1985 Volvo 245 GLT Turbo

How it Ended

I sold this car on June 23, 2009 when I upgraded to my 1993 245.  Sad to see it go; this was my daily driver for over two years.

Car Info

I bought this car on May 7th, 2007 from the second owner. It has 249,000 miles on it, and is pretty much entirely stock. It has charcoal grey metallic paint with a black-on-black leather interior.

This car came with a huge box of manuals and greenbooks, some spare parts, and lots of accesssories, including a towing hitch, a 3rd rear seat still in its original box, and tire chains. The previous owner replaced the wiring harness, the clutch, the timing belt, the entire exhaust system, and a few other things.

Still, the car certainly has its problems. It has an oil leak which I have been unable to locate, and I had to replace the radiator to fix a coolant leak (luckily I had a spare radiator lying around). The alignment is also off a bit, and the front tires have a pretty uneven wear pattern. Of course, the paint is doing that metallic-paint thing on the roof and a bit on the hood, so a respray may be in the near future if all goes well.

Update: My one year review of this car. I have now had this car for about 14 months and put several thousand miles on it, including many hundred+ mile freeway trips. It has never left me stranded, except for an incident when I was run off of the road by an idiot on a mobile phone, and had to have the car towed out of a ditch. Even then, once it was on level ground again with all four wheels on the earth (it had high-centered on the edge of the ditch), it started right up and drove along with no problems.

The car was giving me a bit of trouble with hot starts, but then I noticed that the main fuel pump fuse was in need of replacement, having deformed from either age or the fuel pump drawing just slightly too much current through it. Once I fixed this, the problem disappeared.

Otherwise, all is well. I haven’t had much time or money to spend on car things outside of routine maintenance, but I haven’t had any problems either. Hopefully the car will continue to perform as well in the future, as it is my only car and my daily driver.

Model / Year Info

1985 is (in my opinion) the best year for 240 Turbo’s, because the cars:

  • came intercooled from the factory and
  • have a 5-bar oil pressure gauge and sender (instead of 3-bar),
  • a larger diameter clutch,
  • a higher preset boost level (10.5 psi),
  • an extra electric fan for the air conditioning, and
  • later style (1983-85) smaller bumpers.

Another advantage of the 1985 model is that it typically has a small coolant passage (SCP) head. The head is stamped “1000398” (above the #2 and #3 spark plugs) but since it was manufactured June 13, 1984, I believe has smaller coolant passages than earlier heads. (This date is found below the #4 spark plug, off to the left, and is stamped vertically – mine is 13, 6, 84, meaning that it was made June 13, 1984).

It is difficult to know for certain when Volvo switched to SCP heads.  Dave Barton estimated the date of the switch to be between March 3 and April 4, 1984, which is what I was going by, but other people have reported finding SCP heads as early as 1983, and even some “1000160” SCP heads.  I guess the only sure-fire way to know is to take the head off and look.

The advantage here is that the SCP heads are less prone to cracking because of the thicker metal between the coolant passage and the combustion chamber.

The principal downside of the 1985 model year is that it was the first year where you could not buy a 242. Thus, if you want a 242 Turbo with these advantages, it will have to be a 1984-and-a-half (i.e. late in the 1984 production run).

But wow, what a fun car to drive. With 162 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque (SAE J1349 Net, measured at the flywheel), the 1985 Turbo is the highest horsepower stock 240 ever shipped to the USA, although since mine is a wagon, it would be a bit slower than a 1984.5 242 or 1985 244 due to the extra weight.

Indeed, the only higher power stock 240 series in the world would be the rare 1983 242 Turbo with a factory Group-A intercooler kit and the B21ETL engine, which was tuned to put out 225 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. However, there isn’t much difference between the B21ETL and B21FTL on my car except for the B21ETL’s lack of emissions sytems (no catalytic converter and no lambda-sond oxygen sensor system) and its higher stock boost levels (15.4 psi vs 10.5 psi).

Of course, with a better exhaust (to overcome the limits of the stock catalytic converter) and a manual boost controller, the B21FTL could be tuned to match these specifications, but at 15.4 psi, the lifespan of the turbocharger would certainly be adversely affected.