There was just something about that grille and that beautiful leather trim. As a fourth grader in about 1989, I knew nor cared one whit about British styling influences on the plushest Volvo. I just knew I liked them. As most of you fine folks know, save a few persistently negative persons of interest, love has little to no basis in rationality.
Mike Lundahl and his wife Cathy were long-time friends of my parents, and Mike took over the Volvo dealer when his dad retired. So I was down at Lundahl’s frequently with my dad, and not just when the 240GL or DL wagon needed an oil change or tire rotation.
While Dad sat in the showroom and shot the bull with Mike, I’d wander around the service area or the lot. It didn’t hurt that my folks were friends with the owners; I pretty much could wander around at will, provided I didn’t irritate the mechanics or go near the cars being serviced. I always steered well clear of those areas.
Sometimes there were interesting old Volvos sitting about. I remember one decommissioned 164E sitting at the furthest corner of the service area.
As I recall it was blue and had a blue interior. I actually got in and sat in it (not a customer’s car, I think it might have been a trade-in awaiting refurbishment or replacement oily bits).
Or awaiting the wreckers; it had a thin coat of dust on it.
How well I remember that interior! It was very similar, of course, to my folks’ Volvo 240s, but at the same time those seats and the instrument panel were different, being the earlier pre-1975 panel with round HVAC vents and clock instead of the rectangular ones in the 240.
I was intrigued with the door lock buttons, as they were chrome in the flossier 164E instead of interior color on Mom and Dad’s 240s. I actually unscrewed one and was going to take it with me until Mom saw it! “You go put that back on that car right now!!”
So yes, I must admit I got a thrill when I saw this super nice ’74 164E on eBay last year. It was luxurious, but also practical at the same time–as Volvo played up in its advertising.
The deep aquamarine blue paint and saddle tan interior is beautiful on this car. When combined with the (factory) blue carpeting, it was suitably clubby as befitting its status in the Volvo hierarchy. So, what is this particular 164E’s story? It is quite the time capsule, that is for certain.
Well, this auction has long since passed. It was on offer on eBay by Rover Classic, and I’ve since lost the old link to the auction. But fortunately, I saved the description in the seller’s own words:
This Nebraska Native has Fuel Injected Engine, Automatic Transmission, Power Brakes, Leather seats, Manual windows, Manual door locks, CD / AM / FM, Factory Air Conditioning. Engine is in Good Shape, does not smoke, does not leak, nice and quiet. Transmission feels Perfect, shifts without any problems, without delay and without noise. Suspension is in Excellent shape, Car tracks nice and straight. There is No Evidence of any Electrical problems. The exterior is in Excellent shape for a 1974. There is absolutely no rust any where on the car. Leather Seats, Carpet Floor and Glass are all in Great shape ( !!! Check out the pictures !!! ) Interior of this car is Nice and Clean. This 164 has 4 matching Brand NEW Tires that are mounted on Good straight rims.
Clearly, someone loved this car and took excellent care of it, for it to have survived the harsh Nebraska winters. I suspect it was never driven in the salt.
Though a three-speed automatic transmission was standard equipment, those who wanted to row their own gears could select a four-speed synchronized manual unit with electronic overdrive.
Here is the B30F inline six, looking just as tidy as the rest of the car. In 1974 North American-bound models, it was good for 138 hp @ 5500 rpm and 154 lb-ft at 3500. An 8.7:1 compression ratio, seven-main-bearing crankshaft, four-wheel disc brakes, 21.5 cu. ft. of trunk space and turning circle of 34 feet are just some of the generous specifications listed in the sales brochure.
And I was reminded of all this today when my good Scandinavia-based friend, Ingvar Hallstrom, messaged me today with this information:
“This had gotta be the last car, if not the only car, that got its turn signals mounted ON the bumpers. It always struck me as hilarious, and it’s a decidedly odd designer’s choice because it got them already from the start with the slim bumper ’69 model year. Have you any idea why they went for that quite bizarre way? And can you even remember any other car with any kind of lamps mounted on the bumpers? I can’t think of any…”
That fact on the Ovlov 164 never occurred to me, but I have to say, I can’t think of any other car, save the VW Beetle, which had its signals moved from the tops of the fenders to the bumpers sometime in the late ’70s, though not in the U.S. The final ’79 Cabriolets still had the fender-top blinkers. Of course, that was hardly a new design, but still…
A car complete, and who wouldn’t want to have a plush, comfy sedan with a straight six, good handling and–best of all–those most excellent bucket seats?
And for those who were more concerned over the luxury aspects, that so-veddy-British grille-and-foglights treatment, the longer hood and ample chrome trim was more than enough for folks to know you weren’t in your Uncle Sven’s 145!
All in all, just a gorgeous, classic Volvo sedan. Hope she found a caring owner!