200 Front End Options

I wrote this article because this is a common question, and there are a lot of possibilities for 240 front ends. If you don’t know what you’re doing (or don’t care) you could wind up with something that doesn’t quite fit right, as shown above. This person tried to fit an incompatible grille and hood combination. As Chris Rock said, sure you can do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s to be done. Anyway, this article is a big one, so it is always under construction. Special thanks goes out to the members of Turbobricks who helped me with info on the Euro- and Australia-spec cars.

Note: This article was largely written from the perspective of someone in the USA. However, I have tried my best to include international information as well.

Form Factors

1) 1st generation 2) 2nd generation 3) 3rd generation 4) Other combinations 5) Custom applications


1) Flat 1975-80 2) Humped 1976-85 3) Humped 1986-93


1) Single Rounds 2) Double Rounds 3) Single Squares 4) Double Squares 5) Big Rectangles (pre-1986) 6) Big Rectangles (post-1986)


1) Grills for flat hoods 2) Grills for humped hoods (pre-1986) 3) Grills for humped hoods (post-1986)


1) Pre-1986 2) Post-1986


1) Pre-1986 2) Post-1986

Other Considerations

1) Headlights . a) E-codes vs. lens glass E-Codes . b) Left hand drive (LHD) vs. Right hand drive (RHD) . c) Tungsten sealed beam vs. Halogen sealed beam 2) Making the swap . a) Between anything pre-1986 . b) Between anything post-1986 . c) Crossing the 1986 boundary

Form Factors

There are a lot of different ways of setting up a 240 front end. There are three basic stock form factors, and then there are innumerable other combinations. These three generations of front ends overlap considerably depending on the model and market of the car, but it is a good way to divide them up from a U.S. point of view anyway.

1) 1st Generation

The first 240’s used this form factor. It is made of small lights (7″ rounds) and a long grill. This form factor uses a flat hood. The main advantage of this setup is that there is a lot of grill area, so engine cooling is very effective.

2) 2nd Generation

This was first used on the 1976 260 series, to differentiate it from the less expensive 240 series. It was later used on all 1981-85 240’s (except the 1983 special edition). You can use dual rounds, dual squares, big european lights, and so forth, combined with the bigger grill and the humped hood.

3) 3rd Generation

Ho-hum. Volvo standardized the look of their 240’s and basically gave you two headlight options – plastic or glass. You can still do some cool things with this setup, however. Read on.

4) Other Combinations

The above three form factors are the most commonly found on 240’s. Of course, you can still mix and match, creating all sorts of cool combinations like some of those shown above.

5) Custom Applications

A lot of people have made their own custom things, using everything from paint and sandpaper to welding equipment. Here are a few examples of what you can do if you want to really make something different.

Put 740/940 E-codes on a 240:

Choose your own headlights and make surrounds out of old grills:

Black things out for a cool custom look:


1) Flat 1975-80

Description: The lightest-weight 240 hood, and thought by many to be the “coolest looking.” A carbon-fiber replica of this hood is available from IPD.

Types: Very early hoods had a chrome strip along the front with one window squirter located in the center of the car. Later hoods still had the chrome strip, but had two window squirters. Even later style (presumably 1978-80) had no chrome strip and two window squirters.

Found On: USA: all 1975-77 240-series, all 1978-80 242’s, 1983 242 Special Edition. Europe: 240, most 1975-1980 and some 1981-1985, depending on model. Australia: some 240s up to 1983.

2) Humped 1976-1985

Description: Heavier, but not that bad of a hood. Often will bend if the hinges are not properly lubricated.

Types: Can be found with the chrome strip across the front and without.

Found On: USA: all 260 series (1976-82), all 1981-1985 242’s, all 1978-85 240 series. Europe: 240 1983-85, 260 all (1975-82) Australia: at least 83-85 240GL’s, and 81-85 260’s.

3) Humped 1986-93

Description: An updated version of the earlier humped hood. The lines are a little more modern, and the back of the hood matches up with the new cowl used in 1986 and later cars.

Types: Only one standard type.

Found On: USA: all 1986-93 240 series Europe: 1986-93 240 series Australia: at least 1986 and later 240s, possibly as early as 1981.


1) Single Rounds

Description: The first 240 headlights, 7″ sealed beam. Can be replaced with 7″ E-code sealed beam lights that use replaceable bulbs so that you don’t have to replace the whole headlight when it burns out.

Types: 1975-77 were recessed with a “scoop” shaped plastic surround (left, above). 1978-80 had plastic spacers to mount them further forward and flush plastic surrounds (right, above).

Found On: USA: all 1975-77 240 series, 1978-80 242’s. Europe: all 1975-77 240 series, 1978-80 240 GT Australia: 1975-1978 240’s

2) Double Rounds

Description: Each side had two 5.75″ sealed beam headlights, one for low/high beams and one for high beams only. Can be replaced with E-code sealed beam lights. Plastic surrounds.

Types: Only one standard type.

Found On: USA: all 1976-77 260 series, all 1978-79 244 & 245, and 1980 244 & 245 DL only. Europe: Not available in most if not all markets. Australia: ?

