Meet Brian, The Million Mile Volvo

7

Dale Vinten

There are certain things in life that are inevitable; death, taxes, the need to say “I can come in your suitcase” whenever someone mentions going on holiday, and old Volvos like Brian here that have racked up incredible numbers of miles. We know, we’re about to witness the odometer on our very own 940 Turbo estate turn over to 230,000. It’s just a given that these old bricks keep on going, plodding along without so much as a grumble. Some legends are born out of myth or folklore but tales of resilient Redblocks endure based upon stone cold facts and myriad real world examples of high mileage Swedish metal that continue to be driven and enjoyed, further propagating that reputation.

And so to one such story, and the focus of this particular feature. Now some might say that Brian is a fitting name for this ’89 Volvo 245GL that is well on its way to a million miles, and we would have to agree. It’s a strong, dependable moniker. One you can rely on to get the job done and deliver without the need for any pomp and circumstance. Characteristics that are all displayed wonderfully by the car in question having accumulated a frankly staggering 827,000 miles plus so far over the course of its 34 years on the road, taking pride of place in the Volvo Owner’s Club high mileage list along the way. To put that into some kind of perspective that’s about 33 times around the Earth. Or the distance to the moon and back, twice almost. But that’s not to say it’s time to put the old workhorse out to pasture, not a chance. Brian’s current custodians and second ever owners are keen to see the Volvo break the million mile mark and with a mere 170K left to go it’s certainly achievable.

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The astonishing thing is the car hasn’t been mollycoddled at all having been used in the past as a tow car, a holiday load lugger chauffeuring family to numerous European destinations complete with caravan attached and even as an NHS volunteering car ferrying patients to and from appointments up and down the country. It’s an indefatigable, time-served labourer but that’s not to say it hasn’t been looked after. You can’t expect a car to make it this far without at least some care and attention, even a dogged old Volvo, and Brian has had some tweaks over the years. On top of a stellar service and maintenance history modifications to the car include an LPG conversion in early 2000 as well as an oil bypass filtration system that collects the finer particles that would otherwise pass through the stock filter, decreasing the wear and tear on the engine. It’s a necessary addition to help extend the engine’s life allowing it to reach the high mileage it currently stands at.

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So what exactly is this incredibly reliable and steadfast mile muncher? Well, as mentioned previously it’s a late ’80s Volvo 245GL estate (200 Series, 4 cylinders, 5 doors), back when the Swedish firm was still producing rear-wheel drive cars, which not only makes it an incredibly practical car but also a rather comfortable one because that GL badge, or Grand Luxe, denotes a certain level of creature comforts, including heated seats and electric windows. Posh. It may not have air condition, air bags or ABS but this lack of accoutrements just means that it’s a simpler beast and there’s less to go wrong on its journey to the one million mile mark.

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One thing the car is also short of is performance. With a standard 2.0-litre four cylinder Brian isn’t exactly vying for lap records around the Nürburgring or impressing with particularly rapid 0-60 times but again, with a lack of performance comes a lack of complexity. These Volvo Redblock engines (so named because, well, we’re sure you can figure that one out on your own) are notoriously reliable and Brian, without any forced induction to worry about is incredibly easy to work on and fix should he decide to have any grumpy, senior moments. With only a couple of brake hoses and tyre advisories to speak of on the last MOT we’re sure any such fits of capriciousness will be few and far between, however.

We love cars like Brian and owners like those currently in his stewardship. They noticed the love and care that had been lavished on the old boy by its previous owner, they recognised the bond that had developed over the years and the miles travelled and they wanted to respect that legacy by continuing to look after, and more importantly, drive the car. We’re always banging on about the importance of keeping classic cars running and on the road where they belong, rather than locked up in a garage or in a museum and Brian is a wonderful example of that. We’re fairly confident when we say that if he wasn’t being regularly used then he would have gone to the big Volvo dealership in the sky years ago. Cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed, whether it be a one-of-a-kind, fire-breathing monster, an old Rover rescued from a bush or a long-legged, characterful Volvo estate, it matters not. All that matters is the drive, their raison d’être.

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Not only that but keeping an old car on the road is infinitely better for the environment than buying a new ride every few years and despite falling foul of the ULEZ legislation Brian, with his LPG conversion to boot, is testament to that fact. He is living (yep, he’s alive as far as we’re concerned) proof that if you pick up a few skills and look after something then it will reward you with loyal service, strengthening that bond between owner and machine that we spoke about earlier and transcending mere nuts and bolts to become something so much more.

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With an original purchase price of £13,459 this Volvo’s voracious appetite for miles has been well fed and it’s still going great guns today, repaying that initial figure many times over. You can find Brian at various Volvo Owners Club meets as well as on social media (@thatmillionmilevolvo), should you wish, but suffice to say he’s here to stay and we’ll report back when he eventually makes it to a million. We seriously doubt it’ll stop there though and we can only speculate as to how far he’ll end up travelling in the future. As for the rest of us, the time is most definitely now to pick up one of these classic Swedish bricks and should your appetite be suitably whetted for your very own Brian then check out our Volvo 240 buyer’s guide. Who knows, you too might make it to a million miles one day.

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