The first car I ever did my own burnout in was a 1975 Volvo 242DL. Mustard yellow, dead-nuts stock automatic, in a grass field…I was taught how to do a power brake burnout and when the Volvo dug deep enough to find a rock, I had a good tire fire going. Ok, I was thirteen and easily amused, sue me. But from that moment forward, I had a very strange appreciation for Volvos. Prior to, I always viewed them as the car of the anti-fun, the car that you’d expect your vehicle-averse aunt to drive (Sorry, Aunt Mary!) They didn’t elicit any kind of sensation or performance at all…instead, they were about safety, about the owners looking down on the philistines who argued for Buying American, about turtleneck sweaters and monsterously large eyeglasses with funky frames. They were yuppie-mobiles.
Even after watching that poor 242DL get thrown around by the scruff of the neck on some gravel roads in Washington, even after my first burnout, I couldn’t shake the yuppie image of a Volvo. It took the internet to show me how these cars can really act. That Volvo 940 you saw driving around at one or two miles an hour under the speed limit in the States was spending it’s time cocked sideways on gravel roads in a forest. That 242 is a tank and it’s safety record has been proven in countless encounters with trees, ditches and various other obstacles. And the 700-series cars, those that Volvo tried to first push upmarket with? You ought to see what one of those looks like after a few barrel rolls…the driver might need a drink, but that should be all they need.
Have you ever had fun with a Volvo? If not, maybe you should. At least you know you’ll be starting out with a safe car!