3) Single Squares

Description: European lens glass headlamps with replaceable bulbs.

Types: Only one standard type.

Found On: USA: Not available. Europe: Some 240’s 1979-80 Australia: Some 240’s 1980 and earlier

4) Double Squares

Description: Each side had two 4″x6.5″ square headlights. One for low/high and one for high only. Sealed beam, but can be replaced with E-code sealed beam.

Types: Two types of plastic headlight surrounds. Some models had reflectors below the headlights, while others had a black plastic strip. The reflectors and strips can be removed from the surrounds and are interchangeable.  Supposedly the black plastic strips only came on 1981 240 DLs, but you may find them on some 1980 and 1982 models.

Found On: USA: all 1978-82 260 series, 1980 244 &245 GL&GLE, all 1981-85 240-series. Europe: Not available in most if not all markets. Australia: ?

5) Big Rectangles (pre-86)

Description: European, Australian, and Canadian markets. Glass lens headlights with thin plastic surrounds. Replaceable bulbs.

Types: There are several types, depending on the side of the road you drive on. These are known as RHD (right hand drive) and LHD (left hand drive).  There are also two types of bulb configurations – H1 and H4.  H4’s are preferred in the aftermarket because of the type of bulbs that they use.

Found On: USA: Not available, but some Canadian cars had them. Europe: Some 240’s 1979-80, 260 1975-80 Australia: 240s and 260’s 1980 and earlier.

6) Big Rectangles (post-86)

a) USA-spec

Description: The US market got plastic headlamps with replaceable bulbs. They tend to fade and yellow over time, and look pretty ugly.

Types: One type.

Found On: USA: all 1986-93 240-series Europe: Not available. Australia: Not available.

b) Euro-Spec

Description: While the glass versions of these headlights weigh a bit more than plastic, they are generally superior in the quality of light that they provide, and they don’t fade or lose their transparency.

Types: Two types, one has chrome stripping, one has black.

Found On: USA: Not available, Europe:1981-93 240’s, 260 1981-1982 Australia: 1981-93 240s. In 1986, the design was changed from having chrome trim down the inside edge and the top, to just having the chrome at the top.  Aftermarket versions of these lights are available from FCP Groton.


1) Grilles for flat hoods

a) 1975-77 Style

Description: Long, thin Volvo slash that goes from corner to corner.

Types: One type.

Found On: USA: All 1975-77 240 series, i.e. cars with single round, recessed headlights.

Europe: 240’s 1975-77 Australia: Available, probably 1975-77 240’s.

b) 1978-80 Style

Description: Thicker, shorter Volvo slash that only covers the middle 1/2 of the grill.

Types: One type.

Found On: USA: all 1978-80 242’s, i.e. cars with single round, flush headlights. Europe: 240’s 1978-80 Australia: Available, probably 1978-80 240’s.

c) GT style

Description: Same as 1978-80 style (above) but with cut-outs for fog lamps that came with the 240 GT trim level.

Types: Gray (originally found on a GT) and Black (accessory from Volvo for people who wanted fog lights.) The black type is more common.  Note that the black grill has chrome edges stock, not the red edges as shown in the photo above.

Found On: USA: 1978-80 242 GT only Europe: 1978-79 242 GT only Australia: ?

d) 1983 Special edition

Description: Designed to be used with a flat hood and big (pre-1986) headlight assemblies. That is, it will work with dual rounds, dual squares, or pre-86 big squares.

Types: There are real Volvo grilles, and an aftermarket version that is made in Asia.  This grill was also available as an accessory from Volvo.

Found On: USA: 1983 240 Turbo Special edition. Europe: Similar style grill available on some1978-80 240s Australia: Similar style grill available on some 1980 and earlier 240s.

e) post-1986 flathood

Description: A European option for some cars that came with a flat hood and big headlights.

Types: One type?

Found On: USA: Not available. Europe: Some 240’s 1981-85 Australia: 1981-83 240’s.

2) Grilles for humped hoods (pre-1986)

a) DL-style (black)

Description: Chrome slash across the grill against black, vertical strips of plastic. Volvo badge in center of grille.

Types: One Type.

Found On: USA: all 1981-85 240 DL’s and possibly some GL’s, other 1976-80 models. Europe: some 260’s 1975-80 Australia: ?

b) GL-style (chrome)

Description: Chrome slash across grill against chrome vertical strips. Volvo badge off center.

Types: There may be two types, one with the badge at center, and one off center.

Found On: USA: 1981-85 240 GL’s and some DL’s, other 1976-80 models. Europe: some 260’s 1975-80 Australia: Available, at least 260’s up thorugh 1980.

c) Turbo-style (black eggcrate)

Description: Chrome slash across black eggcrate plastic with Volvo badge off center.

Types: One Type.

Found On: USA: 1981-85 240 Turbo’s. Europe: some 260’s 1977-80 Australia: ?

d) Euro 1981-85 style (black)

Description: Chrome slash across black vertical plastic with Volvo badge centered and black or chrome sides. Works only with post-1986 (USA) headlights and a pre-1986 humped hood as shown.

