Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1995 Volvo 960 - An Alternative To The Germans...

During my recent quest to drive every older used car in New England, I came close to taking a 2 hour drive to New Hampshire to drive one of these. It was on a dealer's lot. It looked great in the ad. I called the dealer to get some more info. The guy I talked to was a complete ass. I started asking a few specific questions. He had the same answer for all of them; "Come look at the car." I explained that I was 2 hours away and didn't want to drive all the way there if the car was something I wouldn't want to buy. His response to that was - I'm not making this up - "Well, maybe you should look for something closer to where you live." OK. I will.

I don't know if this is officially called the second generation 960, but that's what I'm calling it. It's a restyle of the original 940 / 960, which itself was a restyle of the 700 Series cars. It is rounder, sleeker and has a better suspension setup than the earlier cars.

The 960 is a rear wheel drive car. It was the last RWD Volvo sold in North America. (It was rebadged as the S90 for one year.) It's big, comfortable and reliable. The 2.9 liter I6 (not to be confused with Volvo's earlier PRV V6) puts out about 180 HP and moves the car to 60 MPH in the high 8 second range.

If maintained, not much goes wrong with these cars. Suspension bushings wear out quickly, but according to a couple of Volvo sites there are stronger aftermarket ones available. All US 960s came with an automatic transmission. A common problem is the PNP (Park / Neutral) switch. It seems like eventually they need to be replaced on all 960s. Another, more concerning, problem is "porous block syndrome". The engine is aluminum and some cars suffered from a block porosity problem due to improper casting. Basically, the engine would start to leak coolant from pinholes that developed in the block. There seems to be a debate as to how many cars had this problem. It seems like it was most prevalent in 1992 960s, but happened to later cars, too. Volvo replaced many of the blocks under warranty. This problem seemed to happen pretty early on in the car's life, so it's my feeling that if it hasn't happened to a car by now, it most likely won't.

This car is a nice looking 960. It has a few scuffs and a piece of molding missing, but all-in-all, the body looks clean. The interior, which features all the amenities you's expect to find in an expensive European sedan, looks to be incredibly clean.

If you dig deep into some of the Volvo sites, you'll see that these cars easily run for 250,000 miles. This one has 117,000 on it, so it's only halfway through its life. I read somewhere (and now, of course, I can't find the link) that the 960 / S90, because of its durability, is the preferred car of Volvo mechanics.

The 960 is a cool alternative to cars from the German luxury brands. (It just doesn't have the "Ooooh factor" of those cars.)

Located in Kinzers, PA, click here to see the eBay listing. This is a no reserve auction.

1 comment:

Magnus Benum said...

First, great blog :)

The Volvo 960 was, up until 1995, a luxurious version of the 940. Only with some cosmetic upgrades and bigger engines. After -95 the second edition of 960 wa launched. the SE was no longer a nicer 940, it was mor or less a brand new car. most of the mechanical was still the same, but both interior and exterior was new and nothing like the 940.
It was probably delivered with other engines in US than here (I live in Norway), I had 3 of these, all with the 3liter straight 6, 204 BHP engine, probably the best engine ever used by Volvo. special with the engine that it gained max power and torque at only 1000 rpm.
It was also available with a 156 bhp, 2,8liter v6 Renault engine (the same one that was used in 760). A 2 liter turbo and a 2,5 liter diesel.
The last year of production (-97 - -98) it changed name to s (sedan) and v (estate)90