Panda than it is a 3300bhp, 99-ton Class 55 Deltic.

Or is it? A rail­way lo­co­mo­tive – even a Deltic – be­comes much more man­age­able if you shrink it. The OO­gauge model rail­way I had when I was a child took up my par­ents’ garage un­til my first Ford Anglia 105E ousted it. I’d al­ways fan­cied an­other one, but didn’t re­ally have the space. Be­sides, old cars had moved into the as­cen­dancy. But then a friend gave me a sec­ond­hand N-gauge train set for my birth­day; at half the size of OO-gauge, it seemed a more re­al­is­tic propo­si­tion. I found my­self ac­quir­ing more and more stock, but with­out any per­ma­nent base for it. One of my New Year’s res­o­lu­tions was to sort this sit­u­a­tion out.

I re­cently found a small lay­out on eBay, com­plete with base­board and some de­tail­ing work done (in­clud­ing a four­plat­form sta­tion). It mea­sured six feet by two feet – and that was cru­cial, be­cause it meant that it would fit com­fort­ably in the back of my Volvo 940 es­tate.

And so the Swedish load-lug­ging le­viathan found it­self head­ing up the Great North Road from Peter­bor­ough to Gran­tham. Some­what ap­pro­pri­ately, it was be­tween these two places that the Lon­don and North Eastern Rail­way’s A4 steam lo­co­mo­tive Mal­lard man­aged a record 126mph in 1938. The Volvo was some­what more lethar­gic, though. Rather than let the train take the strain, the 940 just took the train (lay­out) home in­stead – with­out any strain. Many mod­ern cars seem com­pro­mised on in­te­rior space, but the old Scan­di­na­vian es­tate just swal­lowed the base­board whole, with room to spare. Yet again, I was amazed at its sheer prac­ti­cal­ity and TARDIS-like abil­ity. It got the lay­out back in suf­fi­cient cos­set­ted lux­ury that none of the del­i­cate de­tails or wiring was dam­aged.

I still don’t have the room for it, though, so maybe I’ll just leave it in the back of the Volvo, add the scenery and wire it up to the cig­a­rette lighter.

It would be a talk­ing point at car shows, if noth­ing else.

Swedish 1958 Y7 rail­car might be more of a squeeze in the Volvo.

The model rail­way lay­out in the back of the Volvo. No prob­lem.

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