Classic Sports Car
VOLVO 145 DE LUXE
Year of manufacture 1973 Recorded mileage 81,042
Asking price £18,995 Vendor 4Star Classics, Park Ironworks, Forge Road, Kingsley, Hampshire; 01420 479909; www.4starclassics.com WHEN IT WAS NEW Price £2529.90 Max power 82bhp Max torque 116lb ft 0-60mph 12.5 secs Top speed 106mph Mpg 24.6
Nothing turns your world upside down in quite the same way as becoming a father, and with my new-found role as changer of nappies and lugger of buggies, my taste in old cars seems to be changing, too. If money were no object I would still be chasing 250GT SWBS and XKSSS, but at the lower, more practical end of the market I’ve found myself being drawn to cars that are safe enough to consider putting my daughter in, and big enough to be able to cart around all the detritus that entails. The answer, of course, is always Volvo.
The ubiquitous 240 is tempting and certainly seems to work for deputy editor Phillips – at least when its head gasket is in one piece – but these later cars are a touch too modern for me. Much more appealing is the 145, the five-door estate variant of the 144 family saloon of the late ’60s that bridged the gap between the outgoing Amazon and the 240.
Many cars of the early to mid-’ 70s combine the styling of the late 1960s with the technology and characteristics of slightly more modern machinery. Like my own Triumph 2500TC, the Volvo is a perfect example, starting life with the same 1.8-litre B18 engine as the Amazon but enjoying constant improvement in the form of the larger B20 engine in 1969, and by 1971 a fuel-injected version of the same that was good for 122bhp.
With the low-compression B20A engine, this Volvo won’t be starting any fires. But the appeal of these cars lies mostly with their huge load bay, restrained styling and rugged build quality. 4Star’s 1973 de Luxe has the latter in spades, surviving in largely original condition having covered 81,000 miles. It’s only had two owners in that time, the most recent for 16 years. Cossetted and coddled, it’s recently enjoyed a sympathetic refresh aimed at breathing new life into the car without erasing its history. That included a repaint in its original California White, which was carried out by an Aston Martin-approved bodyshop at a cost of £13,000. Its character remains intact, though, with its factory bumpers, body trim and etched windows.
As well as being in fantastic fettle, it’s also pretty well equipped. It has a three-speed automatic ’box, servo-assisted disc brakes all round, a rear wiper and even adjustable headrests. Eminently sensible motoring for a new dad.