Saturday, July 30, 2011

Which Would YOU Buy?

My 1995 2 door E36 BMW, as great as it has been to me for the last 14 years, is a terrible car for hauling things. I need something I can fill with "stuff".

For a number of years my "beater" / 2nd car of choice was a Jeep Cherokee. (I had a Grand Cherokee for awhile too, but I liked the Cherokees more. A lot more.) The 4.0 liter 6 cylinder AMC / Jeep engine found in these vehicles is an amazingly durable and trouble free engine. The Cherokee bodies, however, rust in an almost Italian-like fashion. Finding a reasonably priced Cherokee without rust is damn-near impossible in New England. (Plus, as great as the 4.0 engine is, it's thirsty. Regular gas is around $3.80 a gallon where I live. I don't suspect we're going to see the prices drop significantly anytime soon, so that has to be taken into consideration.)

So, I've decided to buy a Volvo station wagon. I've decided I want either a V70R or a 740SE Turbo. I have a line on one of each.

The V70 R is a 1998 with 190K on it. It's been owned by a mechanic for the past few years and just had the timing belt / water pump / tensioner done. It has a few tiny - you really have to look for them - spots of rust.

The 740 Turbo has been owned by the same person since 2000. It has 156K on it. The body shows no rust to speak of, but it was repainted prior to the current owner purchasing it. It will need the timing belt / water pump / tensioner replaced soon.

The VR70 R is a bit quicker and more modern than the 740 Turbo. The 740 Turbo engine is as bulletproof as the Jeep 4.0 liter engine and parts are slightly less expensive

Both cars are similarly priced. The 740 is a few hundred dollars cheaper, but that will be eaten up by the cost of the timing belt / water pump / tensioner.
If you were advising someone as to which car to choose, which one would you pick? Why?

You can post your answers in the comments section below, on the Just a Car Geek Facebook page, or send me an e-mail. (If you have experience with one or both of these cars, I'd really like to hear from you.)

PS - There's no guarantee I'll buy either of these cars... As my friends will tell you, I have a habit of picking up weird, orphan cars on the spur of the moment. ("Really, I was on my way to buy the Volvo when I saw this ARO Hunter in someone's backyard and I couldn't resist...") Although lately I've gotten better about that.


Jason said...

Go with the 740. It's crude compared to the V70, but easier to work on and will last forever.

Anonymous said...

Are turbos really more reliable than normally aspirated engines? I was considering an XC90, but wondering about whether the turbo will be bulletproof.

Also, any insight to BMW's nikasil blocks?

G___ said...

Go with the ARO Hunter. Romanian cars can be fixed with hammers.

pickles said...

I've had both the dull versions of those cars.. a 740 base and an 850, base. Both I sold at about 80k and each was about the same level of maintenance. Neither were cheap to keep, yet neither ever left me stranded.

I'd say at the number of miles on either of the cars you're considering, luck and karma has as much to do with engineering as to which costs more. Maybe the deciding factors are more about hair splitting but these could me some bellwethers for your decision:
Remote door locking and unlocking
Cup holders
SIde airbags
Price of replacing the tires on the R
... they sound like small reasons to pick one over the other but they're all the kind of things that can drive you nuts- be it because of a snowy winter, a spilled cup of coffee or a shocker of a bill at the tire shop.

One nice thing about Volvos is that they've always been owned by Volvo owners. Sounds dumb, but having had 5 of them, each one was bought from a person whom you'd want to know and you could tell cared about their cars. Though, you could probably say the same about the guy with the DAF from the other day! Best of luck!

Harv said...

740 all the way. It's a real Volvo IMHO. Timing belt is easy easy easy fix.

Did I say it's a real Volvo?


Anonymous said...

My pick is the 740. It is even more of a sleeper than the Galant you wrote about.

Monkey Boy said...

V70r - eventually the 740 will have electrical or turbo issues. The 740s tend to have fuse box problems - they corrode and have a melt down, but before that the electrics start to go "wonky". As for the turbo, it's all about maintenance some last a long time but none last forever. The oil return tube is their weakness.

The V70r will be more comfortable and probably more reliable as well.

Who has worked on more of these than he cares to admit...

PJ said...

Monkey Boy,

I happen to be a Volvo enthusiast as well. I'd like your opinion on a prospective car I'm looking at. I have the opportunity to purchase a '92 240 sedan with (supposedly) 89k original miles - however, the odometer works intermittently. Any quirks I should look for, besides the usual electrical and/or air conditioning issues?

FredericD said...

I always thought the 850 body style was a low point in Volvo styling, so based on looks alone and between these two I'd pick the 740. But the one I'd really look for is a 2003-2007 6-spd AWD V70R.