Types: Supposedly there is a black and a chrome version of this grille.

Found On: USA: Not available. Europe: Various 1983-85 240’s and 1981-82 260’s Australia: 1983-85 240GL’s, and 1981-85 260’s.

3) Grilles for humped hoods (post-1986)

Description: Default post-86 Grille. Chrome slash across black plastic.

Types: Two types, one has a chrome surround, one has a black surround.  Black surrounds can be found on some of the DL’s and the 1991 240SE.

Found On: USA: Post-86 240 series. Europe: Available, years unknown. Australia: Available, years unknown.


1) Pre-1986

Description: They’re fenders.

Types: Two types. Some cars have thin chrome trim running around the entire headlight/blinkers/grille assembly. Mostly found on 1981 and earlier GL/GLE models, but can be found on some DL’s. This chrome trim is mounted into the metal with rivets and consequently, there are little holes in the metal.

Found On: USA: All 1975-1985 240/260 series. Europe: All 1975-80 240/260 series Australia: Available, presumably 1975-1980 240/260 series.

2) Post-1986

Description: They’re fenders.

Types: One type.

Found On: USA: All post-1986 240 series. Europe: All 1981-93 240/260 series. Australia: Available, presumably all 1981-93 240/260 series.


1) Pre-1986

Description: The cowl is the vent area between the windshield and the hood. Types: One type Found On: USA: All pre-1986 240/260 series. Europe: Available, years unknown. Australia: Available, years unknown.

2) Post-1986

Description: Different than the pre-1986 style Types: One type. Found On: USA: All post-1986 240/ series. Europe: Available, years unknown. Australia: Available, years unknown.

Other Considerations

1) Headlights

a) E-codes vs. flush lens glass E-Codes E-Code headlights actually have a code on them, with an E in it, indicating their form factor, size, and other information. Sealed-beam replacement E-Code headlights are high-quality, glass headlamps designed for non-US markets. They can be used to replace US-spec headlights (the stock headlights on your US Volvo.) You can get them in almost all US sizes from different manufacturers, such as Hella, Cibie, and more. These lights will look more or less stock, but will perform much better. Flush lens glass E-codes are the actual headlights, surrounds, and mounting materials that come from a non-US Volvo. These are not stock in the US, and can look very different. Most people will not notice of course, especially with 1986 and later cars.

b) Left hand drive (LHD) vs. Right hand drive (RHD) In the United States, our cars are set up for Left Hand Drive – the drive sits on the left side of the car and drives down the right side of the road. About 34% of the world’s population lives in a country that has the driver sit on the other side of the car (Right Hand Drive) and drives on the left side of the road. Consequently, the headlights in these countries are designed differently so as not to blind oncoming drivers. So, living in the US, a LHD country, you would not want to import headlights from the UK, a RHD country. A list of countries and what side they drive on can be found here, on Wikipedia. Realistically, however, there is very, very little difference between a LHD and RHD Volvo headlamp. In fact, some people assert that they are in fact the same glass pressing.

b) Tungsten sealed beam vs. Halogen sealed beam Tungsten sealed beam lights were the original lights equipped on 1984 and earlier Volvo’s. Your headlights have probably been replaced with the brighter halogen type, but if you bought a car that’s been sitting in a barn for 20 years, maybe not. Halogen lights are cheap as hell, and tungsten lights aren’t even around anymore anyway (that I know of).

2) Making the Swap

a) Between anything pre-1986 Swapping out things on a pre-1986 car is pretty straightforward. The main problem you will run into is if you are switching hoods. Here are my tips:

  • Get someone to help you lift the hood – it’s heavy and bulky
  • Leave the hinges on the hood when you take it off
  • Put the hinges on the new hood before you put it back on
  • DON’T put your grill on until after you have checked that the hood opens and closes normally – getting the hood latch adjusted properly takes two or three tries, and if it gets stuck, you’ll need to have the grill off to unhook it.

Another thing to consider when changing headlights is wiring. (section coming soon, for now, you’re on your own)

b) Between anything post-1986 In general, the same rules for the hood swap (above) are important, as well as wiring considerations.

c) Crossing the 1986 boundary Swapping front ends between a pre-1986 and post-1986 car involves much more work. Fenders, hoods, radiator support sheet metal (upper and lower pieces), and bumpers must be swapped along with the headlights. Of course, no one says you have do do it that way. You can always just go crazy and swap whatever the hell you want too…

One cool crossover look is the 1981-85 Euro 240, as shown below. This utilizes post-86 fenders and headlights with a pre-86 humped hood and a special grill that gets these two form factors to work together.

Many people chose to do this to emulate a Group-A 242. They take a 1981-84 242 Turbo, then take the fenders, bumper and lower radiator sheet metal from a 86+ car. Or they can also use 1983-85 bumpers, depending on preference. They use a flat hood from a 1975-1980 car, and use the special flathood grill for post-86 cars. They also use Euro-spec flush glass lens headlamps and Euro turn signals. This way, the hood and cowl match up (both are pre-86) but the car has a nice European front end, like this: